When Hamiltonian Gallery opened at 14th and U Streets in 2007, it was something of an oddity. Paul So, a theoretical physicist and professor at George Mason University, launched his unlikely gallery as a way to give artists something akin to the post-doc model for professional opportunities available in the sciences. Every two years, Hamiltonian endows a new class of fellows: young and emerging artists who get a chance to show their work but also take in mentorship, seminars, grant-writing workshops, placement advice, and other benefits that artists can almost never expect, much less receive.
At Hamiltonian Gallery, Nakeya Brown and Christie Neptune construct likenesses of African American women. It might be said that these are self-portraits, but not literally. Both artists look to the past: Brown’s “Some Assembly Required” repurposes her grandmother’s photo album, while Neptune’s “Ms. _______ (Interior)” frames images of contemporary women with text that invokes a white-racist worldview.
For practical purposes, all that really means is that the show’s eight artists, all Hamiltonian fellows, descended on Boston and made works about their experiences. Or at least, that’s where the show begins. For [recombinant] fellows: RA, two artists set out to make works about the show itself, illustrating the lengths to which artists will sometimes go to pursue some insular end—and how this isn’t always a bad thing.
Another dream-within-a-dream, Rives Wiley’s DIY Laser Eye Surgeryinstallation is a diorama—built right into the wall— inspired by YouTube tutorials. It depicts a tutorial for DIY Lasik surgery complete with color-changing eyedroppers, the person watching the video, and the space between the two of them. The video itself is made to look like a YouTube clip, with a red time-ticker carried along by pulleys. Then, we pull back —the diorama has a distorted slant— to the viewer, whose giant head is turned away from us. The lens glare of the camera hangs in the form of resin sculptures. It was hard not to step inside this dream world.
One curator I talked to at Satellite Art Show, a brand-new fair at the Parisian Hotel, called one of her artists “hyper-emerging, because he has never sold anything before.” This seems to be an apt metaphor for Satellite, which is an upscale offshoot of last year’s Artist-Run Fair. Many of the galleries, collectives, and artists presented were in their 20’s, though not all, and a young, casual, noncommercial attitude made the fair a comfortable place for artists to come together.
The best time to see Naoko Wowsugi’s latest solo show may be when it’s blessedly quiet. That’s not at all what the artist has in store for viewers. “Permacounterculture,” her show at Hamiltonian Gallery, is an invitational series of noise and hardcore shows in a garage of sorts that’s built inside the gallery. This is an art show that comes with ear-plugs.
“The exhibition illustrates how we are all connected in diverse ways. I want people to become more aware of their own economy and the small things that connect us all,” said Wowsugi. The exhibit’s name derives from the term ‘permaculture,’ an agricultural system focused on self-sufficiency and community ethics.
Many have heard the conventional wisdom that talking to plants helps them grow. But what about playing music for them? A new exhibit in D.C. is testing that idea — and like many experiments throughout history, it begins in a garage.
In She Fell From Normalcy, Neptune explores feelings of isolation and powerlessness as well the fight to form an identity as a black woman in a system that privileges whiteness. The short film features two black women in a stark, white environment, controlled by a presence that remains unseen. The imagery invokes modes of afrosurrealism.
White walls, standard in modern-art galleries, are designed not to compete with what’s on display. They serve another function in Christie Neptune’s “She Fell From Normalcy,” a Hamiltonian Gallery show of text, installations and photographic images, both still and moving. In some of the videos, two black women in white undies explore an all-white space, probing the box’s sides. The cell that holds them may represent “the hegemonic system of whiteness” the New York artist confronts, according to the gallery’s notes.
In 1984, the author and Black feminist, Audre Lorde penned the essay, “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” where a “mythical norm” was defined as “white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure.” Lorde wrote that anyone that exists outside of that identity lives on the margins of “the trappings of power.” In the exhibition She Fell from Normalcy, artist Christie Neptune, counters those hegemonic idealizations described by Lorde through a sci-fi fantasy that centers around blackness, femininity, and a struggle with depression.
In this beautifully crafted and much needed commentary by D.C.-based artist Christie Neptune, the experiences 'of color' are put into a chilling perspective. While countering the 'hegemonic system' of whiteness, Neptune works to redefine individualism; a concept that is proven one of deep contemplation in terms of race, gender, and class. 'She fell from Normalcy' is the third and final installation of her multi-media series 'Eye of the Storm', and this particular project plays specifically with the emotional and mental hassles of self-definition among communities of color. Utilizing the richness of the performers' skin, combined with a swelling soundtrack and echoing narratives- Neptune's production paints an irrefutable picture of truth, while maintaining the space for interpretation. An intense, yet necessary observation- 'She fell from Normalcy' runs June 25 - July 30, 2016 at the Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington DC. Check out excerpts of her piece below.
Even though spring, the glorious season of new life, is finally here, death is never far away—in fact, it’s on display at Hamiltonian Gallery. Two concurrent shows, “Spread” by Allison Spence and “Hot Water” by Jim Leach, take up death as a powerful creative tool.
