Where to See Art Gallery Exhibits in the Washington Area

“With us, the future becomes greener.” This slogan would be more persuasive if printed somewhere other than where photographer Todd R. Forsgren encountered it: on a plastic bag floating in the ocean. Photos of this and 44 similar bags, many of which tastelessly say “thank you”, are arranged in a grid in the artist’s “A Field Guide to Pelagic Plastic Bags”. The series is featured in “Approaching Event Horizons: Projects on Climate Change.” Mason Exhibitions Arlington brings together thematically related works from the Atlantica Collective, a group of artists who generally have ties to the Washington area but live elsewhere in the United States and Europe.

Most entries involve photographic images, whether still or moving. Gabriela Bulisova photographed charred forests on two rolls of film which she then crumpled and digitally scanned, producing damaged images of destroyed places. Equally austere and panoramic are Mark Isaac’s photos looking up at canopies of trees against a white sky. Using color rather than black and white, Katie Kehoe superimposed wildfires over images of areas she has a personal connection to – and which, so far, have not burned. Sue Wrbican’s “Before the Ghost” sequence photos are abstract, but their bright orange swells evoke fire, perhaps of the petrochemical variety.

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Closer to home, Billy Friebele has used artificial intelligence and a two-part video platform to explore the Anacostia River. The resulting photos and videos – one of which is displayed on a large low definition screen in the plaza outside the gallery – look both above and below the waterline. The AI-generated digital stills produced in the process are blurry and muddy, but oddly beautiful.

Atlantica Collective: Approaching Event Horizons: Climate Change Projects Until October 1 at Mason Arlington Exhibits3601 Fairfax Drive, Arlington.

When the pandemic forced global photographer Matt Leedham to stay home, he curled up with a good book – one he made himself. The artist from Virginia has collected some of his images in a volume, thus training in Asian papercraft and European bookbinding techniques. Some of the results are on display in “Recto/Verso,” an exhibition in the Multiple Exhibits Gallery that takes its title from the front (or right) and back (or left) of a sheet of printed paper.

Several copies of the book are on display, open to pages that juxtapose photos rhyming like “Open/Closed”; a rectangular cave portal that reveals the sky beyond (verso); and a stone-framed door blocked by a pile of stones (recto). Leedham did not limit themselves to one format, however. The show also includes photo-based scrolls, an extremely horizontal “accordion book” and several 3D “tunnel books” that allow the viewer to look beyond the exterior images to see the partially hidden interior images.

Leedham does not identify the locations of his photos, but the language sometimes offers a clue: two books on the tunnels feature panels in Thai and Japanese, respectively. The Japanese text is next to a set of train car windows behind which the photographer has inserted extensive exterior scenes. The outside becomes the inside — or the back becomes the front — in Leedham’s wittily muddled tableaux.

Matt Leedham: Recto/Verso, a pandemic in the Codex Until October 2 at Multiple Exhibition GalleryTorpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria.

Parts of Elizabeth Helmet’s photos are loose and flowing, smudged and dripping. Yet viewers of his Athenaeum show might rightly guess that the local Portuguese-born artist trained as an architect. Casqueiro’s designs include crisp, straight lines and crisp rectangular blocks, and some incorporate accurate renderings of classic buildings or land use plans. This architectural quality makes them compatible with the work of the venue’s other current star artist, Jean Sausele-Knodt, whose 3D wall sculptures have already been reviewed in this column.

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The style of Casqueiro opposes the soft to the hard, the line to the color and the painting to the ink. Bright hues dominate, but there are also black shapes and areas of neutral gray and tan. Flowers often appear, sometimes painted but often described with as much care as in a botanical guide. Floral shapes can also appear in more decorative schemes, echoing fabric or wallpaper patterns.

On the whole, the painting-drawings are more calculated than intuitive, but the first impression they give is quite the opposite. Careful observation takes the eye from color to shape and into compositions that are more complex than it first appears. In a sense, Casqueiro’s images are like buildings, revealing detail as they are entered and traversed.

Elizabeth Helmet Until October 2 at Athenaeum201 Prince Street, Alexandria.

In separate local group exhibitions, Korean-American artists WonJung Choi and Ahree Song explore the idea of ​​transformation. Choi won first prize in this year’s Trawick Prize, the winners of which are featured in an exhibition at Gallery B. Song is one of three artists featured in the tech-themed show ‘True and False’ of the Korean Cultural Center.

Choi’s prints and drawings are something of a joke about the history of art – or the prehistory of art. She devised a pedigree chart that imagines the offspring of two artifacts, unearthed in what is now Germany, dated to between 35,000 and 40,000 years ago: the “lion-human” and the “Venus of Hohle Fels”. Choi speculates that the mating of the angular lion-human and the bulbous Venus would have gradually led to people who look more like contemporary humans. In this scenario, the mutation leads to normality.

Song doesn’t have to guess what his evolutionary experience would look like. His “Contained Time” is a red pepper coated with urethane primer, an industrial waterproofing material, and left to decompose. Isolated from the air, the vegetable liquefies while retaining its shape and color. The result is a plastic replica of a chili pepper that’s also a real chili pepper. “Contained Time” is as shiny and shapely as a piece of pop art, yet offers an eerie commentary on science’s ability to distort organic objects.

The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards Until October 2 at Gallery B7700 Wisconsin Ave., #E, Bethesda.

True or false Until October 3 at Korean Cultural Center2370 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

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