Museums

In the galleries: Zenith celebrates 40 years with two exhibitions in two spaces

 

Carol Newmyer’s “Roots and Wings,” patinaed and cast bronze, on view at Sculpture Space. (Carol Newmyer)

For longtime observers of the local art scene, the most evocative item on display at the Sculpture Space at 1111 Pennsylvania might be the model of the rowhouse complex near 15th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW, where Zenith Gallery began 40 years ago. Built by David Neigus with miniature contributions by many Zenith artists, it includes gallery founder Margery Goldberg’s likeness of herself, featuring her actual hair.

Zenith is celebrating its 40th anniversary with “In the Beginning, the Rhode Island Years, 1978-1986,” which showcases Goldberg as a shaper of wood. Among the other sculptors are several whose styles meld abstraction and natural forms. Carol Newmyer depicts dance and transformation in bronze; Beatriz Blanco draws human motion in space with dyed steel. Many of the other standouts are by Chas Colburn, whose large steel inventions are imposing, yet delicate.

After Rhode Island Avenue, Zenith moved to 413 Seventh St. NW, where it was known for (among other things) neon art. This period is recalled by “Light Up Your heART,” at Zenith Salon. Red neon script illuminates Colburn’s mask ike metal pieces from inside, and Goldberg coils neon around wood. Curves of steel are paired with swoops of neon in various colors in Michael Young’s sculpture, whose subjects include trees and jellyfish.

For longtime observers of the local art scene, the most evocative item on display at the Sculpture Space at 1111 Pennsylvania might be the model of the rowhouse complex near 15th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW, where Zenith Gallery began 40 years ago. Built by David Neigus with miniature contributions by many Zenith artists, it includes gallery founder Margery Goldberg’s likeness of herself, featuring her actual hair.

Zenith is celebrating its 40th anniversary with “In the Beginning, the Rhode Island Years, 1978-1986,” which showcases Goldberg as a shaper of wood. Among the other sculptors are several whose styles meld abstraction and natural forms. Carol Newmyer depicts dance and transformation in bronze; Beatriz Blanco draws human motion in space with dyed steel; and Chris Malone makes elegant wooden figures with glass faces. Many of the other standouts are by Chas Colburn, whose large steel inventions are imposing, yet delicate.

After Rhode Island Avenue, Zenith moved to 413 Seventh St. NW, where it was known for (among other things) neon art. This period is recalled by “Light Up Your heART,” at Zenith Salon. Red neon script illuminates Colburn’s masklike metal pieces from inside, and Goldberg coils neon around wood. Curves of steel are paired with swoops of neon in various colors in Michael Young’s sculpture, whose subjects include trees and jellyfish.

The art also employs other technologies. F. Lennox Campello embeds video into a large drawing of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Alison Sigethy illuminates burbling water with ever-changing LED hues. Lea Craigie-Marshall and Erwin Timmers both use backlighting, although she does ink-on-Yupo abstractions, while he realistically renders objects — including squished plastic bottles — in glass.

Then there’s Stephen Hansen, whose cartoon sculptures are in both shows. His “heART” contribution is lighted by bare lightbulbs, a characteristically down-to-earth touch amid the more flamboyant gestures.

In the Beginning, the Rhode Island Years, 1978-1986 Through April 28 at the Sculpture Space at 1111 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Light Up Your heART Through March 24 at Zenith Salon, 1429 Iris St. NW. 202-783-2963. zenithgallery.com.