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In many contexts, photographic film is archaic—especially when it’s black and white. But don’t tell the 10 artists featured in “The Shadow Knows,” a master darkroom exhibition at Glen Echo Photoworks. The photographs are somewhat uneven, but those that work, work well.
Tom Kraly offers a small landscape image near the Glen Echo Park notable for its impenetrable darkness, punctuated by a few brightly lit architectural highlights. An airier image is equally impressive, with several overlapping façades portrayed as pancake-flat.
Martin Kret produces beige-toned landscape works that have an antique feel (top). His images from Montana have an appropriately Big Sky feel, most pleasantly in a pictorialist rendering of a smattering of rocks in a Bighorn River mudflat.
William Mertens, meanwhile, stays closer to home with images from Gettysburg, Pa. The photographer achieves a historically timeless look, including one image that features a bright sun shielded by clouds, a receding forest and a rocky outcropping—a work that would not have looked out of place in last year’s National Portrait Gallery retrospective of the Civil War photographs of Alexander Gardner.
Brenda Hanning has produced several impressive images of water and sky, including one crossed by many thin reeds, while Amrit Patel documents fleeting moments of daily life, including a split-second glance from one car into another. Joanne Miller offers several dreamy images of butterflies and birds, viewed through stained windowpanes and set against whitewashed walls or skies (middle).
Then there’s a series of works by Andy Currie documenting tumbledown industrial structures. Looking eerily like Chris Earnshaw’s worn images of gritty old D.C. recently shown at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Currie’s photographs include one striking image of a factory with a smokestack draped by an ominous, grainy, suffocating cloud. The shadow knows, indeed.
Through March 14 at Glen Echo PhotoWorks, 7300 MacArthur Boulevard. Sat. 1-4 p.m., Sun. and Mon. 1-8 p.m.