This month, Hillyer Art Space is shoehorning a trio of wildly divergent exhibits into its three galleries.Melanie Kehoss, a lecturer at Georgetown University, makes exquisitely delicate paper cuttings set on rice paper (top), often with a theme of celebration. Some of her brightly toned works are eccentric (a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. set amid Chinese ornamentation, and four presidents wearing Mardi Gras-style masks) and others are sugary (romantic poetry paired with a variety of animals); her strongest works are those with an edge, such as the red-white-and-blue election-day tableau featuring skeletons casting ballots, and the juxtaposition of “non-native species” blended with international corporate brands.
Lara Bandilla, a German artist, creates large-scale oil paintings perched on the boundary between photorealism and surrealism (middle). A number of her images have trouble bridging this difficult divide, but her strongest works are visually less fussy and almost cinematic, notably a selection of street views facing into the sun, a setting that produces extreme contrasts a la Garry Winogrand.
The third exhibit, works by half a dozen artists who belong to the Millennium Arts Salon, offer photographic approaches that are inspired but fall short of brilliance. Susanna Thornton produces dark, indistinct images of statues and columns, while Charles Sessoms offers retro-looking, black-and-white dream sequences that echo Jerry Uelsmann with a hint of Magritte (lower left). The strongest works from among the Millennium offerings are Gloria Kirk‘s—-sepia images of African American women set within color-toned backdrops and adorned with a smattering of crafty baubles.
On view to May 31 at Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Court NW, noon to 5 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays.