Arts Desk

This Week in Art: Openings, Closings, and Reviews of Trevor Young and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”

OPENINGS: "Transformations," painting and monotypes by Amy Barker-Wilson, opened yesterday at Foundry Gallery; "Classical Realism: New Works," paintings by Teresa Oaxaca, opens today at Art League Gallery; "Curves," artwork based on the human figure, also opens today at Art League Gallery; "Seen Two Ways," paintings by Linda St. Clair and Ruth Ava Lyons, opens Friday at Aaron Gallery; "Family Trees, sculptures by Emilie Brzezinski, opens Saturday at American University's Katzen Arts Center; "NO, GLOBAL TOUR," work by Santiago Sierra also opens Saturday at Katzen Arts Center.

CLOSINGS: "Transmission," work by Maria Friberg, closes Saturday at Conner Contemporary; "Art as Paper as Potential," work by Dean Kessmann, also closes Saturday at Conner Contemporary; "Old Lines from the Luminous State," work by Bart O'Reilly and Solas Nua, closes Saturday at Flashpoint; Work by John Acquilino closes Saturday at Gallery Neptune; Light sculptures by Craig A. Kraft closes Saturday at Osuna Art; "Artist Books: Prints & Stories," work by Ann Zahn, closes Saturday at Waverly Street Gallery; "Mystical Scenographies," work from Salamandra Studios, closes Sunday at District of Columbia Arts Center; "Food Chain," work by Lelo, closes Monday at Art Whino.

ONGOING: See our listings.

Reviews of work by Trevor Young and the newest Smithsonian exhibition after the jump.

Louis Jacobson takes a look at "Trevor Young: Premium," running to May 15 at Civilian Art Projects.

Trevor Young’s style of painting doesn’t seem to have changed a lot since I first encountered it a couple years ago, but that’s fine—his work is just as compelling now as it was then. Young has a soft spot for depopulated, alienating spaces, often related to the transportation system—highway flyovers, airport waiting rooms, deserted tarmacs. His obvious antecedents are Ed Ruscha (both share an attraction to bold, stylized gas stations) and Edward Hopper (for their islands of artificial light within the gloom), but one also detects the muscular smoke clouds of George Bellows and the inscrutable color fields of Mark Rothko. Most impressively, Young’s paintings—some big, many petite—pull off the neat trick of straddling the worlds of realism and abstraction, as in his depiction of a well-lit institutional vestibule at night (which deconstructs into a series of slightly tilted rectangles) and the creamy white zip of distant lights that divides an indigo sky from a black ground. These are scenes so anonymous that no one notices. Thankfully, Trevor Young does.

Maura Judkis reviews "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," running to Aug. 29 at the National Museum of American History:

Of all the memorabilia present in “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” the Smithsonian’s exhibit on Harlem’s cultural mainstay the Apollo Theater, the must-see items aren’t Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, Michael Jackson’s fedora, a trio of flowery dresses once worn by the Supremes, or even a jumpsuit belonging to James Brown with the word sex written in rhinestones across the waist—though that outfit, in particular, is a sight to behold. Throughout the theater’s 75 years of shaping pop culture and African-American history, the most fascinating bit of memorabilia is a collection of notecards on which the theater’s owner would take brutally honest notes on the talent. Fats Domino,he wrote, had an “excellent though unexciting group” but was “overpaid—salary should be about $5,000.” As for Dionne Warwick: “Inclined to talk too much.” Beyond musical keepsakes such as these, the exhibit explains the theater’s role in political and social movements of the 20th century, set to some soulful tunes.

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