Benjamin Abramowitz’s last gallery show in D.C. came in 2006 at Hemphill Fine Arts, where some of his early abstractions on paper were displayed. “Out of the Vault,” a show of his works at the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Dupont Circle, won’t just be the first show of Abramowitz’s work in more than five years—or the first show since his death last year. It will be the first time much of his work has been exhibited in Washington. A draughtsman who worked on the Works Progress Administration dole before his art took a few modernist turns (a path forged by so many modern artists), Abramowitz produced outside the New York circuit where his output would have had a native context. His ink-and-watercolor drawings evolved from the simple socialist-public themes favored by the WPA to more elegant portraits and abstractions; this show, hosted in concert with the D.C.-based Arts for the Aging organization, presents the earlier work. At a moment when artists such as Shepard Fairey are putting those old WPA styles and themes back to work for social progress, the original thing—in the hands of Abramowitz—looks all the fresher.
“Out of the Vault” is on view 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays to Nov. 28 at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Ave. NW. Free.