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1.) “Art on the Seventh Floor” at Washington Design CenterBill Wooby’s 35,000-square-foot vanity space is a gargantuan muddle. There are almost no real (or even Artists’ Museum-style) “shows,” just room after room filled with the efforts of glitzy abstractionists, “contemporary impressionists,” art-school undergrads, the usual gaggle of crabbily unfashionable realists, a few New York blue-chippers (on paper, natch), uselessly talented artisans capable of fashioning comically unfunctional “furniture” out of industrial scraps, and corporate-friendly modernist sculptors. (By the way, Lolo Sarnoff looks as if she needs a little help cutting crescents these days.) Personal fave: an extravagantly airbrushy bent-metal table in the form of a dollar sign. When no one has to answer for leaving the door open, just about anything’s apt to appear. Pony up the cash and Wooby’ll provide support services for a pile of bat guano.
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2.) “1997 Georgetown Annual International Art Exhibition” at FraserNot that a gatekeeper necessarily provides adequate protection against schlock, especially when the juror is dimwit art scribe F. Lennox Campello (who happens to be married to gallery owner Catriona Fraser). The current crop looks as if it could be a subset of Wooby’s field, but if I were giving out prizes, the blue ribbon would go to Richard Kaminski’s sci-fi surrealist oil Scattered: An unclothed white man, wrapped in a column of wrinkled red drapery, rises from the still sea as unidentifiable golden shards whirl about. Oh, did I mention the gulls?
3.) Group Show at OkudaI used to work for an outfit where one of the higher-ups was an armed-forces lifer. Consequently her whole office was appointed with representations of the mighty eagle: Painted, printed, sculpted, and sewnthey were everywhere. (My colleagues and I were so impressed that we took newcomers on after-hours tours.) All I’m saying is that she needs to get to Okuda immediately.
4.) Antonio Carreño at ParishIf, as Alvaro De La Rocha writes, Carreño is “a painter who continues his search for the unknown, without hesitation and without nostalgia for the past, but confronting the future with courage,” why does he employ the shopworn pictorial vocabulary of midcentury Miróesque abstraction? Probably the same reason Parish’s gallery statement sees nothing funny in the phrase “beaux arts and cutting-edge trends” and its logo script is reminiscent of that used by swanky, small-time couturiers in the early ’60s.
5.) Michele Simone at EklektikosThe poignantly unpeopled landscape is a venerable American tradition that currently meets with public approval via the inexplicably protracted popularity of Georgia O’Keeffe. Simone cranks up the preciosity and the bathos, giving her pieces passage-of-life names such as Thwarted Journey and Beckoning. First Steps is a pinked-up view of the steps to a houseonly there is no house!
6.) Seong Auh at MOCAHarry Stendhal’s essay for the unironically titled “American Dream” correctly identifies Seong Auh’s work as a pastiche of motifs by everyone from Miró to Dubuffet to Haring to Basquiat (though he neglects to mention Arp, Mondrian, and Léger). But then he sees the artist as providing in works such as Philosopher, Freedom, and Neutral Truth, “an alternative to the consumerist goals which are so discouragingly unattainable for most Americans.” Rightwhere’s my free Dubuffet?
Art Above the Threshold
1.) Alex Mayer at Andrea PollanThe lone pseudo-gallery in Wooby’s mercenary slop trough presents unrigorous faux-minimalism in designer hues. On most of the pieces, the surface treatment comes at the expense of a few oil sticks. Can I have the magazine-holder thingy redone in mauve? Do I get a touch-up kit?
2.) Ruth Bolduan at AntonIn her letter to the editor (The Mail, 4/25), Bolduan invited me to her show and said that any failure of will on my part would reduce her to tears. Frankly, I was having such a good time at Mateyka that I couldn’t be bothered to make it down the block to Anton. But I do hate to disappoint, so I stole her poster (it was posted illegally, and in these cash-strapped times, the District’s removal crews need all the help they can get). Anyway, keeping in mind the usual caveats (her work could be much more hideous in the flesh), I’d say she’s got a future in mythofeminist self-help book-jacket illustration. Surely someone must be contemplating Unveiling the Inner Goddess? G.D.