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Cynthia Connolly’s black-and-white documentary series “Letters on Top of Buildings” dates back to the photographer and art impresario’s childhood in Los Angeles. Connolly used to ride in the backseat of her mother’s car on the elevated highways of L.A., watching as the car whizzed by old art deco signs on building roofs. Connolly later spent several years tracking down similar signs, bringing her to such locales as Arizona, Louisiana, New York and West Virginia, as well as Virginia and the District of Columbia, which is represented by such businesses as Bloomingdale Liquor and Yellow Cab. Her images, ringed with a simple black frame, always point skyward, pairing the aging, archaic, scaffold-supported signs with almost heavenly views of the sky. Connolly’s images aren’t infused with the wittiness of Robert Cottingham’s photorealistic paintings of old neon signs or the pathos that pervades Camilo Jose Vergara’s photographs of decaying Americana, but they do justice to bygone architectural details that are at once derelict and grand. Also on view: recent Corcoran College of Art and Design grad Pamela Hadley’s video projection of Hawaiian clouds at 14,000 feet and Baltimore-based Cara Ober’s batik-like works on canvas and paper — floral, geometrical and fingerprint patterns made with bronze paint that breaks down into an unexpected array of hues.
Through June 16 at Civilian Art Projects, 1019 7th St. NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 607-3804. Wed-Thur-Sat 1-6pm