MPA Spotlights Three Exhibits This Winter

Located inside the McLean Community Center, the McLean Project for the Arts has had a mission to showcase local and up-and-coming artists from the DC Metro area since 1962.

From Nov. 6 to Dec. 20, MPA will be presenting three new exhibits inside its gallery that are sure to delight any art lover. It all starts on Nov. 6 with a free reception and gallery talk from 7 to 9 p.m. 

In the Emerson Gallery, Baltimore sculptor Rachel Rotenberg will have a series of sculptures on display.

Rachel Rotenberg Journey, 8x3x3 feet, cedar wood, oil paint.

Rachel Rotenberg Journey, 8x3x3 feet, cedar wood, oil paint.

“Her sculptures are big and they are pretty impressive,” says Nancy Sausser, exhibitions director for the MPA. “They are pretty much carved out of wood and very organic and strong. They have a contrast of being warm and natural, but a little imposing in a good way.”

The artist creates an aesthetic world of wood sculpture populated by sensually curving surfaces, intriguingly formed negative spaces, and forceful volumes. She begins her process by drawing in a sketchbook and builds her sculptures with sticks of cedar lumber. Evocative stains and colors are then applied to complete the work.

“I begin my creative process with drawings. I work an idea until a leading image emerges. I build form and structure through a process of subtraction and addition. I grind, sand, and paint to further articulate texture and detail,” she says. “My sculpture engages the observer in the moment.”

According to Sausser her work “pulls you in” and “feel like something you would encounter on a woods walk, but have been manipulated with the human touch.”

In the Atrium Gallery, a series of paintings by Maryland artist Ryan Carr Johnson will be on display. Johnson is no stranger to the MPA, having been shown in a number of group shows and juried exhibitions in the past.

Ryan Carr Johnson, Vector-Vice-Versa, 2013, layered paint, light, shadow on wood, 18x21in

Ryan Carr Johnson, Vector-Vice-Versa, 2013, layered paint, light, shadow on wood, 18x21in

“He builds work essentially through painting layer and layer and layer,” Sausser says. “Then he sands back through those layers. The work is primarily abstract and sometimes has holes in it that emerge from the layers. It’s partly about what emerges from the piece.”

His work tends to be extremely heavy because of the number of layers of paint, and have a relic-like demeanor.

“He’s creating these paintings that become objects and you can see the history of their making when you look at them,” Sausser says. “They are very cool and really engaging.”

In his artist’s statement, Johnson describes his work as being in the age of instants.

“As a result, history has become abbreviated and flattened into footnotes. How I relate to this current interval of accelerated time shapes, defines, and evolves the forms which I create,” he says. “Time exists within space, and space within slices of time. The nature of time is simply a sequence of actions and subsequent events. How we choose to spend our time defines how we’re ultimately remembered in time.”

Washington D.C.’s own JD Deardourff will be showcasing a series of pop art silk screen prints in the Ramp Gallery.

JD Deardourff, The Annexation of Puerto Rico, screen print

JD Deardourff, The Annexation of Puerto Rico, screen print

“In my collages I remove the positive space information from comic pages until I am left with the vocabulary of comic book art that really interests me: exaggeration, movement, energy, the interplay of sequential imagery, black contour line, and, most importantly, artificial color,” Deardourff says. “Before computers, separators colored comics by hand using a four-color (CMYK) method. I use screen printing to mimic this process.”

Sausser calls him “an exciting young artist who is influenced by comic books both in color and composition.”

“He has a lot of the same energy you would see in graphic novels, so there’s a lot of movement in them, yet there are no words at all,” she says. “They are not telling a specific story and have a lot to do with urban energy and post-apocalyptic urban debris. They have very bright, electric colors.”

While Sausser says that the non-profit often tries to find a common theme in its exhibits, it doesn’t always happen because of scheduling, so these three exhibits may be a bit more diverse than past shows.

“I do think that Rachel and Ryan’s work will flow together nicely because they are both working with abstraction and looking back into the piece, and that will come across,” she says. “Definitely, JD’s work is of a different ilk all together.”

In addition to the exhibits, the McLean Project for the Arts is hosting a Family Workshop on Nov. 14. Private tours are also available by request. For more information, call 703-790-1953.

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