Surface Encounters
"Jacubma, California (Border Wall, Gap)" by Kim Llerena; Courtesy of Formerly Was

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Kim Llerena and Jen Noone at Formerly Was

For the second time in six months, Formerly Was, an independent art gallery in Tenleytown, has paired a photographer with a mixed-media artist. Late last year, the gallery exhibited the photographs of Caitlin Teal Price and the mixed-media works of Maggie Michael. Their art largely overlapped in its use of a beige and brown color palette. Current exhibition Surface Encounters, featuring photographer Kim Llerena and mixed-media artist Jen Noone, seems to offer even less intersectionality—but as with the gallery’s previous exhibit, both artists produce strong work independently. Noone, who has an MFA in studio art from American University and is now based in New Jersey, creates small, painted sculptural forms linked thematically by their cross-hatched forms; one looks a bit like the Jamaican flag, another like a laced-up shoe, and a third like a petit-four lined with delicate, chocolate lines. A work with two linked diamonds breaks the mold, encasing a strikingly multicolored circular swirl that collectively suggests a fancy piece of sushi roll. Llerena, who has an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and is now based in Miami, photographs in both black-and-white and color, but her work usually captures dusty, unpopulated, past-their-prime locales in the American hinterlands—shuttered snack shacks, abandoned main street facades, and highway signs riddled with bullet holes. Llerena’s most poignant images are notable for their absence. In one, the sky filters through the empty outline of a Blockbuster sign, while in another, a series of wooden posts reveals the skinny, torn remnants of the Confederate battle flag. Through May 28 at Formerly Was, 4936 Wisconsin Ave NW. Free.