In a new exhibit at the Adah Rose Gallery, it’s surprisingly hard to tell apart the photographs of Esther Hidalgo and Julie Wolsztynski. Both offer square, similarly sized, unframed, bleeding-to-the-edge, close-up images of female bodies and body parts. For these two old-school, film-shooting photographers, the most noteworthy difference is color palette. Hidalgo’s abstract and enigmatic photographs, featuring goose-bumped skin and stray strands of hair, run hot, with a distinct orangey tint. By contrast, Wolsztynski’s are more soothing, limned in ocean blues and greens, with the occasional highlight of dusty rose. Wolsztynski’s nearly full-body nudes compare well to the defiantly out-of-focus works of Uta Barth; the most notable (above) features a female figure standing by a bathtub, with only a thin plane of focus that zeroes in, somewhat mysteriously, on a collection of water droplets. The third artist in the show — Chandi Kelley, who like Hidalgo graduated from the Corcoran College of Art and Design –offers a deeply personal series that revolves around a diary written by her maternal grandfather. Given the opportunity decades later to read the diary, Kelley declined, preferring instead to speculate about what narratives might be contained within it by making still lifes featuring open books and small objects. Kelley’s three black-and-white images don’t live up to the promise of her overarching theme, but a related series—-this one in color (below), using book-spine titles to tell a story—-play more gainfully with similar ideas.
Through Feb. 5 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington, Md. 20895. (301) 922-0162. Fri-Sun 12-6.