FEATURED IN THE WASHINGTON POST


SANDRA DOOLEY

A Cuban artist salvages and repurposes used objects

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | March 29, 2024

“Ojos Bien Abiertos” by Sandra Dooley in her exhibit “Layers.” (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

In Sandra Dooley’s “Champions,” seven girl swimmers hold flowers, a trophy and a kitten over their heads in gestures of triumph. It’s a multiracial group, with skin tones that include brown, pink and marine blue. Naturalistic and unnatural colors intermingle to embody the character of the artist’s homeland, Cuba. It’s a place whose “Layers,” the title of Dooley’s Amy Kaslow Gallery show, encompass diversity, ingenuity and magical realism.


Dooley has a naive style that's complicated intriguingly by incorporating recycled and repurposed elements. Most often, she portrays women who gaze forthrightly at the viewer through prominent eyes. Sometimes their irises are made of buttons, which the artist also uses to represent other body parts, including breasts and a corona of pink curls framing a round yellow face. Bits of fabric also figure in many of the collage-paintings, some of which depict costumes for Cuba's national ballet company.


Dooley uses money she earns from selling her art to feed community cats and dogs in her beachfront neighborhood near Havana. These and other creatures appear in many of her pictures, notably a collagraph in which a cat wraps tightly around a woman's neck. Heavy on metallic pigments, Dooley's prints feature copper backgrounds and bronze and silver hair. That's just one of the ways the artist uses unexpected hues and textures to transfigure everyday subjects.


Sandra Dooley: Layers Through April 7 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 7920 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda. amykaslowgallery.com. 


Read in the Washington Post.

Staking Claim

Innovative Spins on Native American Traditions

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | November 24, 2023

“Multidimensional,” by George Alexander, included in the exhibit “Staking Claim: Native American Artists on Identity & Place.” (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

Amy Kaslow Gallery often exhibits Indigenous crafts, but its current show takes a more complicated approach to traditional goods-making. Most of the 13 contributors to “Staking Claim: Native American Artists on Identity & Place” meld elements of their threatened cultures with Euro-American techniques. The show overlaps with the National Gallery of Art’s “The Land Carries Our Ancestors,” sharing Muscogee-Creek painter George Alexander (also known as Ofuskie). He uses an expressionist style to paint a bare-chested man on horseback who appears timeless save for one detail: He wears an astronaut’s helmet.

 

Seminole artist Tony Tiger employs traditional elements but combines them in a contemporary manner, layering colorful textile designs over old photographs of Native people. Another collagist, Montana Blackfoot artist Terrance Guardipee, assembles maps, photos, ID cards and vintage financial documents, placing them on wooden triangles or skateboard decks — a form of transportation somewhere between the horse and the spaceship. Hopi artist Larsen Harris Jr. uses traditional knife whittling to make kachina dolls, representations of spirit beings he embellishes with feathers and plant fibers.

 

Such potters as Jerome Ebelackerand Sharon Naranjo Garcia (both heirs to Santa Clara Pueblo’s ceramics practice) and Cavan Gonzales (whose Tewa name is Tse-Whang) produce vessels with elegant curves and iridescent dark finishes. Ira Lujan (Taos/Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo) uses an old-world art — glass-blowing — to produce solid-glass antlers that he pairs with gnarled found wood. Simultaneously rustic and sophisticated, these sculptural collages are traditional in spirit if not method.

 

Staking Claim: Native American Artists on Identity & Place Through Dec. 3 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 7920 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda. amykaslowgallery.com.


Read in the Washington Post.

Mother Earth

Fiber Art from Central and South America Employs Castoff and Recycled Materials

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | September 22, 2023

A close-up of "Guatemala, Land of Volcanoes," by Juana Yolanda Churunel Ajú, made of recycled T-shirts. The artist is a member of the Chuacruz rug hooking group. (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

A flock of chickens surround a nestlike basket. Birds cover a wall and dangle from the ceiling. Dyed recycled T-shirts are rendered into rugs and tapestries with semi-traditional Mayan designs.


