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Upcoming exhibitions and press



The Invincible Visible

A Special Exhibition & Benefit Auction to Support Transformer

November 4 - 17, 2023

 * Benefit Gala: November 18, 2023 *

American University Museum.Katzen Arts Center


Hillyer presents Pulse 2023, an exhibition that recognizes the role of Hillyer’s Advisory Committee in identifying artists for solo and group exhibitions at Hillyer’s renowned contemporary art space. The exhibition features work by some of Hillyer’s past notable members such as Helen Frederick, Renée Stout, and Tom Wolff, and current members, Joan Belmar, Nikki Brugnoli, Anna U Davis, Elsabe Dixon, Cianne Fragione, Pat Goslee, Laurel Lukaszewski, Cory Oberndorfer, John Paradiso, and Amber Robles-Gordon.

David Furchgott, the founder of International Arts and Artists, who opened Hillyer in April 2006, formed the Advisory Committee to establish roots in the art community early on, turning to renowned artists and scholars like Bill Christenberry, Renée Stout, David Driskell, and Sam Gilliam, among others, to get the project underway. From 2006 to the present, Hillyer has featured over 350 exhibitions and roughly 1,325 artists in solo and group shows.

Below is a list of members who have served since the beginning – a list that is certainly a Who’s Who of the visual arts in our Washington community for the last sixteen years:


Pulse 2023 celebrates the legacy and contributions of the Advisory Committee, while serving as a catalyst for future exhibitions in 2023 that resulted from the committee’s recent selections from Hillyer’s annual Call for Proposals.

This exhibition and its related programs are sponsored by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.


By Owen Baertlein


Visitors to the University of Maine’s Museum of Art this semester will find three brand new exhibits featuring work from eight new artists from across North America. From Joan Belmar’s otherworldly “Way Stations” compositions to the poplar wood creations of Rachel Hellmann, the Museum of Art brings creative minds together for a new academic year.


Joan Belmar, on the other hand, is a master of the art of a seemingly entirely new genre. Belmar’s creations make heavy use of circles and almost topographic features. Ranging from circular pieces taller than a person to sheets of paper hardly larger than a placemat, Belmar has created a number of works that bring to mind a combination of NASA-esque topographic maps and a serious acid trip. Overlapping circles make up the background of his pieces, and in some circles, grids are overlaid in an almost three-dimensional pattern. Waves and splashes of ink move over the circles in a pattern reminiscent of the storms on Venus. In one piece, “New Constellations/Red,” one could swear that the background is a satellite image of Jupiter. The Chilean native opens the viewer’s eye to what else might just be out there. 

“Circles…suggest, like a Russian doll that contains one inside the other, world or way stations within other worlds,” Belmar says of his pieces. 

Two enormous works hang on a wall of their own, circular pieces easily six feet in diameter. They seem to map out a planet arising from an artist’s active mind, something nobody will ever see until the ink splashes down on the paper.


Portland Press Herald features ‘Way Stations’ at UMMA


September 3, 2019

As part of its statewide fall visual arts preview, the Portland Press Herald highlighted the Joan Belmar exhibit “Way Stations” at the University of Maine Museum of Art. “Way Stations,” which opens Sept. 13, features new abstract paintings, including a pair of 92-inch tondos that Belmar created for the show. Belmar gravitates toward circular forms, populated with textural passages, lines, dots, grids and generically identifiable elements, according to the article. His circular logic evokes otherworldliness as though peering through telescopes, microscopes, portholes or more metaphysical portals.

Authored by: Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D.

Born and raised in New York City, Claudia Rousseau completed a B.A. in Art History at Hunter College (CUNY), and an M.A. and Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York. She is Professor of Art History at Montgomery College and is an internationally published scholar, a recognized critic and a curator of many art exhibits in the region. Dr. Rousseau was art critic for the Gazette Newspapers in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Frederick Counties for eleven years, publishing extended monthly reviews of exhibitions of contemporary art. In 2010 she received the honor of juried membership in the prestigious International Association of Art Critics (AICA) for her writing on art. Dr. Rousseau has served on many important art juries, including the Bethesda Painting Competition (the Trawick Prize), the fellowship committee for the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, and the Awards Review Panel for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. She also serves as a panel member of the Public Arts Trust Steering Committee of the AHCMC, as well as the Art Review Panel at Maryland Park and Planning for public art.


East City Artnote:

Joan Belmar Beguiled by Caravaggio at Adah Rose Gallery


By Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D. on July 23, 2018

A small but impressive exhibit of paintings by Joan Belmar is recently on view at Adah Rose Gallery in Kensington.   As I have noted in the past, one of the most remarkable things about Belmar is the way in which he renews his art in an evident trajectory of style, content and medium.  The paintings in Beguiled by Caravaggio are testament to the ongoing strength of Belmar’s talent, and his ability to reuse material in new ways and with new interests.

