There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Paul Jaffe was living in Porto Alegre, Brazil, when he invited his friend Chris Keeley to join him for a two-week visit. The photos the pair took make up the Brazilian Cultural Institute’s “Porto Alegre: Portrait of a City,” a collection of 32 photographs with such a divergent vision that they could have been shot in different places. Keeley’s images, printed expansively from 4-inch-by-5-inch negatives, are filled with movement and bold colors, and their subject matter plays class differences to the hilt. The contrast, for example, between Suburban House and Aristocratic House is clear, as is the gap between the group portraits City Children (most of whom seem genuinely happy) and Indians (all of whom are grim-faced). By comparison, Jaffe’s photographs are at once more universal and more personal. Remove the Portuguese signage from his understated black-and-whites and the images could be of almost any big city. But Jaffe makes it clear that the sites he chose to document—alleyways, street corners, take-out-food stands—hold deep meaning to him as a longtime resident. Jaffe is obviously fond of shooting trees in front of buildings, and this tendency produces several of his most impressive images: Street & Tree and Fig Tree blend natural arboreal curves with the rigid, rectangular geometry of the edifices they adjoin, and the Keebleresque trunk of Roots (pictured) threatens to devour the only patch of wall that’s still visible in the photo. The exhibition is on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Brazilian-American Cultural Institute, 4719 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Free. (202) 362-8334. (Louis Jacobson)