The Howard County Arts Council has been holding an annual statewide juried group show for seven years. This year, the show has made some changes. Formerly called "Maryland's Best," it's now titled "1990 Art Maryland" and will be held biennially, alternated with Howard County art shows.
The name change, at least, is fortunate, for it wouldn't do at all to call the current show (through Dec. 15) Maryland's best. The juror, Brian Wallis, a senior editor of Art in America, has picked some good works, but the overall tone of the show is banal and at times it sinks to the trite (as with Sara Meli's "Huntsman"), the pretty (Peggy Hawley's "Table Reflection"), the sentimental (Charles C. Larson's "Someday"), the gimmicky (John H. Glassie's "Portable Sarcophagus"), the obvious (Carl Clark's "Government Official"), the derivative (Michael Janouris' "Raining Jesus") and even the cloying (Gino Manelli's "Wedding").
Better to dwell on other works here. Deborah Souders' "Dream of Journey Through Rivers" displays a wonderful feeling for oil paint. The textured surfaces of Bill Tamburrino's "Winter Sunrise" are different from Souders' but also seductive. Joseph Davis' multipart "Requiem: Dancing in the Dark" is a bit obvious but manages to convey a sense of loss at once personal, generational and of civilizations.
James Colwell's "Don't Let Go" is, as usual for him, effective, but we've seen this painting before. Photography highlights include works by Mary Kunaniec Skeen, Tomoko Yamamoto and Dean C. Alexander. And there are works that one admires for their technical mastery, such as James Adkins' charcoal "Night Meeting III" and Mark Nardini's "Brothers."
"1990 Art Maryland" is being shown at the Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City (Mondays through Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). From Baltimore, take U.S. 40 West past the Beltway. Go to Rogers Avenue, turn right, and right again on High Ridge.
Another local juried group show, the BAUhouse's "BEAMS" (foBAUhouse Emerging Artist Multimedia Survey), may be uneven, but at least it doesn't beg for approval. It confronts you with works that stand up and demand to be noticed. And some of them definitely deserve to be noticed.
They include, but are not limited to, Robert Sholties' combined tour-de-force painting and environmental statement "Natural Causes," Ruth Pettus' painterly canvas, "Man in a Car," Susan Steinberg's untitled multimedia work that incorporates an actual window frame and appears to be a window on both personal and art history, and Tim Kirk's funny/frightening picture, "Jungle to Go," about the menace of creeping "civilization."
The problem with the BAUhouse (1713 N. Charles St., where the show runs through Nov. 23) is that the gallery is open only Tuesdays through Fridays 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and evenings during events (which are probably not the best viewing times). Those who would like to see the show another time should call Pat Creswell at 659-5520.