Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From the 'Valley of the Micro Bops' to Silver Spring

Restaurant hosts the work of photographer, character actor and musician Richard Edson

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J. Adam Fenster⁄The Gazette
Actor, musician and photographer Richard Edson of Los Angeles brought his exhibit ‘‘Beyond the Valley of the Micro Bops,” a series of extreme close-ups of children’s toys, to the backroom gallery at Jackie’s Restaurant in Silver Spring on Thursday night. At right is ‘‘Hippo,” a 24-by-36-inch archival pigment print on canvas that sold for $1,500.
About 50 people crowded into the backroom of Jackie’s Restaurant on Thursday night to see character actor and photographer Richard Edson’s exhibit of extreme close-ups, the second gallery show since the Silver Spring eatery opened its new arts space this spring.

Edson is most recognized for small but memorable roles in more than 70 films, such as his turn as a joyriding valet in ‘‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” one of King Koopa’s henchmen in ‘‘Super Mario Bros.” and John Turturro’s brother Vito in ‘‘Do the Right Thing.”

But few people know about another artistic endeavor that brought him to Jackie’s on Thursday. Edson said he took up photography at age 16, when he took a class at a local high school with a Nikon camera borrowed from his father.

His exhibit ‘‘Beyond the Valley of the Micro Bops,” a series of extreme close-ups of children’s toys, will be on display in the backroom of Jackie’s, 8081 Georgia Ave., through June 29.

‘‘It takes a lot of effort to capture moments. There’s just no way to control it. ... By doing this, by focusing in so close, I’m able to capture exactly what I want to,” said Edson, a Los Angeles resident, occasionally interrupted by fellow artists and curious visitors.

Over the last two months, owner Jackie Greenbaum has opened the back room of her restaurant to the public, with more regularly scheduled live music and theater performances. She said she was introduced to Edson’s work through Los Angeles-based curator and friend Annie Adjchavanich, who has also worked as a curator throughout Washington, D.C.

Greenbaum, who purchased Edson’s photographs of a toy hippo and cheetah for $1,500 apiece, said she was just starting with her plans for the space.

‘‘The restaurant is something that I’m very proud of, but this additional space allows me to express my creativity in a new way,” said Greenbaum, adding that she’d like to show her own artwork some day.

Adjchavanich met Edson at a gallery in Los Angeles, and said she wooed him by telling him she recognized him for his work on the photography scene, not for his film roles or gigs as a musician – Edson has played with bands Sonic Youth and Konk.

Edson said while many of those visiting Jackie’s on Thursday approached him about his work in other media, he preferred to focus on his photography that night.

‘‘What I’m doing at the time, that’s what I’m most passionate about,” he said.

Chevy Chase residents Richard Gould and Lena Skanby said at the opening they were drawn to Jackie’s that night both by Edson’s name and Adjchavanich, who they said is well-known throughout the region.

‘‘We don’t usually come up here so much,” Skanby said.

The next group coming through Jackie’s is the Stroyka Theater Company. The urban theater group performed ‘‘The Elephant Man” at Jackie’s last spring, and is returning next month with a production of ‘‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile.”