Reviews

East City Artnotes: Looking Forward/Looking Back at the Brentwood Arts Exchange

Works by Wayson Jones, Joan Belmar, Sheldon Scott and Ellington Robinson. Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Works by Wayson Jones, Joan Belmar, Sheldon Scott and Ellington Robinson.
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Looking Back/Looking Forward: 15 Years of Millennium Arts Salon, now on view at the Brentwood Arts Exchange, defies easy categorization as it captures a wide swath of area artists in its artistic net. The twelve selected artists—Holly Bass, Joan Belmar, Anne Bouie, Welsey Clark, Hedieh Ilchi, Wayson Jones, Anne Marchand, E J Montgomery, Ellington Robinson, Sheldon Scott and Stan Squirewell—work in a variety of mediums, including painting, printmaking, sculpture and even video. Abstract works largely take center stage, although portraiture and sculptural vessels are also included.

Listen to My Song of Freedom
Hedieh Ilchi
Acrylic and Watercolor on Mylar
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

While at first glance, the wide variety of works make it initially difficult to pinpoint a cogent message, closer inspection shows certain themes beginning to arise. Many of the abstract works touch upon the systemic constraints posed by biology and/or geography, while the portraiture adds a layer of human complexity to the mix. Hedieh Ilichi’s Listen to My Song of Freedom presents a tsunami of hot pinks, vibrant ochers and blood reds clashing with cool blues and teals holding the fires in check; a diminutive female, her body eclipsed by her flowing black tresses, stands with bullhorn ready to reign in this fray. A similar feeling of kinetic energy held at bay is seen in Anne Marchand’s Moving Times where burlap fragments hold explosions of color in check. Joan Belmar’s Blue Note, featuring a lattice of red lines and black dots add a geographic note to this idea, while Ellington Robinson goes full-on geopolitical with his 4th Dimension.

Blue Note Joan Belmar Mised Media on Paper Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Blue Note
Joan Belmar
Mixed Media on Paper
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

These constraints become more personal in Sheldon Scott’s John Henry Man, a character study of a man literally held firmly in check by gravity, but figuratively weighed down by unseen societal structures. Injecting a human element into the mix demonstrates how these unforeseen forces, kinetic energies and physical structures react to each other in sometimes chaotic ways. While this cacophony of forces can create beautiful moments like the northern lights, it can also influence political strife. Looking Back/Looking Forward demonstrates that investigating the overlapping, often unseen forces around us can lead to a deeper understanding of our societal norms, morals and political systems.

Looking Back/Looking Forward: 15 Years of Millennium Arts Salon runs through January 2nd, 2016 at the Brentwood Arts Exchange.  For hours and directions, visit their website here.


Editor’s Note: a previous edition had listed Nekisha Durrett as a participant.  Ms. Durrett was originally approached to be a part of the exhibition but was not able to participate.  The gallery’s listing was only recently corrected.

Eric Hope
Authored by: Eric Hope

Eric Hope is a curator and writer based in Brookland. He moved to Washington DC in 1997 and a twist of fate found him a volunteer marketing job at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In 2009, after ten years of marketing work at large museums in DC he moved into the realm of curating, staging a variety of solo, duo and small-group shows for the Evolve Urban Arts Project. He currently freelances as a curator and writes about local artists and the DC arts scene for a variety of online publications. Originally from Missouri, Hope holds degrees in International Relations and Public Service Administration from DePaul University in Chicago.