Where to see art galleries in the Washington, DC area

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History is a subject of Micheline Clagsbronn’s “Crossings” in Studio Gallery, so it is fitting that the artist uses found objects whose weathered surfaces testify to past uses and experiences. Lengths of degraded driftwood serve as the hull while sections of tattered nets evoke the sails in the artist’s modern pieces in the capital, which she expands on work in her previous smaller gallery, Night Boats. This display was inspired by a ship log of the 1941 voyage made by Clagsbronn’s father, a Holocaust fugitive from Portugal to Britain. This metaphor extends to various journeys, psychological and physical, including the passage to death.

Several sculptures hang, often mid-air, as if to simulate the fragility of a ship at sea. Some of the sign pieces are ghostly white cyan patterns on cobalt or include backgrounds made from this process, best known for their use in architectural schemes. Most of the freestanding, ship-like installations are small, but the “Night Boat of the Golden Moon,” whose twisted-wood base is painted white, stretches more than eight feet. The artist’s statement notes that the found objects “look fragile but are in fact resilient”.

Among Clagsbronn’s notable influences is Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” whose tales of transformation—often about women transformed by tyrannical deities—fit the artist’s interest in elementary forms. This show features some titled works after lines by Victorian British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, such as “Laced With Fire,” in which actual flames sang their jagged blanks. Hopkins, whose poetry did not attract followers until decades after his death, seems a fitting reference for “transit.” The poet has traditionally been self-proclaimed and has come to be seen as a modernist, illustrating how life’s journeys can lead to totally unexpected destinations.

Watercolor images abound in Elizabeth Corin’s “Impact”, also in the studio, but human destiny is seen differently through the artist’s hand-made prints, paintings, and books. Its theme is climate change, represented by dwindling glaciers and fires that are advancing. The presence of mankind is only occasionally suggested, notably by a few small, simple houses dwarfed by smoke and flames at “The Approach of Armageddon,” a grouped painting. Figurative forms are stark and flat, though enhanced by mottled colours, in most of Corinne’s work. But there is a literal depth to “two tunnel books” that develop sequences through multiple cut pages. “Heaven’s Fire” and “Through Blue Ice” draw attention to the multi-layered accounts of burning and melting.

The Studio’s third set of ocean views is “Something Old, Something New” by Carole Jax, a display of paintings, prints and one multimedia work. It includes wooden blocks of intricate shapes resembling an underwater nautilus and a “tsunami” where painted waves rise loosely behind a solid globe. The contrast in that image between eruptions and circles continues on “Just Another Cloudy Day in May,” a stunning triangular plate in which the central plate is higher than the two surrounding plates. If Jakes’ landscapes do not offer philosophical or environmental parables, her masterful compositions have a narrative character.

Micheline Clagsbronn: Crossings; Elizabeth Corinne: Impact; And Carole Jax: Something old, something new Until May 21 in studio gallery, 2108 R St. N.W.

Transformer is an intimate space, the size of a narrow dining room where only three people can sit at the table, where the fourth side of the table has to fit against the wall. This is how Azikiwe Muhammad placed the centerpiece of the furniture in his gallery, “Co-words, separate catfish and sweet tea: an open platform for discussion.” Three members of Aunt/Uncle Julius’ family, depicted with two-sided plaques on cut boards, sit down to a meal that exemplifies African American ways of eating.

The bulk of Muhammad’s multimedia installation is decreed. In addition to diners, the New York artist simulated panels on the walls, which hung with naive pictures mostly depicting eating. But the food on the main table and smaller sideboard is represented by glowing neon charts. Also included were found objects, including cut-glass serving containers, fancy ladies’ hats of the kind worn to traditional black churches, and recordings of possible dinner conversations.

According to the gallery’s statement, the show is part of Muhammad’s “reflections on black people’s relationship to time—a scarcity and luxury for many as they navigate the responsibilities and demands of living.” But the installation can also be experienced as a place out of time, a room large enough for visitors to take a few steps into a perfect past.

Azikiwe Muhammad: co-words, separate catfish and sweet tea: an open platform for discussion Until May 21 in adapter, 1404 P St. N.W.

When Helen Zughaib exhibited her series “Syrian Migration” at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery three years ago, it consisted of 25 paintings. Now the often-presented Arab-American artist’s commentary on the mass exodus from devastated Syria has grown to 43 images, and is displayed only a few blocks away in a most visited location: the Kennedy Center, where Zughaib resides in social practice. .

The paintings are in Zughaib’s trademark setting, executed mainly in gouache with bold colors and simple, stylized shapes. But the artist drew inspiration, and sometimes paraphrased certain compositions, from the 60-panel “Migration Series” in which Jacob Lawrence documented the journey of early 20th-century black Americans out of the South. (Half of the Lawrence series is owned by the Philips Group). In one Zughaib update, for example, the Lawrence train gates allowing passage to the north became airport gates to Turkey and Europe.

Syrians usually wear robes with vibrant two-tone stripes that suggest traditional clothing and abstract paintings in the field of colour. The prolific outfit contrasts with the explosions, barbed wire fences, fighter jets, and waves that threaten to engulf small, overloaded boats. It is painful and poignant to see such dangers as Zughaib’s bright and orderly style depicts.

Helen Zughaib: Syrian Emigration During May 27 at the Hall of Nations, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. N.W.

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