Open House: Saturday, March 12 from 1pm to 5pm
Trees, in their many incarnations and habitats has been a subject for Frank Day throughout his long and distinguished career as an artist. This exhibition at Addison/Ripley, arbor/real, brings together, two bodies of work, two very different manners in which the artist has examined his subject. One approach, which focuses on cherry blossoms, finds ways in which to infuse an overworked, clichéd subject with an urban romanticism. The other, utilizing tree trunks, draws on the artist’s extensive travels from Miami Beach and Rosslyn to Bangkok, Penang and Vientiane to select and craft highly stylized, pared down images. Day’s stated intent in this exhibition has been to “…attempt to punch through literal reality…IRL if you will…into a garden of aesthetic sensibility and mood, using subject matter in plain sight.”
The artist’s images of cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin in Washington, photographed at night, avoid the saccharine qualities that plague a popular subject, allowing for multiple, often surprising light sources and vantage points. In addition, the overall effect of these photographs is that of late 19th century European and American night paintings by Pissaro, van Gogh, Homer and Whistler in particular. The deft handling of lighting and framing gives these works a powerful presence and an ethereal beauty.
In marked contrast to the cherry blossoms, the segmented tree trunks of his accompanying body of work, allow Day to bring a colorist sensibility into the photographs. Meticulous cropping of the often anthropomorphic trunks, setting them against widely varying, carefully selected flat color backgrounds, gives this work a graphic and very conceptual quality. By sometimes pairing one or more trunks in one frame, against differing color backgrounds, the work achieves a film still effect. The baobab trunks from Southeast Asia, wrapped and betokened with offerings of everyday objects, inject a note of humor and of the the sublime. As Day says, “…trees as channels and pathways to the spirits.”
Day shows, in this exhibition, that he is unafraid to bring his painting skills, his computer savvy and his disregard for the obvious into full view as he has before with his Bangkok phone booths, Blow Ups of Thanksgiving parade balloon characters, RV Night work, Ship Hulls and African beauty ads and mannequins. Addison/Ripley is very pleased and proud to host this newest iteration of the artist’s imagination.
Frank Hallam Day received the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Prize in 2012, the Bader Award in 2006 and most recently was recognized by the selection committee for the 2017 Prix Pictet. Day has received several grants from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities including one for 2022. He was Artist in Residence at Acadia National Park in 2007, and was U.S. Cultural Envoy to Ethiopia in 2008. He has juried and curated numerous photography shows and competitions in the Washington area.
The gallery is located in Upper Georgetown at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Reservoir Road and will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 until 4 and by appointment.