Friday, July 18, 2014

The DMV at AU this summer

Exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center this summer focus on the art and artists and collectors in Washington, D.C. Exhibits open June 14 and run through Aug. 17.

Passion for Prints
Passionate Collectors: The Washington Print Club at 50 features almost 150 prints selected from Washington collections. The collection reveals a diversity of techniques from relief printing by celebrated masters Durer, van Dyck, Carracci, Pissarro, Picasso and Chuck Close to monoprints by contemporaries Richard Estes, Ventura Salimbeni, Thomas Frye, Adolphe Appian, Reinhard Hilker and Keiko Hara. Among the contemporary works is a print involving buckshot, and one created with 4,225 small black dots.
“Viewers will be surprised there are no dominating genres or periods or artists represented in this show, but rather a huge range of works that are national, international and local,” said AU Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen. “We share our location in the nation’s capital with most international diplomatic missions to the United States. Washington is a community with diverse interests and affiliations and may well provide the most diverse group of collectors in the country.”

The show will also feature “Midwest Matrix,” a film study of post-World War II printmaking to present, produced and directed by Susan Goldman.
The Washington Print Club was established in 1964 as an independent, nonprofit volunteer organization consisting of both collectors and practicing artists. This biennial exhibition celebrates the club’s 50th anniversary.

Lives Devoted to Art 
The Franz and Virginia Bader Fund: Second Act features paintings, sculptures and works on paper by Richard Cleaver, Emilie Brzezinski, Fred Folsom and other artists who received grants totaling $670,000 over the last 13 years from the Bader Fund. Legendary Washington art dealer Franz Bader and his wife, Virginia, started the fund, which continues to support the arts long after the couple’s deaths in 1994 and 2001, respectively. The fund committee awards grants for artists 40 and older who live within 150 miles of the U.S. Capitol.
The first exhibition of Bader Fund artists took place a decade ago. “Second Act” provides another viewing of the range and quality of work supported by the grants.
Franz Bader was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1903. Bader and his first wife, Antonia, were fortunate to escape Vienna after the takeover of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, arriving in Washington in early 1939 with few possessions and little money. But, as is true of so many émigrés from Hitler’s Europe, their arrival was America’s good fortune—Washington's, in particular. Working at first with the Whyte Bookstore and Gallery and then, from 1953 to 1985, at his own art and book shop, Bader was a pioneer and creator of a vibrant art scene in his adopted city.

Personal Drifts of Culture
Continental Drift surveys the work of Washington artist Judy Byron, and invites the viewer to consider the visual and auditory environment that informs identity. The exhibition acknowledges the artist’s drifting of visual influences between three specific countries: Brazil, China, and Ghana. From 2010 through 2012, Byron traveled abroad and photographed details of sidewalks, toys, products, netting, foliage, clothing and detritus. Images from her travels formed the point of departure for 18 color pencil drawings.
Accompanying the drawings are the voices of three women from Brazil, China, and Ghana who now live in the Metro D.C. area and have established roots while maintaining strong identification with their places of birth. Three smaller drawings — Memories of Home — are based on photos Byron took of objects in their homes that remind the women of the homes they left behind. The sound of ocean waves lapping the shore can be heard throughout the exhibition space.
Rasmussen observed:  “I don’t think any artist has communicated so beautifully the interaction of community and environment in the construction of culture.”

Nature’s Fleeting Beauty
Syzygy, William Newman’s series of 19 oil paintings and digital images, and two metal sculptures, is a vibrant investigation of temporality, subjective freedom, and natural splendor. The photographs, photorealist paintings and stainless steel sculptures present striking natural forms and places holding personal resonance for Newman, including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and the cosmos.
For his sculptures, Newman had natural artifacts from his farmhouse in Shenandoah County duplicated in welded, polished stainless steel by craftsmen in Beijing. The resulting forms gracefully blend elements of abstraction with Newman’s mastery of representational expression. 

This tactile sensibility is also evident in Newman’s conjunction of paintings and photographs. The central subjects of his paintings are round forms from nature, which Newman and his assistants meticulously recreated from photographs that he took himself or appropriated from NASA’s public archives. Newman then conjoined the objects with photographs using rare-earth magnets. Photographs that took just a click to create and paintings that took years to make join to represent nature’s fleeting beauty, its life through memory and desire, and its timeless eternal renewal.