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TO SEPTEMBER 9
This show of images of George Washington at George Washington University’s Dimock Gallery gives a new twist to the art world debate on the limits of representation. Ranging from Gilbert Stuart’s famous grand-manner portrait of George before giant classical columns and a rococo sky to Mary Nash’s GW TV made of plastic beads, the works in the show explore the founding father’s appearance as well as the mythology surrounding him. Some of the offerings—like the anonymous mid-19th century George Washington at Trenton, executed in cross-stitch with wool—are unwittingly absurd, while many of those by contemporary artists convey the irreverent implications of the image’s ubiquity. There’s Carol Goldberg’s mixed-media Boy George (pictured), an expressionistic reformulation by Umberto Romano, and an endearing yet mysterious Howard Finster cut-out particle-board figure in a 20th-century suit: George Washington at 23. The show doesn’t explain why that triangle head with the curls, hook nose, and pugnacious jaw is both so reassuring and so inscrutable, but the wide variation of offerings confirms that it is. Since the works stretch from 1800 to the present, it’s a chance to trace pertinent shifts in iconography and ideology, and for some well-intentioned fun with serious George. At George Washington University’s Dimock Gallery, 21st & H St. NW. (202) 994-1525. (Martha McWilliams)