Arts Desk

Openings: Chuck Close and “The Civil War and American Art”

What's new this weekend in local arts.

Get out and absorb a little art before the countdown to Thanksgiving face-cramming begins. A couple of must-see shows are opening this weekend.

Today at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, an exhibit opens that shows how famous American artists of the time period represented the Civil War and its aftermath. "The Civil War and American Art" consists of 75 works (57 paintings and 18 battlefield photographs), most of which were created during the war, that document the shifts in American consciousness over time—from "palpable unease on the eve of war," reads the museum's website, "to heady optimism that it would be over with a single battle, to a growing realization that this conflict would not end quickly and a deepening awareness of issues surrounding emancipation and the need for reconciliation." Runs to April 28, 2013 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F streets NW. Free.

Chuck Close, famed photo realist, opens a new exhibit tomorrow at Adamson Gallery. The aptly named exhibit, "New Work," gives us a glimpses of what Close has been working on recently—using a blend of technological and analog methods to create portraits. The exhibit includes both watercolor prints—which were created by taking 15,000 of Close's hand-painted marks, scanning them, and manipulating them online to create photo-realistic images such as the one above—and felt hand stamps which were used methodically in layers to create similar portraits. Runs to Dec. 29 at Adamson Gallery at 1515 14th St. NW. Free.

Speaking of innovative portraits, "Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge" is the seventh installment in the National Portrait Gallery's series examining the field. The exhibit, opening today, features six different artists who use different types of meticulous mark-making to create images, thus blurring the line between drawing and photography in their work. Runs to Aug. 18, 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets. Free.

Billy Friebele's "Current Recorder," which opens tomorrow at Hamiltonian, includes abstract spherical drawings that document the conditions of a specific location on a specific day, and were generated by a "kinetic found-object sculpture." The colorful and thoughtful drawings strive to serve as visual meditations on time and place. Runs to Dec. 29 at Hamiltonian Gallery at 1353 U St. NW, Suite 101.  Free.

Finally, Shakespeare Theatre Company's A Midsummer Night's Dream opened yesterday for the holiday season. Dreams meet reality in this classic directed by Ethan McSweeny. Runs to Dec. 30 at the Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. Tickets $43-$110.

Image: Chuck Close

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