Who: Jane Johnson
Where: Her current show is featured at Vastu (1829 14th Street NW)
When: Now through November 11
Why: Jane Johnson tells stories with her work. These stories, although not obvious, can capture viewers to take them each to a different place. They are the perfect addition to a contemporary art collection.
Jane Johnson has committed herself to her artwork from the young age of seven and continued on through her BFA to produce meaningful, abstract works. Most recently in her career, Johnson has been working in mixed media paintings that combine materials, paints, colors and stories. Johnson says she “loves to incorporate her life long love of drawing and oil painting with collage and acrylics as well as other mediums.”
In her collection shown at Vastu, Johnson will bring the viewer into the canvas with each work to find the story within. Each piece has multiple layers of acrylic, collage, oil and various drawing techniques. Johnson develops the canvas through the buildup of materials and allows the drips of paint, and paper to shape the surface and create a unique experience. She uses a quote from Renoir’s son about his father to describe her work “he was very careful to keep an impression of transparency in his picture throughout the different phases of the work … he worked on the whole surface of his canvas [and] the motif gradually emerged from the seeming confusion, with each brushstroke.”
Johnson’s work in this solo show will certainly show the stories of each canvas and the different phases of how she transformers them in to art. She is constantly attempting to show the narrative that the different materials can create on her canvas and hopes to share them with the visitors of Vastu.
For more information on Jane Johnson and her current exhibition:
Jane Johnson’s work will be available for viewing at Vastu from September 23 – November 11, Monday-Saturday 11 am to 7 pm and Sundays from noon to 5 pm. For more information please visit her website.
Local artist, Brian Petro, is displaying some of his latest works on the walls of Vastu (1829 14th Street NW), now through July 16. The present works, “Supermarket Series” and “Roman Series,” are very different in both their influence and the media used.
When Petro was 22, he took his first trip to Europe and spent some time in Rome and other cities throughout Italy.
“I was just floored by Italy,” said Petro, whose travels inspired his current exhibition, “Roman Series.”
“[In this series,] I like to keep things very simple with the far-away, stoic gaze,” said Petro, referring to photograph prints of ancient ruins and statues hanging on the wall. “I feel it highlights the complexity of Roman society, just through this quiet, staring imagery.”
For the pieces in “Roman Series,” Petro uses a difficult and tedious process that makes each piece of work unique – a process Petro refers to as “photographic thermal transfer.”
“What I do is I shoot on real film, develop and enlarge that and then print that with a four-color press onto paper, a chemical release agent and plastic,” explained Petro. “Then when I heat that, it melts the plastic into the toners and the ink and then I can press it and it will leach off onto another surface. And in this case, the other surface is 140-pound archival paper.”
Also adorning the walls in Vastu are pieces from Petro’s colorful and vibrant “Supermarket Series,” which uses drastically different materials and pays homage to another influential time in the artist’s life.
“One of my first jobs in central Pennsylvania was working in a produce department in a grocery store,” said Petro. “I really loved the physical labor of working in this huge produce department, and I didn’t realize what was happening until years later, but I’d go in early in the morning and pack this huge department full of colors and textures and shapes and smells, and when I’d get done, I’d sit back and have such a gratifying feeling to see all of this wonderful and beautiful stuff. Now I realize that I was putting up an art installation every morning.”
Inspired by the urbane grittiness and the bustling energy of Manhattan, Petro first received the idea for his “Supermarket Series” when he found old signs from supermarkets and bodegas while searching for found art in the city. Petro’s affinity for red apples – and the Big Apple – is fully expressed and captured in this playful and lively series.
“This is my take on still life, just without the fruit in the bowl,” said Petro.
RIP, Dupont South Metro Entrance
Just for about a year, anyways. If WMATA is to be trusted, and I will let you draw your own conclusions about that, it will not be resting in peace during 2012. No, intrepid workers will be toiling to bring the escalators up to snuff. Full story at DCist, including a justification of why the entire entrance is closed, rather than just one escalator at a time.
Vastu’s Studio Designs Highlighted
Vastu, the design and furniture store on 14th Street, knows their neighborhood — quite a few small studio apartments owned by people with big ideas and social lives. Check out this piece in Express to get some design ideas of your own. Some tips: make your furniture multi-functional, mount your bookshelves and use glass. Also in the piece are some great pics of the small spaces. And if you want even more, check out this video of a tiny apartment that turns into 24 different looks in Hong Kong.
DC Brau, Pizzeria Paradiso Turn Beer into Bread
It’s not exactly what Jesus did, but it is certainly in line with the charitable spirit. DC Brau owners Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock decided to try their hand at bread, by using the leftover grains from the beer brewing process and Pizzeria Paradiso’s ovens. The results were reported to be like a rich whole grain bread. All loaves were donated to Bread for the City. Washington Post has the full story on their future food plans and other beer news. Good neighbor of the week award to DC Brau and Pizzeria Paradiso!
