In presented In partnership with University of Maryland, College Park David C. Driskell Center Moderated by Professor Curlee R. Holton, Contemporary Artists, Kevin Cole (Atlanta), Rodney Jackson (Miami), Alfred Conteh (Fort Valley, GA), Larry Cook (Baltimore), Tawny Chatmon (Maryland), Amber Robles-Gordon (D.C.), Delita Martin (Texas) explore the following points of inquiry: 1. Who gets to determine the value and significance of a work of art? 2. What role should the artist play in the critical evaluation of a work of art? 3. When has your work been accurately evaluated and interpreted?
"MORE or LESS" showcases how D.C.'s affinity for Abstraction has always been a part of its artistic DNA.
by KRISTON CAPPS, Washington City Paper
MAY 24, 2018 11 AM
Process-based abstraction has always been a staple of painting in D.C. The Washington Color School was built by artists who defined their work by their approach to the canvas, whether by staining it or draping it or something else. MORE or LESS, a group show on view at Hemphill Fine Arts, shows how new trends in contemporary painting continue to line up with the work that put D.C. on the map in the 1960s and ’70s.Read More
By Lyric Prince, www.sugarcanemagazine.com
Morton Fine Art, a gallery that is off to the side of the U Street Corridor in Washington D.C., fills in a niche for vibrant artists of color that are pushing boundaries and expectations on art and its potential. Mixed-media installation artist Amber Robles-Gordon's solo exhibition Third Eye Open, which closes on May 20th, was comprised of 8 assemblages produced in 2018, and presented the meeting between the physical world and the intuition of human experience. The chosen forms of the show – circles and ovum – alluded to the ongoing cycle of inserting and patterning elements for self-discovery, incubation, and introspection. Throughout, Robles-Gordon explored abstract art's potential for demonstrating spiritual growth and emotional connection on a metaphorically cosmic scale – where the rules of time and gravity fall to the wayside.Read More
by Renee Royale, www.supportblackart.com
Her work is multilayered; upon first glance there is an overall image presented of cellular circles that contain significant amounts of patterned dark matter, or space, and then heavily layered nuclei that are brightly colored with strategically placed materials giving balance to the form. Then, upon closer inspection, one discovers tiny details, be they altering textures or hand drawn ink strokes, all seamlessly weaving their individualities into the cohesiveness of the piece. Her art is steeped in duality and the connection to divine feminine, an examination of what femininity means and how it is viewed in relationship to the masculine. Her spirals are comprised of bits of lace, portion of a blouse, lanyard reminiscent of childhood art endeavors, and other found materials that represent the realm of womanhood. The pieces spiral, reminiscent of kundalini energy, further enhanced by the subtle abstract snakes that are strategically woven into the tapestries.Read More
by Mark Jenkins, Washington Post
Fabric scraps and damaged tissue paper are the essential ingredients of new work now at Morton Fine Art. Those materials might sound negligible, but Amber Robles-Gordon and Maya Freelon employ them with ambition and impact.
Robles-Gordon, a D.C. native, is known for hanging strands of textiles and other found objects in intricate arrangements. The pieces in her “Third Eye Open” are wall-mounted rather than suspended, and feature circular drawing-collages orbited by smaller rounded objects, some partly covered in bits of garments. The forms suggest zygotes and planets, as well as eyes, but at the heart of each of the larger circles is a leafy motif. Whether seen as cosmic or botanical, the artist’s circling compositions exalt natural cycles.Read More
by Kimberli Gant, PhD, McKinnon Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art
“…an Earth alive in my consciousness as a living crystal being whose etheric geometric skeleton could be mapped in its patterns of energy flows…in ocean currents, the winds, river systems, and distributions of precious minerals. It seemed to me that ancient humans had known this sacred, hidden body of Earth and had settled on it in ways that took advantage of very visceral powers of place.” - Bethe HagensRead More
At face value, there’s an able group show at the Washington Project for the Arts, filled with work that ranges from the aesthetically pleasing, to the conceptual, and the socially relevant. A 55-color lithograph, “Ramble,” by Benjamin Edwards, is a dizzying map exploding with color and shape. Margaret Boozer’s “Red Dirt Print,” a four-foot square patch of dirt, re-contextualizes the ground beneath our feet into an aesthetic object to hang on the wall. Naoko Wowsugi’s “Thank You For Teaching Me English” presents several photographed portraits against high-key color backgrounds: people mouthing English words for the artist to learn (English is her second language).Read More
This week’s Art Watch is all about an important center for the arts that most of you have never been to. The Delaware Contemporary, or DCCA, is a fascinating art center with ever-changing art installations that is located just 24 minutes from Longwood Gardens, and is free to the public and open every day except Monday.