Fashioned by craftspeople from Central and South America, these handmade talismans give a tropical vibe to “Mother Earth: Fine Fiber Art From the Middle of the Americas” at the Amy Kaslow Gallery. In addition to castoff T-shirts, the raw materials include palm fronds, native woods, recycled paper and tiny beads.

 

Produced mostly by members of cooperatives, the artworks draw heavily on indigenous plant and animal motifs. Although the members of Guatemala’s Multicolores Collective often employ geometric designs, animal forms nestle between the bars, diamonds and zigzags. The Emberá and Wounaan weavers — from Panama and Colombia, respectively — weave jar-shaped baskets as well as ritual bird masks with elaborate plumage and protruding beaks.

 

Colombia’s Casanare Sculptors construct animal heads from secondhand material that is given a jewel-like finish with delicate beadwork. Juan Carlos Arango and Angela Matiz, also from Colombia, repurpose leftover wood to make mobiles of streamlined birds whose pencil-like bodies are dwarfed by large rippling wings.

 

“Mother Earth” both celebrates nature’s abundance and demonstrates human ingenuity.

 

Mother Earth: Fine Fiber Art From the Middle of the Americas Through Oct. 1 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 7920 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda. amykaslowgallery.com.

 

Read in the Washington Post.

Leonets & Petrov

Two Artists Deal with the War in Ukraine Indirectly with Personal and Esoteric Approaches

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | April 28, 2023

"Spring Sky" by Jaroslav Leonets in his exhibit "Documenting Landscapes: Ukraine's Vanishing Terrain." (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

No signs of war are evident in Jaroslav Leonets’s and Andrei Petrov’s recent work, but their paintings respond to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Leonets’s landscapes depict a land of rustic beauty, barely touched by mankind but achingly vulnerable. Petrov’s landscape-influenced abstractions refer to an earlier period in the region’s history, yet were sparked by the Russian onslaught.

 

Leonets is a Kyiv resident who began painting rural Ukrainian scenes before the full-blown war began. His Amy Kaslow Gallery show, “Documenting Landscapes: Ukraine’s Vanishing Terrain,” features nine impressionistic oils made between 2019 and 2022. They’re painted primarily with sunny hues, yet with areas deepened by shadow. The majority of them feature bodies of water alluringly splashed with reflected light.


Similar highlights characterize most of the oils in Petrov’s Morton Fine Art show. But as indicated by the show’s title, “Footprints in the Snow,” the reflections play on white fields rather than blue lakes or rivers. Petrov is a D.C.-born New Yorker whose suite of pictures was inspired by his grandfather’s 1915 escape from a Siberian labor camp, a flight that took him to China and eventually the United States. Petrov is partly of Ukrainian heritage, and the Russian assault motivated him to revisit this chapter in his family history.

 

Both artists apply pigment thickly, but after that, their methods diverge. Leonets’s technique is as traditional as his imagery; clouds and cliffs alike are rendered with thick but loose gestures. Petrov applies layers of color that he then cracks and partly removes. Many of his pictures are defined by fissures that suggest the collision of tectonic plates. This signature move is visually striking, but also thematically suggestive: The fractures suggest breaks in the timeline or lives shattered by history. Where Leonets’s landscapes appear pretty but threatened, Petrov’s abstractions conjure centuries of ruin and loss.

 

Jaroslav Leonets: Documenting Landscapes: Ukraine’s Vanishing Terrain Through May 7 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 7920 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda.

 

Andrei Petrov: Footprints in the Snow Through May 7 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302.

 

 

Read in the Washington Post.

 

Australian Aboriginal Art that Transports You to Another World

Two shows at the American University Museum and Amy Kaslow Gallery are both otherworldly and grounded in this one

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | February 14, 2023

"Women's Ceremony" by Nellie Marks Nakamarra in the exhibit "Dreamings: Aboriginal Art from Australia's Central Desert." (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

Less than a mile up Massachusetts Avenue from “Madayin” — but more than a thousand miles away in Down Under terms — is “Dreamings: Aboriginal Art from Australia’s Central Desert.” The Amy Kaslow Gallery show offers six paintings by three women originally from Papunya, a small Indigenous community well south of Yirrkala.


Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi, Nellie Marks Nakamarra and Khatija Possum Nampijinpa paint on linen with modern acrylic pigments. But their seemingly abstract imagery draws from millennia of tradition. All three artists construct their paintings from thousands of individual dots, sometimes in a limited range of colors but just as often in exuberantly diverse hues. Their pictures are maps of a sort, featuring such motifs as rings of concentric circles, which denote places abundant in food, water and life.

 

Nakamarra’s “Women’s Ceremony” is the most obviously cartographic; its mostly tan-and-brown patchwork maps places where women-only fertility rites are held, but also represents the pathways of the ancestors whose travels are believed to have created the land. The curving forms of Nampijinpa’s “Salt Water Lake” and Nungurrayi’s “Grandmother’s Country” also illustrate ancestral passages. Where the former is all black and white, the latter nearly covers a black backdrop with rich reds, pinks and purples.

 

Nungurrayi’s painting looks like a tapestry that could have been woven on many continents, yet its details reveal a world, and a worldview, that’s rooted in a specific place and culture. Like “Madayin,” “Dreamings” has highly local significance but universal appeal.

 

If you go
Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Paintings From Yirrkala. 
American University Art Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 202-885-1300. american.edu/cas/museum.
Dates: Through May 14.

 

Dreamings: Aboriginal Art from Australia’s Central Desert
Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW. amykaslowgallery.com.
Dates: Through Feb. 26.
Admission: Both free.

 

Read in the Washington Post

 

TEXTURE

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | December 9, 2022

Vessel by Jabuliles Nala in the exhibit "Texture: Folk Art is Fine Art." (Amy Kaslow Gallery)


According to the show’s title, “Texture” is the focus of the latest in the Amy Kaslow Gallery’s “Folk Art Is Fine Art” series. The pieces on display, produced by more than two dozen individuals or groups from every continent except Antarctica, include many that are notable for luxuriant weaves, surfaces or ornamentation.


South African ceramist Jabulile Nala casts traditional beer pots whose glistening dark exteriors are embellished with symmetrical arrangements of nubs and gashes, echoing those etched into human skin by some African tribes. The Papayo Wounaan Weavers, who live in Panama and Colombia, make sinuous, watertight black-and-tan vessels from the fronds of a rare palm. Madagascar’s Marie Alexandrine Rasoanantenaina constructs delicate, nest-like baskets of vetiver, a wild grass. The geometric-patterned banners crafted by Porfirio Gutiérrez, who divides his time between California and his native Mexico, include a striking one made of undyed wool in multiple natural shades of gray.


Three standout artists take opposing approaches to tradition. Uzbek miniaturist Davron Toshev paints historical scenes of courtly life in a refined style developed by Persian artists some 600 years ago, while Haiti’s Josnel Bruno and Gabriel Bien-Aimé cut and hammer found-metal objects into rough-edged but elegant sculptures. For them, hubcaps and oil drums are as much natural resources as leaves or grasses.


Folk Art Is Fine Art: Texture Through Dec. 18 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW.

 

Read in the Washington Post

 

Washington landscapes

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | April 26, 2022

Cutting Through by Bernard Dellario in the exhibit "Washington Landscapes." (Amy Kaslow Gallery)


One of the Bernard Dellario gouaches on display at Amy Kaslow Gallery is titled “Cutting Through,” which would be an apt alternate title for the local-artist show called simply “Washington Landscapes.” Both Dellario and pen-and-artist Brandon McDonald blaze paths — for the eye, if not the foot — through the surprisingly serene wilderness near downtown D.C.


Many of Dellario’s gently impressionistic pictures depict Rock Creek as it dawdles through and around large, glistening rocks. The meandering channels carved by the stream are complemented by the indirect routes taken by sunlight that’s bent and diffused by foliage. More open compositions such as “Inlet” neatly mirror sky and water, but Dellario seems most at home under tree cover, where light dapples rather than glares.

 

McDonald’s detailed black-and-white drawings depict dry land, although sometimes buried in snow. While a hiking trail is often the centerpiece of his pictures, the walkway may be off-center, curving or barely visible. A few drawings rhyme with Dellario’s paintings: “Vibrations” foregrounds a rocky waterway, and “Up & Away” stripes a path with tree shadows. As in Dellario’s pictures, there’s a sense of motion, but not necessarily in a forward direction.

