contemporary wing

This Weekend: It's Guna Be (a wet) May

In case you feel like getting wet this weekend for the good of art... 

1. Contemporary Wing opens Friends with Benefits on SATURDAY from  6-8 pm [link]
2. First FRIDAY in Dupont at Hillyer, Studio Gallery and more! [link]
3. Fiction @ The Fridge opens SATURDAY from 7- 10 pm [link]
4. And interested in making the hike up Wisconsin? The Georgetown Spring Season Art Walk in FRIDAY from 6-8 pm [link]
5. Oh and as an added bonus... Let's funky on down @ the Funk Parade this Saturday May 3 [link and photo credit]

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 


Gallery Round-Up: Weekend of April 5

Friday, April 5:
Opening: MUMBO SAUCE at Contemporary Wing
1414 14th Street, NW // 6:00- 10:00 PM

MUMBO SAUCE is a survey of artists with deep roots in Washington, D.C., and explores how such factors as Go-Go, graffiti, punk, hardcore, graphic design and fine art have shaped and influenced the work of these artists. MUMBO SAUCE is curated jointly by Roger Gastman, curator of the Corcoran’s “Pump Me Up” show, and Lauren Gentile, founder of Contemporary Wing.

Opening: LOST LAND at Hillyer Art Space
9 Hillyer Court, NW // Friday 6:00- 9:00 PM

LOST LAND is about landforms, both real and imagined. Printmaker Fawna Xiao creates an abstracted landscape captured in a series of screenprinted monotypes that are a tribute to mountains, canyons, glaciers, and Martian rocks. Xiao’s work is minimalist: rich colors and lively geometrics are embraced by a generous sea of paper. A complex mountain shards into blue and silver; a glacier is simplified to white and seafoam crystals; an entire mountain range is expressed in two colors. The work is focused on the mountain distilled – free of plants, tourists, and creatures. Lost Land reveals land masses both alien and familiar, in their most raw and essential forms.

Opening: Athena Tacha: Drawings: From Public to Private, 1977- 2007 at Marsha Mateyka Gallery
2012 R Street, NW // 4:00- 6:00 PM

Greek artist Athena Tacha has been widely exhibited worldwide since the late 1970s. Her many commissions for public sculpture in Rome and 10 US states. Athena Tacha: From Public to Private is a comprehensive, 40-year retrospective traveling exhibition that includes over 100 works and originally opened in Greece.

Opening: Journey to Lo Manthang” Paintings by Leslie Johnston at Touchstone Contemporary Art Gallery
901 New York Avenue, NW // 6:00- 8:30 PM

This exhibition features a new series of paintings by DC-based artist Leslie Johnston following her journey to Lo Manthang, Nepal.

Opening: OUTLOUD at Foundry Gallery
1314 18th St., NW, 1st Floor //  6:00- 8:00 PM

Non-representational, intuitive paintings range from bold, explosive multimedia collages to subtle, many layered mysterious paintings. The members of OUTLOUD Artists have exhibited widely nationally and internationally.  Many are affiliated with area galleries.  Several are teachers of the arts or art therapists. They have exhibited together as the OUTLOUD Artists at the Arts Club of Washington, Touchstone Gallery, Black Rock Arts Center, Sandy Springs Museum, and the Yellow Barn of Glen Echo, MD. Members of the group began painting together about 12 years ago, and they enjoy the synergy of critiquing each other, painting together, and showing together.

Saturday, April 6:

Opening: Pia Mater at The Fridge
516 ½ 8th Street, SE // 7:00- 11:00 PM    

The pia mater is the innermost layer of membrane surrounding the brain, the final delicate veil guarding the center of the nervous system. For their exhibition of the same name, Jenny Sawle, Emily Francisco and Ashleigh Werner will dissect the concept of vulnerability through drawing, video, sculpture and performance. 

