The D.C. Docent

Saturday Art Openings Gonna Make You Sweat

Sculpting Outside the Lines - 15 nationally-recognized artists, 13 works, and an audio cell phone tour courtesy of pirates. Don’t let the Foggy Bottom locale fool you about the potential greatness of this, especially with Barbara Liotta, Joseph & John Dumbacher, Dan Steinhilber and Jefferson Pinder all participating. Opening reception from 5:30-7:30pm at Watergate Gallery, 2552 Virginia Ave., NW, this Saturday, April 21 with other events throughout the day.

Making Sausage (Man Becoming Machine Chews to the Future) - This is not an Onion headline, but rather a performance art piece by Bradley Chriss as part of Transformer’s Bread & Butter series. Chriss did a recent Hillyer Soapbox stint involving a vegan hotdog, so natch, sausage couldn’t be far. Intrigued? Show is this Saturday, April 21 from 2-3:30pm.

Tropical Obstructions - What happens after eating a vegan hotdog…kidding! Seriously, Hamiltonian presents new work by Jessica Van Brakle and Joshua Wade Smith. I love me some Brakle; it’s like looking into an I Am Legend future of DC’s cranescape but with a whitewash over the whole thing. As for Smith, sounds like vanity, athleticism and the natural world just can’t get along. Opening Reception this Saturday, April 21 from 7-9pm.

Field Notes - Seems like everyone is painting on Mylar, Dura Lar or some kind of lar these days. Addison/Ripley shows the work of Jackie Battenfield which is careful, silent, pretty foliage against the aforementioned opaque. Opening reception Saturday, April 21 from 5-7pm.

MDGZ: Soon-to-Be Demolished Home as Pop-Up Art Space

I am going to plan a field trip to this CountDown art space. I especially like that the art in the final installation (including work from Mei Mei Chang and Jessica Van Brakle) WILL BE DESTROYED WITH THE HOUSE! Brilliant.

For more information and to arrange a visit to CountDown art space, call 240-506-6910 or email The gallery will open during the next Bethesda Art Walk on Feb. 10 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at 4526 Cheltenham Drive, Bethesda.

Fellows Converge: Broadly Thinking @HamiltonianDC

As the fellowship program ends for the Hamiltonian's eleven artists, this exhibition, curated by local artist Zoë Charlton, is meant to pull it all together for us. As Zoë herself states:

   In developing the exhibition Broadly Thinking with this group of Hamiltonian Fellows, I was interested in considering the networks that can support our practice as artists outside the comfort zone of art school.  When there is so much pressure  placed on originality, how can we cultivate an environment that encourages emerging artists to critically engage with their peers?

I’ve got to be honest, this curatorial statement feels pretty weak; hell, even the title of this exhibition feels weak (I know, I know, you’re saying “so what, the work is what matters”). Which leads me to broadly reflect on the past year of shows at Hamiltonian. Most of the time, while I’ve appreciated their exhibits, I’ve never been wowed, and haven’t felt like I’ve gotten past the surface of what many of their artists are all about.

There are some half-exceptions to this of course: Katherine Mann and Jessica van Brakle spring to mind. But perhaps this is to be expected, after all, that’s what Hamiltonian is about, helping emerging artists build foundations early in their careers, to get them on a path towards becoming established artists; to cultivate longevity and introspection that keep the artists moving forward. Hamiltonian Fellows in many ways, aren’t fully-formed yet, and maybe we shouldn’t expect them, or the shows at Hamiltonian to be fully-formed either. Rather, Hamiltonian exhibitions are probably best viewed as starting points—as the first part of the longer continuum—a glimpse into the future.

When viewed in this spirit, the future looks pretty interesting. For this final wrap, I’m going to try and think less about what I’m looking at, and more about what I could be looking at from these Fellows several years down the road. 

This exhibition runs from June 25 - August 6 

Teutons and Tetons: @HamiltonianDC Talk Tonight at 7pm

The Hamiltonian Gallery will have a discussion tonight by all three artists in their current show tonight, Tuesday, May 24th, at 7:00 pm. I previously blogged that you should “[g]o to see the work of Jessica Van Brakle; they had me at “sourcing 19th Century German Master Landscape drawing.” 

Then, the Washingtonian had this to say about her work: “Manipulating scans of the landscape paintings, she isolates and amplifies dark shadows, until patches of Teutonic forest turn black while other features zero out entirely.”

So tonight, enter the forest, and hear the roar!

Located at 1353 U St., NW.