As the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, so does DC’s spring art schedule, beginning with this month’s round of First Friday openings.
On the top of ArtSee’s list of must-see shows this month, stands Contemporary Wing’s “MUMBO SAUCE.” Curated by Lauren Gentile, Contemporary Wing owner, and Roger Gastman, curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s recent exhibition, “PUMP ME UP – D.C. subculture of the 1980s,” this survey of artists with roots as deeply embedded in Washington, D.C. as is the sweet and tangy sauce that the show derives its name from, “MUMBO SAUCE” explores the relationships and experiences shared by people working and living in this strange little city that is the nation’s Capital.
The Foundry Gallery’s exhibition “OUTLOUD,” features the work of 12 artists who began painting together twelve years ago. Exploring themes of non-representation and intuition, these works have a beautiful airiness that translates into both a calming aesthetic, and a curious emotive awareness.
On the cutting edge of the DC emerging art scene, Hillyer Art Space opens this Friday with Heather Day’s “Sideways” and Fawna Xiao’s “LOST LAND.” Though employing very different visual modes, works of paint, fiber and line by Day and print abstract landscapes by Xiao ebb and flow with one another to create an environment that challenges the eye to focus on details while simultaneously absorbing the greater image.
Bringing the Art in DC to You – Roxanne Goldberg
Having recently finished a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship in Italy, DC native Sonya Clark is back in the District with a solo exhibition of new work at Contemporary Wing. “AHEAD OF HAIR“ addresses issues of race, class and culture by using hair as a deeply personal medium.
Recently, ArtSee sat down with Clark to discuss her show and the details of her work.
ArtSee: How did hair become an inspiration for you?
Sonya Clark: I’ve been craving hair since I was a child, so I’ve had an interest for a long time. In the Africa Diaspora, there is a wealth of hairstyle and it’s a type of art. In a salon, they get a weave with a needle and thread being stitched. It’s working with the fibers that we and others grow.
ArtSee: Do you use real hair?
Sonya Clark: When I first started making pieces that were about hair, I didn’t actually use human hair. I used cloth and thread to approximate hair. At first I thought it was strange to use someone’s DNA and then sell it, with the history of selling bodies in this country. But now I use hair.
ArtSee: Whose hair do you use?
Sonya Clark: I use human hair and I’m particular about whose hair I would like to use. I use my own hair and hair of very good friends. I don’t use hair from strangers who try to give it to me, and there’s hair I would never sell — like my mother’s. I’ve made pieces that honor her through her hair, but they never end up on the market.
ArtSee: Do you have a favorite work of yours in “AHEAD OF HAIR?”
Sonya Clark: The newer work is where my interest is, so the pieces where I’ve taken those modernist formal tendencies and asserted myself. I’m enjoying Albers Study and Quadroon, or White Canvas where I unraveled the threads, treated it as the cloth it is, and then wove it together. I brought together painting, art and hairdressing.
To read ArtSee’s full review of “AHEAD OF HAIR,” visit the website.
“AHEAD OF HAIR” is on display at Contemporary Wing until March 2. Contemporary Wing is located at 1412 14th Street NW. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm.
Bringing the art in DC to you, Roxanne
If you attended the inaugural party launch for Cafe Saint-Ex’s Pass the Peas on Wednesday (the Pass the Peas series is a soul food and music event that takes place on the second Wednesday of each month), you may have noticed a new sight across the street. Over the past two days, French photograffeur “JR” and a team of volunteers from New York and DC took over the façade of an empty building at 1401 T Street NW.
The result? A new black-and-white civil rights-themed mural based on a picture of the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike of 1968 by photographer Ernest Withers.
It’s a rare treat to have JR, a photographer, street artist and activist (or photograffeur, from the mix of the French words for photographer and graffiti) here in the District. Outside of his (and my!) hometown of Paris, he typically works in more “tense” areas, like the slums of Kibera, Kenya, the favellas of Rio de Janeiro or the wall separating the Palestinian territories from Israel.
In fact, JR has only worked twice before in the United States, in New York (he’s keeping an eye on the Williamsburg bridge and the high line) and in Los Angeles. We can thank Lauren Gentile of Contemporary Wing (1412 14th Street NW) for helping bring JR to our town and our little part of the city. Gentile, who had previously been instrumental in bringing Shepard Fairey to our area, pursued the Frenchie after watching and being inspired by his TED Talk online (JR won a TED prize last year). And we’re sure glad she did!
I’m not sure how long the mural will stay up for, but I personally love it.
What do you think?
From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
From now through next Saturday, August 4, “Off the Wall: Established Contemporary,” is on view at Contemporary Wing, 1412 14th Street NW. The small, carefully curated showing at Contemporary Wing features work by some of the most well-known contemporary artists.
The show’s 10 works include pieces by Nan Golding, Kara Walker, Shinique Smith, Andy Warhol and Young British Artists Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Lauren Gentile sourced the wide range of works from private collections in Washington, DC and New York City.
A print from Andy Warhol’s “Endangered Species” series and a Damien Hirst woodcut, “Quinaldi Acid,” serve as larger scale anchors for the group of mostly smaller pieces. The vivid cibachrome prints by Nan Goldin (like “Toon, So, and Yogo on Stage,” the image used in the marketing materials for the show) also serve as a visual touchstone, drawing the viewer into the worlds occupied by her subjects.
The two most diminutive works in the gallery — Kara Walker’s “Untitled, Swimmer,” a delicately rendered gouache on paper, and Tracey Emin’s “Untitled, Nude,” graphite on paper — offer more subtle but equally compelling visual experiences.
The next installment, “Off the Wall: Street Art,” will run from August 16 to 25 and will feature works by Shepard Fairey, Faile, Blek Le Rat, James Marshall (Dalek),WK Interact and Gary Baseman. The opening reception is Thursday, August 16, from 6 to 8 pm.
This Sunday Contemporary Wing is leaving its 14th Street NW home and traveling over to the National Portrait Gallery and Smith Commons to host a celebration for renowned street artist, Gaia. Not a stranger to DC, Gaia has left his mark on several local buildings, including the space behind the P Street Whole Foods and a wall on the P Street Logan Hardware building.
This weekend, Gaia is back in the District to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts – a celebration he will recognize by creating a massive live portrait of the organization’s founder, Juliette Gordon Low. On June 10, Contemporary Wing invites the public to meet Gaia and watch the artist in action as he creates his new masterpiece. The open event will take place in the Kogod Courtyard (8th and F Streets NW) from noon until 3 pm.
At 5 pm, the party will move to Smith Commons (1245 H Street NE), where Gaia will discuss the story of his work and unveil his extraordinary “Dusk on H Street,” one of the largest privately commissioned murals in DC history. Bar specials and complimentary small bites will be available at the H Street reception, but space is limited so please RSVP to [email protected].
For more information, visit the Contemporary Wing website.