Arts Desk

Reviewed: “Blueprints” at the Jewish Community Center

The use of the cyanotype—better known as the blueprint—dates back almost to photography’s birth, when it was used for cameraless botanical contact prints. The collaborative team of Susan Weil, an artist who got her start in the Abstract Expressionist days of the 1950s, and Jose Betancourt, an Alabama-based art professor, is the latest to revive the blue-hued technique through a mix of different media. Not all of their pieces work equally well—some are too-tame studies of plant matter—but a number of them cleverly harness the technique’s advantages. In one piece, the artists portray a collection of strewn eyeglasses printed on supremely tactile Braille paper. Multi-canvas works featuring an umbrella and a bicycle exude a winning centrifugality, while one work features the mesmerizingly spidery veins of shattered plate glass. Perhaps the smartest piece turns the old formula on its head, printing a brown-hued image of a Victorian-looking woman on lace—a material that itself has a long history of being reproduced in cyanotype. Clearly, this pair of artists has a well-honed historical sensibility.

The exhibit is on view to Sept. 9 at the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery at the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th Street NW. Free. (202) 518-9400.

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