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Posted at 4:56 PM ET, 08/29/2008

Up Next: September Arts

By Stephanie Merry

Tourists take over the steps of the Museum of Natural History in Lucian Perkins's photo. (Courtesy of the Artist and Hemphill Fine Arts)

After the artistic drought that inevitably occurs every August, I regard fall with a mixture of hope and dread. On the one hand, there are so many exhibitions that start up in September. On the other, how can I possibly get to all of the ones I want to see? I've already started paring down the extensive list of shows that seem really interesting, really strange or a mix of both. Here's my sure-to-be-re-edited first take:

If you have ever had the urge to get up close and personal with Jon Stewart, Malcolm X, the Dalai Lama or Joe Louis's fist, you'll get your chance during "Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power" at the Corcoran on Saturday, Sept. 13. The exhibition covers 250 photos from Avedon's prolific career shooting for the likes of The New Yorker, Vogue and Rolling Stone from the 1950s until the photographer's death in 2004.

After getting a fill of larger than life figures, it might be time to show some appreciation for the little guys of the world with "Theater of Insects" at the Keck Center on Tuesday, Sept. 2. Jo Whaley uses her past career as a theatrical set painter to arrange and photograph butterflies, beetles and dragonflies against found objects. The result is stunning, as a blue butterfly practically pops off the page when contrasted with a rusty backdrop.

For a deeper dive into nature, some big name artists will be on display at the American Art Museum. "Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities" opening Friday, Sept. 26 marks the first exhibition to feature both artists and will include more than 40 O'Keefe paintings and over 50 of Adams's photographs. The museum took great care to choose the works so that viewers can see a direct comparison between O'Keefe's take on a mountainous skyline versus Adams's, for example.

Anthony Cervino's show starting Friday, Sept. 5 at Flashpoint might be the way to go for those whose appreciation tends more toward the synthetic than the natural. The artist takes parts from toy model kits, paints them and affixes them to a canvas on a wall to form a sort of hybrid between sculpture and painting. Consider my interest piqued.

D.C. natives in need of some comic relief can head for Carroll Square Gallery, which is showing photos by Lucian Perkins starting Friday, Sept. 5 in "They Came from Beyond the Beltway: Tourists at the National Mall." Strollers and cameras abound in this collection of 20 images from summer's top tourist destinations.

To be (mentally) transported out of D.C., visit Hemphill Fine Arts starting Saturday, Sept. 13, when William Christenberry's new photographs, drawings and sculpture will be on display. Christenberry's photographs capture scenes from rural Alabama, while his work in other media is inspired by a childhood spent in the south.

Meanwhile, for a more otherworldly experience, "Bodies of Marvel, Monsters and Women" premieres on Thursday, Sept. 4 at H&F Fine Art. Eight female artists display sculptures, woodcuts and paintings that bring viewers face-to-face with their wildest dreams and, maybe, their recurring nightmares.

Speaking of recurring nightmares, brave gallery-goers can relive their adolescence at "In Between" opening Saturday, Sept. 13 at Randall Scott Gallery. Photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten reveals beautiful (if awkward) pictures of the years when a girl is caught somewhere between childhood and becoming an adult.

There are a couple other highlights for September as well. First, the Phillips has extended "Phillips After 5" beyond the summer, so the first Thursday of every month will feature extended hours, music and drinks. Second, Ocean Hall opens at the Museum of Natural History on Saturday, Sept. 27, so you can get your fill of aquatic creatures, including a 24-foot giant squid.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | August 29, 2008; 4:56 PM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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