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Art and the City

Jane Mann wants to make a point. Maybe it’s something that’s not obvious at first—it could the idea behind her intriguing compositions and intense colors. It could be the observation that cultures build on top of each other—that the amalgamation of belief systems and the hodgepodge of all the approved ways of doing things become a new living dynamic. 

That’s true. Jane leads you into those layers of the past—history on top of history—culture on top of culture. She loves to travel to places like the south of Spain where religion and cultures flowed and ebbed like tides over the centuries. Or it could be the American Southwest. All over the world, buildings are built over formerly sacred sites and become a modern composite of forms, faiths and attitudes.

There is another point. Art. For Jane, digital media and processes have opened a magical world. She no longer needs to be a photographer of what is simply there, she is free to create and recreate…let the imagination go. She can use any and every image she has ever captured to interpret the passing parade of human ideas: the faiths, expectations and dreams. She can follow the thought filaments that connect and glow and grow into a visual language.

With “Layers II,” the photography show currently at the Hill Center, Jane sets her imagination free in her “digital darkroom” to deconstruct and reconstruct “historic, cultural and societal layers.” She creates photomontages and superimposes images to transform a place into a story.

Jane Mann is a member of numerous galleries and has exhibited all over the world. www.nuovo.com/JaneMann

Sicily. Archival print of digital photomontages. 2017 by Jane Mann.

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
Art has no meaning, no value other than what you give it. To see beauty you have to see beautifully—you must look with an exalted effort.

Optic nerves are always on duty, always at work. They can distinguish between something that’s threatening, or something that’s good to eat. Or, something that may produce a reward. Other than that, you have to assign priorities: work loads, traffic, familiar faces…

Art? Beauty? Not so much. Let’s face it. It’s a low priority in the scramble of everyday aspirations and deadlines. For example, what do you see when you stroll by a Jane Mann layered composition? (See Artist Profile) You might catch a sense of a fantasy world….often brightly lit. But to see it—to really see it—you have to stop. Let it come to you. There is no cliché here, no snap shot seen a hundred times.

To value art, you must also give value to the artist. Some have more internal fire and more mastery over their visions, but you have to reach out to connect—touch hands. If the artist is 500 years dead or still living, the work of art is alive, dreaming, searching, and sharing its secrets. If the artist had any power and pride, you will feel it and be exalted.

At the Galleries
“Viewfinders: Eight Photographers”
Hill Center Galleries
921 Pennsylvania. Ave. SE
-Apr 29
“Viewfinders” is actually eight solo exhibitions. Collectively, the photographers provide a celebration of approaches and techniques. You have to see the show to appreciate the full visual extravaganza.

  • Karen Cohen. “Surreality.” This is a dance of the unreal.Using all images I have taken, I alter them digitally and manifest places and characters based on mythology, psychedelia, pop culture and current events.”
  • Jane Mann. (See: Artist Profile) “Layers II” is a close examination of the historical, cultural, and societal layers found in architecture. These are photomontages that superimpose images of architectural details one atop the other as cultures collect and accumulate.
  • Bruce McNeil. “In the Land of Eden.” Bruce always captures the “poetic and lyrical beauty of our natural world and its people,” but here he goes beyond landscapes to connect people and their places to “ecological and societal realities.” His images are always “painterly” and they work as art, independent of the subject.
  • Mike Mitchell. “Four Seasons in the C&O Canal National Historic Park.” Stunning photographs of the haunting and mysterious C&O Canal present a whole new encounter with a familiar place.
  • Rindy O’Brien. “Anticipating Spring.” The images are flowers, but the real subjects are color and composition, new light and warm shadows.
  • Larry O’Reilly.  “Contemporary Still Lifes.” These are startling visions of the expected but with a powerful simplicity that becomes illusionary. They seem suspended in time and space. 
  • Monica Servaites. “Downside Up.” Delightful visual puzzles produce patterns that can stand on their own, but always bring you back to a realization of the components of city life. 
  • Richard Paul Weiblinger. “Unique Visions.” High in intensity, color and focus—the “visions” are a transformation of the mundane—usually the ignored subcomponents of a manufactured civilization.


Katherine Blakeslee
Foundry Gallery
2118 – 8th St. NW
Apr. 4 – 29
Opening reception, Sat., Apr. 7, 6 – 8
Katherine Blakeslee is captured by the interactions, the optical commonalities of land, water and sky. Physical distinctions can become irrelevant as light touches and reflects off of surfaces and as a watercolor painter, she lets the medium becomes the connector, the unifier. Growing up in Maryland, the sea is a significant force in her work, and like the sea, watercolor can be as dynamic and unpredictable. It contributes to the spontaneity of color and form relationships. Her landscapes are similarly fluid, and light emanates, glows, from beneath the surface. 


Touchstone Gallery
901 New York Ave. NW
Apr. 6 – 29
Opening Reception: Fri., Apr. 6, 6 – 8:30
Closing Reception: Sun., Apr. 29, 1:30 – 3:30
Touchstone has a major show of artist-members in the main gallery, and two “Spotlight” guest artists.

In “Feast of Fancy,” Robin Harris gives you large traditional acrylic paintings of food. Except they’re not. There is a certain “wow” quality to them that displays considerable technique. But that’s still the beginning. Robin Harris explores “infinite possibilities in gastronomic whimsy.” These are to be enjoyed.

The second “Spotlight” guest artist, Shelly Lowenstein presents science as art and art as science. In, “(as far as we know)”, she “explores the mystery and wonder of the human beta cell, a major force essential to human life,” which sometimes a victim of autoimmune attack. You can learn a lot here, but don’t let that stop you. The paintings on their own are worth the trip.


Note: You can donate to the Historic Congressional Cemetery and receive a limited edition lithograph of the popular dog walking space by artist James Delaney, depicting drawings of dogs over the familiar graveyard forms.


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