By Mark Jenkins
Published in the Washington Post, December 11, 2015
When the Washington Project for the Arts began 40 years ago, it had a three-story commercial building, at 1227 G St. NW, all to itself. The WPA’s brand-new home, where the show “Washington Produced Artists” marks the group’s anniversary, is much smaller. There’s room for work by only five artists, all with historical ties to the WPA.
The largest piece is Dan Steinhilber’s characteristically playful “Untitled (Lake Conway),” which consists of about two dozen horizontal plastic tubes filled with liquids. Rather than lake water, the wall-filling assemblage is imbued with coffee, beer and garishly hued soda, yielding a sort of 3-D stripe painting. Equally imposing if more solemn are Jim Sanborn’s bogus Buddhist statues, which comment on the international trade in looted and counterfeit artifacts. The sandstone charlatans are presented as if in a museum, complete with such winking ownership details as “property of a gentleman.”
Also included are five William Christenberry photos of small D.C. buildings, made in the 1970s with a Brownie camera, and Joyce C. Scott’s sculptural assemblages, which combine traditional African elements with an (unfortunately) universal motif: the gun. Visitors must venture outside to see Michelle Lisa Herman’s interactive video projection, featuring the faces of WPA artists and curators.
The show opened with a performance by the Maida Withers Dance Company, and on Dec. 13, there will be a different sort of movement art. Beginning at 9 a.m. at the WPA’s new location, Workingman Collective will lead a walking tour of all the previous WPA sites, in chronological order back to the long-demolished 1227 G St.
Washington Produced Artists On view through Dec. 19 at the Washington Project for the Arts, 2124 Eighth St. NW. 202-234-7103. wpadc.org.
December 11, 2015