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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 12/ 1/2008

Up Next: December Arts

By Stephanie Merry

While December is generally a pretty quiet month for art openings, this month offers a few promising possibilities, not the least of which is a new addition to an old friend. After six years and $621 million, the Capitol Visitor Center opens tomorrow, providing visitors with a cozy place to hang out while they wait for tours of the Capitol. But the building is much more than a waiting room. Among the grandiose spiral staircases and fountains are artifacts, a model of the Capitol's interior and sculptures of notable Americans (including everyone from Helen Keller to King Kamehameha).

Even though FotoWeek is over, a number of big photography exhibits open this month, including the work of Frank Gohlke at the American Art Museum, which opens Friday. The 79 photos spanning from the 1970s through 2004 document man's relationship with the uncontrollable force of nature. Expect images of lightning strikes, the aftermath of a tornado and a marsh fire.

On the same day, the Portrait Gallery unveils "Portraiture Now: Feature Photography." Six photographers present portraits of a diverse set of subjects, from John McCain to Angelina Jolie and Morrissey to Billy Joel.

Another photo exhibition arrives at the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore on Dec. 13. Dewoud Bey traveled the country taking photos of young people from various cities, ethnic backgrounds and economic situations and came up with "Class Pictures." Along with the photos, there will be one-page personal statements, which Bey asked his subjects to write.

The Hirshhorn is taking a different look at people with "Strange Bodies" starting Dec. 11. Drawing from its collection, the museum will show various depictions of the human form ranging from the surreal (Julian Schnabel's "Andy Warhol") to the startlingly immediate (Ron Mueck's "Untitled (Big Man)").

This month Randall Scott Gallery will try to hold onto what some see as a dying art: painting. Yet the gallery is looking at painting in new way with an exhibition entitled "Quasi-Painting." It showcases nine different artists who all have painterly sensibilities (think more abstract, less linear), whether they're painting, shooting photos or sculpting.

What other openings are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | December 1, 2008; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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