Strata and East 100th Street

STRATA

As Warhol and Mondrian well knew, self-imposed restrictions can set you free. The eight artists in "Strata" also find emancipation through limitation, using stripes as their steadfast and liberating constant. Gene Davis, a member of the not-so-well-known Washington (D.C.) Color School in the 1960s, is the patriarchal figure here; he began using the motif before the rest of the participating artists were born and helped establish the stripe as a formidable minimalist icon (or anti-icon). This is a beautiful and richly sensual show, the contrasts between each piece heightening the experience. The speckled texture of Sophie Smallhorn's boxy paintings appears particularly brittle next to the creamy surfaces of Miki Lee, whose wavy lines look like buttery rick rack, homey yet hypnotic. Lee's dark palette, in turn, appears decidedly deeper against Tim Bavington's day-glo colors, while the neon glow and fuzzy, airbrushed edges of Bavington's vertical stripes vibrate all the more intensely when contrasted with Seattlelite Matthew Landkammer's pale, atmospheric bands. These appear vaporous alongside Markus Linnenbrink's seductive, thick as taffy, poured enamel bars (above). Jil Weinstock adds a welcome ready-made irreverence to the show, offering a row of rubber-coated red, pink, and ivory zippers in one instance, and a striped button-down shirt stretched over a light box in another. And last but not least are the paintings of Seattleite Susan Dorythough not exactly striped, they create pillowy, linear trajectories that accentuate the boundless nature of the stripe in all its permutations. Davidson Galleries, 313 Occidental Ave. S., 206-624-7684. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Ends Wed. Dec. 24. ELISE RICHMAN

EAST 100TH STREET

Photography just doesn't matter the way it once did. Many of the twentieth century's social movements, from civil rights to the environment, were defined by photographs: Ansel Adams' nature images and Dorothea Lange's Dust Bowl photos are two that jump to mind. Bruce Davidson, whose career as a documentary photographer spans more than four decades, was a big part of that era when a photo essay in Life magazine could actually shape public policy. Yet he's no polemicistin projects such as "Brooklyn Gang," and "East 100th Street," he spent months with his subjects and let their conditions speak for themselves. Simply put, he managed to find the human within the dehumanizing world of poverty. And he's no radical, having done his share of Avedon-esque New York fashion shoots to pay the bills. What runs throughout his images, whether of Marilyn Monroe or destitute families in Spanish Harlem, is an eye for real human drama. If each of Annie Leibovitz's photos is a short story, then Davidson's are long Dickensian novels, deep with character, mystery, and pathos. "East 100th Street," which includes Couple Dancing Near Jukebox (above), is a masterful series taken between 1966 and 1968, when Davidson spent two years living in and photographing one notorious block in East Harlem. Photographic Center Northwest, 900 12th Ave., 206-720-7222. Noon-9:30 p.m. Mon.; 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Tues.-Sun. Ends Fri. Dec. 19. ANDREW ENGELSON

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