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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Contemporary contraptions at McLean's Project for the Arts

Melissa Burley, Geared Up/Patricia Leslie
How can anyone visit a modern art show and not come away astonished by what artists can create and make?

The newest exhibition at the McLean Community Center will leave viewers' eyes open wide.  It's called Contraptions:  Reflections on the Almost Functional, and they are.

Stephanie Williams, Alex, is priced at $2,500/Patricia Leslie
The brochure says the artists draw, make, sculpt, and assemble works which deal with "real, imagined, or implied" functionality.  I'll say.   Not all the pieces conjured up "functionality" for me.  Take Stephanie Williams' Alex, for example. Alex struck me as a gynecological model of a one-legged being, maybe a harnessed man? A harassed man ensnared by a wheelbarrow's bars? He begins to reach for assistance, for help with his (he is a "his," of that I am quite certain) long, skinny appendages. Perhaps, that is the message:  Men determine body decisions for women, so let's capture man, and we'll make body decisions for him.  I'll vote for that.

The "thing" is headless so thinking equipment, if it exists, may reside elsewhere on the structure. And what is that end product, please, the pink blob?

The artist, Rima Schulkind with her Say Cheese, priced at $2,500, and perfect for a camera shop/Patricia Leslie
A few steps away in the Ramp Gallery are Eric Celarier's Wasteland Series, old and new computer parts strung out on leather quilts, stitched together with leather ties.  I can just see them hanging on entrance walls at Apple, HP, and ASUS.  They are a visual history of a computer's parts, a tech landscape and available in various sizes. 

Eric Celarier with one of his Wasteland Series/Patricia Leslie

Mr. Celarier said some parts are quite old, going back several decades. Computers are not as new as one might think.  I can recall about 1985 when a colleague brought his new computer to work, after Christmas.  It was the size of a refrigerator.  (He always had to be the first kid on the block to have the newest of everything. I am certain a robot is driving him to work by now if he is not luxuriating on a sea on Mars.)

Eric Celarier, Wasteland Series XIV/Patricia Leslie

Meanwhile, in the Atrium Gallery are sculptures by Melissa Burley who has used recycled equipment, including bicycle chains, to show off her creations encased in lighted boxes. (I wonder how old Melissa is.  Anyone remember light boxes?)  Round and round they go, circles and wheels suggesting motion like our brain waves which never stop (are you sure?), trapped by our own limitations and constant repetitions.

For those dinner guests who insist on staying beyond the midnight hour, you can pull out Melissa Burley's Hot Seat/Patricia Leslie
You see what art can do!  Go and find out what the pieces say to you and please, write soon.

Nancy Sausser curated Contraptions, and other artists represented are Blake Hurt, Adam Hager, and Dymphna de Wild.  All Contraptions are for sale.

Scheduled talks and workshops at the McLean Community Center are:

Friday, Feb. 21, 7 - 9 p.m. "Waste in Contemporary Art" with Eric Celarier.  Free.

Saturday, Feb. 22, 10 - 11:30 a.m. Family Art Workshop:  "Multi-Media Mobiles" for ages 4 - 8. $10/family

Saturday, Feb. 22, 1 - 4 p.m. Workshop with Eric Celarier:  "Anatsui and Reuse Art" for ages 9 - 14. $10

What: Contraptions:  Reflections on the Almost Functional with more art in the galleries

When: Now through March 1, 2014, Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. - 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. - 12 a.m., and Sunday: 12 - 6 p.m. 

Where: McLean Project for the Arts at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Avenue, McLean, VA 22101. For directions and a map, click here.

Admission: No charge

Parking:  Plentiful and free

For more information: 703-790-1953 or 703-790-0123
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