Arts Desk

Reviewed: David Emerick and James Matthew Crooks at Hillyer Art Space

Just when Americans are beginning to demand their movies in 3-D, photographers David Emerick and James Matthew Crooks remain stubbornly fixated on life in two dimensions. Emerick, the director of new media at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, photographs the largely unadorned side walls of big box stores and warehouses. Unfortunately, the spaces' very anonymity—and their similarities to each other – make many of Emerick’s images overly monotonous. The ones that stand out are those with a feature, however small, that breaks the dominant plane, such as a vent cover that casts a dramatic, dagger-like, diagonal shadow. Crooks is somewhat more successful within his self-imposed two-dimensional confines, partly because he’s bolder in using color (such as a pattern of alternating white and red painted squares, or the wall detritus that, when flipped 90 degrees, bears a striking resemblance to Monet’s water lilies) and shape (a sharply angular spire jutting into the sky, or a sinuously curving sign studded with rows of yellow light bulbs). But the most compelling image by either artist is surely Crooks’ “Iron Side,” a close-up of the tops of four weathered, metal bolts whose rounded forms are startlingly erotic.

The exhibition is on view noon to 5 p.m. Monday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday  to Aug. 26 at Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Court NW. Free

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