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TO JULY 28
Although the paintings and found-object constructions in Eric Shultis’ “In Process” show look old, most aren’t. The artist plays on tensions between past and present, avoiding saccharine nostalgia via liberal pinches of abstraction. In his small oil paintings of abstracted landscapes, the artist’s sepia-toned palette invites sentimentality, but Shultis rescues the works from a schmaltz OD with his contemporary technique: He defines the land surrounding the glistening water of The Pond not with realistically rendered shrubs or thickets, but with a just few unpolished horizontal brush strokes. This minimalist topography erases almost all sense of place and time—and sappiness. Shultis does the same in a series of intriguing little rust paintings painted on 3-and-a-half-inch-square bits of tin. In these works, decay creates captivatingly nonspecific environments: One panel becomes a burnt-orange galaxy complete with constellations of shiny micalike rust crystals; another hosts an amoebalike blob scraggily rusted around it edge. But the artist’s most compelling piece is Touch/Monarch (pictured); a shiny ebony box imprinted with “Monarch Cabinet Grand Chicago” in gold script that dates the object to turn of the last century; next to it, what look like slabs of uncut piano keys (they’re panels painted to ape ivory, not the real thing) alternate with brown felt sheets. Despite its austerity, the piece got to me: I felt sorry for these pristine but utterly useless piano keys that never had a chance to play. On view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, to Friday, July 28, at the Wesley Theological Seminary’s Dadian Gallery, 4500 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Free. (202) 885-8674. (Jessica Dawson)