Tag Archives: Washington City Paper

NATE LEWIS “Biological Tapestries” reviewed in Washington City Paper

19 Apr

 

washington city paper

“Biological Tapestries” Through April 27 at Morton Fine Art Artist Nate Lewis’ first solo exhibition cuts deep.

“Cloaked in Fratres Forever,” by Nate Lewis (2016)

Nate Lewis didn’t train to be an artist. Instead, he went into nursing, just like his father.

It wasn’t until his final year of school that Lewis became interested in art—first music, then drawing—as a way to disengage from the stress of the medical profession. For the better part of the last decade, Lewis has been honing his artistic practice while working in high-stakes, emotionally draining intensive care units. He currently works as a registered nurse in the recovery area of the critical care ward at George Washington University Hospital.

His first solo show, “Biological Tapestries,” now on view at Morton Fine Art, features 16 papercut works that blend Lewis’ interest in human healing with artistic expression. “Biological Tapestries” is an outgrowth of the trauma and redemption he’s experienced in his work environment. The works are compositionally minimal, even austere—mostly portraits that are simple and straight on, printed on porous paper in stark black and white. Lewis then sculpts the paper by snipping, slicing, and perforating the silhouette of the bodies to create three-dimensional figures that emerge from the canvas.

Lewis’ medical training and saint-like patience from years of caretaking are apparent in his practice. The paper-cutting process is laborious and detailed; it often takes him up to 38 hours to complete larger works (the biggest piece in the show is only 40 inches by 26 inches). The surgical precision that Lewis employs is, for all intents and purposes, as necessary to the integrity of these bodies as it would be in a real operation—one false knife swipe and an appendage might be lost. The stakes, naturally, are lower when it comes to paper.

Not every paper sculpture depicts a body in its entirety, to various effect. Some of the works come across as a memorial in nature, such as “Save Me This Time,” which features a torso with arms folded across its chest, as if laid to rest, unable to be physically saved. Others are slightly macabre, even if not intended to be so, by focusing on one specific body part—like a singular arm, no body in sight.

None of the all-male figures in the portraits are named, although Lewis’ artist’s statement suggests that they represent the patients and family members he interacts with in the hospital. The delicately layered slashes and densely patterned pinpricks that make up the artist’s paper patients impart a material fragility, as if one more incision could do them in, leaving nothing but shredded paper behind.

Like the injured and ill he cares for day in and day out, Lewis renders himself similarly vulnerable within the series. For instance, “Glio” features a forward-facing portrait of the artist, his face increasingly obscured by leaf-like snips that continue multiplying beyond his head, across the blank space of the page. The title seems to recall a clinical case Lewis perhaps encountered on the job—a quick search for “glio” reveals that a glioblastoma is a fast-growing brain tumor.

By reimagining and embodying the maladies of his patients, “Biological Tapestries” seems like an act of extreme empathy on Lewis’ part. Yet his self-portraits are also redolent of martyrdom. Lewis must methodically puncture, cut, and slice his own body until his features are nearly indiscernible. His process is almost a form of conceptual self-immolation in service of those he cannot help.

But for all of its painstaking craftsmanship and empathic ideals, “Biological Tapestries” lacks the tenderness of real vulnerability and pain. Despite being a series wrought from reflection on moments of intense mortal reckoning and human compassion, there is a certain amount of clinical detachment. The figures—both whole and partial—remain upright and static, their bodies on display like a teaching cadaver. They are beautiful in their design, but ultimately interchangeable.

1781 Florida Ave. NW. Free. (202) 628-2787. mortonfineart.com.

Click HERE to view available artwork by NATE LEWIS.

KESHA BRUCE in the Washington City Paper

22 Jan

washingtoncitypaper

ToDo ToDay: Kesha Bruce, UltraFaux, and the NSO at NPR

bruce

Artist Kesha Bruce’s work regularly features abstract portraits of unknown figures. Sometimes they’re called angels, sometimes totems. In her latest series, “The Guardians,” now on view at Morton Fine Art, she paints “spirits who act as watchers, keepers, and protectors.” The element of watching comes across most vividly in “Birbal” (pictured), a head in shades of red and black with two white eyes that appear to penetrate the linen on which they’re painted. Other works in the series are less representative, prompting the viewer to ponder how these figures act as protectors. Bruce’s combination of materials gives the pieces a tactile quality, pulling the guardians off the canvas and towards those they keep safe. The exhibition is on view Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays noon to 5 p.m., to Jan. 6 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. Free. (202) 628-2787. mortonfineart.com. (Caroline Jones)

Morton Fine Art at Aqua Art Miami featured in the Washington City Paper

5 Dec

Arts Deskwashington city paper

A Look at the D.C. Galleries and Artists at Miami’s Aqua Art Fair

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While D.C. chills in the freezing rain, D.C. gallerists are sweating out Miami humidity in breezy, emptied hotel rooms at South Beach’s Aqua Art fair, one of several fairs operating alongside Art Basel this weekend.

