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TO NOV. 20
ARTiculate Gallery and Studio is an offshoot of Washington Very Special Arts that offers an arts-based vocational program for young adults with special needs and a gallery space to exhibit their work. The gallery’s current show, “Alhadj and Harold,” presents the distinctive and eloquent works of two of the studio’s resident artists and demonstrates that “outsider art” can rival the best works by trained hands and that “special artists” can be some of the most promising. Although both Alhadj and Harold are nonverbal (Alhadj has been diagnosed as autistic, and Harold is mildly retarded, with delayed language development), no one should consider this an impairment of their artistic ability. It seems, instead, that their expression is reserved for the canvas. Harold’s work emphasizes form and color over detail or intricacy. (A self-portrait is pictured.) His colors are ebullient: safety orange and azure blue, vermilion and jungle green. His whimsical, almost-abstract canvases accent their negative space, creating images that exist on many visual levels and change in dimension and meaning the longer you look at them. Alhadj reveals two different styles in this show: One of his techniques uses line to create atmosphere in a manner reminiscent of both Cy Twombly and Joan Miro; the other employs translucent and overlapping color schemes to create collage-like tableaux of surprising depth and maturity. Alhadj and Harold are indeed different from many other artists: They’re better. On view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, to Saturday, Nov. 20, at Washington Very Special Arts’ ARTiculate Gallery and Studio, 1100 16th St. NW. Free. (202) 261-0204. (Lisa Locker)