‘Options 2011’ combines minimal and conceptual art

By Mark Jenkins

For its 30th annual survey exhibition, “Options 2011,” the Washington Project for the Arts has temporarily claimed a floor of an industrial building near the Convention Center. The space gives the show — curated by Arlington Arts Center Executive Director Stefanie Fedor — room for large, dramatic pieces, as well as the expected painting, photography and video. The work ranges from computer animation and fabric art — including Amber Robles-Gordon’s third gallery showcase of the last six months — to issues of Bittersweet, a new magazine that covers social issues of non-federal D.C.

Many of the 13 artists combine the minimal and the conceptual. John James Anderson combines sculpture made from lumber, nails, screws and carpentry tools, with commentary about hiring immigrant day laborers to work with him. Stewart Watson impales pillows with steel rods to make site-specific, anxiety-ridden “events.” Lisa Dillin’s photographs and sculptures coolly parody corporate environments and mindsets. Heather Boaz renders the commonplace eerie by photographing toy furniture posed on or near body parts such as eyes and knees, as well as less commonly displayed ones.

Among the show’s most engaging work are monumental pieces that mock artistic monumentality. Artemis Herber is showing shell-like forms that look to be made of rusted steel, evoking the sculptural colossuses of Richard Serra and Anthony Caro, along with pillars whose shapes are modeled on fallen trees (although they’re painted a shade of green that’s more redolent of celery than forests). But Herber’s work is made of cardboard; that rusty patina is paint.

Jimmy Miracle also uses inexpensive materials, including plastic carryout food containers. For “Beam,” he stretches filament from wall to floor to simulate a gleaming shaft of light. Like Herber’s “trees,” Miracle’s pieces give everyday stuff a pretense to glory. www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/options-2011-combines-minimal-and-conceptual-art/2011/10/12/gIQA24UPiL_story.html