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TO JAN. 20

Photographed on the invite to look like a boxing lineup and named like a pack of bulldogs, Stoff (Smulson) and six other young guns of Decatur Blue (the artist-run gallery-cum-studio space near the 9:30 Club in Shaw) present a mix of thought-provoking and exciting works cheek-to-jowl with ones that just aren’t there yet. Brian Balderston’s Structural Painting #1 steals the show, tempting viewers to open the shower door of his installation piece to see the mirror, window, and hot-pink wall behind the glass—but unfortunately, you’re not allowed. Ryan Hackett’s fog-generated designs on Plexiglas—created by steam pumped into a plastic and canvas box—provide a delicate, lyrical counterpoint to his subtly colored, elliptical paintings (OoooOOO, pictured). Smulson’s shadowgrams—large black-and-white photographs altered with light and chemicals during the development process to dreamlike, layered effect—read like experiments on the way to an artistic goal he cannot yet sense, but, with luck, one day will. Gabriel Martinez’s word-based wall paintings, meanwhile—one of which merely reproduces a post-Sept. 11 CNN logo—say even less than they appear to. But Martinez’s installation of an advertising slogan (“Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman”) on a round-edged mirror in the gallery’s bathroom is more successful: amusing, provoking, and highly salable—though, alas, as part of an in-development series, not yet priced. The exhibition is on view from noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment to Sunday, Jan. 20, at Decatur Blue, 919 Florida Ave. NW, 2nd floor. Free. (202) 518-8969. (Garance Franke-Ruta)