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East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography at the National Gallery of ArtThe National Gallery of Art’s sprawling exhibit, East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography, sought to elevate the oft-forgotten photographic documentation of the eastern United States. While many of the images aren’t as dramatic as the more familiar nineteenth-century images of the western frontier, the exhibit included some beauties, including works made using the cyanotype process—a technique that produces bold, blue prints. Cyanotypes by Henry Peter Bosse, in particular, were stunning for their deep blues and bold, oval design. —Louis JacobsonFor a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw at the National Museum of the American IndianSimilarly obscure is the work of Horace Poolaw, whose twentieth-century photography received a large and uncrowded retrospective at the National Museum of the American Indian, For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw. Poolaw’s most intimate and revelatory images documented the daily lives of Native Americans and the whites who were their neighbors in Oklahoma. Some of the most moving photographs were taken at funerals, including an image depicting several men straining to lay a coffin into a freshly dug grave, leaning heroically in a way reminiscent of the soldiers in Joe Rosenthal’s “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.” —Louis Jacobson
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture GardenThe Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s mesmerizing hall of mirrors pushed annual attendance over the 1 million mark for the first time in the museum’s history. You knew that already, because you saw at least that many selfies on Instagram. This is one of those rare shows that will stand out as a cultural milemarker for residents for years to come. —Kriston Capps
Tim Doud: Parthenogenesis at Curator’s OfficeTim Doud: Parthenogenesis at Curator’s Office was a playful exercise in abstraction and repetition: interesting for a guy who was a 2016 Outwin Boochever Prize finalist. With such virtuosity, he’s easily one of D.C.’s best painters. —John Anderson
June Schwarcz: Invention and Variation at the Renwick GalleryJune Schwarcz: Invention and Variation was a quiet exhibition at the Renwick, but one of intense study, with groundbreaking techniques of etching and electroplating applied to enameling. —John Anderson
Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography at the Smithsonian American Art MuseumThe Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography showcased the work of ten Latino photographers, focusing mainly on their work from the 1960s to the early 1980s. Camilo José Vergara contributed one of his signature time-lapse series in color that tracked architectural changes in a single spot over time. Another standout was Anthony Hernandez, who documented the isolation of urban bus commuters in Los Angeles by situating his subjects rigorously within a single, repetitive landscape format.—Louis Jacobson
Linling Lu at Hemphill Fine ArtsLinling Lu’s circular paintings at Hemphill Fine Arts was a refreshing take on an old Washington theme, with concentric bands of color creating the illusion of deep space, that energetically pulsated from a certain distance. —John Anderson
Arlington Arts’ Full-Dome ProjectionsThe best show of 2016 was Brandon Morse’s In This Convex Hull, a throbbing, iterative, apocalyptic cycle projected on the full dome inside the David M. Brown Planetarium in Arlington. This year, curator Paul Shortt followed it up with two animations—”Babel” by Kelley Bell and “Nova” by Shannon Collis—establishing the full-dome projection series as one of the best and most innovative projects in the region. —Kriston Capps
Before the 45th at the Mexican Cultural CenterBefore the 45th at the Mexican Cultural Center celebrates the beauty, struggles and resilience of Mexican-Americans. This important and vast exhibit spans generations through the resilient truths of those who lived it. It is an authentic, strong and beautiful biography of the true history of the USA. —Laura Irene
Cultural Platforms for Resistance at VisArtsA show of both politically radical and community-oriented art curated by Ashley DeHoyos, Cultural Platforms was the timely Resistance show in a year short on them. It was one of many 2017 highlights for Rockville’s VisArts: The best and outermost satellite in D.C.’s art scene also featured strong showings by Anahita Bradberry, Alex Braden, Katie Macyshyn, and Jenna Wright. —Kriston Capps