Around the World in One Gallery by Nicole M. Miller
Tim Davis is an artist with a worldview. For five years he's owned a gallery on Connecticut Avenue that features artists from all over the globe. This year's calendar alone includes painters from Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, a photographer from Cuba and an Aboriginal artist from Australia.
"I feel like I'm filling a void here," says Davis, founder and director of International Visions.
"I don't want to limit my scope to American artists or black American artists," says Davis, an African American artist himself. "I'm not sure if [other galleries] are reaching far enough."
In addition to artists from other countries, Davis looks for U.S. artists whose work evokes international issues.
"Our goal is to bridge the gaps between cultures through art," he says. "We don't have a gallery that's going to show flowers and landscapes."
Davis, 46, opened the second-floor gallery across from the Woodley Metro stop five years ago. He also teaches high-school computer graphics, but finds time at night to paint at his Alexandria home.
Currently Davis is exhibiting his own paintings -- his first show in three years -- under the title "Human Spirit," along with Arab American artist Helen Zughaib's show, "Tribute." A D.C. resident, Zughaib wants to promote a dialogue with the Arab world through her paintings, which look like collages of colorful, intricate designs.
Davis addresses the universal feelings of passion, loneliness, despair, security, love, hope, camaraderie and stress.
"I'm an observer," he says. "I watch people and try to understand them."
A trained sculptor, Davis works three-dimensional imagery into some paintings using fabric and plaster. He enjoys the tactile feeling of manipulating the work with his fingers. He uses warm, rich colors, like orange, red and yellow, and most of his black figures are faceless, allowing the viewer to more easily project onto them.
"I'm trying to create some kind of emotion," he says. "I want a person to be able to see the insides -- the spirit" of the men, women and children in the paintings.
Davis is excited when people click with artists and their work.
"I think that's how spirits connect," he says. "That's part of the reason that I paint."
A Smashing Idea
People often talk about items going "under the hammer" at auction, but Ladyfest is taking that expression literally. At an art auction next week, if pieces aren't sold for their artistic merit, they'll be re-auctioned, and the highest bidder will destroy them.
"I think I'll be doing a couple things specially designed for smashability," says jeweler Courtney Gillen, who uses sterling silver, glass and freshwater pearls in her pieces.
Gillen is one of nine artists who have committed to donating a dozen pieces to "Under the Velvet Hammer," a fundraiser for Ladyfest DC, a women-run arts and music festival set for Aug. 7-11.
A full-time artist, Gillen travels the craft show circuit and has heard about auctions where pieces that don't get bid on get smashed onstage. Once people see that, they tend to bid more freely, not wanting more art to be ruined.
When Gillen told Faith Flanagan, a member of Ladyfest's visual arts committee, about these "hammer auctions," Flanagan liked the idea.
"The first round bid on each item will be for the purchase of the artwork. That is our focus," Flanagan says. "If the piece is not sold, the second round bid will be for the opportunity to destroy the said artwork."
Like Gillen, Christopher Lee is excited about the prospect of his art being demolished. He's donating three small drawings in the dada tradition. His work rejects conventional ideas about gender and sexual issues.
"They're meant to kinda shock and provoke a reaction," he says. "They are kinda ugly, but they are ugly-beautiful, so maybe they'll touch the nurturing side of somebody."
But if no one bids to buy his art, he says, destroying it would be "a perfect extension of the work's intent."
Flanagan is hoping to have more items to auction, but isn't pressuring artists to participate.
"I'm sure that there are artists out there who would be hesitant," she says.
Flanagan isn't sure whether any art actually will be destroyed, though smashing some lumpy ashtray has its appeal. Someone will have to get the idea going that night.
Flanagan says, "We'll see who the first brave person is."
Human Spirit is at International Visions, 2629 Connectivut Ave. NW, through May 25, with "Tribute" by Helen Zughaib. Wednesday-Thursday 11a.m.-6p.m. and Friday-Saturday noon-7p.m.
Call 202-234-5112 or visit www.inter-visions.com
Unter the Velvet Hammer: An Art Auction to Benefit Ladyfest DC is at Metro Cafe, 1522 14th St. NW, May 3 from 6p.m.-9p.m. $7. For more information and to donate art, call 202-546-0332 or e-mail UrbanGrrl@bust.com
Nicole M. Miller is a Washington Post Staff Writer
Thurday, April 25. 2002: Page C05
© 2002 The Washington Post Company