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Art and the City

Artist Profile: Barbara Pliskin
It comes to you slowly. What appears to be an abstract painting could be a group of people—“a gathering.” In her “Sun Series,” forms roll across the level format through what may be the dark emptiness of space—or reflections through a transparency. Other paintings settle into your mind and emotions as houses, ponds, or trees viewed through a window.

They come to you slowly because that is how they came to Barbara Pliskin. She begins to paint seeing pigment simply as pigment. She revels in the freedom of arranging bright spaces in contrast with dark. She sometimes uses heavy horizontals or verticals that give dimension to the flat surface. Gradually, forms appear and begin to tell their deep felt stories. Barbara listens.

The only paintings that do not gradually make themselves known are in the “Musicians” series. These are players in jazz combos. Barbara has a life-long love of music and musicians, especially quartets. The composition possibilities are endless and she is able to use the knowledge of human anatomy gained as a medical illustrator at the University of Miami, School of Medicine for six years.

Barbara has a BFA and a MS in Education from the University of Miami. She spent 30 years as an art teacher in Dade County schools while developing her methods of painting and doing metal work. She exhibited her works extensively in that region before coming to the DC area 14 years ago. She now exhibits here and has a show this month at the Foundry Gallery. (See: At the Galleries.)

Never satisfied with the evolution of her work, Barbara Pliskin will continue to experiment with glazes, achieving “incredible effects,” focus more on her metal work and explore the inexhaustible ways to make art.


Meeting. Oil on canvas. 36×36.

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
For an artist, failure is usually a sign that you ventured outside your comfort zone—you leaped into the space beyond safe. But it’s there that learning thrives… explodes…shakes and bakes.

Flying into that risky space can be unrewarding in the material sense, and maybe a frustrating invitation to derision—but to sail beyond the ordinary, to soar with the currents of searching, experimenting and living on the edge of art and language is where salvation lies. It is where value lives. Without the risk and occasional failure, there is no understanding.

When other people start to like what you are doing, it’s tempting to stop right there and keep doing it. Collectors want you to have an instantly recognizable personal look—a “signature style.” But at what cost? How much do you not see—not learn—not feel?

Sure, in the 60s, art fell into the Venus Flytrap of “innovation” and the adulation of envelope-pushing, tradition-busting ideas and notions—too often simplistic and downright dumb. It goes on today. Those who fall into that trap will never climb out, but that’s okay because they’re making plenty of money from rich people who like dumb, simplistic ideas.

But for the thousands, millions, of serious artists who value the skills developed over the millennia, there is no limit to their exploration and searching. You just have to fly out of your comfort zone.

Barbara Pliskin (See: Artist Profile) has been making art since she was a child and taught it for many years, but all art is still new. Still exciting. In painting, she is experimenting with glazes and studies the masters like J. M. W. Turner. She tries out various painting techniques and new forms in her metal work. She is not afraid to venture, to explore and experiment. She is not afraid to search.

Gathering. Oil on canvas. 36×48

At the Galleries
Foundry Gallery
2118 8th St. NW
Feb. 2-24
Opening: Sat. Feb. 2, 5-8
The February Foundry show presents five new gallery artists: Painter Barbara Pliskin draws you into her world to experience “an emotional outburst that is close to my feelings about the painting.” Photographer Kathryn Mohrman’s images of women “portray my ‘sisters’ in our shared humanity.” Many of Pete Seligman’s constructions are made from found materials: wood, metal, collage and oil paint. Joyce Wellman populates her work with “seemingly random numbers, marks, words and symbols in search of a magic poetic art.” Cristy West’s abstracts are “expressions of feelings, mysteries and things unseen.”

“It’s Elementary”
Corner Store Arts
900 South Carolina Ave. SE
Feb. 3-28
Meet the Artists: Feb. 10 – 3-5.
Earth, Air, Fire and Water: The Four elements. How important are they? Artists from the DC area, Nan Raphael, Kate McConnell, Heike Gramckow, Maremi Andreozz and Karen Cohen interpret the meanings and impacts of taking the elements for granted. It is a very good show and you can meet the artists on Sunday, Feb. 10, 3-5.

Hill Center
921 Pennsylvania Ave. SW
– March 3
The Hill Center’s first juried exhibition of the year features 84 artists from throughout the region. 100 pieces of work were selected from over 600 submitted pieces from 130 artists.” The following were award winners:
1st Place: CinCin Fang – Silk and Pearls (oil on canvas)
2nd Place: Madison Bolls – Hollywood (paper, acrylic on canvas)
3rd Place: Khahn Nguyen – Koi and Crane [two pieces] (oil paint)
Honorable Mention; Rashad Muhammad, Kim DiDonato-Murrell, Steven White Bevil Conway and Fabiola Alvarez Yurciain


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