City Paper is not for tourists
1. YSOS2: Your Shot Our Show II at Washington Center for Photography”In 1990, Jo Tartt, Jr. conceived the idea of providing space for emerging artists who may not usually participate in the gallery experience,” says the flier, which is a nice way of saying that even the customary nominal controls protecting the viewer are nowhere in evidence. Any marginally ambitious artist should know that the taste-free grab bag serves no one well.
2. Small Works Exhibition at Touchstone138 uninspired objects all priced to move and scaled to fit either above your toilet or on top of the tank. If you missed it, I’m afraid it’s an annual event.
3. Tom Block at Artists’ MuseumJolly expressionism with fauve colors and titles such as Babs Makes Her Point and Animal Rights Activist, hosted by D.C.’s other phony “museum.”
4. Washington Studio School Faculty Retrospective at Artists’ MuseumThat there are students who aspire to this sort of wan academicism is sobering. That they think they need to be taught it is depressing (not to mention a slight to the how-to book industry). That there are willing teachers is paralyzing. Can’t we please keep the Studio School in Georgetown?
5. George H. Smith-Shomari at Washington PrintmakersThe front room contains confirmation that the current Afrocentric vogue is due in part to late-’60s nostalgia; at the opening, the back room contained a drummer who requested support on the grounds that he wasyou got ita “local artist.”
6. S.A. Jones at Gallery KA veterinary degree, a halting penchant for abstraction, and a certain facility for illustration will get you, at worst, stripes-into-ribbons tricks, at best, something Omni magazine might have used with a short item on biomedical advances before computer illo took over.
7. Marilee Shapiro at StudioEven a Varèse tape won’t save a bronze called The Siren’s Song from looking like the parlor modernism of an aged Archipenko student wedded to the old ways. And it’s downhill from there.
8. Jonathan Green at America Oh, Yes!As the name of “The Jonathan Green Fine Art Print Portfolio” might suggest, there’s not much “folk” in these “Gullah Images of the Sea Islands.” What it doesn’t tell you is that there’s not much “art” either.
9. Kermit Berg and Craig Cutler at David AdamsonBerg’s “Berlin Folio” contains photomontages of unpeopled German train stations; Cutler’s color photos depict jaunty toy boats, while his B&W shots are of tasteful arrangements of household and natural objects. That’s it.
10. “Light at the End of the Tunnel” group show at ZenithUpstairs are neon works for former frame-shop customers who have outgrown their copies of Boulevard of Broken Dreams (you know, Nighthawks with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe at the counter). Downstairs was a manic art-lover from Michigan going nuts over three pigs rooting around in a blueberry pie.
Faint Praise: Art Above the Threshold
1. Dan Treado at AntonStuff the pseudo-scientific hoo-hah and you’ve got intimate abstractions with seductive quasi-photographic surfaces that invite close viewing but show badly as a group.
2. “Chinese Graphics and Early Works of Art” at Robert BrownEveready Batteries and Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People are but two of the products featured on advertising posters from a time when the East aspired to the accouterments of Western living and the modern could be hawked by colorful, detailed illustrations of fully clothed calendar girls. The traditional objects seems something of an afterthought.
3. “New York on Paper” at Baumgartner (Dupont)Nice works on paper by blue-chip New Yorkers, but not nearly so daring as the show at the gallery’s downtown space.
4. Marc Riboud at Gallery K”Homage to China” features photographs, many from the late ’50s, of greater sociohistorical than pictorial interest.G.D.