Andy Yoder, "Pileup," 2023, salvaged auto parts; at Kreeger Musuem x STABLE: INTERLUDE. Claudia “Aziza” Gibson Hunter, Gris Gris Series, 2020, acrylic paint, colored pencil, and paper on wood panel; Credit: Anne Kim

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

The Kreeger Museum’s latest exhibit, INTERLUDE, nods to “the moment in-between collective past and future and the present moment of the artist’s practice,” writes curator Maleke Glee. The show features artists from D.C.’s STABLE studios, where Glee is the director of art and programming, and offers a surprising respite from the expected flow of the Kreeger’s offerings, an airing out of the collection that allows both the old and new works to be appraised in fresh light. 

INTERLUDE is another excellent example in Kreeger’s The Collaborative, a series of exhibits partnering with local arts organizations. Previous shows have made use of the Kreeger’s collection and the juxtaposition of contemporary works alongside paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries; this show goes a step further by having each artist respond to a specific work (or in one case, a board member) from the museum. The paired works are displayed close together, and wall text and show catalog reveal the connections between. Some of these links are apparent, with the STABLE artists either borrowing formal elements from their inspirations or directly commenting on them, while others share more philosophical.

Tim Doud’s “PSK (Plank)” leans against the wall next to one of Gene Davis’ signature striped paintings. Doud’s piece seemingly extrudes a middle section of the Davis painting, wrapping the colors around the sides of the board and stretching them thinner than the original. Doud’s work frequently plays with the conventions of different genres or movements of art, and his work is one of the most obviously paired with its mate. 

In a room filled with geometric paintings, Ying Zhu’s “through the cubes” appears to be of a piece with the rest, showing a grid of somewhat three-dimensional cubes in shades of beige. Step closer, and it’s clear that the medium is not paint but eggshells painstakingly speared into foam core, casting shadows and adding dimension, as well as upending the expected flatness of much geometric abstraction.  

A series of lithographs by Gail Shaw-Clemons hangs among a selection of the museum’s African masks. Her images show multiple mask designs layered on top of each other. Her prints are ingeniously transferred onto transparent gel medium, then layered on top of each other, suggesting endless possible identities and ways of revealing or concealing oneself.

Things are appropriately wordy in the library with works by K. Lorraine Graham and Molly Springfield. The two hanging paper scrolls of Graham’s “Study” are covered in diagrams and scribbled thoughts on the nature of portraiture and figure painting. They flank a traditional nude painting by Thomas Couture, and seem to ask the painting to explain itself. Springfield’s practice involves painstaking, enlarged graphite drawn replicas of photocopied books, with words blocked out—almost forming elimination poems. The words “mutually destructive” are copied from pages of a draft of To the Lighthouse typed by Virginia Woolf and marked with her handwriting. Its inclusion here, among pieces that respond to other works of art, is fitting.

Andy Yoder’s sculpture “Pileup” creates leaves out of salvaged car parts, hanging them as though falling into a pile below in the Kreeger’s central stairwell. The work was inspired by both an autumn visit to the gallery, and the knowledge that David Kreeger served as president, chairman, and CEO of Geico Insurance. Yoder’s statement reads, “It struck me that car accidents, often the most raw, painful experiences we can have, helped provide the resources to build a temple of refinement devoted to the arts.” Artists are increasingly questioning how arts institutions operate and who they serve, and it speaks to the Kreeger’s ability to stay out of the way of their exhibiting artists that this critical examination of the museum’s founder is made explicit.

“Rotten Pear” by Leah Lewis shares a theme of decay and not a lot else with Piet Mondrian’s “Dying Sunflower, Watercolor.” A combination of photo-collaged elements and acrylic paint create a trompe l’oeil effect—the artist seems to almost revel in the bloom of white mold on the titular pear, as well as the scuffed floor that’s flecked with blood. It’s a painting that’s sumptuous and a little bit dangerous at the same time. 

AI-generated art uses specific prompts and keywords to eliminate the need for an artist’s hand, and Nancy Daly’s “All Work and No Play Makes Jack” accomplishes a similar aim. Using computer programs to control a mouse and copy gestures the artist drew, the program was left running to continuously produce work, both freeing the artist’s time and giving the appearance of constant creative output. Her work sits alongside a gouache painting by Wassily Kandinsky, who is quoted in the show’s catalog saying, “Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and… stop thinking!” This sentiment applies equally to Daly’s artistic practice, allowing her to automate her work and stop thinking about it, so to speak, as well as to how the whole of the INTERLUDE show should be enjoyed.   

INTERLUDE runs through March 25 at the Kreeger Museum. Donation suggested.