Winter 2020 Exhibitions at American University Museum

By Editorial Team on January 21, 2020

Sat, 25 January 2020 - Sun, 15 March 2020

Courtesy of American University Museum.
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 25 from 6pm to 9pm

Landscape in an Eroded Field
Carol Barsha, Heather Theresa Clark, Artemis Herber
Curated by Laura Roulet
January 25-March 15, 2020
Landscape in an Eroded Field brings together three women artists whose work reflects the evolution of the pictorial landscape tradition in the Anthropocene era. Carol Barsha’s closely-observed nature studies and flowery landscapes are paired with Artemis Herber’s mythically-themed, architectonic reliefs. These immersive paintings surround a site-specific installation and soundscape designed by Heather Theresa Clark, utilizing her environmental planning background.

Depicting nature and the environment is one of the most ancient and elemental expressions of art. From cave painting to Dutch still lifes to social practice incorporating life forms, artists have always been attentive and responsive to the world around them. This exhibition spans landscape painting that takes no social or political stance to multi-media painting and sculpture that puts climate change at the center of its meaning.

Courtesy of American University Museum.

Robert Franklin Gates: Paint What You See
Curated by Jack Rasmussen
January 25-May 24, 2020
Robert Franklin Gates: Paint What You See showcases an adventurous artist who greatly influenced the course of Washington art from his arrival from Detroit in 1930, at the age of 24, until his death in 1982 as an AU Professor Emeritus. He was a muralist, painter, printmaker, draftsman, and professor at the Phillips Gallery School and then American University for over forty years. His watercolors earned him early acclaim, signaled by their inclusion in the first very exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art upon its opening in 1941. Gates’ paintings can be found in The Phillips Collection, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Dumbarton Oaks, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Corcoran Legacy Collection and the Watkins Memorial Collection at the American University Museum.

Courtesy of American University Museum.

Heroes & Losers: The Edification of Luis Lorenzana
Lisa Guerrero Nakpil, Coordinating Curator
January 25-March 15, 2020
Luis Lorenzana (b. 1979) is a self-taught Filipino artist whose background in politics has infused his work with a cynicism that belies his longing for a kinder, more equitable world. The exhibition thus touches on the themes of a desperate kind of selfless heroism—and the all-too familiar failure of a democratic political system. These are works that have relevance to the current American landscape; indeed, to anywhere in the world.

Courtesy of American University Museum.

Communicating Vessels: Ed Bisese, Elyse Harrison, Wayne Paige
Curated by Claudia Rousseau, PhD
January 25-March 15, 2020
Presented by the Alper Initiative for Washington Art
The phenomenon of “communicating vessels” in science appealed to Surrealist poet André Breton (1896-1966) as a metaphor of the process of balancing artistic inspiration from the interior life of the mind and the perception of reality outside of ourselves. The three artists in this exhibit all work from this premise, although each with a different conceptual and stylistic approach. Their paintings and drawings reflect a widespread prevalence of surrealist imagery in contemporary art.

Courtesy of American University Museum.

Volkmar Wentzel
Curated by Leah Bendavid-Val
January 25-May 24, 2020
Presented by the AU Museum Project Space
Volkmar Kurt Wentzel (b. Dresden, 1915-2006) arrived in Washington, DC in the early 1930s. When the Great Depression led to prohibitive housing costs in DC, he moved to Aurora, West Virginia, to join a community with Robert Gates and several other artists who had become close friends. In 1937, back in Washington, architect Erik Menke introduced Volkmar to a book titled Paris De Nuit (1933) by Brassaï, a French photographer. Volkmar was enchanted. He purchased a new camera and began photographing the series “Washington by Night.” First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, out for a stroll one evening, encountered Volkmar and purchased several of his Washington pictures. Volkmar completed his Washington photographs and brought them to National Geographic. He was hired immediately. The event led to his 48-year photographic career as a National Geographic photographer.

Courtesy of American University Museum.

Good Form, Decorum, and in the Manner: Portraits from the Collections of Washington Print Club Members
Curated by Tim Doud
January 25-March 15, 2020
Portraits are usually understood in one of two ways: as the depiction of the face of a person, or a representation of someone’s impression of a person. This exhibition comprises many works that could be thought of as conventional portraits of individuals in a wide range of media, including woodblock and wood engravings, intaglio prints, mezzotints, monoprints, photography, collage, and an assemblage made with found objects. The show also pushes the boundaries of portraiture by including works that capture the likenesses of animals, places, memories, and events.

Good Form, Decorum, and in the Manner can also be considered a snapshot of the Washington Print Club today by celebrating the prized pieces its members have chosen to highlight. My curatorial interest also lies in the resulting overlaps, intersections, gaps, and dialogues between collectors’ collections.

American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center located at 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. For more information, call 202-885-1300.