District Taco Finally Coming to District
Your days of staring at Food Truck Fiesta, willing District Taco to cross the bridge from Arlington, will be over soon. The first brick and mortar location will take the place of FunXion at 1309 F Street, Washington Post reports. While that location is a bit outside our coverage area, I’m willing to bet several of you work nearby. And the better news? The owners, Osiris Hoil and Marc Wallace, are scouting out additional spaces, including Dupont Circle. That’s good news to those still mourning the loss of Tomatillo Taqueria, the best (IMO) tacos in the area by a long shot.
There are two opening receptions for artists on Thursday evening, December 1 on the 14th Street corridor. Both are at local purveyors of high-end furniture and accessories, so it’s a great opp to check out local artists and see some fab items for the home.
6:30 to 8:30 pm at Well Built, 1541 14th Street NW: Well Built presents “HighCrafted for the Holidays”with local woodworkers Caleb Woodard, Kaleo Kala, Andrew Christenberry and Bob Etchells. Works on display through December 31. (See Well Built: Style Meets Sustainability on 14th Street.)
6 to 8 pm at Vastu, 1829 14th Street NW: Vastu presents “Elegant Corrosion,” new photos from noted DC photographer Colin Winterbottom. “Visually organic with an industrial feel, Colin’s pieces from “Elegant Corrosion” would be an excellent addition to any art lover’s collection.” (Vastu)
From Berrak Sarikaya
Here’s an event a day, starting tonight through Saturday.
Wednesday, Nov. 17: Join 1905 for a Beaujolais Nouveau Party, a night of food and festivities including a $50 prix fixe, three-course French dinner (tax or gratuity not included). There are still reservations available for two-seatings: 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. Doors open to the public at 10 pm.
Thursday, Nov. 18: Loaves and Fishes, a local meal program serving low-income and homeless individuals in the Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights communities, will be holding a fundraiser at Caramel from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on silent auction items and purchase the work of local artists and photographers throughout the space. No cost to attend.
Friday, Nov. 19: You’re invited to the opening reception for Bodyscapes, the Art of Bill Travis, at The DC Center for the LGBT Community from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through Jan. 5, 2011.
Saturday, Nov. 20: Celebrate award-winning personal trainer, Jonathan Ross, and the launch of his new book, Abs Revealed, at Vastu. Chat with the author, enjoy a healthy bite to eat and get some great fitness tips from 9:30 to 11 am. Please RSVP to [email protected], and mention if you’d like to attend the fitness workshop.
From Cecile Oreste at danceDC
If you missed Vastu’s first $500 or Less Art Exhibition, don’t worry: The DC furniture retailer and art gallery on 14th Street NW is bringing affordable art back with their second exhibition. All exhibited works are available for $500 or less
This show features a variety of paintings, digital designs and mixed-media pieces from four area artists: Maryanne Pollock, Gennara Moore, Joel Traylor and Campbell Maloney.
From Cecile Oreste
He’s back in DC now, but when artist Thomas Drymon was living in New Orleans people said that “beauty is in the decay of the city.” But Drymon said it was difficult to look past the hardships of the city to find it. His earlier paintings, with heavy brush strokes and a dark palette, reflected his emotions at that time.
Surprisingly, it was the devastation of Hurricane Katrina that marked a turning point in his style.
“I was reacting to the natural environment I was in. I was struck by the poverty, injustice and racism of the area, and was really angry,” he said.
“I started looking inward after Hurricane Katrina. I appreciated New Orleans more as I began to learn about its importance to its residents and started finding beauty in the city.”
This experience, along with advice from a friend, prompted Drymon to balance the darkness of his earlier paintings with a more positive energy. He started using a lighter hand with his brush strokes and experimented with the juxtaposition of pastel colors.
Today, Drymon challenges the conventional definition of beauty in the man-made world through his paintings.
“I make messy paintings with loose, informal lines and use colors that are not necessarily attractive side by side,” Drymon said. “I want people to see my hand in the work. I think it creates a deeper connection for my audience.”
He also achieves this through the medium of photography. “There are a lot of similarities in the way I paint and how I shoot,” Drymon said.
“I create flaws in my prints by covering the lens with my thumb, shooting out of focus or cutting off objects. I want to show that the traditional definition of a good picture could be broader.”
Since moving back to DC a few years ago, Drymon has become a member of Mid City Artists and has exhibited his work at various galleries in the area including Nevin Kelly Gallery, Studio Gallery, Gallery Neptune in Bethesda and the Athenaeum in Alexandria. He has also shown at several local businesses such as Biagio Fine Chocolate on 18th Street NW, Caramel on U Street and Vastu on 14th Street NW.
In addition to creating original artwork, Drymon is a freelance graphic designer. He has primarily worked with nonprofits including Smithsonian Contributing Membership, Holocaust Museum, and World Wildlife Fund among others.
Drymon recently started Thomas Drymon Selects, a curatorial project which shows provocative, contemporary work from experienced artists in exhibitions three times per year. He also plans to experiment with different media in the future including film making and sculpture.
