This season, we celebrate abstraction in its many guises. From the delicate allover paintings of a young Howard Mehring to the eccentric installations of Julie Wolfe, we are happy to present four shows that feature local artists, as well as one curated by AU faculty.
The Alper Initiative for Washington Art space features the work of Joe Cameron. Cameron pushes the boundaries of photography. He approaches his work mathematically; opting to number his photographs, rather then title them and to work in stark black and white. And yet, there is a lyrical, poetic quality to his work. Although the viewer can recognize individual objects within the image, the compositions border on the abstract, fading the focus on each object and concentrating instead on the entire composition.
Also on the first floor is the early work of Washington Color School artist Howard Mehring. Mehring took the ideas of Abstract Expressionism and his teacher, Ken Noland, and created his own “allover” paintings of great subtlety and beauty. The works are calm and cool, mimicking the effect of dappled light, before he began changing his approach in the mid-60s due to the influence of critic Clement Greenberg. The grand scale of these canvas envelope the viewer in a field of color.
Featured in the stairwell and out in the sculpture garden, Towers and Monuments presents sculptures and paintings by Mike Shaffer. Ranging in size from diminutive to monumental, these structures play with line. Some are rigidly linear while others seem almost unstable, held together only through a perfectly achieved balance. The show explores the impulse to memorialize and create architectural tributes, proving that no structure is too small to be considered a monument.
On the second floor, New Ruins, curated by AU Studio Art faculty Danielle Mysliwiec and Natalie Campbell, presents the work of six artists working across various modes of abstraction. The artists employ a variety of unique media, as diverse as marble, wood, and clay, handled in unexpected ways. The rich materiality of the works heightens the power of the abstraction. They expand the language of painting and its traditional viewing modes.
On the third floor Julie Wolfe’s Quest for a Third Paradise investigates and plays with the systems through which we order and categorize the world. Wolfe uses both organic and technical imagery, combining them in imaginative ways to explore the idea of the Third Paradise, a world where nature and manmade technology exist in harmony. Her use of bright colors throughout the show lends a whimsical feeling, while maintaining a sense of order and of curiosity.
We hope you will come visit us and enjoy these works in person, exploring these vibrant and intricately abstract shows.