Andare, Partire, Tornare

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Now all I have to do is perfect a sneer while waving a wine glass

Dipped a toe into the DC art scene last night by taking advantage of the Third Thursday open houses that the local galleries run. Preparator Lad and I were supposed to meet up with some of his friends from the Smithsonian, but they ditched us so we ended up making the rounds by ourselves.

First up was Flashpoint. There, I fell in love with a series of abstracted landscapes by Filipina artist Isabel Manalo. Not all her work uses landscapes from the Philippines, but this particular show did. Unfortunatly, the one I most fell in love with, Pagsanhan Falls, doesn’t have an image on the web. It had lovely incomplete circles swooping upwards across the page, and was a really effective use of white space and movement that I was sold on. Her take on the terraced rice paddies was also very interesting. The colors of her paintings don’t come across quite as nicely on the computer as they do in person. I’m very fussy about the type of abstraction I like as opposed to the kind I sneer at, but these hit me dead center. Whang on the crumpet.

We went from Flashpoint to a more snooty/avant guarde gallery called Numark. No labels, no obligatory bowl of Goldfish crackers, and a bored gallery attendant hiding in the back office. The artist there was Dan Steinhilber, and the show was exceedingly hit or miss. There were some exceptionally cool pieces there, like a slim arc of white (made from Juicyfruit gum, amusingly enough) that Preparator Lad fancied (he loves the minimalism, he does), and a pair of suspended playground swings that I liked. We were both very amused and interested by a pair of caterpillar-like critters made from plates and forks. I like to see an artist’s sense of humor come across, and these things were downright charming. Plus, the giant balancing handtruck/cardboard box sculpture in the middle was fascinating. But there were some really uninspiring things there as well, like a bucket/kite/fan combo that was more pretentious than interesting, and a sort of wall sculpture made from globby bits of tape that seemed like student work.

From there, we went to Zenith Gallery, where I discovered that I am becoming an art snob. No, really. There were some very nice, highly traditional still lifes in the Dutch fashion (with really gorgeous frames that I wonder if the artist also makes), and an Irish artist (Rebecca…uh…something) who had really interesting abstracts (well, one was another abstracted landscape that looked like Bosch and Durer and true to form, I fell in love with immediately: it was titled Re-fuel) and also some lovely figure drawing sketches in chalk and conte crayon that were very appealing. But there was also a lot of stuff in there that was kitchy crap. Some of it was charming, whimsical kitch, but some of it was just plain stupid.

Wrapped up with a visit to Touchstone Gallery where I inadvertently insulted an artist to her face. Preparator Lad and I were walking past a series of very pastelly, flattened paintings showing scenes of people in cafes, at the beach, etc. A woman came up to us, introduced herself as the artist, and there was an awkward moment of silence because neither PL nor I really liked the paintings. PL, being an artist himself, rose to the occasion and asked her what she was drawing from when she painted this series, and she said that they reflected sketches done on a trip to Mexico. He made approving noises about “capturing the color,” and I commented that they reminded me of the Day of the Dead celebrations, with the color, and the flattening, and the Mexico, and so on. The woman stared at me, said, “What?” and when I repeated myself, mumbled something like, “Oh, yes, well, I suppose so” and strode away in a hurried huff. I’m not exactly sure why she thought what I said was an insult, so my only idea is that she spent signifigant time in Mexico without seeing anything done in that style. Which is hard to believe. I mean, I have a little grinning pumpkin/skull pencil holder sitting right here on my desk that I got from STARBUCKS, people. It’s not exactly an unknown artistic style.

We wrapped up the night at Fido’s, and listened to the marvelous Scythian play while drinking beer. PL is wonderfully amusing when drunk, so a good time was had by all. And I got home very late, and consequentally am a little blurry right now.

12:27 p.m. - 2005-04-22

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