Idea to Image 

Artspace gives artists the space to proceed.

click to enlarge The new exhibits at ArtSpace are a mixed bag, but they highlight the gallery's long-running artist-first aesthetic. Shown: "Cabins" by Everitt Clark (above), Dana Frostick's "Uprising" (below) and "Phoenix Rising" by Libby Anderson (lower left).
  • The new exhibits at ArtSpace are a mixed bag, but they highlight the gallery's long-running artist-first aesthetic. Shown: "Cabins" by Everitt Clark (above), Dana Frostick's "Uprising" (below) and "Phoenix Rising" by Libby Anderson (lower left).

Originally an association of artists formed in 1988 on Broad Street, Artspace perseveres as a member- and volunteer-driven space for "promoting the understanding and awareness of contemporary art." The nonprofit gallery, in Plant Zero Art Center, plays host to three unrelated exhibitions by Virginia-based artists Dana Frostick, Libby Anderson and Everitt Clark.

Frostick studied sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University in the '80s, which explains the architectural nature of her paintings and drawings. "Altered Perceptions" are a series of paintings she calls "elaborate doodles" — and rightly so. The organic movement and forms of the compositions, as in "Uprising," suggest an impulsive process. Frostick turns the canvas as she paints, allowing the forms to lead her. The result resembles cellular building-blocks, as in a biology cross-section. The only problem is that the more doodle-like spirals in some of the paintings injure the meditative flow. In the spirit of her process, Frostick will turn her paintings 90 degrees every few days of the exhibition.

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With "Songs from the Heart," Anderson seeks to explore the connections between musical instruments and the female body, both as conductors of creativity. The imagery of her charcoal and pastel drawings attempts a surrealist approach, sometimes nodding to the totems of Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo. Sometimes they're sweet, like nesting birds or a pregnant womb nestled into the guitar body, which includes arms and breasts. But the rendering of these drawings falls short. The hand is unsure and unpracticed, giving support to the first line of the artist's statement: "After a number of years of very little time devoted to art. ..."

A Northern Virginia photographer, Clark offers classic imagery in his aptly titled "From the Smoky Mountains." The small 4-by-5-inch silver gelatin contact prints are a charming change from the mass scale of contemporary digital photography. Clark's process begins with a large-format camera and extends to his manipulation of the contact prints by toner and watercolor. The final image expresses sharpness and tonal extremes to the point that highlights seem to be white coating on black forms. There are abstracted compositions, such as "Barn 2," which expose the geometry of rural architecture, and detail-precise landscapes, such as "The Peach Orchard," in which the foreground structure is as sharp as the pustule-looking forms of suburban homes on a distant mountain.

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Though unrelated in medium and subject matter, these exhibitions each peek into the inspiration and execution processes for making a work of art, and in that way fulfill this gallery's artist-focused legacy well. S

Artspace Gallery at 0 E. Fourth St. will exhibit works by Dana Frostick, Libby Anderson and Everitt Clark through April 22. For information, go to artspacegallery.org or call 232-6464.

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