DCCA has a large parking lot, is easy to get to from I-95 or down Route 52, and offers a safe, light-filled, airy space full of new art to nudge the senses. Such a cool place, and most of us have never been there! Artists often sigh that there are not enough places that show contemporary art (that is, art that shows a new take on what’s going on in the world around us), but sigh no more because we have DCCA.Read More
Amber Robles-Gordon’s “When a Honey Is Looking Just Right,”
East of the River
Although it doesn’t attempt to be comprehensive, Honfleur Gallery’s annual “East of the River Exhibition” usually offers a broad survey. This year brings a tighter focus, with only three contributors. Both Sheila Crider and Amber Robles-Gordon work with fabric and found objects. The art of painter Asha Elena Casey is less closely related, but she does inscribe textile-like patterns into thickly applied, mostly black-and-white pigment.Read More
Between the two galleries housed in the Anacostia Arts Center and the Honfleur Gallery on Good Hope Road, there’s no shortage of art that conveys the level of talent that lies East of the River in Wards 7 and 8.
he 11th annual East of the River Exhibition at the Honfleur Gallery features three female artists who have their own distinct styles and inspirations, but the pieces on view have a strong affinity between them and come from similar creative places. Each artist makes an individual statement about spirituality, identity and the repetition of forms and textures, but together they create a continuum.
Asha Elena Casey, Sheila Crider and Amber Robles-Gordon’s work meld together in this annual exhibition as if they were created to be contained in one space. Both Crider and Robles-Gordon work in mixed media, employing the use of fabric, jewelry, photographs and other materials that fold into their works, conveying traditions, personal statements and statements on race and inclusion.
Crider, who received multiple Small Project Grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, is a familiar fixture in the arts scene in Anacostia, having recently created a public art project at the new St. Elizabeths. Her work at Honfleur stems from a project that she intended to result in quilting. Instead, her “Paducah Residency Project” made use of the quilt batting in a unique way with braided lengths of fabric representing humanity, interconnectedness, binding and chains.
Similarly, Robles-Gordon’s “Let Me Tell You About the Baes and the Bees” series, which usually employs found objects, relates to Crider’s work in the repetition of chains, although Robles-Gordon uses jewelry and strands of pearls to create the same verticality of mixed textures.
Casey, the most junior of the three women, uses the repetition of a central image in “Petra in White” and “Petra in Black,” layering on deep and varied textures around the face of a black woman.
hile the exhibition creates a rhythm that draws on related elements of the three artists’ works, next door at the Anacostia Arts Center’s Blank Space Gallery, the inaugural DC Artist East Exhibition is an eclectic amalgam of different media and approaches by more than a dozen artists who live East of the River, some familiar to exhibits there and around the city, and others who are exhibiting for the first time. The artists included in this exhibit are members of an online community of creators living and working East of the River.
emy Aqui, a photographer who has lived in Anacostia for the past four years, is showing his enhanced photography for the first time at the center. He joins more familiar names such as photographers Jonathan French and Bruce McNeil and mixed media artists Jay Coleman and Malik Lloyd in this expansive show, which takes up every bit of wall space in the broad, light-filled lobby and hallways.
fter fellow artists encouraged him to show his work, Aqui entered two of his photographs into the exhibit which were selected by Anacostia Arts Center’s creative director.
ne of his photos, “Townhouse in NW,” shows a very different view of what might normally be an everyday part of Washington’s landscape. The multi-textured house has a large banana tree in the front, and, according to Aqui, is reminiscent of a tradition in his former home of San Francisco, “where a new homeowner is accepted into their neighborhood by having a tree presented to the new neighbor as a welcoming gesture.”
”I attempt to turn photos of mine into colorful imagery of work [such as old postcards] depicting a fading neighborhood landscape,” he said, describing the surreal façade of the house’s bright, tropical colors.
third exhibit by photographer Vincent Brown looks at the plight of the homeless in D.C., taken with his iPhone, titled “City Under Siege” in the Vivid Solutions Gallery. Although he had intended his work to be focused on other aspects of life in Washington, Brown was taken aback at the prevalence of homeless people on the streets, which then demanded his focus.
art of the annual art exhibits at this stretch of Good Hope Road also includes the bestowing of the annual East of the River Distinguished Artist Award. In 2012, the East of the River Distinguished Artist Award was created to celebrate the exemplary caliber of artists from Ward 7 and 8. This year, the award went to James Terrell for his brightly colored abstract paintings included in the exhibit in the Blank Space Gallery.
is acrylic painting “Kind of Blue” was inspired by jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and the song it is named for. The East of the River Artist Award provides prize money for the artist to use to further their creative career.
ll three exhibitions are on display until Aug. 5 at the Honfleur Gallery at 1241 Good Hope Road SE and the Anacostia Arts Center at 1231 Good Hope Road SE.
