The work that Ju has shown elsewhere is extremely colorful, and there are vivid reds and oranges in these works. But the emphasis is on shades of blue, which shine against the white walls like the cobalt-pigmented ornaments of East Asian ceramics. Other traditional elements include Korean and Chinese texts and a realistic rendering of a tiled roof contained within a larger room that jumps to cultures. What sets Ju’s style apart, however, is less Korean memorabilia and more freewheeling energy.
Another of the solos, “Then the Dream Changed” by Sharon Shapiro, offers a kind of harder editing. The large-scale collages are based on ambitious photos of affluent mid-20th century American suburbs, into which the artist inserts incongruous elements. This reflects “the complexities of growing up women in the American South,” Shapiro’s statement notes. The resulting images also highlight the contrasts between rich and poor, chaos and stability, sedentary and itinerant. In the vivid “Crossing,” three migrants cross not the Rio Grande, but a backyard swimming pool. Various urgent and complacent American dreams intertwine in the spliced image.
Upstairs in the artist-in-residence gallery, Stephanie Lane demonstrates several styles of gestural abstraction. His large “Thresholds” paintings include one in which a multicolored torso-like shape emerges from the darkness and three drawing-like images rendered mostly in black asphalt (a naturally occurring carbon-rich substance) on whiteboard. Although only some of Lane’s spontaneous spiraling images include hints of human forms, they all suggest moving bodies.
Ju Yun: East meets West; Sharon Shapiro: Then the dream changed; and Stephanie Lane: Thresholds Until June 18 at Arlington Center for the Arts3550 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington.
Today, the near ubiquity of digital imagery has inspired a few artists to retreat into photography’s past. One such technological escape is Elena Volkova, a Baltimorean of Ukrainian descent who has expertise in tintype, a mid-19th century process. It captures direct positives onto thin sheets of metal, producing small but shimmering black-on-silver images. Volkova used the archaic technique to make the contemporary “Portraits of Anacostia” exhibited at the Honfleur gallery.
The goal is not really documentary. The subjects of these formal but empathetic portraits are identified only by first names, although a few photos include visual clues. Several of the people are artists, one of whom was photographed with paintbrushes in hand. Most of the models are African Americans whose skin tones are made rich and luminous by the high contrast method.
Metal miniatures require close inspection, but Volkova isn’t antique enough to insist on that. She also provides digital enlargements on white paper which are easier to discern and demonstrate that tintypes explode quite well. With their shallow depth of field, the photos look like historical artifacts. Still, the poses and expressions seem quite topical.
Elena Volkova: Portraits of Anacostia Until June 18 at Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Road. SE.
The paintings in MasPaz’s “Peace Is Every Step” are so intertwined in design and color palette that the distinctions between them are not immediately obvious. Some of the pieces in the Fred Schnider Gallery of Art exhibit are on paper, others on canvas, and a third group – the most distinctive – on shaped wood panels. All are bound by the same painterly format: bold black outlines of streamlined natural forms, filled with blocks of tan and metallic gold.
Born in Colombia and raised in Arlington, where he is based, MasPaz is a graffiti veteran whose name aerosol means “more peace” in Spanish. Inspired by stays in New York and South America, the painter developed a style as indebted to street tagging as to pre-Columbian sculpture and ceramics. Among the motifs of these works of art are flowers and the sun, while flecks of gold spray paint represent the precious mineral that drew Europeans to what they called the Americas.
Wood paneled pieces are the most dynamic, in part because their cut outlines follow the shapes painted on them. Additionally, MasPaz leaves some areas bare, drawing attention to the grain of the wood and adding a slightly different hue to the narrow range of beiges and golds. In images that distill natural objects into graphic archetypes, unadorned wooden surfaces are a vestige of reality.
MasPaz: peace is at every step Until June 19 at Fred Schnider Art Gallery888 N. Quincy St., Arlington.
Technically, Robert C. Jackson’s hyperrealistic paintings are still lifes, as they rarely depict animated life forms. Still, the Pennsylvania artist’s humorous scenarios are well-filled with stand-ins for living creatures. Balloon animals, corporate mascot figurines and a wind-up chick are among the inhabitants of the images in “Back to the Future,” Jackson’s exhibit at the Zenith Gallery.
The most common elements in the artist’s compositions are toys, food, and vintage crates, often emblazoned with soft drink logos. Sometimes a single kind of edible is juxtaposed with an appropriate toy, such as bananas piled under a toy gorilla or donut holes piled under a miniature policeman. Jackson occasionally dabbles in art criticism, such as when he depicts a balloon animal glued to an abstract painting—both rendered with precise realism, of course.
The artist has been called an heir to Pop Art and he meticulously copies commercial imagery, much like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. But where these precursors reproduced labels, photos and comic strips, Jackson prefers three-dimensional objects. Rather than a box of Cap’n Crunch, for example, it repeatedly depicts a figurine of the grain-shilling sailor. Focusing on 3D objects allows the artist to demonstrate his impressive skills in traditional painting, but also to take them out of context. Where Pop Art commented on mid-twentieth-century society, Jackson’s paintings evoke his own little world, rooted in consumer culture but also detached from it.
Robert C. Jackson: Back to the Future Until June 25 at Zenith Gallery1429 Iris St. NW.