 

A more pointed view of local geography distinguishes the lone work by the show’s third contributor, Andrea Limauro. The Italian-bred artist gazes into the future at a Lincoln Memorial whose environs have become tropical. Rendered in a partly pointillist style, the painting shows the landmark framed by palm trees and messily overgrown with greenery. Where Dellario and McDonald view nature as a respite, Limauro foresees it as a potential threat to Washington’s neoclassical order.


Washington Landscapes Through Sept. 11 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW.

 

Read in the Washington Post

 

HumanKind

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | July 1, 2022

Esperanza Alzona's work “Nevertheless She Persisted,” included in the “Humankind” show. (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

Fingerprints represent individuality, and Zimbabwe-born artist Joseph Muzondo turns them into symbolic portraits in his handsome linocut prints, each of which incorporates a face into single-color whorls framed by white-on-white 3D patterns. The artist’s visages, which are partly inspired by African masks, are among the most evocative depictions of what Amy Kaslow Gallery calls “HumanKind.” The group show of that name features seven artists or artist collectives, including three that have been reviewed in this column previously.

 

 

Of the others, the only one who doesn’t portray faces is Esperanza Alzona, a local artist whose cast-aluminum pieces draw on her background as a dancer and choreographer. Meant to show strength and independence, Alzona’s sculptures abbreviate women’s bodies to such active parts as a torso or a pair of ankles and feet. The latter, titled “Nevertheless She Persisted,” shows a woman who has very nearly passed through a wall, signifying transcendence.

 

Faces are key to Sandra Dooley and Nestor Madalengoitia, both of whom construct human likenesses from bits and pieces. Dooley, who is Cuban, makes prints and mixed-media paintings of women, often featuring cats. Her subjects’ serene expressions suggest a triumph, perhaps temporary, over the ragged existence represented by their roughly collaged forms. Peru’s Madalengoitia creates prints and pastels in which abstract, doodle-like patterns cohere into human subjects. Like Dooley’s pictures, Madalengoitia’s are agitated and gentle as the same time.

 

HumanKind Through July 10 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW.

 

 

Read in the Washington Post

REnee Balfour

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | March 25, 2022

Renee Balfour's “Descending,” included in the exhibition “Renee Balfour: Nature Unbound." (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

A painter turned woodworker, Renee Balfour makes sculptures that emulate natural forms, not architectural ones. That doesn’t mean that the 11 pieces in “Nature Unbound,” her Amy Kaslow Gallery show, are rough and craggy. The sinuous shapes are artfully shaped and smoothly polished, and fitted together in ways that emphasize the artist’s control over her material.


The finished products are not altogether unbound. Rounded, smaller segments wrap around larger ones or attach to them in fringed arrays, and two sculptures are penetrated by arrow-like shafts. Most of the sculptures are wall-mounted so they cast elaborate shadows, mini-forests of shifting gray contours on the gallery’s white surfaces.


All the pieces are made from walnut or cherry sourced from a canyon near Balfour’s studio on the edge of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and were carved to reveal the wood’s grain. “Regeneration,” the only horizontal composition, includes a curved depression that was part of the original slab. More characteristic of the artist’s style, though, is the multipart “Descending,” which was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2,” a 1912 canvas that’s far from naturalistic. Balfour highlights wood’s intrinsic qualities while giving the substance a Futurist twist.


Renee Balfour: Nature Unbound Through April 3 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW.

 

 

Read in the Washington Post

Paintings Reflect Light's Luminous Effects: JANE KELL

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | January 14, 2022

Jane Kell's “Indigo,” included in the exhibition “Jane Kell: Abstract Light." (Amy Kaslow Gallery)


Earth and sky are clearly distinguished in the typical Jane Kell landscape, but details of both are soft, smeary and almost vaporous. Specific locations are not identifiable; they could be in Kell’s native Britain or in the Washington area, where she was artist in residence at Amy Kaslow Gallery last year. That venue is showing “Abstract Light,” a selection of 18 oils and eight sketches executed in gouache, watercolor, pastel and pencil.


