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Posted at 10:03 AM ET, 04/30/2009

Up Next: May Arts

By Stephanie Merry

There are so many offbeat exhibitions to look forward to this month that it's hard to know where to begin. Large-scale installations made of prescription pill bottles? Anonymous, confessional postcards? A smorgasbord of works from local artists? What could be better?

Jean Shin gives new life to old prescription pill bottles. (Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery)

A bunch of new shows are dropping this weekend, and a good place to kick things off is the American Art Museum to see Jean Shin's massive sculptures made from found objects. Aside from the orange pill bottles, Shin also found a good use for all those Little League trophies that collect dust in many all-stars' basements. She has taken the footballs, baseballs and tennis rackets out of the tiny golden hands and replaced them with things like tires, hammers and trashcans to pay tribute to working class heroes. Shin will also be on hand on Friday to discuss her work. (May 1-July 26)

That same night, Hillyer will be celebrating its entertaining new exhibition called PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death and God. Yes, that PostSecret, the anonymous display of strangers' secrets that run the gamut from adorable to certifiable. Frank Warren's blog of confessional postcards has spawned five books and counting, and over 100 of the cards from his collection will be on display at Hillyer. Warren will also be attending the opening reception on Friday night. (May 1-June 26)

This weekend also marks the start of a new show at the National Gallery. The museum will be showing the work of Jaromir Funke and his contemporaries as a tribute to the contributions these underappreciated Czech photographers made to the modernist movement. The photographers, who were active in the 1920s and '30s, had a knack for turning black-and-white photographed images into crazy abstractions. (May 3-Aug. 9)

Comic book fans have something to look forward to this month with a big name visitor. Art Spiegelman will be at the Corcoran to discuss his work and the history of comics. The creator of "Maus," a graphic novel about his family members during the Holocaust, is often credited with lifting the level of graphic novels to a high-brow art form. (7 p.m. Monday, May 4)

For a little more mixing of high-brow and low-brow, head to "Fresh" at the Torpedo factory. The exhibition features urban contemporary art, like graffiti-style works, pop art surrealism and figurative painting. (May 6-31)

Does the meaning or value of a piece of art change depending on the recipient? Artists at D.C. Arts Center are trying to find out and displaying the results for "Gift Exchange." Twelve artists paired up and created handmade pieces for each other to see if presents are any different from commodities. (May 8-June 7)

The Sackler is also dealing with gifts this month, though these treasures are the valuables Russian tsars received from Turkey and Iran. Hardly functional, though no less amazing, the gifts include stirrups dotted with pearls, bridles made of gold and jeweled ceremonial vessels. (May 9-Sept. 13)

Transformer Gallery is offering an intimate look at the the lives of men in the household with "Domesticated." While many artistic depictions of home interiors involve women at work, four photographers are turning the stereotype on its head with a look at house-husbands, male familial relationships and men set against florid backdrops. (May 16-June 20)

Meanwhile, Long View is exhibiting paintings by one of Julia's favorite artists -- Mary Chiaramonte. The exhibition "Haunted" features many of her intimate studies of people, which are surprisingly powerful even though Chiaramonte often obscures or leaves out the subject's face. (May 16-June 13)

I saved the biggest for last: Get ready for Artomatic. The gigantic art event celebrates its 10th anniversary this year at the Capitol Riverfront with work by hundreds of artists, free movies and an array of live performances.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | April 30, 2009; 10:03 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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