One thing that James Gagliano likes about the art of his college buddy Drew Graham is the three-dimensional nature of it.
“It very literally jumps out at you,” says Gagliano, who has a Graham wall sculpture hanging over his fireplace in Washington, D.C.
“When you see it, it’s the first thing that captures your eye,” says Gagliano, who likes the way Graham adds flat pieces that stick out several inches or more from the base of the sculpture.
By angling some of these additional pieces, Graham strives to create an illusion of roundness as seen from the front for what are two-dimensional layers of materials as seen from the side.
It’s a technique Graham calls “aslant art.”
“It’s a term I coined myself,” he says. “I have no other knowledge of anybody that does the same kind of work I do.”
A resident of Lorton, Va., Graham is having his first solo exhibit at the new FNDTN (short for Foundation) Gallery and Liveroom performance space on Antique Row in Kensington, which also is home to painters’ studios and music-related businesses.
An opening reception will take place Friday night, and Graham’s show will be on view to Sept. 22, with visits available by appointment.
Gagliano, who first met Graham when both went to Stetson University in Deland, Fla., says the artist’s more abstract works remind him of moving water.
“It looks like water got up and danced,” he says about the piece he bought from Graham, which he also appreciates for its colors, achieved by using bright iridescent paints more often used on cars.
“It kind of changes hues if you turn on the lights or look at it in the morning or the afternoon,” Gagliano says.
Auto paints have “a deep rich color, with more of a lustre,” says Graham, who besides angling also paints surfaces in a certain way to create an illusion of fullness.
“They look different from the side than the front,” he says about the sculptures. “People like to walk around them. They’re interested to see how it’s put together, and they inspect it closely.”
Graham’s exhibit of more than a dozen pieces, called “Live fast, die fun,” also reflects his love of motorcycles and classic cars, as well as his appreciation of tattoo art and graffiti.
Son of a military man, Graham spent sixth through 10th grade in Madrid.
“There was graffiti everywhere, and a lot of my friends were graffiti artists,” he says.
As graffiti and tattoos are by nature impermanent, Graham says he tries to preserve the art forms by turning their essences into three-dimensional wall sculptures that last.
He also likes what the two art forms represent.
“I’m interested in the counter-culture .... and both are publicly confrontational,” he says. “They still evoke a reaction, even if you don’t want to see them.”
Graham is the first of four artists that FNDTN’s operators, Matt Corrado and Sean Gaiser, plan to showcase in the new gallery space fronting Howard Street before the end of the year.
Business partners for several years, Corrado grew up in Silver Spring and lives there now, and Gaiser grew up in Kensington and now lives in Washington, D.C.
Both musicians who have played in bands, they own and operate Pick-Up Productions, a company with a recording studio that also books bands.
They also offer guitar lessons, along with graphic and web design services provided by Corrado, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.
Over time, the collection of small businesses has expanded to occupying the second, third and fourth floors of the building.
“When that [first-floor] space opened up, we thought it would a good natural extension to what we doing,” says Corrado.
The L-shaped space has walls for art and a multi-media screen, along with a small stage, seating and an area for refreshments.
They plan to open a Saturday morning music program for toddlers and young children in the performance space starting Sept. 22.
Gaiser and Corrado also envision bringing in musicians for other public performances, adding to their offerings of their music- and art-related businesses.
“There’s always something that’s going on,” Corrado says.