Brian Kavanagh, Ad Altare, 1980-1985. Oil on canvas, 36 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the Estate of Brian Kavanagh.

The Very Idea! Art of Brian Kavanagh

Howard N. Fox, Co-curator
Rosemary M. DeRosa, Co-curator

Learn more about the rich art history of Washington, DC, through The Very Idea! Art of Brian Kavanagh, the first-ever museum survey of one of the most distinctive — and least known — contemporary artists to work in the city. The show offers a core sample of his art and invites you to discover the true breadth and depth of that vital era encompassing the 1980s and ‘90s.

Kavanagh’s achievement was almost entirely in painting and printmaking, yet his art is pervasively informed by his interest in ideation — the thought process itself — which he understood as the most defining trait of humankind. His paintings share a surprising affinity with conceptual art that emerged as an international movement (largely by non-painters) during the years he was most active.

Tom Zetterstrom, Exterior shot of The New Thing, 1968. Photograph, 14 x 18 inches. Courtesy of Tom Zetterstrom and Jackson Reed High School.

New Perspective on the New Thing:
A Photography Exhibition Documenting DC’s Revolutionary Community Arts Center, 1966-1972

Joel Jacobson, Photographer
Tom Zetterstrom, Photographer

Organized by Jackson-Reed High School’s Digital Media Academy in conjunction with their student organization The Community Coalition for Change.

In 1966, Howard graduate student, architect, and filmmaker Colin “Topper” Carew opened The New Thing Art & Architecture Center in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Initially founded to cultivate opportunities for black architects, Carew's vision evolved into a multi-disciplinary organization that hosted hundreds of concerts, workshops, and free classes for area youth between the years of 1966 and 1972. As a "community architect," Carew's herculean efforts in providing arts programming, educating the youth, and building community has had a lasting impact on the fabric of the city.

Discover the influential role of The New Thing in the cultural landscape of this era through this collection of photographs (some never-before exhibited), taken by Joel Jacobson and Tom Zetterstrom, which document the wide array of programming and community events the center had to offer. Within the collection, you’ll catch a glimpse of famous blues and jazz musicians, as well as soul and rock personalities, such as Stevie Wonder, The Soul Searchers, and Mance Lipscomb, to name a few, in addition to photos of the youth of Adams Morgan engaging in workshops, classes, and programs that were provided for free by The New Thing over the course of seven years.
 

Barbara Kerne, Day and Night, 2022. Oil on linen, 39 x 39 inches.

The Tree around the Corner

Barbara Kerne, Artist
Vivienne M. Lassman, Curator

Barbara Kerne has been compelled to make art inspired by nature since she was a child, as is evident in her myriad interpretations of trees throughout the decades. While an educator for many years as a tenured professor at Montgomery College, Kerne’s drive to examine this particular arboreal focus also inspired her to experiment in the field of woodcut printmaking.

Enter another realm with the large scale of Kerne’s artwork. Her paintings, and their deep recessions into the distance, create powerful images that force the viewer into densely hued landscapes. Once here, you are enveloped into a magical, fantastical, "unnatural," and even playful reinterpretation of the natural world.

 

Michael Steiner Borek, Steiner Bezexistence #9094, 2023. Black/white photo, 9 x 12 inches.

Art and the Demands of Memory
Works by Second Generation
Holocaust Survivors

Artists:
Trudy Babchak
Michael Steiner Borek
Coos Hamburger
Micheline Klagsbrun
Kitty Klaidman 
Dalya Luttwak
Miriam Mörsel Nathan
Margot Neuhaus 
Chaya Schapiro
Mindy Weisel

Aneta Georgievska-Shine, Curator

Join the conversation between this group of second-generation Jewish artists whose practices have been indelibly marked by the Holocaust. As memory keepers of the lives of those who could not speak for themselves, they affirm the relevance of the “past” for the world as we have found it, as well as the one we are shaping for future generations.

This mixed-media exhibition deals with ways in which art is shaped by memories of traumatic experiences. For most of these artists, these memories exist only through the accounts of their parents or relatives. Nonetheless, they are often just as “real” in terms of their impact on their work.

Learn about each artist’s personal story and sensibilities, as well as their shared preoccupation with the past and the ways in which it leaves its imprint. Some approach this through direct storytelling using the language of representation. Others are more abstract or conceptual. Some depict specific places associated with the war-time experiences of their family members, while others revisit those sites of trauma in a more metaphorical manner. Some of their works have an almost documentary character. In others, the beholder is led along more oblique pathways towards broader themes related to identity, displacement, migration, and oblivion.
 

