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TO OCT. 27
Washington this fall is a veritable festival of William Christenberry, the Washington-based painter, sculptor, and photographer who is most famous for chronicling rural Alabama, where he grew up. Christenberry is one of 12 contributors to the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s exhibition “In Response to Place: Photographs From the Nature Conservancy’s Last Great Places”; he is featured at the Kreeger Museum’s “Changing Landscape: The Source Revisited” (Wall Construction III, pictured, is part of that exhibition), and he has a solo show at Hemphill Fine Arts in Georgetown. The Hemphill exhibition includes only 12 pieces, but it covers many of the motifs that have driven Christenberry’s work through the years: sketchlike renderings of fruit trees, Jasper Johns-influenced stripe paintings, reinterpretations of old soda-pop signs, and a sculpture of a tall, spired building that Christenberry once saw in a dream. Those unfamiliar with Christenberry’s work will find that the Hemphill show lacks context, and they would be wise to flip through the selection of illustrated books about Christenberry stacked on the gallery’s front desk. Still, two of Christenberry’s works need no further explanation: Red Building in Forest, Hale County, Alabama, 1974-2001 and The Bar-B-Q Inn, Greensboro, Alabama, 1971-1991. Both arrays of 16 photographs feature an archetypal example of Southern vernacular architecture as it becomes weathered and dilapidated with the passage of time. Viewers can think of all kinds of metaphors these photographs communicate about the South, but they need not: These pieces are compelling works of art, even without added commentary. On view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, to Saturday, Oct. 27, at Hemphill Fine Arts, 1027 33rd St. NW. Free. (202) 342-5610. (Louis Jacobson)