Arresting Perspectives At Del Ray Artisans
Gallery hosts board member showcase
Serving as a volunteer for a community arts organization should come with a few perks.
Theater ushers see shows for free, museum docents get a good meal now and then. For board members at the Del Ray Artisans, the reward is space. Wall space. And a chance to hang their work at the annual "From Our Perspective" board member showcase.
This year marks the seventh in a row that serving on the board has entitled members to their own show at the Nicolas A. Colasanto Center, the white-sided building at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Commonwealth avenues. Exhibiting this year are Kathryn A. Brown, director of membership; John Hiller, historian/archivist; Paige Ireland, director of communications; and Marlin G. Lord; facilities director.
All four artists have been active in Alexandria's art community for years, but if you've never met them, Friday night is your chance. The gallery will host a meet-the-artists reception from 7 to 10 p.m., and the exhibit continues to hang through Sept. 19.
On Sept. 2, the gallery hosted a sneak peak night to coincide with First Thursday. Strolling through the gallery, it's immediately apparent that the exhibit has no theme, other than visually arresting photography. Each artist selected roughly 30 works, but rather than grouping the images by photographer, the work is commingled.
Hiller drew the short straw on sneak peak night, and was happy to explain how the photos were arranged: by theme. National parks, industrial images, botanicals, buildings and world travel are a few obvious overarching subjects.
"Does it work? I'm not qualified to say," Hiller said. "But I like the show."
Naturally, some artists are drawn more to some sights than others. "Paige does cars. She always does cars," Hiller said.
A section of the north wall is devoted to Ireland's images of antique cars decaying in a wooded junkyard overgrown with vines. Brown also works as a commercial architectural photographer, but her work in the exhibit frames buildings at odd angles, so that the corners of urban buildings resemble abstract art.
Lord, an architect based in Del Ray, contributed many images from his travels, both from abroad and around Virginia. Like Brown, he often trains his lens on structures. His contributions to the showcase include bridges in both Newport News and the Yucatan.
Hiller is well traveled too. He spent decades working as a cinematographer and producer for the Smithsonian Institute. While out on location, he would often step away from the set, pick up a small Nikon and shoot the scenery.
"For 58 years, I've made my living with a camera," he said.
Hiller's work in the exhibit is a career retrospective. Like stamps in a passport, images from Japan, Europe and the American West vouch for his peripatetic life. But there are also images shot closer to home, like scenes of the Potomac River shot during this past winter's snows.
"I'm attracted to empty places," Hiller said.
Yet his reason for joining Del Ray artisans, back in 2001, was to connect with the community. Six years later, he joined the board.
"It's the way to meet people," he said.
"From Our Perspective." Del Ray Artisans, 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue. Through Sept. 19. Gallery hours are: Thursdays, 12 to 4 p.m; Fridays, 12 to 9 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays, 12 to 6 pm. The gallery is free, open to the public and handicap accessible.