Dana Hart-Stone, A Western Trip (detail), 2016. UV cured acrylic ink on canvas, 120 x 162 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Brian Gross Fine Art.

Dana Hart-Stone: Kaleidoscope

Dana Hart-Stone, Artist
Brian Gross, Curator

Discover the work of Montana-born artist Dana Hart-Stone who, for the last eighteen years, has mined vintage vernacular American photography and created visually explosive and celebratory photo-based paintings that capture moments of everyday life in the burgeoning West.

Drawing from his encyclopedic collection of thousands of vintage sepia-toned snapshots, Hart-Stone methodically manipulates the found photo images into either serially repetitive filmic strips or pulsating circular compositions in highly saturated color before printing them in UV cured acrylic ink on canvas. These works explore everyday life on the Plains and on the Main streets of small-town America.

Through his weaving and stitching of pixels, he creates mesmerizing mandalas and cinematic tapestries. Hart-Stone’s paintings function in two ways: at first glance, as seductive expositions of color and pattern that read as abstraction and draw the viewer in, and then as figurative narratives when seen closer.

Included in the exhibition are Dear Friend Lola, a Busby Berkeley-esque 75-inch tondo from 2021 that features the postcard photo of a lovesick cowboy and his handwritten note to the object of his affection, and the monumental A Western Trip, a 13-foot mural that offers a glimpse of the grandeur of life in the developing West.

 

Billy Pappas, Marilyn Monroe (detail), 2003. Graphite on paper; 25 x 28 inches. Courtesy of William A. Christens-Barry, Chief Scientist, Equipoise Imaging, LLC.

A Drawing Like No Other: Marilyn Brought Back to Life in 9,000,000 Marks

Billy Pappas, Artist
Gary Vikan, Curator

This exhibition is devoted to a drawing – its artist and his creative process – with a depth of resolution that guest curator Gary Vikan declares has “likely never before been achieved in the history of art.”

Its creator, Billy Pappas, a Baltimore native and graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, set out in 1994 to create the “apotheosis of naturalistic portraiture” and establish a new standard for drawing. Billy’s point of departure was a reproduction of Richard Avedon’s famous soft-focus portrait of Marilyn Monroe from 1957.

More than eight years and nearly nine million marks later, Billy completed this extraordinary work, using nothing more elaborate than standard drawing pencils and two sets of magnifiers. The drawing’s precision and detail are so profound, its visual data so rich and deep, that it required the narrow band multi-spectral imaging techniques developed by Bill Christens-Barry for imaging of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As Charles Falco of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona remarked: “By incorporating 3-dimensional information from live models, Billy has arrived at his own solution to the fundamental limitation of the photograph.”

Learn about Billy Pappas’ creative process and the critical reception of this work, including his related encounter with David Hockney which became the subject of an award-winning documentary by Julie Checkoway, Waiting for Hockney. In his review of the film following its premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, Ben Davis of Artnet wrote: “Pappas has clearly done something, maybe even something great – you leave the film wanting to see the work in real life.”

 

Ellyn Weiss and Sondra N. Arkin, The Human Flood (detail), 2023. Mixed media monoprints, 89 foot printed scroll in nine sections; height variable. Courtesy of the artists.

The Human Flood

Ellyn Weiss, Artist
Sondra N. Arkin, Artist
Laura Roulet, Curator

What does it truly mean to leave a life behind upon migration and start a new one elsewhere? The Human Flood, a site-specific collaborative installation conceived and created by Ellyn Weiss and Sondra N. Arkin, attempts to answer this question through its exploration of the ever-growing mass migration of human populations caused by climate change. Years of extreme heat, rising sea levels, wildfires, drought, and water shortages have left the environments in which millions of people lived no longer able to sustain human life.

The installation invites visitors to confront the full experience of migration by evoking both the more visible markers of this movement - extreme weather, nomadic refugee scenarios — as well as the human and societal impacts of uprooting, including the fracturing of family ties, uncertainty, poverty, and helplessness.

The dilemma we face is how to accept responsibility without amplifying fear or threat, to recognize our common humanity. The scale of this movement places immense challenges not only on the resources of the planet, but fundamentally on the capacity of the heart to evolve, and to address those challenges with honesty and compassion.