artist spotlight

Last Chance: Garth Fry at Hillyer Art Space

Garth Fry pushes the limit in his solo show at Hillyer Art Space by taking his delicate technique of coiled paper to the next level with both large and small scale exhibitions. Fry revisits this technique with an emphasis on the viewing experience, focusing on the ethereal, delicate properties of paper coils.

His solo exhibition at Hillyer Art Space, which closes this Friday March 29th, showcases his push to enhance his work by reexamining the coiled paper technique and by creating works that can be viewed independently while providing an impactful viewing experience for the viewer.

Garth Fry 2

ArtSee had a chance to sit down and chat with our friend Garth to discuss his exhibition at Hillyer Art Space, what it’s like to be an artist, and just what it takes to be the upbeat and positive Garth Fry we know and love.

 ArtSee: What's the last show that you saw (not yours) that inspired you?

Garth Fry: The Ai Weiwei exhibit, "According To What" at the Hirshhorn Museum. Biggest take away there for me was his craftsmanship displayed in China Log. Ai built logs from dismantled Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) temple posts. He then carved an opening through the center of the log that displays the shape of China. The materials used in the log creation reference China's past, while his carving techniques become symbolic of the counties future. Ai designs mystery in a simple yet complex manner with this piece; elements that I enjoy and try to incorporate in my own work.  


AS: Where is your favorite place to see art?

GF: I really enjoy the Hirshhorn Museum and keeping up with a few DC galleries like Hillyer Art Space, The Fridge, and RandScottProjects.


AS: What inspired the body of work in your exhibition “A Deeper Look Inside” on display now at Hillyer Art Space?

GF: The images I created with coils have been inspired by events that have happened throughout my life; from affairs as simple as everyday occurrences to monumentally life changing circumstances. Even the origin of the coiling process developed during a routine life event. I noticed large sheet of torn paper beginning to roll into itself while moving my studio from Arlington, VA to Richmond, VA. The simple paper rolling phenomena transformed into a regular studio practice while living in Richmond because I had little room and no funds to support my regular Printmaking habit. I began making images inspired by trivial situations and my daily surroundings. Most recently, in this show specifically, I've tried to push myself to expand within the paper coil theme and create works that could stand alone without being framed.

 Garth Fry

AS: What do you think has changed in your art career and your work since the beginning of your career?

GF: As an artist I've learned to follow my gut and intuition.  Early on in my career I leaned heavily on traditional means of expression, from materials used to the process of creation.  Overtime, I've been able to build on those conventional artistic practices to create new techniques with different forms of articulation.


AS: Who is your favorite artist dead/alive and why?

GF: Damien Hirst, for his ability to create works that feed on peoples fears and emotion so decoratively. 


AS: If you weren’t creating art what would you be doing? 

GF: Surfing


AS: What is you favorite food?

GF: I love a good burrito, but I'm not a picky eater and enjoy foods of all types.


Thanks so much for chatting with us, Garth! Be sure to catch his show “A Deeper Look Inside” before it closes THIS Friday at Hillyer Art Space. Also, you can check out more of his work on his website:


A Deeper Look Inside is open until March 29th, 2013 at Hillyer Art Space 9 Hillyer Court, NW in Dupont Circle. Hillyer Art Space is open 12-6 Tuesday – Friday & 12-5 Monday’s and Saturday’s. 

Artist Spotlight: J. Ford Huffman

Surrounded by little theaters, DC-based artist J.Ford Huffman stands in his dining room and excitedly tells the narrative of each box, two dozen of which will be a part of his upcoming solo exhibition at Politics and Prose, Little Theaters, opening February 28 with a public reception on Saturday, March 2.

“This is called ‘Map Room.’ It’s from a series involving impressions of the White House,” Huffman explained, pointing to a re-purposed wine box. Inside the box, an upside-down grandfather clock and monstrous fragments of a Greek temple set the stage for an unknown scene. Amid gaudy pink accents, an imposing street map of Washington DC hangs on the back wall, as if in a wartime conference room. 


Many things hang on the walls of Huffman’s miniature worlds, each created with the intention to evoke the viewer to complete the story’s sentence.

Cook Books stars a tiny bronze man, reaching up to stir a disproportionately large holiday pot holding what else, but, a book. A picture-less picture frame extends beyond the wall and seemingly life-size primary color bricks are stacked upon one another, scattered around the curious kitchen. Peering into the miniature stage, one is instantly reminded of Alice in Wonderland. 


“It’s playful at first glance,” said Huffman who explained his interest creating a challenge for the viewer to contemplate “why.” 

In Upper-case ‘BOOK’ Case, one of the capital “O” in the big yellow “B-O-O-K,” has fallen from the top shelf and lays defeated, knocked over, resting on its side.

“Did the ‘O’ fall because it just toppled over or did something more ominous happen here?” Huffman implored. 


Cook Books and Upper-case “BOOK” Case are not the only theaters with a book theme.

“I love challenges so I wanted to see what I could come up with working around the venue. So for this one, books because Politics and Prose is a book store,” Huffman said.


Permabooks lines up gorgeously colored African wood samples along a bookshelf supported by makeshift legs, and is paired next to a vintage Barclay doll for scale and a barely translucent paper bush for depth. Table of Contents stacks a series of books, each one’s aesthetic beautifully flowing into the other to create a composed composition, all tied together with a red background, red 1887 marbleized paper floor, and red accents such as the miniature figurine’s apple. In contrast to the witty word play works, Content Context takes on a more modern feel, its white letters naturally spliced in half by a wood shelf in the top half. On the bottom, a white plastic figure gazes into an image from an 1879 edition of “Recreation in Astronomy.” The work is successful in making the viewer think, as the box’s beholder gazes into the set the same way the miniature man looks out into a distant land. 


“When I give lectures on journalism, or writing or editing, I always emphasize context versus content,” Huffman said about the inspiration for Content Context.  

Not all theaters in the show, priced at $300 and above, are book-related.Volts per cell is an interactive theater that requires the viewer to flip through anatomy profiles of the human head. Sisters pairs the 1889 painting of The Abbess of Jouarre with a plaster statue of Saint Theresa Little Flower of Jesus. Huffman includes a carefully placed mirror in the corner of the box so that one can clearly see the two nuns are looking at one another. The viewer wonders if they are looking at each other in admiration or contempt.


Huffman’s typically playful, sometimes provocative, and always clever little theaters, take the viewer on a delightful journey into a tiny, magical word beyond his own.

Little Theaters is on display at Politics and Prose from February 28 until April 4. An opening reception will take place on Saturday, March 2 from 7- 9 PM.

Politics and Prose is located at 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM- 10 PM and Sunday from 10 AM- 8 PM

Bringing the Art in DC to You,

Roxanne Goldberg