Great expectations 1 & 2

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1–The thing about the “Impressionist Tradition in America” show at the Corcoran is that American Impressionism is not really impressionist. It’s realist (see *John Singer Sargent’s “Mrs. Henry White” here), romantic, more traditional than what people love to think of as impressionist. One of those paintings, “South Room, Green Street” — that would be Green Street in Philadelphia– by Daniel Garber was nearly Pre-Raphaelite (alas, no image available).

Calling the show “Impressionist” is bound to pull in the crowds (everyone loves the stuff), but my companions Paul, Stefanie and Murray were looking for European Impressionism, and they were disappointed.

Philadelphia alert: Many of the landscapes, as well as the Garber painting, had Philadelphia roots.

2–On the other hand, we had no expectations for a show we stumbled upon called “Census 03: New Art from DC.”

Graham Caldwell’s blown glass and steel **”Transversalis” (detail shown), it’s blend of delicacy and threat, skin, fabric and meat-hook suggestions taking over a gallery wall, was one of several surprises.

Iona Rozeal Brown’s “blackface #14″*** was one in a series of three on display, raising issues about blackness and ethnic identity.

Without great expectations, we enjoyed most the art that was embellished by the pleasure of discovery.

Copyright info: *1883, oil on canvas, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Gift of John Campbell White; **78x66x21 inches, courtesy of the artist; ***2002, acrylic on wood panel, 48×36 inches, courtesy of Sandroni Rey, Venice, CA

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