Among the paintings are two nonrepresentational ones — “Blue Abstract” and “Orange Abstract” — that are among the show’s most striking entries. These, too, take inspiration from real things, but not natural ones. They’re modeled on the sculpture of Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), whose style resembles that of her friend, artist Henry Moore. Rendered in paint and pastel rather than stone or metal, Kell’s abstracts emulate Hepworth’s juxtaposition of curving solids and open voids.


Even without those two sculpture-derived paintings, Kell’s affinity for blue and orange would be apparent. For a set of landscape pictures, “Abstract Light” is remarkably short on green. In “Indigo,” sunlight-dyed orange clouds stack in an azure sky; in “Flatlands,” an orange field glows beneath a baby-blue firmament. Kell’s compositions are studies in two varieties of light, warm and cool.


Jane Kell: Abstract Light Through Jan. 30 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW.

 

 

Read in the Washington Post

Native Hands: Folk Art is Fine Art

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | January 14, 2022

Gabriel Bien-Aime's Adam and Eve included in the exhibition “Native Hands: Folk Art is Fine Art." (Amy Kaslow Gallery)
 

The case being made by the current show at Amy Kaslow Gallery is right there in the subtitle: “Native Hands: Folk Art Is Fine Art.” Organized in partnership with Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market, the exhibition presents works from 15 countries on four continents. The entries include such functional objects as textiles, baskets and ceramics as well as purely decorative prints, paintings and sculptures.

The pieces can appear strikingly modern or utterly traditional. Among the products of the Wounaan, an Indigenous people in Panama and Colombia, are talismanic masks of tropical birds woven and tufted from palm leaves. Yet two Wounaan weavers, Miria Chirimia and Elsa Chocho, craft sleek baskets whose two-toned patterns appear positively urbane.

Made of local Oaxaca clay, the mythic, partly painted figurine by Mexican sculptor Manuel David Reyes Ramirez looks as if could have been made in pre-Columbian times. But other artists work with industrial-age materials. The 3-D animal heads fashioned by Zulu women in South Africa feature modern glass beads in place of the found natural materials used centuries ago, while Haiti artists transform abandoned metal oil drums into bowls and relief sculptures. Gabriel Bien-Aimé’s “Adam and Eve,” which embodies Haitian Vodou spirits, draws on folk beliefs yet is indisputably fine art.

 

Native Hands: Folk Art Is Fine Art 

Through Nov. 28 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW.

Read in the Washington Post

DC LINES

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | January 14, 2022

Glass Table by Elroy Williams included in the exhibition “DC Lines." (Amy Kaslow Gallery)
 

D.C. Lines

Elroy Williams has worked for about 50 years as both a commercial and fine artist. Yet the local painter’s available output begins in 2001, after a house fire destroyed all of his creations. His subsequent art includes realistic pictures but also the mostly hard-edge and near-abstract canvases featured in “D.C. Lines,” a four-artist show at Amy Kaslow Gallery.

These Williams paintings emphasize structures and frameworks, rendered with black lines and filled by blocks of vivid color. Such titles as “Glass Table” and “The Box” allude to real-world inspirations for the geometric compositions, which sometimes appear quite different from varying perspectives. The one picture that doesn’t simulate depth is “El Camino,” which places hulking black shapes on a dark-gray field, only to pierce the darkness by placing Gene Davis-like stripes of orange, purple and green on the far right side. It’s the least architectural of the paintings, yet still boasts sturdy infrastructure.

Lines are abundant, but slipperier, in Linda Cafritz’s paintings. The black strokes are mostly vertical but sometimes horizontal, can be straight or wobbly, and are softened by washes and drips of watery color. Occasional droplet-like shapes that cling to the lines add to the sense of liquidity, hinting that even the most rigid elements in the D.C. artist’s pictures could melt or wash away.

Also on exhibit are works by the gallerist and her late brother. Andrew Kaslow made small tables with piano-shaped tops and elegant decorative motifs that often, although not always, derive from nature. The selection includes finished tables as well as prototypes presented as wall pieces; in the latter, the piano shape can be a ghostly figure that barely emerges from the allover design.