Amy Morton of Morton Fine Art has been showing at Aqua for three years, and brought a collection of paintings, photos, drawings, and collages from a slew of living contemporary artists, including three from D.C. The gallery scored one of the largest (and coolest, temperature-wise) rooms at the fair. The Miami art fairs put D.C. on the global art radar, Morton says. “D.C., we’re really making our stamp down here,” she says, and since Morton made its Aqua debut, “I’m seeing more of a D.C. presence overall.”

At Morton’s booth, the work of local artist Stephon Senegal—who does most of his work in bronze and steel—was represented in large-format portrait photos of children. Senegal has an undergraduate degree from Howard University and a master’s from the Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art. Morton also showed oil paintings from Nigerian-born D.C. artist Victor Ekpuk(top) and mixed-media collages by GA Gardner, who worked in D.C. for many years and now lives in Trinidad (below).

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A few doors down, Farmville, Va.’s J. Fergeson Gallery sold one of several $1,400 model trains painted by D.C. graffiti artist Tim Conlon (below) and is exhibiting a few of his spray-painted canvases, too. Fergeson has brought Conlon’s work to Miami for a few years now, but always as part of a collection of several artists. This year, Fergeson’s showing Conlon on his own. “His trains have always been popular, but it’s never worked out that I’ve had a good venue to show his paintings before,” says gallery founder Jarrod Fergeson. Conlon’s working on a street-art piece on a wall in Miami’s Wynwood Art District this week.FullSizeRender_2

Hamiltonian Gallery, also at Aqua, is showing the work of several of its fellows and alumni. Joshua Haycraft‘s tiny sculptures (below) are cataloged as elements of an alternate universe called BHBITB. Though the pieces are all handmade, Haycraft made painstaking efforts to craft them in precise, geometric forms that look like they could have come from a 3-D printer.

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Also in Hamiltonian’s room at Aqua is one of Sarah Knoebel‘s “Cycles” videos of a frozen ball of detritus—a head of lettuce, fake hair, feathers—melting in a cloudy tank of water. The gallery’s already sold “Rock My World,” one ofAnnette Isham and Zac Willis‘ $500 collages depicting Michael Jackson and Elvis as religious idols (below), riding googly-eyed unicorns and ruling over Lisa Frank cat stickers. Art collectors who are scared of the dark, take note: One of the Elvis pieces still on view (bottom) gave the Hamiltonian reps a shock as they closed up shop last night. When they turned out the lights, they noticed for the first time that it glows in the dark.

Follow #washingtonmiamipaper on Twitter and Instagram for more updates on D.C. artists and galleries from the Miami art fairs this weekend.

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Washington City Paper Reports on Possible Corcoran Gallery of Art Move

5 Jun

Corcoran: “We Need to Respect Financial Realities”

Posted by Jonathan L. Fischer on Jun. 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Corcoran Gallery May Sell Building, Move to Alexandria

We reported today that the Corcoran Gallery of Art is considering selling its building at 17th Street and New York Avenue NW. Tonight, the institution released the following statement, which was forwarded to students at the Corcoran College of Art + Design.

Statement from the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design

The Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design is beginning to implement plans to ensure its long-term stability and attain a new level of vitality and excellence. In choosing this direction for the Corcoran, we have responded to the unique opportunities to realize more fully our founding mission of “encouraging American genius.” At the same time, we need to respect financial and physical realities as we move forward.

Our plans begin from the understanding that education is the true foundation of everything we do–through our College, collection, and community programs. Our College is thriving, despite space limitations, and is poised for the growth that an outstanding school deserves. Our Trustees and senior staff are committed to making this growth happen.

At the same time, however, we recognize that the Corcoran is like most other museums throughout the country in having to struggle with the effects of a difficult economy. Unlike other art museums in Washington, though, we receive no federal funding. We must depend on earned income and fundraising–and our needs are made especially challenging by the high operating costs of a building that is beautiful but antiquated.

