Michael Francis Reagan‘s cartography resurrects an age when maps were more than just functional—-they were art.
Sometimes, Reagan’s work, which has appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, the New Yorker, the New York Times and Bon Appetit—-calls to mind those old maps in which anthropomorphic clouds blew gales across the ocean.
Reagan is apt to drop an enticing bottle of burgundy into a map of France’s wine region, or topless women into a map of Gaugin’s south Pacific stomping grounds. But the more satisfying details are the subtler ones that echo reality in miniature: blue dabs of watercolor that define the sea around Greece and the Lesser Antilles; shades of beige that represent pitiless deserts; aqua-hued rivulets in Tibet; a dignified, minimalist spine of mountains in Afghanistan; a smattering of tiny oil derricks in Syria; and wildlife reserves in India denoted by a tiger-stripe pattern.
Occasionally Reagan makes a misstep: The blue tone he uses for Kashmir seems out of place, as does the bubble-gum hue of a Sunni Kurd area in Iraq—-but these are more than balanced out by such painstakingly drawn elements as a stately latticework border on a map of Greece and Turkey.
On view till tonight at Gallery A, 2106 R St. NW. (202) 667-2599.