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Review | In the galleries: Seasonal group shows include a singular artist


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Aside from being a few blocks apart, the summer group shows at Pazo Fine Art and Adah Rose Gallery don’t have much in common. Pazo’s “Soft Power” presents the work of just five artists, all from D.C. or Baltimore. Adah Rose’s “Carte Blanche” includes dozens of contributors, among them a few Europeans. But the two exhibitions have one artist in common: Wayson R. Jones, who is known for thickly impastoed square abstracts.

The Adah Rose show, which overflows from the gallery’s current home into its former space around the corner in the same building, features more than a dozen Jones paintings. Two are in the stark black-and-white style that was once the Prince George’s County-based artist’s signature, while others are pastel. The four Jones pictures at Pazo are more vivid, and can be seen as flirting with being landscapes. The standout is “Lifting Up the Sunny World,” a field of gradated oranges inside craggy green and blue borders.

The other Washingtonian in “Soft Power” is Jean Jinho Kim, whose aluminum-downspout sculptures have become simpler and more direct, to their benefit. Her “Good Vibes 3” consists of two mirror-image forms powder-coated in shades of dark olive and pale green. The piece recalls the confident austerity of the late D.C. artist Anne Truitt, and strongly contrasts the work of the show’s other sculptor, Danni O’Brien, whose found-object assemblages are bulbous, spindly and surreal.

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Also in the show are paintings by abstractionists Mary Anne Arntzen and Sue Crawford, both of whom employ voluptuous colors and undulating patterns. Arntzen’s oils are thicker and more textured, while Crawford’s gouaches are softer and more watery. What links them is the way both artists conjure motion that is contained within the frame, so that the gestures pulse and coil.

Like previous Adah Rose summer showcases of the same name, “Carte Blanche” was programmed by the gallery’s interns and draws heavily from artists whose work the gallery has previously shown. Among them are Jessica Drenk, who assuredly transforms mundane found objects such as white PVC pipes; Maremi Andreozzi, whose paintings of women in period garb are meticulously detailed, yet lacking faces; and Lori Anne Boocks, whose intriguingly weathered pictures layer partly abraded acrylic washes atop charcoal marks that include unreadable text.

New to the gallery is Taegan Treichel, a Denmark native who combines naturalistic renderings of foliage, birds and man-made features into fabulist compositions. “Hunting for a Prince” depicts a tightly compacted avian refuge on a rocky outcropping in a body of water that could be a small pond or a huge sea. Lush and strange, Treichel’s islet is a vision of some sort of paradise.

Soft Power Through Aug. 25 at Pazo Fine Art, 4228 Howard Ave., Kensington. Open by appointment.

Carte Blanche Through Sept. 1 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington.

The Potomac River is a broad, usually placid estuary whose disposition abruptly turns feral just beyond Georgetown. The wild river is the subject of the most dramatic work in “Potomac River Life,” a group show at the Athenaeum. Black-and-white photographs by Ron Colbroth and Daniel Horowitz — widescreen and close-up, respectively — capture the surge of Great Falls, as do Jim Tetro’s color shots. The most immersive portrayal of the falls is Elizabeth Matthews’s painting of the torrent at dusk, divided into three panels highlighted by red-painted sides.

More placid but just as evocative are paintings, drifting from realist to mildly Impressionist, of quieter stretches of the river by Christina Blake, Jill Brabant, Debra Dartez and Georgia Nassikas. Lianna Zaragoza’s oil of a section of riverbank at high tide is literally moored in the Potomac; it’s in shades of brown because the pigment was made with river silt collected and ground by the artist.

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The occasion for the exhibition is the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, and while most of the entries are scenic, a few are more pointed. Franz Jantzen used a near-obsolete photographic process to document trash that has accumulated where a creek meets the river; Marcel Deolazo constructed fish heads from shards of recycled plastic; and Kirsty Little filled jars with natural specimens and a few of the abundant pieces of single-use plastic that clog today’s waterways. These entries lack the sweep of the Great Falls imagery, but are in their own way just as powerful.

Potomac River Life Through Aug. 21 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria.

In a process that has not been without controversy, the city of Alexandria is revamping the Torpedo Factory Art Center, removing some longtime art-studio tenants. It’s also adding others, some of whom are represented in “Newly Juried 2022: A Torpedo Factory Art Center Exhibition,” just up the street at Principle Gallery. The 38-participant show is solid, but doesn’t foretell a significant shift in the sort of artists the facility hosts.

Many of the paintings are representational and rooted in traditions that are given a gentle twist. Sarah Bentley takes a neoclassical approach to a still life of a contemporary subject, a pastry and a Starbuck’s disposable cup. Minwei Liang nestles a highly detailed bird among flower-budded branches rendered in a looser style. June Yun’s picture is clearly an aerial view of a city, but partly abstracted in gemlike tones of turquoise pigment and gold and silver leaf.

If there’s a trace of autobiography in Liang’s and Yun’s work, such hints are even stronger in Anna Shakeeva’s and Iryna Smitchkova’s mystical pictures. Shakeeva’s self-portrait wreathes her face with birds and flowers, while Smitchkova centers peacocks and orange trees behind an open blue door flanked by ornamental tiles. Ellen Delaney shifts to rural America, combining the homey and the cosmic in three views of low-slung barns or houses under vast skies, while Sally Veach paints an expanse of turbulent clouds into which she inscribes a house-shaped pentagon. In their myriad ways, many of these pictures are reveries of home.

Newly Juried 2022: A Torpedo Factory Art Center Exhibition Through Aug. 21 at Principle Gallery, 208 King St., Alexandria.



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