Lachesis’ Order by Amelia Hankin

The galleries at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Art Center at the Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria Campus will display the art exhibit Lachesis’ Order by artist Amelia Hankin. The show will be installed in the Passage and Forum galleries from May 12 to July 30. Hankin’s current body of drawings and screen prints reference the superstitious beliefs that emerge in everyday life – from stepping on cracks in the sidewalks to opening an umbrella indoors. Through repetitive imagery rendered in fine detail, Hankin questions the tipping point between harmless acts of routine and the human obsessiveness with order, manifested in these rituals.

Amelia Hankin, Dreamcatchers with Pattern, screen print, 2017, photo courtesy of artist.

Unmasked by Wilfredo Valladares

The Margaret W. & Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center is honored to exhibit a series of sculptures by regional artist Wilfredo Valladares in his solo show Unmasked. The show will be on display April 17 to June 4. Wilfredo explained that this body of work explores the interconnectedness of cultures. In creating the series, he used bronze wood, bronze steel, cast iron rolling pins and other materials. The sculptures capture relationships between people and cultures and tell their unique stories.

Wilfredo Valladares, Unmasked 1. Variable dimensions. Bronze wood.

At the Seams by Lina Alattar

The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria Campus welcomes regional artist Lina Alattar who will display her show At the Seams in the second-level Passage Gallery from March 17 through April 30 with an artist’s reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 25.

Lina Alattar, Where There Is Always More

The Reverence of Water by Cheryl Edwards

The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center will welcome regional artist Cheryl Edwards as she presents her latest art exhibit from March 3 to April 30. Edwards’ collection The Reverence of Water will be on display in the center’s Forum Gallery, and an artist’s reception is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 25.

For this collection, Edwards used ink stain on raw canvas in her exploration of the reverence of water and its relationship to identities. She explained that she chose this process because it is “a wet-on-wet water-based process and it’s conducted without the use of brushes.”

The Red Sea, ink stain on raw canvas, 34″ x 59″

Chroma by Abstract Painter Lonnie Pauls

The art galleries at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center are excited to welcome and introduce chromesthetic artist Lonnie Pauls. She will open her first ever solo show Chroma on Feb. 3. Her artwork will be on display in the Passage Gallery of the arts center through March 12, with an artist’s reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11.

Terminal Flux: A Site-Specific Graphite Wall Drawing by John M. Adams

Artist John M. Adams is one of our first artists of the 2017 season for the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center art galleries. Adams has created the site-specific graphite drawing Terminal Flux on the wall of the atrium of the building. Terminal Flux is the Schlesinger Center’s very first wall drawing. The exhibit for the drawing opens Monday, Jan. 16 with an artist’s reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11.

Adams’ site-specific drawings are created on location, for that specific location, and last for a predetermined amount of time before they are painted over or destroyed. He has completed more than 12 site-specific drawings in the Washington, D.C., area. At more than 20 feet tall and 30 feet wide, Terminal Flux is Adams’ largest site-specific drawing to date. This drawing will be the Schlesinger Center’s second site-specific art exhibit but the first exhibit where the artist draws directly on the walls of the building. Terminal Flux will be on display all year. See East City Art‘s review of Adams’ drawing here.

Terminal Flux
Terminal Flux

Mary’s 2016 Reflections

***Tackling real and imagined hurdles for the sake of art***

Schlesinger Center Galleries Exhibition Director Mary Welch Higgins (left) with NOVA professor and photographer Aya Takashima
Schlesinger Center Galleries Exhibition Director Mary Welch Higgins (left) with NOVA professor and photographer Aya Takashima

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.

Shanthi Chandrasekar
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?

***Multimedia Painting***

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!

Q&A with Artist John M. Adams

Artist John M. Adams
Artist John M. Adams

***The galleries at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center has extended John M. Adams’ art exhibit “Current Interrupted.” His work will be on display in our first-level Forum Gallery through Dec. 18. In an effort to give more insight into Adams’ work, why he was compelled to create these dynamic pieces and what we can expect in 2017, the Schlesinger Center spoke with him about his artistic process.

