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TO FEB. 29

Jim Dine’s recent color photographs present the viewer with a steep learning curve. (Red Pliers is pictured.) I mean, what are we supposed to take away from his photograph of a doll, a stuffed raven, and a skull backed up against a chalkboard with the following scrawled on it: “The dried apple containing the essence of your face from heaven—and dinner blue steel turns bone white! Congo ink leaks on everything and the Arctic dog shakes his red collar at the sun. Rub your hand across the wet poem—the earth turns bone white?” Well, before tackling that one, it helps to know a few things: (1) Dine is not a nut; he’s a modern artist who over a four-decade career has produced critically acclaimed works of painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, assemblage, installation, and performance art. (2) The motifs of Dine’s art usually come from intensely personal experiences. (The raven, for instance, harks back to his early childhood, when he encountered a talking raven at a zoo; it has recurred in his dreams ever since.) (3) The 69×48-inch digital photographs in the show were actually shot by Dine in a makeshift studio upstairs at the gallery where they’re on display. If Dine’s photographs still sound inscrutable, just remember to ignore the words and enjoy how skillfully his digital camera captures the ethereal mist of erased chalk on slate, which should make the works accessible to just about any art lover. On view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, to Tuesday, Feb. 29, at the David Adamson Gallery, 406 7th St. NW, Third Floor. Free. (202) 628-0257. (Louis Jacobson)