Visual arts

Where to see art gallery shows in the Washington region

The debut of this 15-piece series is the occasion for the DC architect-sculptor’s show at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, which also includes earlier creations. All the artworks feature wood that’s hand-carved into lively curves, punctuated with circular cutouts, and painted in vivid toy-box and dollhouse hues.

The artist is a Francophile who titled the mirrors in English and French. Among them are a set that represents the four seasons, each with its reflective surface contained within a casing that resembles the body of a guitar. The sunniest of the four is the yellow-heavy “Summer (L’Ete),” but Carroll isn’t inclined toward frigid colors, so the blue-dominated “Winter (Hiver)” is almost as bright.

Carroll’s architectural interests are reflected by a few playground-like mini-pavilions, perhaps intended as models for full-size structures or maybe constructed just for fun. Equally entertaining is the show’s oldest piece, 1978′s “Sea Creature,” a hanging sculpture with a yellow and red fluke. As in mirror frames such as the biomorphic “Alive!,” the artist takes cues from nature’s bends and swoops. Yet there’s nothing random or chaotic about Carroll’s sculpture, whose smile-inducing colors and contours are engineered with exquisite control.

The terse, reductive art style dubbed “minimalism” began to emerge in the late 1950s, partly in reaction to the high emotion of abstract expressionism. A half-century later, Joseph Shetler came to what he calls “post-minimalism” more simply: He was born into it.

The Hyattsville, Md., artist, whose “In Pursuit of Nothing” is at Culture House, is the product of a Mennonite upbringing. That austere brand of Christianity molded Shetler’s elemental compositions and stark aesthetic, which in another context might be called Zen. The artist tightly arrays cross-hatched or pinstriped lines atop fields that are painted basic black or white. The repetitively patterned results suggest both patchwork quilts and Sol LeWitt’s gridded wall drawings.

Where LeWitt favored crisp edges and often left the actual drawing to others, Shetler has a softer touch and an individualistic approach. The rigidity of the overall design is subverted by myriad small imperfections. The lines, made with graphite or silverpoint, waver slightly; the surfaces are often smudgy or blotchy.

The process of making these drawing-paintings is evidently meditative. Viewers may or may not lose themselves in the pictures’ vast geometric expanses, but it seems likely that Shetler did. As in Zen, the pursuit of nothingness calms the mind.

Joseph Shetler: In Pursuit of Nothing Through March 5 at Culture House, 700 Delaware Ave. SW.

Natural phenomena assume novel configurations in the work of Oenone Hammersley and Darren Smith, two local artists exhibiting together at the Athenaeum. Hammersley is a painter whose pictures often take sculptural forms that emulate their subjects. Smith is a photographer who dissects and reassembles his images in kaleidoscopic arrangements.

Smith travels the world as an editorial director for National Geographic’s international editions, and returns with photos of such places as Mexico, Jordan and Russia. Those countries are represented in the Athenaeum show, alongside DC’s Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. All the scenes are chopped into small pieces that are then tiled into orderly yet surreal mosaics, a process Smith’s statement calls “remixing reality.”

This sort of thing can be done with computers, of course, but Smith’s collages are made by hand. That’s his way of transforming photographic studies of cathedrals and lotuses into something utterly subjective.

Many of Hammersley’s mixed-media pictures are painted on wooden panels whose contoured edges imitate the fluidity of turbulent water. Rendered mostly in eddies of white and various blues, the semiabstract seascapes glisten with hard-edge acrylic pigments and shiny materials such as glass beads. “Reflecting Wave” swirls on the wall as if about to break, while the less naturalistic “Reflecting Pool” insets small mirrors into a picture whose basic diamond shape is softened by oceanic tendrils.

Hammersley depicts nature to call attention to its fragility, and is involved with several conservation groups. But her work is not altogether solemn. In a pair of “Washed Away” paintings, whirlpools or poured paint circle actual metal drains. It’s a winningly playful way of representing mankind’s influence over even the stormiest waters.

Oenone Hammersley and Darren Smith Through March 6 at the Athenaeum201 Prince St., Alexandria.

Most of the paintings in “So Black I’m Bright,” Oluwatoyin Tella’s show at Honfleur Gallery, have long titles derived from hip-hop lyrics. “Let me see your light/ You so Black you bright/ You so bright you Black” are the Yasiin Bey lines the artist linked to one of her most striking pictures: a kneeling woman with flowers over one side of her face, her form bisected by a line loosely drawn in gold leaf. Her skin is a dark, lustrous blue, and the background features an elaborate, white-on-white relief pattern.

These basic elements recur in most of the paintings by the Nigeria-born, Hyattsville, Md.-based Tella. The blue-skinned figures — usually but not always female, nude and solitary — are set off by hair, halos or other details rendered most often in gold or red. The subjects are bold, assured and contemporary, while the decorative touches root them in tradition.

In her statement, Tella extols hip-hop as an homage to Blackness. The same could be said of her paintings, even if their principal hues are blue and white. These colors shine like, to quote another Bey line that Tella borrowed for a title, “bright light from a distant star.”

Oluwatoyin Tella: So Black I’m Bright Through March 5 at Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Rd. SE.

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