At the Fraser Gallery Georgetown to September 17, 2003
By Louis Jacobson
© Washington City Paper
Thursday, September 4, 2003.
How does Joyce Tenneson keep succeeding despite herself? Last year, Wise Women—her ponderous volume of yellow-toned portraits of older women—managed to become an international bestseller. This year, she's released Flower Portraits: The Life Cycle of Beauty, and though this volume swaps the lemon-poppy coloration for a less garish sepia, her images will seem old hat to connoisseurs of the botanical works of Karl Blossfeldt and Tom Baril.
It's odd that the five Tenneson images in this Fraser Gallery exhibition don't come from the book, but with full-color shadings set against an inky black background, they turn out to be much more interesting than the published photographs. Sandersonia features three intertwined (and delicately wilted) yellow flowers, and Love in a Mist captures a violet-toned flower whose axes suggest the proportions of a crucifix.
Mitsuo Suzuki contributes four straightforward black-and-white floral images to the show, but the overall standout is Hokusai, by local photographer Bert Shankman.
His extreme close-up of an obscure part of the floral anatomy, rendered in fuzzy pastels, eloquently suggests the celebrated 19th-century woodcut The Great Wave Off Kanagawa.
The show is on view from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays, to Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the Fraser Gallery, 1054 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 298-6450.
© Copyright 2003 Washington City Paper