In the galleries: Celebrating the art of the game with unexpected delights
“Quarantine” by Casey Jex Smith depicts a fantastical courtyard that appears serene, save for the ominous touch of shards of broken glass atop the surrounding walls.
By Mark Jenkins
Washington Post, Museums: Review
One of the cards in “Pantheon,” John James Anderson’s creative-career board game, should grab the rueful attention of aspiring artists — and anyone who writes about them. “Your work is a reviewed in a local paper,” it reads, and specifies that this achievement allows the player to move forward . . . zero spaces. So much for furthering the ambitions of Anderson and the other six artists in Pyramid Atlantic Art Center’s “Mazes and Maps,” which toys with everything from the Bermuda Triangle to the game Monopoly.
A map of the supposedly cursed Caribbean region is one of several objects partly covered in sequins by Nick DeFord; the Monopoly board is emblazoned with the taunt “gentrify this!” by the show’s curator, Andrew Wodzianski, who also tweaks Candy Land and Scrabble. More pointedly, gentrification is among the themes of Wesley Clark, whose large paintings on wooden panels riff on both maps and games. Clark’s contributions include a D.C.-shaped diagram of dislocation and crossword puzzles filled with the names of corporations that the artist labels “profiteers.”
Mazes take intricate, fanciful forms in Casey Jex Smith’s pen-and-ink drawings such as “Quarantine,” which depicts a fantastical courtyard that appears serene, save for the ominous touch of shards of broken glass atop the surrounding walls. The labyrinth is internal in Zofie King’s cabinet filled with photos and found objects, which hint that memory is a jigsaw puzzle.
In handsome artist books, Irene Chan reinterprets diversions as complex as the I Ching and as simple as bingo. If design and craft are central to Chan’s work, they’re everything in Tim Hutchings’s “Fake Games.” Printed on aluminum in preschool-classroom pastels, these computer-rendered creations array circles, squares and squiggles in pop-art patterns that appear ready for dice or tokens. The unplayability of Hutchings’s game boards is what makes them so playful.
Mazes and Maps Through July 11 at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, 4318 Gallatin St., Hyattsville.