For more information, visit www.archdc.org or call 202-631-6291.
A view of the exhibitionÂ "i found god in myself," with works inspired by the choreopoems of Ntozake Shange's play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf." The show is on view at the Houston Museum of African American Culture through April 15.Read More
often wonder how these times will be remembered. What will future generations learn from this moment? Which stories will historians archive? What experiences will be forgotten? Watching the insanity of this election cycle has confirmed for me the importance of knowing histories; not just your own, but the distant and contemporary, local and international happenings that have shaped our present.
The rhetoric employed by the extreme wings of the GOP has empowered and emboldened embarrassingly inaccurate and flatly supremacist depictions of American history. Slogans like “Make America Great Again” assume that the growth of America’s empire occurred without the toil of immigrants, people transported by force, or those who relocated in the hopes of accessing the freedoms of democracy.
A recent poll released by Reuters revealed that 38% percent of American voters continue to support the GOP’s candidate despite his blatant disregard for anyone other than white men and general dismissal of fact-based platforms. I dare not try to understand the irrational reasoning of deplorables, but urge critical thinking voters to remember the whole and diverse contributions that sustain America. Lest we forget all those that came before us, live among us– the laboring bodies that support the world.
The exhibition titled Lest We Forget curated by Deirdre Darden and Jarvis DuBois at Galerie Myrtis interrogates a legacy of historical cultural bias; the conceptions that determine a story’s archivism or omission from history. Artists Wesley Clark, Larry Cook, Shaunte Gates, Jamea Richmonds-Edwards, Amber Robles-Gordon, and Stan Squirewell, collectively known as Delusions of Grandeur, and Delita Martin all contribute their own reflections about forgotten experiences in order to build a richer, more inclusive, and more accurate vision of history.Read More
by Lian Parson, www.theavenuephilly.com
When “i found god in myself: the 40th anniversary for Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls” exhibit premiered, Shange herself attended to view the 20 original works curated by Peter “Souleo” Wright.
By then, she had suffered two strokes and was in a wheelchair. But when she saw the life-size portrait of herself by painter Margaret Rose Vendryes, Shange tried to get out of her wheelchair to show how the tattoos on her body perfectly matched the ones in the painting.Read More
By Eric Hope, http://www.eastcityart.com
Coinciding with the organization’s one-year anniversary, Otis Street Arts Project recently unveiled its newest exhibition The Critiqued featuring works by thirteen area artists. Artists on display have all participated in the Project’s Critique program, an ongoing series of critical dialogues open to the public and facilitated by area arts professionals. Several of the finished pieces on display in this current exhibition were shown and discussed in unfinished states during those earlier peer reviews, giving audience members a unique perspective into the artists’ thought processes as they work to determine when a work is indeed finished.Read More
By Cara Ober, http://www.bmoreart.com
A Conversation with Mikhaile Solomon, Director and Founder of Prizm, Art Basel Miami Beach’s only art fair dedicated to artists of colorRead More
LOUIS JACOBSON, http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com
Art theory is often inscrutable, and it’s doubly so for abstract painting. That’s why the framing of the “Real Beauty” at Carroll Square Gallery needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
“Abstraction is arguably the truest representation of how the world feels, though by definition it obscures how the world actually appears,” reads the exhibit’s wall-posted introduction.
Is this genius or gobbledygook? It’s hard to tell. And most of the works—all of them abstractions, by four different artists—don't offer much help in sorting it out.Read More
Robles-Gordon cobbles together sculptures and canvas collages from scraps of paper and fabric she finds in the neighborhood’s trash cans and storefront windows. She’s shown her work at the Honfleur Gallery. Right now, she has a striking wire and fabric mesh artwork on view near the Deanwood Metro stop.
But as ARCH Development Corporation continues to expand its constellation of arts destinations in Anacostia—the latest is the Anacostia Arts Center on Good Hope Road SE—Robles-Gordon wonders if her neighborhood will still have room for her.
