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Art Exhibition: “Is that a boy or a girl?”

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Is that a boy or a girl?

I walked through Warehouse Gallery a couple of Sundays ago to look through “Hey, is that a boy or a girl?” Artists look at gender, an exhibition curated by Ruth Trevarrow and Richard Kightlinger featuring a variety of artists looking at the way that we are viewed by each other.

Perhaps the most interesting piece in the entire show was the curator’s (Ruth Trevarrow) own fascinating “Boy or Girl,” which is an interactive piece that details about forty faces, or parts of faces, in a portrait grid on the cafe gallery’s main floor. The idea is to study the faces and then (using a printed form that comes with the piece), to take a “test” to see who you think is a boy or a girl.

After taking the test, to my surprise, I had at least ten of them wrong! I really like art that delivers not only visual pleasure, but also educates us or reveals a little about ourselves or our world.

I also found Kelley A. Donelly’s “Skin Deep” to be quite engrossing. It is a painting full of controlled rage highlighted by a frenetic brushstroke that reminds me of the potential danger of barbed wire and anger mixed together.

On the top floor gallery, Abby Freeman’s “Hell # 3″ deliver three interesting woven panels and made from thousands of matches sewn together. Freeman adds this interesting work to the ever-growing canon of DC artists working art from disposable materials or easily accessible materials; anything and everything can be art.

A couple of paintings nearby the incediary tapestry stand out: one is Isabel Bigelow’s “Birthday,” a gorgeous dark painting floating up from a dark palette, but whose relationship to the theme escapes me. More in tune with the show was Scott Brooks“The Resurrection of Miss Rita Fyne,” as was a clever sculpture titled “Inter-Sexed Valet” by Ruth Trevarrow.

Photography is best represented by an odd piece by John Borstel titled “Stillborn” that features a somewhat spooky (and oddly attractive) figure hugging a tombstone. Somewhere there’s an X-file episode about this subject.

“Paper Roses” features what we used to call in Art School “fanny prints,” cleverly created in this show by Matthew Rose as portraits of an amazingly diverse set of tushes and vaginas from the art and entertainment world. If you want to know how Rose visualizes Thelma Houston, Camille Paglia, and others’ bottoms, then this is your destination.

Finally, Allison Miner has a group of nice drawings from a series titled “They told me to work bigger” that steal this show and are a bargain at $400 each. Collectors of DC area artists have an excellent opportunity to add a really nice Miner to their collection. Go get one!

The exhibition on display through December 4, 2005.
Ed: JH

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