The Female, The Oracle, The Nurturer and The One, The Source Within by Amber Robles-Gordon
How We Lost DC
“How We Lost D.C.” was organized by a Delusions of Grandeur, a collective of six local African American artists. Its centerpiece is Wesley Clark’s “The Playing Field,” a large wooden map of the city overlaid with a diagram of football-style strategy. One team seems to be moving west to east, while another leaves the field altogether. Clark also constructed a chess set whose pieces include skyscrapers and for-sale signs. On a related theme, Stan Squirewell offers a cluster of dialogue with such remarks as “You sold it for how much?” Pens are provided so visitors can add commentary.
Larry Cook contributed a neon sign that hangs in the window, advertising subs, chicken and Chinese food. It may draw hungry passersby in the gallery’s eatery-deprived neighborhood. He also assembled a pile of lottery tickets and tiny pencils, flanked by a broom. It’s a sort of impromptu memorial to the get-rich-quick dreams among the underpaid and underemployed.
Other pieces are less pointed, and sometimes less D.C.-centered. Shaunté Gates’s black-and-white collage-paintings, each accented by a touch of red, include one in which a man navigates a maze-city that has multiple Washington Monuments. Amber Robles-Gordon’s large wall hangings feature circular motifs, notably the snake that encircles one of them, perhaps representing the cycle of existence. Rather than winning and losing, the ringed figure suggests, there is only waxing and waning.
DUX by Pat Goslee
The remembrances that course through “Memory Flood,” which features 12 local female artists, are not necessarily inundating. The Anacostia Arts Center show includes glimmers of recollection, such as the basic house shape in a large field of heavily worked graphite that evokes Anne Smith’s feelings of being home alone as a child. Two Pat Goslee paintings, suggesting a child’s-eye view of the grown-up world above her, include towering chair-like forms amid abstract elements. Laurel Lukaszewski’s wall-mounted assemblages of black stoneware curls, strong yet delicate, signify what the artist calls “a sliver of memory.”
Imani Russell’s sculptures and Nakeya Brown’s photographs are more specific. Brown’s vignettes summon yesteryear’s notions of glamour by matching vintage hairdressing appliances and accessories to covers of albums by female African American singers who topped the charts decades ago. Russell reaches further into history with fabric work that includes an elaborate wall hanging, doll-like figures and cotton bolls on branches. Such pieces recall the infamies of slavery and sharecropping, but also how women’s handicrafts upheld family, tradition and beauty.