Art and the City

Artist Profile: Peggy Fox

Portrait by Jack Radcliffe

These images exist outside of time. They offer themselves as thoughts that resonate in the universe of theories – the explanations of what, not why. In her latest series, “Particles,” Peggy Fox does not illustrate the concepts and terms of physics, she only lets them connect with her visual ideas, pairing up in the singularity of art and photography where the rules are rewritten in a personal way.

Photographs of beads become particles, or electric pearls, when printed on transparencies and adhered to an aluminum sheet. Other lighting effects are created around the particle images. In works such as “Dark Matter,” “String Theory,” and “Particle/Wave” the dramatic lighting induces a mood of endless space. You are floating in an eternity. In “Chaos Theory” and “Three Sorts of Quarks” Fox paints in oils directly on the aluminum, around the transparencies, to create a near-space sense of movement suggesting unknown forces. 

Fox grew up in Philadelphia and trained as a painter at Moore College of Art. She was the director of the art department at St. Paul’s School and subsequently became one of the first professional women photographers in Baltimore. Her 20 years of commercial photography led to independent projects like documenting people in their places, such as “Patapsco: Life along Maryland’s Historic River Valley” and “The Streets of Baltimore.”

There is a wide breadth in the work of Peggy Fox, yet there is always a seemingly magical mix of art and photography that results in seamless composites. Earlier works, such as “Morality Tales,” are surreal, occupying that narrow gap between imagination and hard reality that makes you wonder which is which. You happily give up your seat in reality and catch the trip to delightful illusion.

Her “Particles” series can be viewed this month at the Hill Center (see At the Galleries), and all of her work can be viewed at www.PeggyFox.net. 

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art 

Photography is an ever-shifting art form. A few photographs can be so entrancing that they go beyond the mastery of the camera to a vision that gets into your head and won’t leave. Many artists, like Peggy Fox, use the camera as part of a larger artwork.

Some photos appear to be ordinary, but then they punch you in the gut with a swirl of emotions and conflicts: a bomber crew just before being shot out of the sky, an art museum before the fire, a jungle prior to Agent Orange.

That is the way the book “Continental Divide,” by local photographer Krista Schlyer, hit me. It’s a portrait of wildlife along the US-Mexican border, with seemingly standard calendar shots and superb lighting and composition. Then the grim reality strikes home. The book could be entitled “A Fence Runs through It.” Yes, a two-thousand mile, 18-foot-high fence, from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf Of Mexico, has risen in the middle of a wide, bulldozed swath across deserts, woodlands, wetlands, hills, and valleys, much of it acquired by eminent domain.

It is supposed to stop people and drugs from coming through Mexico. Raise your hand if you think it’s going to work. The impact on animals, from a migrating bison herd and bighorn sheep to the tiny creatures at the bottom of the food chain, will be a tragedy. 

I grew up near the border and handled environmental issues for a US senator from Arizona. We funded projects to restore the land and its natural ecosystems – to fix the damage done by an earlier wave of shortsighted imperatives, those social and economic “demands” that look no further than immediate satisfaction or the next election.

But the hurt I feel is for the end of a great sweep of the eye across a continuous landscape of indescribable beauty.  It’s the land I walked and painted. Go to Amazon books and enter “Krista Schlyer.”

At the Galleries

Edvard Munch
National Gallery of Art
3rd and Constitution Ave. NW
July 28

Edvard Munch was born 150 years ago, and this is a celebration exhibition of some of his most renowned works on paper, including “The Scream.” That’s the image of the alien-like weirdo with his hands pressed over his ears to squeeze the air out of his head while waves of disharmonious colors reach out to engulf and suck him into the underworld of horror and doom. Everyone loves it. Actually there is much more to the great Expressionist. Go see it. www.nga.gov 

 

Hill Center Gallery
Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
June 22

This is an excellent show with a great variety of approaches and techniques among the six painters and photographers. Peggy Fox brings her latest series, “Particles,” a dance with the theoretical concepts of physics. Alan Braley introduces a stirring new series, “The Boys of Summer,” a mixed-media return to the glory days of baseball. It captures the sights and surroundings of historic parks as well as famous players. The floral photographs of Gayle Krugoff are beautifully expressive and always popular. Nina Bagdavadze, Kay Elsasser, and Susan Kasielke continue with their unique expressions of form and color. www.hillcenterdc.org.

 

Adam Lister
The Heurich Gallery at Boston Properties 
505 9th St. NW
June 5-Sept. 4
Reception June 5, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Adam Lister paints color with ”hard edge” acrylic paintings. He paints the geometry he sees all around us, building “fields of alternating fluorescent, pastel and cool colors that are set up as bridges ... obstacles arranged in reaction to the entire picture plane.”  info@efronart.com. www.adamlistergallery.com

 

Capital Pride 2013
Evolve Urban Arts Project
1375 Maryland Ave. NE
June 6-28
Reception June 6, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

This special show of GLBT artists from the Washington area will include Bettina Aten, Geoff Ault, Wan Hoi Lee, Scott Hunter, Wayson Jones, Rob Kleinsteuber, Bill Mould, and Juan Wilson. Don’t miss the opening reception, which is always great. www.evolvedc.com 

 

Freya Grand
Gallery Plan B
1530 14th St. NW
June 16

Freya Grand paints the “mystery and grandeur” of the natural world through large, dynamic landscapes and seascapes. She also has a series of smaller works that have a “cinematic quality,” the “excerpted pieces of the movie of where I’ve been.” www.galleryplanb.com 

 

“Figures in Jazz”
John K. Lawson
Honfleur Gallery
1241 Good Hope Rd. SE
June 28
Free concert June 6, Nasar Abadey Quartet, 7:00-9:00 p.m. 

These large, vibrant portraits are not the usual attempts at likeness. Lawson is after the elusive quality of identity, the fourth dimension of time and place that has to be seized and held prisoner in a painting. He does it very well. www.honfleurgallery.com 

 

Lesley Clark
Foundry Gallery
1314 18th St. NW
June 5-30 
Reception June 7, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

In “Scotland – Boundless, Beautiful and Home” Lesley Clark’s abstract paintings reflect all of the looks, sounds, and emotions of the Scottish landscape: dark, remote, brutal, green, wet, floral, and bright. www.foundrygallery.org 

A Capitol Hill artist and writer, Jim Magner can be reached at artandthecity05@aol.com.His award-winning book, “A Haunting Beauty,” can be acquired through www.ahauntingbeauty.com.


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