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Project for the Arts Announces Fall Season

A tribute to a local artist plus two other shows are planned.

Metal quilts are just one aspect of the pieces of art expected at the fall show of the McLean Project for the Arts. "It is a lot of fun when you look at historic quilt-making patterns and this total recycling, not just of cola cans, but of a classic American art form into a 21st century art form," said Andrea Pollan, who is curating for the retrospective of works of Steven Sommovigo.

"Gifted: Works by Steven Sommovigo: A Fond Remembrance" is scheduled at the McLean Community Center Atrium and Ramp Galleries, Sept. 16-Nov. 6, with a reception, curator's talk and tour, Sept. 25, 5-7 p.m. "For more than 25 years, artist Steven Sommovigo pursued his artistry until his sudden death at the age of 37 earlier this year," said Dabney Cortina, public relations person for McLean Project for the Arts, in an e-mail. According to Pollan, the exhibition is going to cover a range of work, 50 or 60 pieces, spanning the years 1982-2003. There will be watercolor, pastel drawings, some prints — the metal quilts and some small-scale furniture.

Sommovigo started as a child, continued to study art at McLean High School and privately with artist Shirley Blanchard. "He was an unusual thinker," said Pollan. "He loved to set up his easel at the lobster tank at the Giant in McLean." His topics included landscapes, cloudscapes over the ocean, seagulls, marshes along the South Jersey shoreline, commissioned pastels of cats and dogs, houses and portraits and flowers, according to Pollan, and he was especially known for his depictions of Evans Farm Inn in McLean, Colvin Mill Run and Pleasant Grove Church. "He was a very tender realist with an intricate knowledge of movement and anatomy and how light plays on the surface of things. His landscapes have so much light and movement. He also had a photographic memory. He would see the gesture of a dog and depict it," said Pollan.

According to Pollan, Sommovigo was a commodities broker in Hilton Head, 1990-92 until he developed adult-onset epilepsy and decided to get back to his art. He lived with his mother and father, with his mother dedicated to all his endeavors. "He was incredibly beloved in the community with his great sense of humor and volunteer work [for the McLean Project for the Arts], so helpful to so many people," said Pollan.

IN A SEPARATE SHOW, magical realism is the theme of the exhibit called "Incidents and Accidents/Hints and Allegories," according to Deborah McLeod, who is curating the exhibit, scheduled to run Sept. 16-Oct. 16 in the McLean Community Center Emerson Gallery. A reception is scheduled for Sept. 16, from 7-9 p.m. Four artists are featured: Bill Dunlap, Erling Sjovold, Alyson Weege and David Douglas.

Bill Dunlap has been a critic for “WETA: Around Town” for many years. According to McLeod, he has a fascinating manner of juxtaposing images and a very sharp sense of light and form. "These paintings are nocturnes, or night paintings. The point of the show is tweaked reality, and these night ones do it even more. Night ones have an otherworldly quality." said McLeod.

Dunlap’s rural landscapes, in oil or acrylic, often have a little protagonist cow in them, according to McLeod. "In this show, it is a protagonist dog. The animal is a kind of 'Bill,' a master of ceremonies for what is going on behind in the background." said McLeod.

Erling Sjovold has been an assistant professor of studio art at the University of Richmond for five years. According to McLeod, the pieces in the show are scenes that take place in the desert. They are serendipitous. They are things one would happen upon but would not expect when one was walking along. They are things left behind, cast off, lying upon the land, for example, litter. He makes it so beautiful, whatever it is. One painting featured in the show, "Sequester,” is a big sheet of plastic over some little pots, because they're fumigating to replant the land. I got low to monumentalize it to give it an Alpine landscape from the plastic folds," said Sjovold. Sjovold said that he "gets his ideas from living in California, the strong involvement in the land use, the activism."

Alyson Weege has two large pieces in the show, "Hero" and "Butterfly Girl." According to McLeod, they are dramatic scenes played out by people isolated in a very personal space. In other words, they will be in this big theater where everyone in the theater is completely engrossed in his own reaction to the enigmatic event. "In 'Hero,' a Christ-like figure is lying at the bottom of the stairs with his arms spread. Something has happened that is foreboding, and people have gathered around it, some staring, some overwhelmed, some helping." said McLeod. According to Weege, she gets her ideas from dreams, literature she is reading, and news.

David Douglas has been creating art for over 25 years. He lives with his wife and two children at Episcopal High School, a boarding school in Alexandria, where he teaches painting, drawing and photography. "The process I use is a mix of different media from the most primitive to the most current. Arbitrarily, I may start with a 4-by-5 [inch] photograph, or a piece of metal, or a texture I find interesting; then, I get it into the computer. After some tinkering, I will print the piece digitally. Then I paint and draw back onto it, cut it apart and rework it all over again." said Douglas, in an e-mail. The result, according to Douglas, is mounted on large panels and creates an entirely new landscape from the 500 bits and pieces of interior and landscape elements.

IN THE THIRD EXHIBIT, the McLean Art Club is celebrating its 50th Anniversary by presenting a juried show at the McLean Community Center (Emerson Gallery) Oct. 20-Nov. 6. A reception is scheduled for Oct. 21, from 7-9 p.m. "It is a long time for a little club to live,” said Eliane Kesteloot, president for 2003-04. "There are now clubs in Vienna, Fairfax, Manassas and Springfield, but ours is the oldest club," said Kesteloot. In an e-mail, Kesteloot explained that it was "founded by eight McLean resident artists in the winter of 1954-55. It was incorporated in August 1985 and later as a nonprofit organization. It has been a center for area artists ever since. Membership is open to anyone who enjoys painting, beginner or full-term artist, or anyone who simply has an interest in art and wishes to participate in club activities." "There are approximately 100 members, and they are invited to present their recent works to the exhibit the day before, to be judged for inclusion in the show." said Kesteloot. Samples of some of the art of the club are available for viewing at www.mcleanartclub.org. In addition, "They exhibit on a regular basis at the Dolley Madison Library, at the Springhill Recreation Center and other places." said Kesteloot.