It is almost as if John Raimondi's thoughts flew all the way back to that great classical sculpture at the Louvre, "Winged Victory of Samothrace," as he made his stainless steel "Grace." A victorious angel in her slender and soaring manner, "Grace" is among the svelte pieces Raimondi is displaying at the C. Grimaldis Gallery Sculpture Space.
There is much to like about the smoothness of design in these upward-flowing sculptures, even if that immediate gratification doesn't prompt any prolonged contemplation. At his best, Raimondi manages to be assertive without losing the sinewy character of his abstracted figuration. The bronze "Eurus," for instance, curves its way up with determined grace. By thinking thin in this and other pieces, Raimondi can make the metal feathery tips of an angel's or a crane's wing seem like paper cutouts.
Those who spend more time in December at shopping malls than at art galleries can still familiarize themselves with Raimondi, because there are also three large sculptures by him on display at the Village of Cross Keys. It's a bit odd to see them amid white light-covered little pine trees and twig-constructed reindeer, but they still manage to hold their own in this upscale market square.
Meanwhile, another "Grace," namely the distinguished artist Grace Hartigan, is showing new paintings and watercolors at the C. Grimaldis Gallery. An abstract artist who has long been intrigued by how her non-figurative training can inform figuration, Hartigan lets her brush drip, splash and explode across the figurative lines more here than in her figurative series from earlier in the '80s.
In "Les Tuileries," heavy black lines are powerfully used to outline sailboats, but the lines are broken and the watery surface is alive with color. The reliance on definitional line breaks down much more in "West Broadway," in which we sense the presence of human figures while also realizing that what was once clearly there has now been partly rubbed out and splashed over with red paint. In "Notre Dame," one can still make out those famous cathedral towers in Paris, but the architectural line is often obscured by purple and red spotting.
Definitional form really gives way to abstraction in a painting like "Central Park," where the varying shades of green almost make it seem like an aerial map made high above Manhattan.
Although the exhibit of Hartigan's latest work is into its final days at the Grimaldis Gallery, the month ahead amounts to a Hartigan celebration around Baltimore.
There is an exhibit honoring her 25 years as a teacher at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The opens at the institute with a reception tonight from 5:30 to 6:30 and then runs through Dec. 31. Also, the Baltimore Museum of Art is exhibiting her complete prints from Tues. to Feb. 24. And those who want to get a scholarly fix on Hartigan can pick up the just-published book on her career, Robert S. Mattison's "Grace Hartigan, a Painter's World."
Recent sculpture and works on paper by John Raimondi may be seen at the C. Grimaldis Gallery Sculpture Space, at 1006 Morton St., through Dec. 29. Call 539-1092. New paintings and works on paper by Grace Hartigan remain at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, at 523 N. Charles St., through Saturday. Call 539-1080.