Reviews

East City Artnotes: Washington Project for the Arts’ 35th Annual Gala Exhibition Now On View

Exhibition works play off the industrial-chic atmosphere of the gallery space. Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Exhibition works play off the industrial-chic atmosphere of the gallery space.
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Now in its 35th year, the Washington Project for the Arts’ annual gala exhibition provides a unique opportunity to view a wide range of curated, regional artistry and this year is certainly no exception.  The exhibition returns to downtown DC this year and will be on display for the next nine days until works are auctioned off at the Project’s April 9th fundraising gala.

Spread over two floors of a downtown office building are 146 works by 116 area artists, selected by seven noted curators and the organization’s Board of Directors.  The backdrop is rather DIY—works hang on temporary drywall lit by industrial cage lights in this raw office space—which only accentuates the playful studies of form, line, shape and color exhibited by many of the works.

Works by (from left) Julie Wolfe, Soledad Salame, Ellington Robinson and Beverly Ress play off each others' abstract forms. Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Works by (from left) Julie Wolfe, Soledad Salame, Ellington Robinson and Beverly Ress play off each others’ abstract forms.
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Grouped together largely based on curator selection, the exhibition reads as a series of vignettes with distinct thematic underpinnings.  Several of the groupings stand out from the fore, including those chosen by Vesela Sretenović, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Phillips Collection, who presents a cohesive selection of works that inject wry whimsy into their abstract motifs (of note are Jonathan Monaghan’s inkjet print Ansonia (Tumor) and Jimmy Miracle’s sculptural Wastebasket).  The adjacent works from independent curator Julie Chae all possess narrative qualities, with whiffs of emotion that reverberate off the works.

Although vastly different in materials, tone and form, the works of Doreen McCarthy, Kate Warren and Dave W. Choi each exude palpable emotion. Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Although vastly different in materials, tone and form, the works of Doreen McCarthy, Kate Warren and Dave W. Choi each exude palpable emotion.
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Figuration reigns large in Arnold J. Kemp’s selections on the exhibition’s second level.  Kemp, an Associate Professor and Chair at Virginia Commonwealth University, made selections focused largely around views of the visage (with a few hindquarters in the mix courtesy of Veronika Pausova) that seem to focus their narrative qualities on examining familial or social relationships.  Kemp’s vignette stands firm against the riotous colors in the works chosen by Virginia Treanor, an Associate Curator from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  Ranging from the minimalist cubes of Lori Katz to Andrea Limauro’s vibrant abstraction, this vignette packs the most color per square inch.

Works chosen by Professor Arnold J Kemp examine all sides of the human form. Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

Works chosen by Professor Arnold J Kemp examine all sides of the human form.
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.

The exhibition’s timeline is shorter than past years, but expanded hours (until 8pm) and almost-daily gallery events give art lovers ample opportunities to view these works before their auctioned off to the highest bidder.  And if you happen to hold a ticket to the finale gala, now is a great opportunity to stake your auction claim!

The Washington Project for the Art’s 35th Annual Gala Exhibition is open to the public through April 8, 2016 at 1333 H Street, NW.  For information on daily events, gala tickets or bidding on artwork, please visit their website here.

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.