From Cecile Oreste
Allen Russ is a local photographer whose work is currently for sale at Vastu’s $500 or Less Art Exhibition. His on-location work featured in the exhibition includes landscape shots of Acadia National Park in Maine, Estero Bay in Florida and Monument Valley in Arizona.
Landscapes and elements of the environment are often the focus of Russ’ photography.
“I’m always searching for that pure, pristine place,” he said. “In some ways, photography is escapism. When you take the signs of humanity out of the photo, you are redefining the world as you would like it to appear.”
According to Russ, all of the work featured at Vastu was shot on film, which is rare in today’s photography industry. The shots were then scanned into a computer and traditional dark room work was completed using Photoshop.
Despite using new technologies for his dark room work, Russ still uses old school principles to create his finished products.
“I don’t look at a photo as infinitely modifiable,” he said. “I still limit myself to what should theoretically be possible in a traditional darkroom. I try to use the raw digital file as if it were a film negative.”
When asked about the pieces he chose to contribute to the exhibition, Russ rediscovered older pieces in his collection. “I think they will appeal to people seeing them for the first time,” he said. He also based his decision on what would work best in the store, where he previously exhibited his work in 2007.
In addition to his artistic photography, Russ makes a living as an architectural photographer at Hoachlander Davis Photography in Adams Morgan. He was recently a finalist in the 2010 International Photography Competition at Fraser Gallery and also regularly participates in the Hickok Cole Architects/Washington Project for the Arts annual benefit.
He is currently working on a project titled “City of Trees,” a collection of tree photographs in the District which he plans to publish as a book. He hopes to donate the proceeds from the potential book sales to the Trust for the National Mall and to eventually expand this business model in order to impact other important organizations.
From Cecile Oreste
Vastu is known for its contemporary furniture and interior design services. But, did you know it also houses a vast collection of works from several Mid-Atlantic artists? In fact, Vastu is currently hosting its first ever $500 or Less art exhibition with works from six artists, all priced at $500 or less.
According to Art Director Brian Petro, Vastu “likes to change things up once in awhile.” With the recession still affecting thousands in the District, he thought what better way to mix it up than to put together an exhibition featuring an array of affordable art.
“People are crunched for the extras in life,” he said. “This exhibition gives people who don’t have the budget the opportunity to purchase high quality art.”
Vastu’s Marketing and Showroom Manager Janelle Tracy added that the goal of the exhibition is to make art more accessible: “People often feel intimated about buying art for the first time. This exhibition gives people the opportunity to own art work that is original,” she said.
The exhibition features photography, wall sculpture, paintings and mixed-media works from two new artists and four artists who have previously shown at Vastu including Mid City artist Colin Winterbottom.
Allen Russ and Kristina Bilonick, also based in the DC Metro area, have contributed works to Vastu for the exhibition. In addition, you will have the chance to purchase works from DeMarquis Johnston, Rose Minetti, Gabriel Shuldiner and even Brian Petro himself.
When asked how he decided to group these particular artists together, Petro said he looked for high-quality work that is really unique. He thought about their previous work and decided on these six based on the variety in color and structure each artist would bring to the display. “I wanted to give people the opportunity to see more art. I wanted them to have more options so the exhibition features a wide range of styles and mediums,” Petro said.
You can view the exhibition and purchase the works on display until August 19. For more information and examples of pieces in the exhibition, visit Vastu’s blog, Design Clique. Also, watch for profiles on Borderstan of the DC-based artists featured in the exhibition. (See “Kristina Bilonick: From Journal Entries to Screen Prints.”)
From Cecile Oreste
Kristina Bilonick is one of the local artists featured in Vastu’s current $500 or Less art exhibition. When asked to contribute her work to the exhibition, she considered the aesthetic of the store and selected pieces that would complement its modern décor.
Some of her works on sale at Vastu include an acrylic painting on canvas titled “Frutas” and a screen print with acrylic and graphite on paper titled “Love Boat,” which portrays her childhood dreams of being a famous actress.
“My work is about family, personal experiences and growing up in the DC suburb of Chevy Chase,” she said. “A lot of ideas come from journal entries I’d written when I was in grade school.”
Bilonick recalls being inspired by summers spent in Panama as a youth, as well as observations of her grandmother. Her grandmother collected Maybelline Great Lash mascara, a memory which inspired her to create a five foot sculpture of the pink-and-green makeup tube.
Bilonick has shown at several galleries in the DC Metro area including Transformer and Studio Gallery. However, this is her first time showing at Vastu despite previously working out of the store’s basement studio space. She now calls Gold Leaf Studios, between Union Station and Chinatown, home. Artists Sarah McLaughlin and Nick Pimentel also share the space, where Bilonick has worked out of since last September.
In addition to creating interactive installations, Bilonick designs a line of screen-printed apparel and accessories which can be purchased at Smash! Records in Adams Morgan, The Shop @ Civilian Art Projects and her own website. She is also involved in other areas of the arts community in DC.
She recently performed in “Memoria Brassica”–one of the “Artistic Blind Dates” during Week 2 of the Source Festival and currently works as Program Director for the Washington Project for the Arts.