Head to Hamiltonian this Saturday for the opening of an exhibit featuring new work by resident artists Allison Spence and Jim Leach. Expect the bizarre-ness of these artists' work to nicely compliment each other. Inspired by Japanese horror manga and a Utah forest colony, Spence's painting and video installations explore how destruction can rise into positivity; Leach's readymade assemblages are reminiscent of the absurdity of Dada, often with a political bent.
In separate Hamiltonian Gallery shows that dovetail conceptually, Nara Park and Dane Winkler consider links between nature and technology. The entrance is through Park’s “Between Millions of Years,” which stacks transparent plastic boxes in emulation of a rocky gorge in an Australian national park. It’s not exactly a grand canyon, since the building blocks are commonplace, unnatural and scaled to a gallery, not to all outdoors. And yet the narrow passageway does produce a strong sense of place.
The rhythm of Dane Winkler’s “Homesteading” is dense and immediate. His show at Hamiltonian Gallery, a trio of post-industrial sculptures, throbs with references to Richard Serra, Ernesto Neto, Félix González-Torres, Mark di Suvero, Bruce Nauman, and other heavyweight sculptors. In fact, his tri-force sequence is so packed with quotations, there’s little room for Dane Winkler.
“Alone in the Woods,” Dan Perkins’s show at Hamiltonian Gallery, takes its name from its largest canvas, in which a rising sun glows over a lake its rays have painted yellow. Nine smaller pictures are vignettes of nature, with heightened, slightly artificial colors. These oils intensify 19th-century landscape painting with the saturated hues of pop art and photorealism.
The surface of “Sky Stack” is so delicious, you could dip into it with a spoon, as if it were a bowl of ice cream. It’s a painting by Dan Perkins, a recent American University grad who demonstrates control and precision with tone and gradient. “Sky Stack”is pleasant: a landscape oil painting, in which a rhombus of bright blue day intersects the sky of a piney hill scene at sunset. “Sky Stack” is so good that it might just be bad for you.
“You are important to us,” recites the recorded message from the intercom attached to a white wall. The sentiment is insincere, of course, as is every artifact in Lisa Dillin’s “I’m looking for you . . .” at Hamiltonian Gallery. The Baltimore artist presents simulated fragments of suburban life, hinting at the larger simulation practiced by the developers of instant “communities.”
Larry Cook may be the artist D.C.’s been waiting for. While D.C. looks less like Chocolate City and more like Chocolate-Chip City with every passing day, here’s an artist who dwells on issues of image and representation in the city’s black population—and he’s finding sure footing. Since he graduated with an MFA from George Washington University in 2013, he’s been named as a finalist for both the Trawick Prize in Bethesda and the Sondheim Artscape Prize in Baltimore, two of the highest honors in the region.
Stockholm Syndrome–while the phrase might cause an emotional shudder for some, others might take it with a grain of skepticism. “I’d never fall under the spell of my captors,” these naysayers would argue. Therein lies the syndrome’s insidious nature–the shell shock slowly morphs into acceptance, so subtly that you aren’t aware of the shifting sands that gird your sense of reality. For artist Larry Cook, this acquiescence is personal. He spies it in his community and experiences it in the reactions of his African-American peers. And it incites him. But rather than lash out in rage, he confronts this complex web of lies, denials and wishful thinking head-on with emotionally-laden works that disrupt so-called “truths” we consider as God-given. Indeed, titling his current solo show at Hamiltonian Gallery Stockholm Syndrome is simultaneously a wake-up call and a call to arms.
This exhibition’s purpose is to showcase pieces by Wowsugi’s students that “challenge traditional hierarchies between teacher/student and the boundaries of the public and the private while poignantly revealing the vulnerability, humor, empathy and playfulness with which Wowsugi teaches with her students”. It includes work from current and former students from her Time Based Studio Fall 2013 and Fall 2014 classes at American University; Time Studio Fall 2011 and 2012 classes at Virginia Commonwealth University; and Digital Photography I Fall 2011 and 2012 classes at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Every year since 2011, art professor Naoko Wowsugi has asked her students to give her an experience for her birthday. The request is not an expression of narcissism — well, not entirely — but an assignment, first at Virginia Commonwealth University and more recently at American University. Some of the supposed highlights of this exercise are on displayat Hamiltonian Gallery, along with a video of a birthday event choreographed by Whoop Dee Doo, a performance-art duo.
Some people can be so difficult about their birthdays. Expensive dinners, cabin weekends, a birthday penumbra that expands until you find yourself celebrating someone’s birthday week or birthday month—birthday-zillas are always wrecking the calendar. But nobody goes as big on her birthday as Naoko Wowsugi.
Eric Gottesman’s latest work, ‘One Needs To Listen To The Characters One Creates’ explores and reinterprets the controversial Amharic novel ‘Oromaye’, by Baalu Girma. Gottesman’s work is on display at the Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington D.C until January 4th and the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans until January 19th.
