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FALL ARTS PREVIEW 2017: Galleries

Unclear how LGBT issues will be addressed at Mall’s new Bible museum

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‘The Ship of Tolerance’ by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. (Photo courtesy Hirshhorn Museum)

Touchstone Gallery (901 New York Ave., N.W.) presents “About Face: Reversals and Undoings” in Gallery A, “Ordered Complexities” by Patricia Williams in Gallery B and “Physiognomy” by Tim Johnson on display through Monday, Oct. 1. “About Face: Reversals and Undoings” features work from Touchstone Gallery members will explore reversals in points of view, position or attitude through the use of prints, paintings, sculpture and more. Williams’ exhibit will combines science, math and creativity into paintings. Johnson’s exhibit will display a collection of recent small scale portraits. Admission is free. For details, visit touchstonegallery.com.

Vivid Solutions Gallery (1231 Good Hope Rd., S.E.) displays “Black Dolls” by Mirtho Linguet through Saturday, Oct. 7. The exhibit examines white supremacy in French Guiana through photographs featuring women standing and sitting in lingerie in both man-made and natural environments. Free admission. For more details, visit anacostiaartscenter.com/vivid.

Black Rock Center for the Arts (12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown, Md.) presents “Farm to Gallery: the Countryside Artisans” Sept. 16-Oct. 28. The artwork will reflect on farming heritage and the rural landscape from their studios, workshops and farms. Featured artists include Lori Baker, Tina Thieme Brown, Dalis Davidson, among others. Community Art Day: From the Countryside will be on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There will art making activities, tours of the exhibit and artist demonstrations. For more information, visit blackrockcenter.org.

The National Gallery of Art (Sixth and Constitution Ave., N.W.) showcases “Posing for the Camera: Gifts from Robert B. Menschel” on Sunday, Sept. 17-Jan. 28. The collection of 60 photographs explores how the act of posing for a portrait shifted from the time photography was first invented in the early 1840s through the 1990s. For details, visit nga.gov.

Art All Night, a free overnight arts festival, takes place across Congress Heights, Dupont Circle, H Street, North Capitol and Shaw on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 7 p.m.-3 a.m. The local arts scene will be on display in the forms of painting, photography, dance, theater, film, poetry and more. LGBT artists Michael Crossett, Charlie Gaynor, Branddave, Stephen Benedicto, Betto Ortiz and Colin Winterbottom will have their work displayed as part of the Mid City Artists showcase at 1911 9th St., N.W. LGBT artist Lisa Marie Thalhammer will also display her rainbow-panel “Love” mural at Blagden Alley in the Shaw neighborhood. For a complete list of displayed artwork and activities. For more details, visit artallnightdc.com.

Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) brings back its popular exhibit, “Creating Camelot: the Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe,” Sept. 29Jan. 7. More than 70 selected images, taken by Kennedy’s personal photographer, displays John F. Kennedy, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and their children, Caroline and John, in private and public life. Adult tickets, from ages 19-64, are $24.95, senior tickets for 65 and older are $19.95, youth tickets for ages seven-18 are $14.95 and children 6 and younger are free. For more information, visit newseum.org.

The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum (701 21st St., N.W.) presents “Fashion Show: Scraps on the Runway,” on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. Student designers will present their fashion creations from upcyling materials. Museum member tickets are $25 and non-museum member tickets are $25. For more details, visit museum.gwu.edu/programs.

Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (1661 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) displays “Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” Oct. 20-Jan. 28. The doll-sized reimaginings of true crime scenes from the first half of the 20th century are still used in forensic science training today. While the scenes are based on real cases, Lee added some imaginative details. Free admission. For more information, visit americanart.si.edu/exhibitions.

Museum of the Bible (409 Third St., S.W.) holds its grand opening on Friday, Nov. 17. “Passages,” a 30,000-square-foot, interactive exhibit that includes more than 400 rare biblical texts and artifacts, will be featured. Artifacts included in the exhibit will be first editions of the King James Bible, Torah scrolls that survived the Holocaust, the world’s smallest Bible and more.

No word yet on how LGBT issues may or may not be addressed. The Green family of Hobby Lobby fame is behind it though museum personnel say it will be apolitical and will not proselytize. Admission is free, but timed tickets are required for entry. For more information visit museumofthebible.org.

National Building Museum (401 F St., N.W.) showcases “Making Room: Housing for a Changing America” from Nov. 18-Sept. 16, 2018. The exhibit pulls inspiration from the changing lifestyle of American households including a rise in shared living, an affordable housing crisis and an increase in multi-generational households. A micro unit living space will be redesigned to accommodate an extended family, a retired couple and roommates. For more information, visit nbm.org.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Independence Ave., and Seventh St., N.W.) presents  “The Utopian Projects” by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov through March 4, 2018. Inspired by living in the Soviet Union, their installations span between 1985 until present day. Monuments, commissioned outdoor works, architectural structures and more are featured combined with lights, motors, text and music. For more details, visit hirshhorn.si.edu.

Zenith Gallery showcases “Black Artists of Today: Reinventing Tomorrow,” a collection of contemporary African and African American art, at the Sculpture Space (1111 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) through Jan. 6. Doba Afolabi, Akili Ron Anderson, Mason Archie and more will be featured. There will be a “meet-the-artists” reception on Wednesday, Sept. 20 from 5-8 p.m. For more information, visit zenithgallery.com.

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Artists examine gender identity in D.C. exhibition

Event sponsored by the Blade, Dupont Underground

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'The Veiled in Red' by Waleska Del Sol is one work featured in The Gender Within: The Art of Identity exhibition at Dupont Underground.