This series of works painted on heavy paper with acrylic, ink and oil, are the result of a renewed acquaintance with Caravaggio, the early Italian Baroque master known for his realist approach and his limited, but intensely rich palette.  A work by Caravaggio like the Lamentation made for the Chiesa Nuova, the “new church” of Santa Maria in Vallicella (now in the Vatican Pinacoteca) is the kind of painting that “beguiled” Belmar.  Caravaggio’s sharp contrast of the figures—from the pale flesh of Christ to the brilliant red of St. John’s cloak, to the rust of Joseph of Arimathea’s tunic, fanning in an upward curve against a profoundly dark background of blacks—can be seen as the inspiration for works like Conversation: Red and Draperies.  Belmar has layered the folds of red with blacks that vary in depth.  Oratory explores various textures as well as shades of black in a work that evokes Caravaggio in a completely original abstract composition.  The viewer can see some familiar shapes in these works; the circle especially with its connotation of spheres and space that adds a mystical touch as it has done in many of the artist’s previous works.  Interestingly, the title Oratory recalls the fact that the Chiesa Nuova was built for the “Oratory of St. Philip Neri”, a society founded for followers of that mystical Counter-Reformation Roman saint.   And, there is something Roman about these paintings, or perhaps, Spanish in the depth of the blacks and the brilliance of the color contrasts.

Two horizontal works that the artist has called “trainscapes” carry over the colors and the textures of the other paintings that specifically allude to Caravaggio.  These, however, were inspired by the shape of the windows of the trains that Belmar now regularly takes from his new home in upstate New York to the City or back to Washington DC.   Belmar has, for some time, been curving the edges of his paintings on paper, and he noticed that the horizontal train windows were also curved in this way.  Glancing out of the windows of a speeding train tends to create a sense of passive viewing, even a sort of meditative condition that empties thoughts.  In this way, these “trainscapes” are connected in content as well as form to the series that specifically referenced Caravaggio’s world in this beguiling show.

Begiled by Caravaggio is on view through Thursday, July 26 at Adah Rose Gallery located at 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington, MD. For more information, visit or call 301-922-0162.

By Mark Jenkins. Washington DC  July 13, 2018

Joan Belmar

Chile native Joan Belmar often draws from the history and topography of his birthplace, enlisting motifs from maps and the body paint of an indigenous tribe that was largely exterminated. Belmar’s new work explores a different sort of landscape: the chiaroscuro canvases of one of the most influential Italian painters. “Beguiled by Caravaggio,” at Adah Rose Gallery, builds abstractions out of the proto-baroque artist’s intense hues and sumptuous details, while incorporating elements familiar from Belmar’s earlier work.

The pictures were made mostly on paper and with a mix of ink and several kinds of paint. They’re keyed to a single primary color and a range of rich blacks, set off by white wooden frames. The darkest tones recall Caravaggio’s trademark deep shadows, while the shapes of “Conversation #1 (Red)” resemble the folds of classical drapery. It’s as though Belmar has burrowed into small patches of the Italian master’s dramatic compositions.

The paintings also feature Belmar’s usual circles and dashed lines, which suggest charts, diagrams and stylized renderings of stars and solar systems. Two horizontal “trainscapes” in blue and red conjure a sense of motion, inspired by the journey to the former Washingtonian’s current home in the Hudson River Valley. The show departs symbolically from 16th-century Italy and ends up, somewhat more literally, in Poughkeepsie.

Joan Belmar: Beguiled by Caravaggio Through July 21 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington.

Interlude #2, 2014**
Acrylic, ink, Mylar, vinyl, & gouache on plywood


Detail from Joan Belmar’s “Time/Space.” (Joan Belmar/American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center)




The Washington Post

By Mark Jenkins October 5,2017




Sondra N. Arkin’s “Installation Detail,” at the American University Museum. (Sondra N. Arkin/American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center)

Jefferson Place Gallery and Arkin, Belmar & Early


For an immersion in contemporary D.C. art, “Twist Layer Pour” divides the museum’s second floor among three minimalist, site-specific installations.

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Mary Early fills the tricky area with the curved wall with hundreds of identical segments of yellow wax, neatly arranged on the floor or tied together and suspended vertically.

At the other end are Sondra N. Arkin’s black-wire sculptures, some also dangling; their white backdrops capture the complex shadows cast by the skeletal forms.

Between is Joan Belmar’s exploration of circular forms, some of which wrap a rounded pillar.

The off-the-shelf ingredients include LEDs, silver mirror film and clear plastic cups, but they combine into an interplanetary environment.

Making a Scene: Jefferson Place Gallery and Twist Layer Pour: Sondra N. Arkin, Joan Belmar, Mary Early On view through Oct. 22 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 202-885-1300.

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