‘Friends’ return to Middle Street

Photo by Gary Anthes

If you want to see an amazing array of artistic styles and materials, you could go to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Soho area of New York City or the Pompidou Center in Paris. Or you could go to the Middle Street Gallery here in our own Washington this month and next.

The 16-person non-profit artists’ cooperative is putting on its second annual “Artists and Friends” exhibition, featuring the works of members and their colleagues from around the region. On Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 27, you will find the familiar landscape oils of Chris Stephens, stained glass pieces of Patti Brennan, black and white photographs of Paula Endo, enigmatic clothes-pin figures of Wayne Paige and works in various media by a dozen other gallery members.

But that traditionally rich variety is now considerably augmented by the likes of Christine Sajecki (friend of member Thomas Spande), who has an “encaustic and photocopy transfer on rice paper and birch panel.” If you don’t know quite what that is, the title may or may not help: “B Boys B Boom B Bass B Black B Blue BBB Boom Boom Boom.”

Jeanne Drevas (friend of Linda Tarry) is showing a stack of nude dolls, or “deconstructed Barbies,” called “Totem.” And Ann Currie (friend of Janet Brome) has a beautifully colored still life of pears in “colored gesso, graphite and colored pencil.”

Former gallery member Paul Terrell (friend of Chris Stephens) returns with a ceramic abstract wall hanging made from raku-fired clay. Jim Serbent (friend of Patricia Underwood) has a brightly colored piece called Koan-14 that he calls a photographic dye print, and his wife Barbara has a lovely image of a woodland bird, “Poorwill,” from that same medium.

And Nina Shepardson (friend of Jim Ramsay) has a collection of beautiful Batik-decorated eggs in your choice of goose, duck, chicken, quail or rhea.

Finally, you could prowl all of Soho and not find a sculpture like Drevas’s “Margaret’s Dream.” Margaret apparently dreamed of a turtle, and the result taxed the gallery’s label-maker with this media description: “broom corn, turtle shell, clay, tulip poplar seeds, grapevine tendrils, maple, metal leaf and paint”.

But not to worry. If your New Year resolutions don’t include mastering avant-garde art forms, you will find plenty of the more traditional media and styles at the gallery, including oil and water color paintings and photographs, from both members and their friends.

Bring your own friend and visit the gallery, next to The Inn at Little Washington, between 11 and 6 on Saturdays and Sundays. And do attend the free public opening reception from 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 29, when artists and food will be as plentiful and varied as the gallery’s 50 new works.