Adams is also currently working on a site-specific wall drawing for the Schlesinger Center that will debut in January 2017. This wall drawing will be his largest to date, so check back on our blog soon for more details.***

Schlesinger: What was the inspiration for Current Interrupted?
JMA: I’ve always been interested in the perceptual connection between artist, object and viewer. In this new body of work, I am continuing my exploration of the art object as a catalyst for contemplation and meditation for the viewer as well as the artist. In terms of imagery, I’m an avid outdoors man and find myself equally inspired by the structures of the natural world and of those of the suburban/urban environment in which I work. The format of this work was also influenced by the birth of my son, who was born earlier this year. He is with me everyday, so he spends quite a bit of time with me in the studio.

Schlesinger: Compared to your previous work, how is Current Interrupted different?
JMA: The rhythm and atmosphere of my studio has been fundamentally altered because of my son. It’s no longer just me in the studio for hours thinking, looking, making marks. My time and attention are divided between him and the work. I quickly realized long painting sessions in which I got lost in my work were no longer a possibility. I had to find a way to be able to create continuity, flow and maintain focus in the paintings while working in five, 10 or 15 minute snippets of time.

As my son was becoming aware of his surroundings, I noticed he focused on patterns made of repetitive bars or rectangles (such as the sides of his crib). This led me to build off of some small studies I made 10 or so years ago but never explored; all of a sudden, they resonated with me in a new way.

I started making large paintings quickly, with scaled back color schemes (1-4 colors). The paintings were more saturated and intense than in much of my previous work – no doubt influenced by the colors that were grabbing his attention. I found myself paying particular attention to the micro-relationships of positive and negative space within the paintings.  I then separated the paintings into strips 1.5-2 inches wide. Working one strip at a time, I reconstructed the painting, placing a portion of each strip on a new surface. Once the first strip is placed the next strip is chosen and edited based on the previous strip or strips.

To me it’s an intriguing process that allows me to keep the focused contemplative approach while being able to build the piece at an irregular pace in a number of sessions if needed. He was in the studio much of the summer when I made all of the work in this show. It’s completely changed the way I work and live.

Schlesinger: When people look at your work, what do you hope they get/learn from it? What kind of reaction were you going for when creating this body of work, and what kind of conversation do you hope it provokes?
JMA: In this new body of work, I’m continuing my exploration of the art object as a catalyst for contemplation and meditation, for the viewer as well as the artist. Fluid marks are juxtaposed with the regulated rhythm of sharp horizontal line breaks, which creates a fluttering vibration and tension in the paintings. These elements pull me into exploring those relationships and I can spend some time with them, just looking. I’m interested in what happens when snippets of perception are edited, reconfigured and compartmentalized to give them new meaning through their relationship to the whole.

Schlesinger: A lot of artists say that a piece is never really complete. If anything, what would you change or do differently about this body of work?
JMA: That’s part of what keeps artists going, the “what if” effect. I’ve got ideas about scale, color schemes and process that will lead to new work. I just have to see where it goes. I’ve continued to make new paintings using the same process, and I’ve got a big project coming up so…

Schlesinger: What should artists and admirers of your art expect next? Feel free to mention the upcoming wall drawing and any other projects, exhibitions, etc., that you have coming up in 2017.
JMA: January 9-20, 2017, I’m installing a site-specific drawing in the atrium of the Schlesinger Center. It will be the first site-specific drawing in the art center and it will be my largest to date, reaching over 20 feet high and extending 30 feet at its widest point. I’m extremely excited about it. I’ll be launching a crowdsourcing campaign very soon and I’m sure you will see more information on this blog when it is live.

John M. Adams specializes in painting, drawing and site-specific work. His art can be found in private, public and corporate collections including in the Wilson Building at D.C. City Hall and the D.C. Art Bank Collection.