Introducing the latest crop of Hamiltonian fellows, Hamiltonian Gallery’s “new. (now). 2013” ventures into political territory. Among the five-artist show’s confrontational works are two by Larry Cook. “M.L.” is a manipulated video of Martin Luther King Jr., waiting at a microphone and looking wary. “All American” depicts three figures, symbolically color-coded: models dressed in the battle gear of the Bloods (red) and Crips (blue) flank one in a Ku Klux Klan robe (white). The triptych may not be a fair representation of the U.S.A., but its bristling hostility is true to one aspect of the American character.
Through its Hamiltonian Fellows program, Hamiltonian Gallery has a decent track record of predicting new talent. Jonathan Monaghan, a 2009 fellow (and a former student of mine) has gone on to show with Curator’s Office; 2010 fellows Jessica Van Brakle and Elena Volkova have both enjoyed well-received shows at Hamiltonian and elsewhere. Annette Isham and Billy Friebele, two of last year’s fellows, are some of my favorite new artists in years. In the show “new. (now). 2013,” the current crop promises to carry the baton: Most of the five new fellows are doing good work—and some of them won’t settle for just that.
For an exhibit titled “The Salon of Little Deaths”—a name derived from the French term for orgasm—the Hamiltonian Gallery’s current production doesn’t show much sex. But in the works of Milana Braslavsky, there’s a not-too-subtle sexuality at play. Her still-life photographs feature pears, peaches, tangerines, yellow plums, and nectarines in all their bulbous, sensual glory, set on fabrics that range from fancy tablecloths to blue coverings that suggest aseptic hospital linens.
For an exhibit titled “The Salon of Little Deaths,” this dual-artist show at Hamiltonian Gallery doesn’t include much in the way of orgasm art, though at least in the works of Milana Braslavsky, there’s a not-too-subtle sexuality at play.
Jerry Truong’s 2010 Untitled (Bien Girl) is exemplary of the DC-based artist’s artwork, which seeks to “peel back the formal façade” with the goal of raising “new questions about history, memory, and identity” and gaining “a deeper understanding of our roles within a civil society,” according to the artist’s statement.
Artists Jerry Truong and Annette Isham make art that explores identity, history, gender and other personally and politically charged topics. So it makes sense for them to tackle the topic of school, where much of our sense of self is shaped.
Hamiltonian Gallery opened their newest exhibit on Saturday night, Call + Response, which paired DC writers with DC visual artists to create the exhibition. The concept: authors produced an “on call” written work, and in response, the artists created an installation piece. Then, the authors wrote another work in response to the visual art. Co-curated by William John Bert and Kira Wisniewski, and the Call + Response pairings are: Kyle Dargan (poetry) and Mia Feuer (sculpture), Michael Kimball (fiction) and Trevor Young (painting), Reb Livingston (poetry) and Matthew Mann (painting), Amber Sparks (fiction) and YAY Team (video), Danielle Evans (fiction) + Lisa Marie Thalhammer (painting).
Hamiltonian’s “New Now” exhibition introduces its five newest fellows, who collectively could be described as muted and cerebral with a hint of design. Joyce Lee appropriates light and structure from Old Master paintings in her pastel drawings, which she uses as backdrops for her videos—by forcing viewers to stare longer at the works than they otherwise would, she transforms self-reflection into aimlessness.
Right downstairs from it the freshly opened Hamiltonian showed us their second show, again a group effort, this time by Jonathan B. French, Michael Dax Iacovone & Anne Chan and a lovely party to go with it featuring live jazz from HR57 Allstars and a, as always, radiant Jackie Ionita as the hostess.
U Street’s new Hamiltonian Galleryopenedon October 11 to a bustling crowd of curious onlookers. Those who were there to see how the space had been transformed after its twenty years of vacancy were in for a treat right from the start, and greeted at the front door by Nao Matsumoto’s Whore, an oversized but functioning quarter-fed vibrator. The sculpture doesn’t much resemble your typical sex toy, but instead is a huge, anvil-shaped pink eraser perched atop a black metal box labeled “WHORE”, with a cutesy pink heart informing us it takes quarters only (it really does).
New works by Nao Matsumoto, Bryan Rojsuontikul and Ian MacLean Davis were on display for everyone’s visual (and other-sensory, especially when it came to those little vibrating fertility statues) enjoyment, Gavin Holland was in charge of musical acompaniement, director Jackie Ionita was the perfect hostess, the wine was flowing, the cheese was plentiful, and “everyone who is anyone” stepped out to check out the (quite amazing, really, new space)
The latest gallery to appear on the bustling U Street corridor is more than just another handsome room where artists can peddle their wares.
The 2,000-square-ft. Hamilton Gallery, half a block east of 14th Street, is a fully-green facility, for one thing. It’s also the showcase for Hamiltonian Artists, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping emerging artists find their footing in the commercial realm.