Each weekend this June, visitors to Dupont Underground — an arts space built into an abandoned trolley station under Dupont Circle — will find walls lined with artwork ranging from embroidery to watercolors. Together, the pieces make up the Underground’s latest exhibition, “The Gender Within: The Art of Identity,” which unites more than 35 local artists in a conversation on gender identity and the dynamic ways that gendered labels are experienced.

Sianna Joslin, a web developer by day and one of the artists participating in the exhibition, is including a piece entitled “The Inherent Agony of Having A Body” — an embroidery hoop that depicts an anatomical model of a transmasculine individual bearing top surgery scars and patterned red boxers.

The piece juxtaposes “the old ideals of the human body, the male form, with top surgery scars (and) these funny pennant boxers,” they said. “It’s kind of a play on what society has traditionally considered masculine versus these new symbols of masculinity that transmasculine folks are embracing.”

Another artist, Rashad Ali Muhammad, brings to the exhibition a compilation of videos in which colorful, moving backgrounds are transplanted onto the faces of different people — pieces that originally began as NFTs.

This project, entitled “A World Within,” was inspired by the realities of existing in a period of social volatility like the pandemic, and aims to show the “worlds” that exist within each person, Ali Muhammad said.

Left to face the challenges of the pandemic and broader social inequities, “you need to take the time inwardly to think about and process everything that’s going on,” they explained. “You have to go within to understand who you are sometimes.”

Nikki Brooks, whose painting “Blaq Jesus” portrays a Black and androgynous Jesus smoking a cigarette with a nondescript expression, rooted her creative exploration in her experience with societal gender norms.

“For a long time I struggled with my gender expression. I had to live up to how people framed me … putting this femininity on me,” she said. The painting challenges “pressures from people saying that one person has to be one way, or express themselves one way,” and encourages others to “let them live how they feel on the inside.”

Brooks also noted the use of religious imagery was key to her piece. In historical depictions of Jesus, he is often assigned certain racial and gender identity markers according to societal demands, she said. “This Black Jesus in a way defies all those stigmas” tied to the identities depicted by connecting them to a revered religious icon.

The artists all noted that they are excited by the diversity of experiences the Underground’s exhibition has brought together.

“We’re going to see — from all of these different artists — interpretations of what gender means to them, and I just think that’s wonderful,” Joslin said. “I really hope that it expands on that notion of gender for a lot of people.”

Ali Muhammad found the exhibition especially meaningful for openly creating space for queer artists.

“In the history of art, a lot of artists tend to be queer … but people don’t talk about that,” they said. “Focusing specifically on queer art and queer artists (says) we are here, we are represented.”

The exhibition, cosponsored by the Washington Blade and Dupont Underground, can be accessed at 19 Dupont Circle, N.W., each Friday, Saturday and Sunday in June from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry costs $10 per person, or $7 for students, seniors and members of the military.

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Galleries

Not-to-miss exhibits at Baltimore’s Gallery Blue Door 

Works by Brooks, Halvorsen now on display

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See Scott Brooks’s striking works at Gallery Blue Door in Baltimore. (Image courtesy of Gallery Blue Door)

Baltimore’s bustling art scene includes several current exhibits at the gay-owned Gallery Blue Door. 

Striking works by acclaimed artist Scott Brooks are on display now through July 9 in an exhibit titled “Self Contained — Pandemic Era Works.”

“The Work in ‘Self Contained’ was created over the last two years,” Brooks said in a statement. “It has been a challenging time for the world, and for myself personally. As an artist, being in lockdown gave me the gift of time.”

Brooks, a former D.C. resident who is gay, is a figurative artist who has been living and working in Baltimore since 2016. His art borders on the surreal and ranges from portraiture to complex narratives, according to the gallery.

Also currently on display is an exhibit titled “Becoming” by out artist Tracey Halvorsen, which runs until May 14. 

“This latest body of work reflects a composite of subject and abstraction through continued exploration of landscapes, still life, and narrative themes,” according to a statement from the gallery.

Gallery Blue Door should be on your list of places to visit in Charm City. It’s located in a historic row home in Mount Vernon, long the epicenter of LGBTQ life in Baltimore. 

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Have to pee? Check out new John Waters Restrooms

BMA introduces gender-neutral facilities

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Actress Elizabeth Coffey and filmmaker John Waters outside the BMA’s new gender-neutral restrooms. (Blade staff photo)

The Baltimore Museum of Art unveiled its latest addition on Wednesday: the John Waters Restrooms, named for the iconic filmmaker who is a trustee of the museum. 

There were plenty of snickers and jokes about who would be the No. 1 and No. 2 patrons of the new facilities, but beneath the potty humor was an important message about access to the most fundamental spaces in society.

Joining Waters at a BMA event Wednesday to officially dedicate the gender-neutral restrooms was Elizabeth Coffey, a transgender actress and longtime friend and collaborator of Waters’. Coffey noted the importance of access to public spaces to the trans community. Preceding her at the lectern was Christopher Bedford, the Dorothy Wagner Wallis director of the BMA, who noted that adding the gender-neutral restrooms was the right thing to do.

After brief remarks, Coffey and Waters led a group of museum supporters and reporters downstairs to see the new space and Coffey cheekily took the inaugural trip into one of four private stalls. The stalls and adjoining communal washroom were designed by Quinn Evans Architects and feature white tile with bright red tile in the stalls. The idea for naming the restrooms came from Waters when he bequeathed his fine art collection to the BMA, according to a museum statement. 

The John Waters Restrooms will open to the public on Sunday, Dec. 12, in conjunction with the adjacent Nancy Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs and Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies. Waters is about to embark on a national tour of spoken-word performances. 

John Waters Restrooms, gay news, Washington Blade
John Waters speaks to a crowd at Wednesday’s dedication event. (Blade staff photo)
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