Even less linear are Amy Kaslow’s photographs, large-format close-ups of leaves, bark and other botanical details. These studies of color and form verge on the abstract but include recognizable features such as beads of water on a hosta leaf. Reminiscent of the curved dabs in Cafritz’s abstractions, the beads link photography to painting, and organic archetypes to invented ones.

 

D.C. Lines 

Through Aug. 8 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW.

Read in the Washington Post

MULTICOLORES

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | January 14, 2022

“Clavikot: Sacred Designs” by Petronila Jorge Set of the Quiejel community, part of the Multicolores Collective, evokes a huipil design, the traditional tunics worn in the region for centuries. (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

Lots of artists work with found objects, but the weavers of Guatemala’s Multicolores Collective employ something unusual: found colors. Vivid blues, reds and yellows gleam from the rugs and story cloths made expressly for Amy Kaslow Gallery’s “Ancestral Colors.” The hues weren’t dyed into the cloth by their makers, women of Mayan ethnicity who live in Guatemala’s impoverished, tumultuous highlands. The fabric comes from secondhand clothing from the Salvation Army, shipped to Guatemala in bales and then transfigured into evocative tableaux.

 

 

The collective began with the efforts of Mary Anne Wise of Wisconsin, who began teaching rug-hooking in the Kiche, Kaqchiquel and Tzutujil villages in 2009. The technique is not native to these communities, but the designs draw from ones long used for huipils, the traditional tunics worn in the region since pre-Columbian times. Their motifs are generally decorative, but can include narrative elements. In this show, the stories include the fantastical autobiography of Juana Calel’s “Self Portrait: Happiness,” in which the artist carries her baby through a forest filled with what her statement calls “healthy, happy and thriving animals.”

“My Mother’s Huipil” by Juana Cale of the Patanatic community. (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

If this vision of a peaceable kingdom is unusual, nature imagery abounds. Flowers bloom inside diamond-shaped enclosures in Bartola Morales Tol’s “The First Aroma of Spring,” and animals become geometric abstractions in Lidia Pich Chopén’s “Creatures of Nahuala.” The latter forms seem related to Mayan hieroglyphs, which are celebrated in such weavings as Irma Churunel Ajú’s “Reclaiming Our Language.”

 

While close inspection reveals many themes, visual and cultural, the artworks’ overall impact relies on the canny opposition of earthy and celestial colors. The brightest bird in Ramona Cristina Tumax Tzunún’s aptly titled “Our Brilliance” may once have been someone’s T-shirt.

 

The Multicolores Collective: Ancestral Colors 

Through June 15 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW.

 

Read in the Washington Post.

NOAH JAMES SAUNDERS

 

Review by Mark Jenkins | January 14, 2022

Installation shot of "Noah James Saunders: Sculpting Shadow." 

Oui Ca Va Bien by Noah James Saunders (Amy Kaslow Gallery)

 

To convey the myriad dimensions of the human form, Noah James Saunders and Scott Hutchison have each devised innovative techniques. Saunders uses black steel wire to construct hanging 3-D drawings that are defined as much by absence as presence. Hutchison overlaps multiple views, usually of the same person, a cubist strategy tempered by a realist style and neoclassical oil-painting technique.

 

“It’s like basket weaving,” Saunders recently told a visitor to “Sculpting Shadow,” one of the first shows at Amy Kaslow Gallery, a new venue in Spring Valley. The weaving is free-form and intuitive, though. Some of the Georgia artist’s statues are contained within circles, rectangles or cross-hatched grids, but the most vivid ones have no boundaries. All begin with an eye: Saunders builds outward from a single orb, using photos of complete strangers as models while knitting the wires freehand. He uses the shadows that the piece casts to guide his progress.

 

A gay man and an LGBT advocate, Saunders portrays only males, whether human or supernatural. (The arresting “Midnight Visitor” is a charismatic satyr with a goatee and antlers.) Most of the sculptures in this selection are busts, limited to shoulders, heads and extravagances of curly hair. But there is one three-quarters nude, “Selfie,” in which a man displays himself to a cellphone. It’s an explicitly corporeal moment, rendered in a few supple twists of wire.

 

 

Noah James Saunders: Sculpting Shadow 

Through April 25 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 4300 Fordham Rd. NW. 

 

Read in the Washington Post.

 


 

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