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‘Urban Decay 4’ at Workhouse

A show of distinctive urban sensibility with plenty of social commentary.

"Urban Decay 4" at the Workhouse, Building W-16, McGuireWoods Gallery, 9601 Ox Road, Lorton. Exhibiting now through July 29. Free admission. For information visit www.workhousearts.org or call 703-584-2900.

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Gregg Deal: "Untitled Headdress"

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Gregg Deal: "The Boy."

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Drew Graham: "Parting Seas" (airbrush on wood)

"Urban Decay 4" exhibition. Gathering together "low-brow" art that aims to challenge the tried-and-true, "Urban Decay 4" curator Debra Yarrington has brought together a show of distinctive urban sensibility with plenty of social commentary.

The dozens of works displayed by nearly 30 different artists from Fairfax County and far beyond include large-scale, three-dimensional wooden creations, some with a sheen of glass-like luster, hanging art with a punk culture perspective or with a colorful cartoon-like appearance.

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Drew Graham: "Hold Fast" (airbrush on wood)

And then there is a small vinyl object called "Urban Vinyl," best described as cute thingamajigs harking back to youthful collectables like "Hello, Kitty" or "GI Joe," "Barbie" and baseball cards.

Yarrington selected works by artists with "an amazing sense of color, design, composition, structure, materials and more." The roots of the artistry include "niches like comic books, punk music, hot-rod street culture, the gaming industry, sci-fi ... and will connect the viewer with their own past."

Two of the Fairfax County artists exhibiting are Gregg Deal and Drew Storm Graham.

Deal enlists a double-take type wit in making his art present "a commentary on society" while bringing a message and awareness of cultural misconceptions and stereotypes to the viewer. His work lures in a viewer, then brings an "ah-ha" moment as an unexpected message sinks in.

"I want my work to have a physical presence," said Graham, who works with wood but breaks traditional molds in his meticulously constructed, floating, hanging, three-dimensional creations from graffiti and tattoo-art inspirations. With its brightly colored, airbrushed coatings of paint, "wood can become anything you want it to be."

A unique part of the Workhouse exhibition is a significant "community" section. It is composed of first-timers to the field of small toy design. "It is a very important section to the exhibition” noted Yarrington. It provides opportunities for local individuals to become part of the "show."

A goal of "Urban Decay 4" is to create a place and space for the artists to exhibit and for viewers to have an opportunity to engage and discuss a burgeoning contemporary art some may not be familiar with. As Yarrington further explained about the populist art on display at the McGuire Woods Gallery, "people just like looking at this work, it triggers something inside the viewer." Come see for yourself.