Art in the City

Texas Textures 18″x24″ Oil on Canvas Media Description: Palo Duro Canyon State Park, second-largest canyon in the United States.

Artist Profile—Alexangel Estevez
You see it in the painting, “Desert Storm.” Roaring clouds are rushing to somewhere. You watch them move and see all the variations of off-whites, yellows and blues—warm to cool. The hills appear to be moving in the other direction, with the foreground more static but not still. With all the movement, it is anchored in the middle—a semi-circle of hill touching a semi-circle of cloud.

Alex Estevez. Photo: Andrei Kushnir

In “Texas Textures,” the sky is flowing softly. It’s almost not there and provides space to the buttes and cliffs that move across the landscape. Colors emerge from the geologic powers that lifted them eons before and now strip away the protective layers.

In “Winter Scene,” the sky again becomes the master of the universe. It floats…lifts the sounds of the earth and your attention into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, lofting over the frigid earth and you feel good.

Alex was born and raised in East LA. In high school, he helped to start a mural course, creating wall paintings throughout the campus. “But I wanted something that I could take with me,” so he began painting on canvas.

Desert Storm 20×24 Oil on Canvas Media Description: The San Bernardino Mountains in California

He felt like he needed to come east “to pursue a career.” He attended Howard Community College, in Columbia, Maryland before majoring in the arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he earned a BFA in 2011.

At VCU he discovered the English landscape painter, John Constable. It was the artist’s skies and roaring and soaring clouds that captured him. He took science classes to study how clouds form and transpose vapors in the rising currents and shifting winds. In Virginia, it was easy to fall in love with the great outdoors: from the sweeping views and flowing water to dense forests—where creatures thrive and hide in all the places you don’t see. And the skies—unpredictable and powerful.

Alex now has a one-man show at American Painting Fine Art. (See, At the Galleries).

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
“You go down this road till you get to the Chevron, turn right for about a mile…look for the old barn…turn in there—it will take you up on the hill overlooking the swamp.”

I have always found that local folks like to help you out if you’re looking for a fishing or picnic place—and especially the perfect spot to paint. Maybe people are more cautious now, but there is still a willingness to help strangers, especially artists.

Alex Estevez (see Artist Profile) does that. He wants to discover the “tingle of the place.” He tries to find the spot where the locals hang out—not the tourists. The local folks know where the “good” places are. The languages change as he travels, but the knowledge and the willingness to help are pretty much the same.

It usually takes working outside a few times for artists to feel comfortable with passersby looking over their shoulders. But the onlookers are invariably friendly. Sure, sometimes there are critics—usually some kid. “It don’t really look like that.” Scram, kid.

Almost everyone loves art—particularly landscapes, because they understand them. They’re thrilled to see a scene materialize on a flat surface before their eyes. Differences melt away. Biases, misconceptions and suspicions disappear and friendliness takes over. People can talk, laugh and make comments…maybe mention the art contest their granddaughter won.

A kid from East LA like Alex can feel comfortable in a Virginia park, a Texas canyon or Ohio woods. Art is magic. It reflects us all. It brings people together, if only for a short time. But a short time can punch holes in the fences we build to keep others away—to demonize those who disagree with us. Even peepholes in the fence are a start.

At the Galleries
American Painting Fine Art
5125 MacArthur Blvd. NW, Suite 17
Oct. 5—Nov. 9
Recep. Sat., Oct. 5, 5—7
Alexangel Estevez (see Artist Profile) opens a solo exhibition with a wide range of landscapes, still lifes, cityscapes and seascapes. Each painting comes alive with loose brushwork, fluid compositions and dramatic skies.

Capitol Hill Art League
545 7th St. SE
Oct. 5—26
Recep. Fri., Oct. 11, 5—7
The theme of this multi-media exhibit is “Go Dark.” It is left to the artists to interpret the theme in any way they wish, from subject matter to tonal qualities to color.

Dick Cronin
Corner Store Arts
900 Carolina Ave. SE
—Oct. 20
You still have time to get to the Corner Store for the political caricatures of Dick Cronin, in “About Face.” Dick’s nuanced drawings capture the spirit of DC’s human ‘wildlife.’”

Pete Seligman
Foundry Gallery
2118 – 8th Street, N.W.
October 2 – 27
Recep: Sat., Oct., 5, 5-8
In “Constructions & Collages” Pete Seligman constructs collages that display “a kind of surrealism that still has the power to disarm and worry us.”

Gordon Binder
Studio Gallery
2108 R St. NW
Oct 2 – Oct 26
First Friday: Oct 4, 6-8
Artist’s Recep., Oct 19, 4-6
Closing Recep., Oct. 26. 4-6
With “Nature on My Mind: Landscapes, Seascapes,” Gordon Binder records the “images and vistas I absorb when I travel.” Look for information on this and additional Studio Gallery shows this month.

Solo Exhibitions
Hill Center Galleries
921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
– Dec. 1
Alan Braley (multimedia), Nico Gozal (paintings on silk), Tara Hamilton (watercolor paintings), Warren Jackson (watercolor paintings), Khanh Nguyen (acrylic paintings), John L. Pacheco (oil paintings).

Touchstone Gallery
901 New York Ave., NW
Oct. 2-27
Recep: Fri., Oct. 11, 6 – 8:30
Touchstone features “Abound” by Hsin-Hsi Chen. Using a modular approach, Chen reflects on adaptability and the escalating impacts of human activity on the planet.
In Gallery B, Timothy Johnson dances with the morbid in fanciful depictions of death and decapitation.
In Gallery C, Claudia Samper’s “Urban Nest” is a series of drawings, transparencies, and 3D representations seeking to explore our urban landscape.

A Capitol Hill artist and writer, Jim can be reached at