Space Fashion by Naomi Christianson

Regional artist Naomi Christianson will exhibit her vibrant artwork in the upcoming show Space Fashion which will be on display from Nov. 10, 2017 to Jan. 15, 2018 in the Forum Gallery of the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center. An artist’s reception is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11.

Naomi Christianson; Between Heart Beats; 40″x 60″x 1.5″; acrylic on canvas.

Quieting Change, Stilling Motion by Regina Miele

The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria Campus will welcome the art exhibition Quieting Change, Stilling Motion by Regina Miele to its Forum Gallery. The show will be on display from Sept. 22 to Nov. 5 with an opening reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

Regina Miele; Westward Bound, Dupont End of Day; oil on canvas; 30”x32”; 2015; Photo courtesy of artist.

Change, Witnessed by Sarah O’Donoghue and Zarina Zuparkhodjaeva

The Passage Gallery at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria Campus is excited to present the work of 2017 American University graduates Sarah O’Donoghue and Zarina Zuparkhodjaeva in the show Change, Witnessed. The show will be on display Sept. 22 to Nov. 5 with an artists’ reception scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

Zarina Zuparkhodjaeva; Near Distance; oil on canvas; 24”x40”; 2017. Photo courtesy of artist.
Sarah O’Donoghue; Florida and 7th; oil on canvas; 36”x48”; 2015. Photo courtesy of artist.

A Conversation with Wayson R. Jones

Artist Wayson R. Jones

***The Margaret W. & Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center is currently displaying “Memory, Mostly Self” by regional artist Wayson R. Jones. His work will be on display through July 30. In an effort to give more insight into Jones’ work and why he was compelled to create these pieces, the Schlesinger Center spoke with him about his artistic process.

Jones recently received the Prince George’s County Arts and Humanities Council Individual Artist Grant. He received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Maryland College Park, studied drawing fundamentals and intermediate drawing at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and figure drawing at the Washington Studio School. In previous years, he has displayed his work in various solo and group shows in the D.C. metro area, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York and California.***

Schlesinger: Was there a particular experience that inspired you to pursue visual art (given your background in music and performance)?
WRJ: Yes, actually. When I lived on Capitol Hill, I did something I’d been thinking about for a while – making collages with the autumn-color leaves. So I was going to Michael’s craft store buying light box-type frames for them. Of course the collages turned brown in a couple of months, but by then I’d bought a few oil pastels, just out of curiosity. I’d done visual pieces since I was in my 20s, one every 4 or 5 years or so, so it wasn’t completely new. Once I started with chalk pastels, I started really getting into it and showing my work. Artomatic 2008 was the first time, and it’s just gone on from there.

Schlesinger: What are your artistic inspirations?
WRJ: Most of it comes from my immediate environment, mostly the sky and the street. Clouds, stars, frozen salty winter streets, stained sidewalks, roadkill. As far as fine art, abstract expressionism, particularly Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Jean Dubuffet. Artists who are really invested in materiality, like Sam Gilliam, Lynda Benglis, Chakaia Booker. Those who work at large scale, like Martin Puryear, Leonardo Drew.

Schlesinger: The surfaces of your paintings are very textured and multi-layered. What can you tell us about your creative process?
WRJ: It’s intuitive, with no preliminary sketches. I’ll start with just knowing what sort of piece I’m going to do, as in this figurative series. Most of the pieces in this show (e.g., Swirling, Beautiful Flower, Judger) are done by pouring acrylic gloss medium on the surface, using it to draw the figure and gestural marks, then sprinkling powdered graphite and working it with a palette knife. The acrylic creates a resist that leaves the drawn lines more or less the white of the paper. The uneven blending of the materials gives the illusory depth. I like that the result of a fairly simple process can be visually textured and complex.

Swirling, powdered graphite and acrylic medium on paper, 22” x 30”

Schlesinger: When people look at your work, what do you hope they get 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?
WRJ: I want them to feel a sense of presence, a feeling of energy directed toward them from the figure. I don’t consider that I’m teaching, but creating an experience for the viewer. The main reaction I want is for people to not just look at but to see the work. I guess I don’t have goals in terms of reaction or conversation. That there’s reaction to and conversation about the work is a good thing in itself; remarks are almost always interesting and sometimes illuminating.

Schlesinger; Compared to your other work, how are the paintings in Memory, Mostly Self different?
WRJ: Mainly in that they’re among the most intentionally figurative pieces I’ve done. But the techniques and materials are the same as my more abstract stuff.

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?
WRJ: I find almost the opposite. There’s a pretty defined point at which the piece lets me know it’s done, and going beyond that is nearly always a mistake. I wouldn’t change anything about these particular pieces; I’m very pleased with them overall. If I go back into a piece, it’s usually to completely rework or paint over it.

You can find so much history and culture that inspired the black community over the decades in the pages of Jet and Ebony. Why were the male images from these magazines important to include in your creative process for this show? What role did those magazines play in your childhood?
WRJ: The identification with the Ebony/Jet images was a post-hoc thing, coming after the pieces were finished. It’s what resonated for me when I looked at the images. So I wouldn’t really say they were included in the creative process, more so the titling and what the images suggested. Several of the pieces are self-portraits based on an old family snapshot, when I was around 6 or 7. I think the tie-in with the magazines is very much about memory of those times more so than their cultural significance, which I didn’t really understand as a kid.

What can viewers and art lovers expect from your work in the future?
WRJ: If this series continues, it will probably go bigger and on different surfaces: canvas, wood or aluminum maybe. I’ve also started a series of collages that were inspired in part by this figurative work. I’m using laser prints of the same childhood photo in some of them.

Wayson R. Jones’ “Memory, Mostly Self” will be on display in the Fisher Gallery through July 30 with an artist’s reception 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 8. Read another Wayson Q&A with East City Art here.

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.

Current Interrupted: Paintings by John M. Adams

Well-known regional artist John M. Adams will exhibit his recent paintings in the show Current Interrupted in the first-level Forum Gallery of the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center Sept. 23, 2016-Nov. 13, 2016 with an artists reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. John specializes in painting, drawing and site-specific work. He is currently working on a site-specific art piece that will be on display in the Schlesinger Center in early 2017.

John M. Adams; That Three O’Clock; acrylic paint, PH neutral artist tape, Latex house paint on Gatorboard; 40” x 32”; photo courtesy of artist
John M. Adams; That Three O’Clock; acrylic paint, PH neutral artist tape, Latex house paint on Gatorboard; 40” x 32”; photo courtesy of artist

Artists Speak with Raye Leith and Tanya Ziniewicz

We recently hosted our first joint Artists Speak event with artists Raye Leith and Tanya Ziniewicz. Both artists spoke about their art exhibits that have been on display in the Schlesinger Center this summer. Tanya’s show “Évoluer” was on display in the second-level Margaret W. & Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery from July 29 to Sept. 11. Raye’s show “Blueprints” is on display in the upstairs Passage Gallery and first-level Forum Gallery through Sept. 18.

In case you missed this lively talk, here’s what the two artists had to say about their inspiration for their recent work, their motivation to continue to create in new and exciting ways and how history influenced their art.