 

After a period of rigorous study assisted by many independent experts in the field, we have concluded that
we have a remarkable opportunity to expand the College and integrate it fully with the Gallery into a very effective educational organization with an outstanding collection
we would be hard-pressed to effect this integration in the existing building, which was not built for multi-purpose use and requires at least $100 million in renovations.
So, to move toward a robust and successful future for the Corcoran, we are evaluating all of our options for the building. Just as the Corcoran moved in 1897 to accommodate its growing collection, one of the clear options now is to consider relocating to a purpose-built, technologically advanced facility that is cost-effective to maintain.

In order for the Trustees to decide whether relocation is a viable option, the Corcoran will need to determine the market value of the building. If ultimately a decision is made to relocate, we are committed to reconstituting the Corcoran–both the Gallery and College–in a space that is more flexible and which will allow us to fulfill our mission. We are also committed to maintaining our ongoing College programs throughout any period of change and to staying in the greater Washington metropolitan area, while considering all options in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Trustees and senior staff are undertaking an exhaustive review of the options as we move toward decisions that will realize a strong and vibrant future for the Corcoran.

We welcome your thoughts, which can be sent tofeedback@corcoran.org. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, staff, and faculty, we thank you for your support.

Fred Bollerer, Director and President

Harry Hopper, Chairman, Board of Trustees

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Hadieh Shafie at Morton Fine Art, Reviewed

10 May

Arts Desk

Hadieh Shafie at Morton Fine Art, Reviewed

Posted by John Anderson , The Washington City Paper, on May. 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Mention the circle, and two giants of contemporary art spring to mind: Jasper Johns and Kenneth Noland. For D.C., Noland is the foremost champion of the circle, since his career, and his circles, began here in the 1950s (perhaps from driving around them so often in his cab). It’s a familiar motif, and one that defies easy reinvention. That’s why the work of Hadieh Shafie is so surprising.

Shafie’s “scroll paintings” have made up much of her work of the last decade, but some of her ink and acrylic drawings will remind audiences of Noland. Works like “Still of the Turn” and “Keep on Turning” build concentric bands of rich color around a radius that appears to be a hole punched in the center of the paper. The holes could be large enough for the knob of a record player turntable to fit through.

Hadieh Shafie, '10400'

Hadieh Shafie, '10400'

Tom Wolfe referred to Noland in The Painted Word as “the fastest painter alive.” This might also apply to Shafie’s drawings, if they weren’t done with love. Literally: Shafie has written the word love in Farsi (“eshghe”) across and down the drawings. In “Radiate Out” and “Radiate In,” “eshghe” emerges from the center, becoming darker or lighter as the words near the edge.

On her website, Shafie recalls making little cookies with her grandmother, each the size of a quarter, and dotting each precisely in the center with saffron. Her earliest experience of the power of repetition carries through in each piece, and echoes the traditions of her Islamic heritage. The paintings on the wall are made up of hundreds of tiny bulls-eyes, not unlike the drawings. However, upon closer inspection there is a physical depth to each work. The paintings are assemblages of thousands of little paper scrolls, tightly and meticulously wound, their edges dyed. Inside the scrolls, one word can be read: “eshghe.” Through every inch of every scroll, the word “eshghe” is written again and again, like a breath: essential to the work and yet as unnoticeable as one’s own respiration. The title of each work is a number: 10250 pages, 12001 pages, 22500 pages. Each references the number of pages contained within each work; the pages are wound to make the scrolls. All told, Safie uses hundreds, if not thousands of scrolls in a work.

Clearly Shafie, an Iranian-born artist, approaches each work mindful of her past and her identity. But the diligence it takes to roll thousands of tiny scrolls, each with hand-painted edges and repetitiously inscribed with the word “love,” might seem dreadfully dull. However, how many traditions did our ancestors carry with them to this country? Mexican families might make a day of making hundreds of enchiladas. Chinese families might take a day to make hundreds of egg rolls. Italian families might take a day to make hundreds of ravioli or gnocchi. Some traditions still get passed down through generations; for Shafie, the tradition has transgressed the kitchen and found its way into the studio. The result is not something we consume with the mouth, but rather with the eye. Both her circular and rectilinear compositions are loud and active with frenzied rhythms of differing circumferences, colors, and color combinations. They are eye-candy, easily consumed, and filled with that ingredient with which all good dishes are made: love.