Opening: Gathering Space at Hamiltonian
1353 U Street, NW // 7:00- 9:00 PM    

Timothy Thompson broadens his exploration on the perception of place in Gathering Space, a site-specific installation that intersects Hamiltonian's 1,800 square foot gallery. Abandoning his usual sculptural materials such as iron and wood for hand-sewn nylon fabric and fiberglass rods, Thompson creates sculptures that act as both conduits through the gallery and formidable monumental barriers. As they move amongst the sculptures, viewers are asked to reconsider how they navigate and perceive a physical space.

Bringing the art in DC to you,
Roxanne Goldberg 

Photos Courtesy of Contemporary Wing, Hamiltonian and The Fridge.

ArtSee in NY: Scope, Volta and Salon Zurcher

So far, so inspiring. Despite our early start to the day (6:30am train from DC) we arrived and conquered the first leg of our NYC art fair weekend. After visiting SCOPE NYC, VOLTA NY, and Salon Zucher, many themes were visible through the showcased works and my interest and curiosity was exceedingly met.

SCOPE presented a managable fair with loads of outstanding contemporary artists. Our early arrival allowed for us to dive into each boot with intensity. I found an overwhelming amount of artists were distinctly influenced by pop art, using text and pop culture imagery in alternative fashions and stepping away from neon light text. This was refreshing yet reminiscent in a way. I also found myself drawn to collage work, a medium I've always been impressed with but it really stood out to me yesterday. But, the work that we found ourselves drawn to most was a piece by Nick Gentry with the Robert Fontaine Gallery. The work was a "traditional portrait" with a twist, the canvas was a collage of repurposed floppy disks. 


As we ventured over to VOLTA, after devouring lunch at my old favorite NoHo Star, we were greeted with a packed venue of galleries showcasing individual artists works. A few artists immediately stood out to us using familiar objects and repurposing them into contemporary sculptural pieces, a prevelant theme at SCOPE as well. VOLTA proved to be facinating to me because unlike SCOPE, the galleries highlighted individuals, instead of a group show.  We were lucky to catch up with the artist Cynthia Ona Innis at Walter Maciel. Her work has transformers recently to include more purples and brighter neons. It's in my newly appreciated collage style using fabrics too.


Our last stop of the day was over at Salon Zurcher where our friends Elizabeth and Margaret from Heiner Contemporary in DC had set up a pop up gallery along with seven other galleries from around the world. It was the perfect end to the day visiting their space and viewing familiar artists through a personal, manageable setting.  While we were thrilled to see the great work Heiner brought, our take home piece from the show came from artist Christoph Roßner from Romer Young in San Francisco. His application and color were captivating and his narrative unclear.


Overall, my thoughts on Day 1 in NYC are simple. Lots of repurposing, lots of pop art, not a lot of neon, and apparently I'm obsessed with collage. Bring it on Armory!

Bringing the Art in NY to You,


Hairy confrontations: A review of Sonya Clark's solo show of new work, AHEAD OF HAIR

Hair. It’s chaotic, it’s ordered. Clean and messy, it is a sense of frustration and joy.

In Sonya Clark’s solo exhibition at Contemporary Wing, AHEAD OF HAIR, Clark uses hair as a medium to represent race, class and culture.

“I’ve been combing hair since I was a child,” said Clark who has been working with hair as a medium in both hairdressing and fine art for over twenty years.

One of Clark’s more recent works, Pigtails, is evocative of youth. Resting on a wall-mounted shelf, a young girl’s stiff braided pigtails are woven from tactile black thread. Though the work suggests innocence, a hairstyle removed from the human head challenges the viewer to consider the means in which a young woman’s hair was taken. When hair is so deeply attached to one’s personal identity, a hairstyle without an owner begins to lose its character, lose its playfulness, becomes limp and empty. The effect is intensified looking down at the work, implicating the viewer as responsible for subjugating the hair and its human counterpart.  


