The Fridge Presents Two Concurrent Exhibitions ULTRA 'quiet walks in dangerous places' and Laura Elkins 'Packin' Heat Talkin' Dirty'

By Editorial Team on October 4, 2012
Portraiture by ULTRA (left) and Laura Elkins (right). Photo courtesy of the Fridge.


Opening Reception: Saturday, October 6 from 7pm to 11pm


Join the Fridge for two opening receptions on October 6. ULTRA will open his first solo show in the main Fridge gallery space, and Laura Elkins will open a show in the Fridge’s brand new exhibit space called “The Mini-Fridge”. DJ Oso Fresh will spin an all-vinyl set. Both artists are presenting their unusual takes on portraiture.

ULTRA quiet walks in dangerous places

“When you’re out late in DC, you see a life that most people don’t experience. You notice these crazy, beautiful things that a normal person would overlook. I want to take the images and personalities of these people I’ve met into a gallery setting. I’m painting portraits of everyday people like a bouncer who has been working for 25 years and more known DC figures like H.R. from Bad Brains. I want to show the beauty of the people I see around me,” says ULTRA.

At quiet walks in dangerous places ULTRA will show a series of all new portraits using his signature lean, angular style. ULTRA’s portraits are inspired by the people he has seen while working in the early morning hours on the streets of DC.

ULTRA’s paintings use geometric shapes painted in faint monochromatic tones that layer to form light and shadow. He started writing HOBO in DC-style go-go graffiti in 1981. In the late 80’s, he moved to NYC where he picked up ideas for new styles and approaches to his art. When he moved back to DC, he changed his name to ULTRA after Ultraman, a Japanese television series that was his favorite growing up. Over his career, ULTRA took a love for graffiti styles with seemingly simple designs, like straight letters, to develop his signature streamlined, angular style.

Laura Elkins Packin’s Heat Talkin’ Dirty

“I began The White House Collection soon after moving to Washington in 2000. By embracing First Lady imagery, I create self-portraits that are deeply personal, while inherently historical and political. The work addresses social and cultural issues, including current events, while maintaining the personal, everywoman quality of the self-portrait. This conceptual device allows me a flexible and expressive vehicle to explore individual autonomy and mutability.”

Summer apposes First Lady imagery and guns with fun in the sun. By combining handguns with traditional summer pleasures such as reading, swimming, or biking, Summer takes the American obsession with packing heat to its logical and darkly humorous conclusion.

Dirty Words began with George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” and expanded to encompass hot-button social and political issues — the real dirty words of our time. Some Dirty Words paintings began as a series addressing civil liberties, which, it seems, have become “unmentionable,” as they are denied to us.

“Distinct from much painting today, especially portraiture, my self-portraits are painted from life. My use of photos is minimal – primarily for First Lady hairdos. Painting from life, the self-portraits definitely have a performative aspect. For instance, to create Summer in the City, I donned swim cap and tinted goggles that influenced the palette; wore a snorkel and mask, which fogged, resulting in an “out-of-focus” portrait; and, of course, held a pistol in my right hand, along with possibly a book, tennis racket, or sunscreen while I painted with my left. To paint Dirty Words, I shaved my face, smoked weed, twisted a coat hanger around my neck, and begged hypodermic needles from my pharmacist sister-in-law. But no shooting up — I’m afraid of needles.”

Laura will hold an artist talk on October 20, 1 – 3pm to discuss her history, and the inspiration and thinking behind her pieces.


Both exhibits will be on view through October 28. The Fridge is located at 516 1/2 8th Street SE (directions).