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Art Exhibit Review: First Fridays on R Street

Studio Gallery in Dupont

On the first Friday of every month, DC art lovers gather in Dupont Circle for First Fridays, a night when galleries stay open later than usual to debut new works. Free wine and snacks are served, but, more importantly, visitors can meet the artists themselves and even snag some art firsthand.

These independent galleries, typically “rest stops” for those making a pilgrimage to the Phillips Collection, are housed in brownstone-like buildings with welcoming staircases and worn white walls. Several R Street galleries participate in First Fridays, some of which are conveniently situated one after another. For November’s First Friday, AmLit visits two: Alex Galleries and Studio Gallery.

Alex Galleries

Our first stop is the Alex Gallery – the first floor gallery of its overarching plural, Alex Galleries – where the recent works of Judith Judy are currently on display. Here, the scene is quiet as viewers weave in and out of its rooms. Judy’s current exhibit features landscapes of various sizes that juxtapose a blurred scene with clear uses of artistic technique. In “Green Tree Mountain,” a tree of blues, greens, and grays sits atop a slight hill. Although the overall painting is one that will make viewers want to rub their eyes, Judy’s concentration on brushstrokes and painting methods is undeniable.

Close-up of Judith Judy’s “Green Tree Mountain”

Next is Studio Gallery, Washington’s oldest cooperative gallery that is equally owned by 32 artists who regularly exhibit in the space. Tonight, a white-haired, bow-tied Eugene Markowski can be seen working the rooms of Studio Gallery’s first floor, an art space more bustling than our last gallery.

Close-up of Markowski’s “Early Cosmos”

In the artist’s exhibit, Cosmologies, Markowski depicts his perception of Einstein’s equations of gravity and accelerating gravity with controlled color palettes and materials such as homosote, wood, modeling paste, acrylic, and metallic paint – materials that are all unforgiving, especially when used with purpose and precision.

Citing Leonardo da Vinci as one of his inspirations, Markowski says, “What I got from him was his interest in mathematics, the equations in nature, and the construction of machinery. He, in my mind, was the first artist to bridge art and science.”

Eugene Markowski with “Message from Mars” at Studio Gallery

A painting and sculpting minor as an undergraduate, the artist says that he moved away from flat painting because the art form wasn’t achieving a sense of depth that satisfied him. After years of experimentation, Markowski finally found a happy medium that combines both painting and sculpture, but is continuously discovering new ways to combine art and science.

“I see the beauty in the mathematics and in the equations,” he says. “What I’m doing here is translating the elegance and magnificence of Einstein’s equations, plus the cosmos itself”


Judith Judy’s exhibit at Alex Galleries will be open until November 30. 2106 R Street, NW
Eugene Markowski’s exhibit at Studio Gallery will be open until November 23. 2108 R Street, NW

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