“Hair is basically a piece of someone’s body. It’s a very intimate experience of selling a piece of someone’s body to someone else,” said Lauren Gentile, Contemporary Wing founder and director.

 The emotions surrounding the oldest work in the show, dating from 2003, complements with the power elicited from the suggestion of stolen youth in Pigtails. Long Hair confronts the viewer with age. A brilliant digital print of a dread is so rich with depth and texture, the viewer cannot help but yearn to reach out, to touch the hair fibers clearly pulsing with life. Astonishment and disappointment converge when the illusion is realized. 30 feet long, the work represents the length of a dread grown for 30 years.


“At first, I thought it was strange to use someone’s DNA and then sell it, with the history of selling bodies in this country,” said Clark who is inspired in part, by the infinite hairstyles that became available to black women after the Africa Diaspora. 

Unbreakable fashions together black fine-toothed combs branded “unbreakable” in a composition that is inherently broken, demanding the viewer to consider the societal and cultural pressures associated with issues of straight hair. Cotton to hair is at once filled with beauty—flowers touched with bronze are forever preserved behind glass—but quickly becomes bewildering when one considers the materials are cotton and African American hair. The ties to slavery are inescapable and uncanny.


Though the subject matter is what compels the viewer to engage in dialogue, to contemplate his own notions of race, class and culture, it is Clark’s superb craftsmanship that makes her work truly standout. 

“When you see her work, there is something so elegant and subtle and thoughtful,” said Gentile, “The craftsmanship is always going to be perfect, the concept is always going to be well-thought out.”

To execute Quadroon, Clark revitalized the 1990s art of stitching, by fashioning cornrows into one fourth of a canvas, and from the other three-fourths of the canvas, a heavy mass of thread, stitched together to resemble dense, but straight, hair fibers, is pulled together at the very center of the work. A ponytail extends and falls naturally into the viewer’s immediate space.


Quadroon is exemplary of Clark’s extraordinary ability to deeply engage with her subject while maintaining exceptional hold on her medium and craft. A reference to race classification, Quadroon has roots in an experience traveling through Ghana, where Clark, an African-American, was called “bruni,” the Ghanaian word for a white person. Clark explained that in the context of African culture, because Clark has a white grandparent, she is considered white, whereas in the United States, Clark being three-quarters African American, is considered black.

As Clark said, “I’m the same color in either place but the context is different.”

Albers Study captures this question within an art historical narrative, using Josef Alber’s canonic texts on color theory to take five colors and make them appear as six, by simply juxtaposing the colors in different ways. But Clark does not simply re-contextualize the lessons of Albers. She extends the ideology by taking two different shades of green and making them appear the same.   

AHEAD OF HAIR is on display at Contemporary Wing until March 2.

Contemporary Wing is located at 1412 14th St. NW and open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Bringing the Art in DC to You,
Roxanne Goldberg  

Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi Comes Home to Contemporary Wing

Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi is no stranger to the D.C. art scene, and yet, when she received a call from Lauren Gentile for her next show, she was “super excited and started speaking Farsi.”

Why? Because not only would this be Hedieh’s first solo show, but also the first show and grand opener for Lauren Gentile’s Contemporary Wing gallery. The show, titled “I’m Coming Home,” is set to open May 12 and is symbolic for both Hedieh and Lauren. In this exhibit, Hedieh explores her Iranian identity, while Lauren returns to a former home at the 14th St. Irvine Contemporary gallery.

We had the amazing fortune of sitting down with Hedieh in her studio to get a sneak peek at her work for the show, and to discuss her emerging career. 

Hedieh’s studio, located at the Arlington Arts Center, is a shared space with three other artists, and yet, her work is instantly recognizable.  The walls are full of works, dripping with bold colors, that will be shown at the Contemporary Wing in May.

Coming from Iran to the U.S. in 1999, most of Hedieh’s work concerns her identity and the depiction of the two different cultures from her point-of-view as an Iranian American.  Hedieh feels like her style really changed after getting her graduate degree at American University, when she says her work transformed from very autobiographical to “a hybrid of 2 cultures.”

