- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

The District’s art season has rarely been so busy.Highlights include: an astonishing six exhibits opening in September at the National Gallery of Art; the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s mix of historic American paintings and cutting-edge contemporary arts; the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ new “Women Artists Worldwide” initiative; a full complement of contemporary art shows at American University’s new $48 million Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen Arts Center; and the first-rate but too little-known Textile Museum’s 80th-anniversary celebration with the landmark “Silk and Leather: Splendid Attire of 19th-Century Central Asia” (through Feb. 26).

Here’s a list of the National Gallery’s fall offerings:

• “Origins of European Printmaking: Fifteenth-Century Woodcuts and Their Public” (tomorrow through Nov. 27)

• “Prints of Felix Buhot: Impressions of City and Sea” (tomorrow through Feb. 20)

• “Monumental Sculpture From Renaissance Florence: Ghiberti, Nanni di Banco, and Verrocchio at Orsanmichele” (Sept. 18 through Dec. 31)

• “Pieter Claesz: Master of Haarlem Still Life” (Sept. 18 through Dec. 31)

• “Masterpieces in Miniature: Italian Manuscript Illumination From the J. Paul Getty Museum” (Sept. 25 through Jan. 2)

• “Audubon’s Dream Realized: Selections From ‘The Birds of America’” (Sept. 25 through April 16).

Top shows at the gallery, however, are this winter’s “Cezanne in Provence,” which honors the pioneering artist at the centenary of his death (Jan. 29 through May 7) and “Dada,” a major exhibit exploring the revolutionary, often shocking, 1920s aesthetic movement (Feb. 19 through May 14).

The Corcoran, regrouping from its failure to meet fund-raising targets to upgrade and expand its building, opens the season with the “Warhol Legacy: Selections From the Andy Warhol Museum” in Pittsburgh (Sept. 24 through Feb. 20), a rare opportunity to see both well- and lesser-known works from the largest and most significant public collection of Warhols in the country.

Closer to home, the Corcoran honors Washington’s premier artist with the richly deserved “Sam Gilliam: A Retrospective” (Oct. 15 through Jan. 23) while also unfolding the riches of its collection of pre-1945 American master paintings with “Encouraging American Genius” (through Jan. 2).

The National Museum of Women in the Arts pulls off triple coups this season, showcasing some 80 paintings and drawings by the late Alice Neel (Oct. 28 through Jan. 15), one of the 20th century’s greatest portraitists, and displaying recent large-scale paintings by visionary artist May Stevens in “The Water Remembers: Paintings and Works on Paper by May Stevens” (Oct. 28 through Jan. 15 ).

The museum also introduces its “Women Artists Worldwide” series with “Monica Castillo: The Painter and the Body,” co-sponsored by the Cultural Institute of Mexico and dedicated to the work of the Mexican conceptual artist.

The Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden hit the ground running under new director Olga Viso (the Smithsonian’s first Latina museum director) with Jim Hodges’ monumental outdoor billboard announcing, in different languages, “Don’t be afraid.” The artist says he hopes to “instill a sense of compassion and support through these many voices” in his work, part of a Hirshhorn series titled “Directions” (through spring 2006).

“Words Drawn in Water,” the Hirshhorn’s “multisensory audio walk,” demonstrates Canadian-born artist Janet Cardiff’s use of layered sound technology to evoke a blending of history and memory (through Oct. 30); the huge “Gyroscope,” a revolving exhibit of the museum’s permanent collection, fills much of the gallery’s space through spring 2006 — except for the second-floor galleries, which will house works by noted Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto (Feb. 16 through May 14).

“Gold: The Asian Touch” inaugurates the Arthur M. Sackler’s impressive season by exploring the meaning and uses of gold in diverse Asian cultures. Objects on display, from both the Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art collections, include Indian coins; a royal Chinese scepter; a gold-leaf six-fold Japanese screen; and a Chinese cloisonne, gold-wire-enclosed vessel.

Imperial silks, noted for their dramatic designs, vivid colors and advanced techniques, are among the most admired artworks from the Ottoman Empire, and 75 of the best go on view at the Sackler (Oct. 29 through Jan. 22).

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