Adjacency is a Kind of Order at Formerly Was
“Clarice in Red,” 2010; 29x36 inches, Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 5; by Caitlin Teal Price

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The small exhibit at Formerly Was—five paintings by Maggie Michael and five photographs by Caitlin Teal Price—might be titled Adjacency is a Kind of Order: Pairing Painting and Photography, but aside from a shared palette of beiges and browns, Michael’s abstract paintings and Price’s studied photographs don’t obviously interconnect. However, the sum of their parts is greater than the whole. Michael’s works are notable for toying with how various textures can coexist on the same canvas. “Lazarus for Icarus (Sunset People)” offers a bracing interplay between gridded forms and the organic sweeps of dripped paint, while “Perfect X Series: Grid of Pyramids (black, mauve, orange)” features a D.C.-shaped diamond made of 3-D spikes, coexisting with splotches of both shiny and matte-textured paint. Price, meanwhile, finds eccentric beauty in otherwise unsightly concrete garages and highway interchanges, then infuses them with surprising hidden drama. Price—previously known for her hyperreal work documenting sunbathing strangers on Coney Island and Brighton Beach—uses a washed-out color palette to create subtly charged tableaux. In “Kimberly Under Watch,” a woman stands alone in an urban canyon under three prominent surveillance cameras, an unsettling motif that reappears in another image made inside a multilevel garage decorated with a pattern of green polygons. In another photograph, a woman emerges from a car, looking worriedly over her shoulder—a scene suffused with the cinematic drama characteristic of images by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Beat Streuli, and Gregory Crewdson. Price even manages to transform an otherwise bland parking facility into a backdrop for pinstriped shadows and a series of vertical voids that, if you squint, suggest the columns of the Parthenon. The exhibition is on view through Nov. 6 at Formerly Was, 4936 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Free.