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Posted at 2:25 PM ET, 08/ 8/2008

Hitting the Beach Without Leaving Town

By Stephanie Merry

Get a close-up of a jellyfish without fear of getting stung. ("Jellyfish, Raja Ampat" by Yeang Ch'ng)

Is it just me or is everyone heading to the beach this weekend? Luckily for the people who can't fathom pouring all their money into their gas tanks, you can get a little taste of saltwater right here in D.C. The local galleries and museums seem to have beaches on the brain.

In preparation of the great unveiling of Ocean Hall this fall, the Museum of Natural History held a competition and picked out about 40 of the best aquatic photos. "Ocean Views" gives the opportunity to come face-to-face with a walrus, snuggling sea lions, an ominous Caribbean reef shark and a coral-colored jellyfish. Best of all, you won't need to worry about getting stung.


"Untitled" by Richard Misrach (Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Pace/MacGill Gallery)

If you want to feel disconcertingly small, head over to the National Gallery where Richard Misrach's "On the Beach" features large-scale photographs that focus on nature. The aerial photos show large expanses of sand and water with people, roughly the size of ladybugs, lounging along the shore.

For a similarly nature-focused view, the Sackler's exhibition "Seascapes" juxtaposes Dwight Tryon's pastels with Hiroshi Sugimoto's stunning black-and-white oceanic horizons. Sugimoto depicts mainly water and sky, giving viewers the opportunity to imagine they are treading water in the middle of the ocean.


"Yellow Sea/Cheju" by Hiroshi Sugimoto (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery)

In "At the Water's Edge," which closes August 16 at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery, nine artists display the calming effects of water, including one photo of swimmers in a wave pool at a water park. Meanwhile the group exhibition "Aqueous" at Carroll Square Gallery until August 22 has a more environmental slant, examining the ways humans interact with (and sometimes misuse) water.

Of course all of this beach art isn't exactly like tanning on a towel at Dewey. Will photos give you the feeling of sand between your toes? Probably not. Will there be an opportunity to skip rocks? Unfortunately, no. But at least you won't have to worry about getting sunburned.

--Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | August 8, 2008; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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