Wherever to see art exhibits in the Washington area

The artist’s on-line bio divulges that he’s the founder, innovative director and namesake of Cortina Productions, a McLean, Va., company that makes films, distinctive outcomes and interactive experiences for the likes of NBC Sports activities and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American Record and Society. The capabilities created in that occupation absolutely abetted the show’s two placing online video pieces, in which animated shifting shapes occasionally cohere into silhouetted human figures. These seem to dance throughout transparent shows — and into such canvases as “Bluewalker,” whose styles are much less anthropomorphic but do recommend bodies in motion.

In the paintings that compose the bulk of the exhibit, Cortina abstractly however very carefully contrasts colors and kinds. Most often, he applies pigment thickly, usually in spiraling allover styles, and then overlays uncomplicated motifs in what seem to be two unique colors. This could possibly feel a confined approach, but the artist devises a lot of fruitful variations. And nearer inspection reveals that some photographs employ multiple hues, whether heathered into the dominant kinds or as highlights, these types of as the inexperienced crests atop the waves of the seemingly all-black “What About It?”

Normally it is colour that presents the essential stress, but some pics count on divergent texture, and a few juxtapose the two. A pair of dim blue squares differ in equally shade and surface area from the rest of “Nicki,” and a thickly impastoed black pillar around bisects “Or Was It A little something Distinctive?” That interruption is a single of numerous solid vertical elements in these paintings, but this 1 is scored with horizontal incisions that advise the flickering strains that influenced the show’s title — and remember Cortina’s other profession.

Even though Shanthi Chandrasekar’s model draws from a broader range of influences and inspirations than Cortina’s, the two artists’ get the job done is quite appropriate. The Indian-born Maryland painter’s “Beginningless Unlimited,” also at the McLean location, functions elaborate designs and intricate levels. Like the historic philosophers whose concepts of the universe predicted later on discoveries, Chandrasekar expresses each mystical and scientific verities. Her titles encompass these types of phrases as “chakra” as perfectly as “fractal,” and this variety includes a hanging 3-D set up earlier noticed at the American Center for Physics in College or university Park, Md.

The literal this means of “chakra” is “wheel,” and Chandrasekar’s placing chakra paintings, each and every keyed to a single colour, revolve about a central axis. Much more frequent, though, are pics whose multilevel designs sprawl just about every which way, evoking anything from starry skies and microscopic cells to the tapestries woven by her ancestors. Frequently, the top degree is a dotted white filigree that, in a feeling, stitches the complete together. In Chandrasekar’s paintings, chaos and buy really don’t simply coexist but in fact harmonize.

Joseph Cortina: Vertical Interval and Shanthi Chandrasekar: Beginningless Infinite Via Feb. 20 at McLean Challenge for the Arts, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean. Open up by appointment.

Michael Spears

Like Joseph Cortina, Michael Spears paints abstracts that convey a sturdy feeling of motion. The pictures in the Athenaeum’s “The Sight of Rhythm and Melody” translate jazz, soul and gospel into what the Laurel, Md.-based African American artist phone calls “visual songs.” His blended-media photos merge portray, drawing and collage, and dispatch swirling totally free gestures throughout areas of extreme color. These hues, generally wealthy and darkish, evoke shadowy interiors and midnight skies.

The most immersive canvases are twinned fantasias in deep reds and purples, one particular of which is punctuated by whirls of white. However most of Spears’s shots have a broader palette, and many include curved pieces of what appears to be paper printed with image-derived black-and-white styles. The artist’s mentioned inspirations — which include the Black Life Make any difference movement and the influence of religion on basic rhythm and blues — aren’t built noticeable, but the passions they summon are palpable. Spears achieves in visual form what he suggests new music presents him: “emotional grandness.”

Michael Spears: The Sight of Rhythm and Melody Via Feb. 21 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria.

Liminal Area

The sky and the street are two of the places grouped as “Liminal Space” in the debut clearly show at Previously Was, the new incarnation of Bethesda’s WAS Gallery. (The title refers to a transitional state that can be bodily, psychological or even metaphysical, as in Tibetan Buddhism’s time period for the time period in between demise and rebirth.) All but 1 of the five contributors are photographers, some of whose pictures are arranged into visual essays. The most atmospheric of these arrays attribute Baltimore scenes by E. Brady Robinson, whose upward-gazing digicam normally lands on clouds, and uncanny nocturnes by Elena Volkova, who views mild and shadow through a lens darkly.

The artists, all from the Washington-Baltimore location, sometimes depict recognizable places and timely situations or items. There are various visuals of pandemic gear this sort of as gloves and masks, rendered objectively by Rodney Decision and impressionistically by Jill Fannon. Decision portrays a man in a D.C. statehood mask Fannon glimpses an individual through a entire-confront protect, just one particular of quite a few distancing products in her evocatively comfortable-targeted photographs.

Choice’s posed portraits are complemented by a quartet of impromptu shots of protesters at odds with law enforcement officers. These photos are the closest in spirit to Melvin Nesbitt Jr.’s contributions — two foods-themed collaged photographs. The representational assemblages seem light-weight-hearted, but their cut-and-pasted scraps include textual content about long-term starvation. That issue, like the conflict of Choice’s avenue scenes, is tangible and speedy. More attribute of the exhibit, even so, are sights of liminal areas, mysterious and unresolved.

Liminal Room By Feb. 27 at Previously Was, 4936 Wisconsin Ave. NW.