- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2001

Jeremy Jelenfy, Jeff Stephanic and Peter Waddell give the word "monument" new dimensions and life in their exhibit at the Anton Gallery.
They transform monuments in conceptual, postmodern ways. Anyone who perceives Washington as filled with sculpted piles of cold white marble better think again.
"Most of us have lived here so long we don't see the monuments anymore. I want the artists to present a fresh look in this exhibit," Anton director Gail Enns says.
Former New Zealander Mr. Waddell, 46, views monuments as "triggers for memory." Washington's "continuing history" and its classical architecture were what drew him here in 1995, the painter says. He brings a romantic sensibility to buildings and sculptures so familiar they often seem invisible.
He deals with lesser-known monuments for this show, such as the "Temperance Fountain" at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania NW with its amazing water crane on top, and the buffalo on the Dumbarton Bridge at Q Street and Rock Creek Parkway NW.
Few Washingtonians know the story of Henry Cogswell, a San Francisco dentist who made his fortune in real estate and mining stock and believed Americans were drinking too much. He designed and paid for the fountain to foster temperance in Washington — and other cities.
Mr. Waddell's impressive "The Senate Balcony" starts off the show. The large, almost-square painting is a realist-surrealist view of the balcony and the environs below.
The artist leads the eye diagonally back and affixes fluted pillars of rose, brown and blue shadings on squarish plinths. He adds a fleck of red when he places an antique chair at the end where the balcony disappears from sight.
The painter carefully researches his history and placed the picture in the 1860s just after the Civil War. He worked with the historian of the Capitol to get the details right. Mr. Waddell made the cityscape below hazy, but the viewer can pick out the boardinghouses where senators lived, the first Union Station and lots of trees.
"I tried to humanize it and soften it up. I'm a romantic at heart, and 'Balcony' is a romantic reality," he says.
The combining of classicism with surrealist fantasy makes this painting and some of Mr. Waddell's other work unsettling and fascinating. The artist studied art history in Auckland, New Zealand, where he was raised. He liked the approaches of classicism and the dreamscapes of Greco-Italian surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico.
"The Temperance Fountain" comes close to the people-less city views of De Chirico.
Other works are not quite as strange. Mr. Waddell painted the bronze "Freedom" of the Capitol dome when it came down for repairs in 1993. The painter points out that "Freedom" originally could have worn a "freedom bonnet," but a "war bonnet" of an eagle and fur tails replaced it.
Mr. Stephanic, another of the trio of artists, fuses photo techniques with digital manipulation to produce monuments at once synthetic and clearly recognizable. "Seven Georges," a conceptual view of the Washington Monument, is one.
The 55-year-old artist says he regards technology as just another tool for expressing his varied interpretations of monumentality. "I humanize high-tech, but I combine it with the softer kind of photography I took before for different takes on monuments," he says.
A sense of poetry and mystery pervades Mr. Stephanic's work. Consider the hard-edged clarity with soft twilight effects in his prints of I.M. Pei's "East Wing" and "Approaching the Dream."
He calls his technique "two-edged." Mr. Stephanic often imbues his images with double meanings, as in a view of the Lincoln Memorial titled "Approaching the Dream."
He explains that he made it a historic monument by shooting from below at an oblique angle and lighting it from the inside. The photographer also wanted to make it contemporary by connecting it with Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. He believes Americans are only "approaching" Mr. King's ideals, and he wants the print to express his conviction.
Mr. Jelenfy, 40, focuses on bringing monuments to life. He was commissioned in 1999 to draw Washington monuments for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. The drawings went into a book celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Japan Commerce Association of Washington.
For the exhibit, the artist used evocative charcoal drawings to animate a neoclassical statue in Baltimore by 19th-century artist Hans Schuler.
Mr. Jelenfy softens his techniques for the "Hans Schuler Sculpture" even more than the two other exhibitors do in their works. He portrays the monument of a seated woman holding a shield and tipping an urn in full accompanied by details of her face.
In one study, he makes her enigmatic by darkening her eyes. In others, he has crisscrossed a blunt-ended eraser through the charcoal for luminous whites. Mr. Jelenfy makes her dreamy but real.

WHAT: "Monuments"
WHERE: Anton Gallery, 2108 R St. NW
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, through Aug. 25
PHONE: 202/328-0828

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