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The subject matter of “Macho: Considering Masculinity” could be the topic of numerous dissertations. (And it surely has been.) So a small gallery exhibit can barely scratch the surface of gender studies. But Cross MacKenzie Gallery, with help from a baker’s dozen of mostly local D.C. artists, make a game effort. National Geographic contributor Skip Brown offers a good-natured picture (top) of a boy waist-deep in water, somewhat goofily trying to pump up his manhood by flexing his muscles. James Rieck’s photorealistic painting “Acquisition” (bottom), featuring a businessman’s disembodied hands signing a legal document, could have come straight from “Mad Men,” while Allen Linder sculpts free-falling men in bronze, Botero-style.
The exhibit’s two standouts are sculptors Joe Hicks and Joel D’Orazio. Hicks plays with notions of gender stereotyping by crafting oversized items you might find in a garage — spark plugs — yet decorated with a pattern on ceramic that you would be more likely to find on your grandmother’s teacups. Meanwhile, D’Orazio creates almost comically sexualized sculptures – bowling balls enhanced with bulbs that form “genitalia,” or a glowing, creamy-white orb that suggests a just-fertilized egg (right). D’Orazio’s most striking piece is a full-size love seat that, from a distance, looks like it’s made of soft, shag carpet material but which in reality is made of hard, orange, insulated steel cable – not all that comfortable, but suitable, perhaps, for an extreme man cave.
Through Jan. 5 at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, 2026 R Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Wed-Sat 12-6. (202) 333-7970.