Having done her undergraduate work at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Hedieh remembers the first piece she ever sold. It was called “Silent Lullaby,” and it sold at a D.C. auction to a family from Holland.  

When asked about what she’s looking forward to the most about working with Lauren and the Contemprary Wing, Hedieh modestly replied that she is trying not to expect anything, but truly hopes that her work has a place in the growing D.C. art scene.  She says that she “wants it to be about both her work and Lauren’s great accomplishment of opening Contemporary Wing.” Having worked with Lauren while she was the Director at Irvine Contemporary, Hedieh feels like this will be a smooth transition to showing her work with Contemporary Wing.

“I’m Coming Home” will show eight works of the fragile notion of what Hedieh knows as home.  Her latest works show the tension between calm and chaos that exists in being an Iranian American.  She described the moments of watching foreign TV in Iran as being like a safe haven paradise, an illegal action that often resulted in the attack on a household to remove a satellite.  She describes this moment as a peaceful break from the turmoil that surrounds the Iranian culture, and feels that such conventions are the driving force behind the powerful works she intends to show at Contemporary Wing.

The show opens on May 12, 2012 at the Contemporary Wing’s location at 1412 14th St NW.

 For more information on Hedieh Janvanshir Ilchi’s work, please visit her website at For more information on and Lauren Gentile and Hedieh’s exhibit, please visit

Better Late Than Never: February Show Review

On February 3 I ventured out for the usual First Friday openings.  The line-up for the night was set, starting with the preview of DC’s newest – Contemporary Wing.

I was particularly looking forward to attending the preview for the Contemporary Wing show NEXT.  Although it was missing work from our fair city and featured artists mostly from Chicago and NYC, it is a wonderful parallel with the recently closed 30 Americans show at the Corcoran and it is always exciting when a new gallery opens its doors! Perfectly placed in the Shaw neighborhood, the physical space within this new gallery is fantastic, although still a little rough around the edges with no restroom yet…

Although the strategically placed pile of combs, entitled Seven Layer Tangle by Sonya Clark, that stands as the signature piece of the show is pushed to the back room, you are immediately greeted with the sparkling works of Jayson Keeling.  My personal favorite, ROY G BIV a canvas covered in black glitter, was initially hard to decipher but after probing deeper you can see the colors of the rainbow clearly.  Keeling’s technique of slowing me down to actually see the connection between the title and the work itself certainly worked – BEAUTIFULLY!

Since admittedly, I am always drawn to photography, Wyatt Gallery’s work in NEXT has to be mentioned. His work, from his series Tent Life: Haiti, is very powerful and curated perfectly to really dominate the space.  My personal favorite Blue Tent Interior, Airport Camp really brought me in with its bold blue colors and almost washes away the meaning and story behind the series.  Contemporary Wing is also selling Wyatt Gallery’s book of Tent Life: Haiti for just $40. Wyatt Gallery - Blue Tent Interior, Airport Camp

After wrapping up at the exciting preview of NEXT, I headed across town to Dupont for the real First Friday openings at the Hillyer and Studio Gallery.  To say that they were crowded with people would be an understatement, which makes for a great win in the art world!  The highlight for me at the Hillyer Art Space was again photography by David Myers.     His work will be up through February in the front gallery space at Hillyer.  Myers work creates a documentary of his experiences and surroundings, many depicting animals.  A must see!

Ending my tour de Dupont on Friday I stopped in to the Studio Gallery and this time it was not photography that caught my attention but rather the sculptures of Trish Palasik’s Moments: Taking Shape.  Her Degas-esque work Ballerina is truly stunning and puts a modern look on a timeless beauty. 

Overall, all three galleries are a must see this month and I look forward to seeing more from these artists.

Bringing the Art in DC to You,