***Tackling real and imagined hurdles for the sake of art***
This past year of shows at the Schlesinger Center have been an eclectic showcase of our regional talent. The design of the galleries at the Schlesinger lend themselves to a visual dialogue between the artist’s exhibits. It’s been a joyous blast to be an exhibition organizer and bring these shows to the arts community but also to the students and staff of Northern Virginia Community College.
Much love to the brilliant and hardest working local artist Shanthi for the loan of four paintings in January and February of 2016. The works created a seamless transition to Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here. Shanthi’s show “Cosmic Design” also ended our 2015 season.
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here – “Storytelling/Global Narratives”
This was a group show that showcased some local arts leaders behind the D.C. Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Festival. I called it the “blizzard” show since our drop off times for the work were scheduled right as the blizzard of 2016 landed in Washington. But we made it work!
Jessica Kallista‘s “Dear Suburbia”
A solo exhibition by a mixed media collage artist and arts instigator behind Olly Olly. Jessica’s show was gives the viewer a mysterious, at times humorous but ultimately, devastatingly beautiful look at the shadow side of suburbia. Art is everywhere.
The BunnyMan Bridge Collective
The Schlesinger Center galleries were delighted to bring this Northern Virginia collective to the Passage Gallery. They were a surprise show and debuted during the reception for “Dear Suburbia.” Keep a look out for Toni Hitchock, Javier Padilla, Abner De Jesus and Jason Davis. You never know when you will find them.
Greg Braun‘s “Rhythm and Hues”
Greg brought in our first site-specific beauty in the Forum Gallery. His musical splash of color and inspired engineering of the installation lit the place on fire. I found out during the installation that Greg was a former Norther Virginia Community College student. We are both Corcoran graduates as well, so there is always that connection.
Catherine Day‘s “Ambit”
Catherine’s photographs moved me from the first time that I saw them at the Greater Reston Arts Center. Every day of her show, I saw the haunting landscapes on fabric floating in the Forum Gallery. There are mysterious images that draw you in and hold you. I particularly liked the use of antique fabric for the works. My favorites of Catherine’s work include the carnival images.
Aya Takashima‘s “In Passing”
Photographs from Aya’s series are brash moments in time where you can feel the silent gaze and exchange between Aya and her subject as she passes through the environment. She is a passenger in a vehicle capturing and activating a moment in time. It was a great feeling for me to bring her work to the attention of the local arts community.
The Small Collective’s “Defining Spaces”
We are all on some level engaged in the digital world. Russel Creger Barajas, Megan Leary and James M. Locke pursue their visions and dialogue of their environments using analog photography. The results are haunting moments of landscapes and interiors about family, home and the rural environment. Their personal memories entered our collective memory after viewing their work.
Mark Howe‘s “Precious Metals: Precious Visions”
Mark’s work displays a serious dedication to craft and a passion for the beauty of gold. Initial worries about displaying so much gold was overshadowed by the beauty and elegance of the pieces. The gallery glowed as we moved into summer and his work turned our second-level Fisher Gallery into an actual jewel box of unique treasures.
Color8art‘s “A Game of Consequences”
Our largest group show was an innovative approach. Color8art is a group of six women artists who are friends and professional artists. Their inspired concept was to apply the childhood activity – Game of Consequences – to a collaborative art project. I loved the idea of one artist placing a mark on a blank canvas and another artist taking that blank canvas and building on the mark to the point of completion.
***Showcasing the Power of Drawing***
Raye Leith‘s “Blueprints”
Raye’s show was the blockbuster of the summer. This was work of complex draftsmanship and beauty that yes, disorient the viewer, but compels them to look. The themes addressed include climate change, seismic activity and the industrial age’s impact on the person. “Blueprints” was a collection of large multidimensional works done in a highly charged blue palette.
Tanya Ziniewicz‘s “Évoluer”
Évoluer is a collection of ethereal works that came from direct observation of the natural world and evolved into otherworldly environments. Where did these tangled plant-like forms come from? Are we above ground or below?
Casey Snyder‘s Physical/Ephermal
Casey Snyder’s solo exhibition explored spaces and materiality. I loved how elements would slide off the picture plane yet remain completely integrated. She called into question how we look at the gallery space with the corner painting “Turn” and also blew visitors way with her use of transparency. Photographic quality was also used to describe these works.
Matthew Grimes‘ (IN)MATERIAL
A big thank you to Matthew for joining Casey and John to enhance the conversation about materiality, space and contemporary painting. I was excited at the opening to hear visitors go, “Mmmm…there is a conversation going on here with these show.” (A little fly on the wall action) These large-scale collage paintings echo the works of Robert Rauschenberg but also spring from a highly personal connection to the landscape of Matthew’s day-to-day experience. #matthewgrimesrevealed
John M. Adams‘ “Current Interrupted”
John’s abstract works in the Forum Gallery are inspired by his love of the natural world and perhaps the chaos and enchantment of being a new dad. His transformation of the gallery is a perfect transition to his site-specific piece that will come in early 2017.
***NOVA Fine Arts Professors***
Jessica Gardner‘s “Raising: Motherhood in Modernity”
Jessica works as a full-time art professor next door to the Schlesinger Center in the Tyler Building. We had several conversations over the year about how her work was changing. As an artist, it can be frightening to see your work change. One of my roles was to encourage her as she worked on the exhibit. We are both very excited by the success and resonance of this exhibit. Thank you to the community for your support.
Sherry Trachtman‘s “Life Cycles”
Sherry’s sculptural works flow along the Passage Gallery. Oh, we have stories behind the installation of this work. All exhibits have a story. Each of Sherry’s spiral collages is a story of a particular stage of life. I have my favorites. and you will too. This show will cycle us into the New Year and will be on display through Jan. 29.
Special shout out to our small yet nimble team including the talented but “who me?” – technician/engineer, Nathan Devonshire – our lighting guru and installation consultant!
Thank you to the arts community. See you in 2017!