Depeche Art

Fran Abrams, “Knotted.” Polymer clay trim, 10 x 10 inches. Image: Courtesy Foundry Gallery

Foundry Gallery
At first glance, especially when seen reproduced online or in print, Fran Abrams’ work appears as any other abstract expressionist painting: two dimensional. However, this is not the case. For the better part of two decades, the artist has used colored polymer clay to create her paintings and has competed with traditional painters, as her work has been received and exhibited side-by-side with those of her two-dimensional counterparts.

While the use of polymer clay may sometimes be associated with craft-projects, this view would do a disservice to Abrams’ process. What is remarkable about her work is that she has been able to use this unlikely medium to create bold compositions which appear two-dimensional but are actually sculptural. In “For the Love of Lines: Polymer and Poetry,” Abrams alludes to the plastic nature of her material and the verses she has written for her solo show. Yet, the artist emphatically states that “there is no direct relationship between a piece of artwork and a specific poem but rather the exhibit is intended to demonstrate how much can be expressed by just a few lines in the visual art and the carefully chosen words in the poems.”

Brett Smith, “33.7905-84.3874” (“Scaffold & Thicket Series”), 2017. Oil and wax on panel, 60 x 50 inches. Image: Courtesy of the artist and Hemphill Fine Arts

Hemphill Fine Arts
Group exhibition “More or Less” consists of mostly regional artists both living and deceased who work or have worked in abstract expressionism. Gallerist George Hemphill conceived the exhibition based on a conversation he had with legendary curator Walter Hopps, for whom abstract expressionism represented the most important American art movement.

While the history of the United States has yet to be fully written, Hopps’ comments to Hemphill almost 40 years ago made the gallerist appreciate the full breadth of possibility with the genre and its ability to facilitate a multitude of expressions, influences and permutations on the same theme. Washington color school titans like Gene Davis and Thomas Downing hang alongside the work of next-generation color field artists like Jeremy Flick. The works of Amber Robles-Gordon, Anna U. Davis and Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi illustrate abstract expressionism’s polyphonic possibilities.

The sum of each part, in this case each individual work, creates a compelling and carefully curated ensemble which resoundingly asserts that American abstract expressionism continues to evolve as a genre and will do so for the foreseeable future.

Takefumi Hori, “Silver and Silver No 5,” 2017. Acrylic, gold leaf and metal leaf on canvas, 27 x 27 inches. Image: Courtesy of the artist

Long View Gallery
Long View Gallery presents “Heavy Metal,” an exhibition which concurrently displays the work of both Takefumi Hori and Eve Stockton. Like many of the exhibitions in the gallery, which doubles as rental space for largescale corporate events and wedding receptions, the contact between the two artists’ work is loosely defined by proximity and theme. In this case, the element of metal binds the works of the two artists together.

Eve Stockton, who lives in Alexandria, uses the time-honored technique of woodblock printing to achieve her oeuvre, which consists mainly of subjects inspired by nature including landscapes, botanical themes and patterns derived from clouds, water and even neural networks. For this exhibition, she has printed a series of patterned works with metallic hues.

Takefumi Hori, who lives and works in New York City, has created a series of abstract paintings titled by number in two distinct series, gold and silver. Hori’s three-foot canvases look like stucco walls that have been serially written over with graffiti, scratched and dented, with the entirety of the markings appearing to have faded over time. However, the “plaster” of the “wall” appears metallic – silver or gold depending on which series – giving the works an appearance of luxurious street art.

The Touchstone Foundation for the Arts (TFA) 2016-18 Emerging Artist Fellowship presents recipient Carol Ann Moore and her solo exhibition “Seeking Refuge,” which consists of lithographs and intaglio prints. The artist explains that the work is a “personal response to the natural world.” Her contact with the natural world has led her to collect plant samples whose likeness she incorporates in her prints. In “Over in the Meadow” and “Seeking Refuge,” the artist surrounds her subjects – a fox in the former and a human figure in the latter – with leaves, flowers and roots.

The Renaissance Italian technique of intaglio, which Moore employs, begins with the etching of a metal plate, whereupon ink is applied. The paper used for the print is then compressed, sometimes using a heavy roller, and offers a slight indentation or relief on the surface. The technique is used currently by some nations to create banknotes. Moore’s technique is unique in that after printing, she applies color to the prints by hand, almost like a coloring book, creating individual works from a single plate with strong lines offset by subtle hues.

TFA also presents the second Emerging Artist Fellowship recipient, Susi Cora, this month. Cora’s current work focuses on memory in a solo exhibition entitled “Highwire.” Cora’s inspiration comes in part from Alina Szapocznikow, who stated that “my gesture is addressed to the human body. I want to exalt the ephemeral in the folds of our body, in the traces of our passage.” “Highwire” alludes to a tightrope that we must all walk and in so doing “balance memory or risk freefall,” according to Cora. In particular, the artist explores haptic memory, the memory we develop through our sense of touch that allows us to remember the way velvet feels or how a sandy surface is coarse. By way of figurative work created in ceramic figurines, which Cora then places in frames as a type of sculptural photomontage, she follows in Szapocznikow’s footsteps by capturing the fleeting moments in which our bodies fold and unfold.


Fran Abrams, “Miami Beach.” Polymer clay (not painted) trim, 10 x 10 inches. Image: Courtesy Foundry Gallery

Exhibitions on View

Charles Krause Reporting Fine Art
NEW LOCATION: Dacha Loft Building
1602 Seventh St. NW, Second Floor
202-638-3612 |
Hours: Weekends from 1 to 6 p.m.
Exhibition schedule TBD

Gallery Neptune & Brown
1530 14th St. NW
202-986-1200 |
Hours: Wed. to Sat., noon to 7 p.m.
Through May 25
Lois Dodd and Colleen Cox, “Two Painters: A Visual Dialogue”

Foundry Gallery
2118 Eighth St. NW
202-232-0203 |
Hours: Wed. to Sun., 1 to 7 p.m.
Through May 27
Fran Abrams, “For the Love of Lines: Polymer and Poetry”

Hamiltonian Gallery
1353 U St. NW
202-332-1116 |
Hours: Tues. to Sat., noon to 6 p.m.
Through May 12
Heather Theresa Clark, “Along a Line”

Amber Robles-Gordon, “Interdimensional Realms I,” 2017. Image: Hemphill Fine Arts

Hemphill Fine Arts
1515 14th St. NW
202-234-5601 |
Hours: Tues. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Through June 9
“More or Less” group exhibition

Long View Gallery
1234 Ninth St. NW
202-232-4788 |
Hours: Wed. to Sat., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Through May 20
Eve Stockton and Takefumi Hori, “Heavy Metal”

Touchstone Gallery
901 New York Ave. NW
202-347-2787 |
Hours: Wed. to Fri., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Weekends, noon to 5 p.m.
Through May 27
Gallery A: Group exhibition “Borders”
Gallery B: Susi Cora, “Highwire”
Gallery C: Carol Ann Moore, “Seeking Refuge”


Phil Hutinet is the publisher of East City Art, dedicated to DC’s visual arts. For more information visit