The D.C. Docent

3 Saturday Art Picks: Introspection, Ingenuity and Iridescence Await!

The weather says Fall is coming, and so does the art calendar. Starting this weekend, get ready to immerse yourself in what’s going to be a non-stop season of some of the most exciting stuff DC has seen in a while!

Personal Effects at Furthermore - As the brainchild of Jose Ruiz continues to find its voice amongst DC’s creative spaces, it makes clear that teaching and dialogue, more so than exhibiting, are its current priorities. Here, it brings together many of D.C.’s old guard (and some new) for reflection on the objects and images that keep inspiring their work including: James Alefantis, Phillip Barlow, Kristina Bilonick, Cynthia Connolly, Brian Liu, Brigitte Reyes, Renee Stout, and Jordan Swartz to name a few. Opening reception tonight, Saturday, September 14, from 6-9pm at 52 O St., NW. “Show & Tell” on Saturday, September 28 from 6-9pm. Viewing by appointment.

A Modest Occupation at Transformer - More and more, it feels like social practice art is where Transformer is trying to make a deeper footprint, but without quite getting there. But while they do, they at least keep it interesting with this look at artistic programs which “address the intersection of art and economics through the lens of subscription-based art services.” Opening reception tonight, Saturday, September 14 from 6-8pm at 1404 P St., NW. Show runs through October 26, 2013.

Believer at Project 4 - This first show under the leadership of new Director Violet Miller may set the tone for what to expect next from this small space which consistently surprises me. Christine Gray’s contemporary still-life paintings and works on paper read like vibrant curio boxes overlaid with memory collages. Jewels that aren’t jewels. Opening reception tonight, Saturday, September 14 from 6-8:30pm at 1353 U St., NW, Third Floor. Show runs through October 26, 2013.

Ostensible Fictions at Hamiltonian - While you’re visiting Project 4, you may as well stop at Hamiltonian who are also having an opening, although I’m not particularly intrigued by artists Will Schneider-White and Benjamin Bellas, but maybe you will be. Opening reception tonight, Saturday, September 14 from 7-9pm at 1353 U St., NW, First Floor.

Your Sunday Instruction: Support this Kickstarter project by the Empty Stretch collective to publish a photography book by local DC artists! I am a fan of these folks, many of whom are Corcoran alumni, and who I follow on Tumblr, especially Jordan Swartz, Aaron Canipe and Sara Winston.

But please Empty Stretch collective, don’t stop publishing your smaller zines! I heart them.

One of the centerfolds from the zine Pickpocket Blues. I first saw Jordan Swartz’s work at the Petty Thieves show at the Corcoran’s student gallery, and then later as part of the BFA show. I really enjoy the mini-zines he put together.

One of the centerfolds from the zine Pickpocket Blues. I first saw Jordan Swartz’s work at the Petty Thieves show at the Corcoran’s student gallery, and then later as part of the BFA show. I really enjoy the mini-zines he put together.

And the Winner Is? AU vs. Corcoran Student Shows

What a weekend! The timing of both the Corcoran’s BFA senior show and American University’s MFA thesis show this past Saturday, really set up a comparison of both sets of graduates, whether it wanted to or not.

I started my (late) afternoon at the Katzen’s opening reception featuring 9 of its MFA graduates on the second floor gallery. For such a small show, I’m not sure how well the space served it, especially the pieces at the beginning, which seemed to suffer from a bit of poor lighting. But lighting and space was the least of this show’s worries. Had I not known this was an MFA show, I might have thought that this was an undergrad show with a few stellar standouts.

Those standouts were Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi and whoever did the cool floating houses in the dark shrouded room (I saw no placard, if you know who the artist is let me know). Ilchi’s work was a blend of controlled chaos, restraint, intense color and nods to Iranian culture without being solely defined by it (for an example of the kind of nods I mean check out my previous post on the Shahnama exhibit at the Freer). The only other memorable thing about this show was the Obama as Skeletor painting (with She-Ra and He-Man) which was ONLY memorable because of the comic/comedic reference.

NEXT at the Corcoran on the other hand, was in a completely different league. I was really impressed with the breadth and depth of the work; I’m not saying everyone in the show hit the mark, but those that missed, didn’t miss by much (for the most part) and even those who were a bit too “on the nose” weren’t overdone.

I especially enjoyed the work of Pavlos Karalis (The Shapeshifter’s Slave—night spirits, lore, teeth and bones)Sara Winston (Worn Out Joy—lonely remnants, familiar fates, and timecreep), James Tsikerdanos (Playtime—guns and ammo with whimsy), Francesca Holmwood (Great Expectations—pretty and precise constructed deconstructions), Matthew Borowick (Vision in the Darkness—Baltzian non-places that could be paintings), Jordan Swartz (Destination Anywhere—was also part of Petty Thieves), Diana Sutherland (transitory, anonymous and silently told) and Esther Meena Yi (Untitled—old masters turned to stone and decay). Also too, never underestimate the power of “free” and “touch”—letting people takeaway pieces (Victoria Shaheenporcelain pieces of dreams on the floor) or reminders (Swartz and Sutherland) of your work.

Winner: Corcoran

The Katzen MFA Thesis show is open through May 15. 

Corcoran NEXT: BFA Class of 2011 is open through May 22.