There’s a tendency to see Anacostia, long on talent and struggle but short on just about everything else, as a blank canvas. With the right kinds of art and advertising, the thinking goes, Anacostia can become a hub for the creative class. But who gets left out?
Delusions of Grandeur seems about right for the name of an artists’ collective showing in a hole in the wall in Brentwood.
Located on the second floor of the Gateway Arts Center, the 39th Street Gallery is a 450-square-foot box that has been known to put on pretty cool little shows, including a recent micro-retrospective of the great D.C. painter Manon Cleary, who died last year. But the National Gallery of Art it is not.Read More
Patchwork is the operative mode — and metaphor — in “#myDeanwood: Honoring the Past to Create the Future,” a survey of art chosen to reflect Northeast Washington. There are other media in this small show, but most of the pieces are assemblages. Journalist and artist Esther Iverem makes quilted collages with historical elements, both personal and cultural; she sometimes invokes Oya, the Yoruba spirit of communication with ancestors. Sherry Burton Ways’s dolls are constructed of sticks, fabric, paper and what appears to be human hair; mounted atop strips of patterned fabric, these totemic figures evoke layers of history. Most interesting is Amber Robles-Gordon’s “Matrixes of Transformation” series, which does indeed transform her colorful fabric combinations by photographing them. These 2-D images have a strong sense of depth, but by focusing on details, they offer a more direct way to see Robles-Gordon’s tangled work.
DeanwoodxDesign ArtPlace Temporium
on view through Aug. 31 at the Tuban-Mahan Gallery, the Center for Green Urbanism, 3938 Benning Rd. NE. www.deanwoodxdesign.com
Jenkins is a freelance writer.
The power of a fiber rests within the nature of its unitary value. The interconnectivity of fibers creates a whole, an object that comes into existence because of the unification of its parts. Memory, personhood, and identity are conflated with the materiality of our things- our fashions, our gadgets, the products we buy, the things we keep and the detritus we discard. Our sense of “being” can be discovered with a thorough examination of what we leave behind. What we value, things we remember, in the modern world, material culture is the conduit to the self. In the meticulously rendered textile and mixed media sculptures of the exhibition “With Every Fiber of My Being”, artist Amber Robles-Gordon destabilizes the power of the fiber in its familiar context of object-hood, by restructuring the parameters with which the viewers come to understand it; fibers and filaments transform into representations of a deeper sense of one’s personal memory and self-constituted identity.
The intentional fragmentation of an object conveys an act of disjuncture- a ripping apart, a shredding of, a tearing up- of familiarity, of stability, of normality. So, what happens when this disjuncture becomes a repetitive act of labor in self-rendering? Binaries explode. Polarization’s collide. Linear understandings of histories become a painterly, disjointed pointillism. Robles-Gordon destabilizes the specificity of our “stuff”- lace adorned dresses, rackets, worn t-shirts, beaded bracelets, badminton balls, etc.- and threads together a reformed sense of self through abstracted amalgamations of material culture. In Air, Water, and Earth. Layers of Self, Robles-Gordon’s mixed media sculpture reshapes disparate parts and fragments into lines of color that coalesce in a circular form. Principles of abstraction are still at play in this sculptural entanglement. Excised from objects disjoined from their past modalities, filaments function as undulating lines of color across the picture plane. Grid-like wires attempt to contain the rotund mass, creating a vivid, precarious sense of tension and fragility. It is in this moment of contained visual clutter and chaos, in which power is reassigned and the accepted meaning or constitution of object-hood is simultaneously bifurcated into its past and re-situated at the limen- a space of betweenness where agency flourishes and categories collapse.
The condition of the postmodern and millennial artist is also situated at the liminal space of particularity, where sampling and fragmentation meet at the axis of hybridity. Furthermore, contemporary practitioners like Egypt-born, New York-based Ghada Amer, as well as South African artists Nicholas Hlobo and Nandipha Mntambo, have taken to the act of immolating textiles and objects to reconstruct notions of gender, sexuality, and personal identity. Through tedious and laborious acts of puncture, stitching, and re-binding fragments, the artist could possibly regain control of representation and the deconstruction of self vis-à-vis the destruction of object-hood. In short, the artist can reconstitute the self through reassigning the meaning and function of parts of things ripped apart and ruptured. This new modality and materiality relies upon the vocabulary of fibers and filaments strung and threaded along to chart new spaces of visual memory and selfhood.Jessica N. Bell