Two-person show has aura of mystery


February 12, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

As one big open space, looking much better than when divided in two, Towson State University's Holtzman Gallery plays good host to a compatible two-person show (through March 3) of Daniel Brown's ceramic sculpture and Carmen Robb's big drawings, the latter done on site. A review must give the title of the exhibit, in this case "Sight * Sign (The Verb)," but trying to figure out what that means would probably be a waste of time.

Brown's six pedestal sculptures, set in a row down the middle of the gallery, present a mysterious, connoted rather than denoted narrative. Each is an exact rendering of a situation, but each is enigmatic; together, they imply an odysseylike journey with a beginning and an end, but they leave out more than they spell out.

The third of the six, for instance, is called, "From the conversation, he knew there had to be an entrance somewhere." It shows a beached boat, and on the beach a small figure confronting two pairs of feet, both larger than he is. Is this Gulliver arriving in Brobdingnag, or Everyman arriving in heaven, or something else altogether? Like the others in the series, it's an intriguing piece in whichgood craftsmanship supports the work of art.

Carmen Robb pinned big pieces of paper to the gallery's walls and drew on them in the month of January. She's a good draftsman, and this set of drawings represents a kind of tour de force of elements -- people, animals, architecture, shifting perspectives, references to earlier art such as Thomas Eakins' rowers.

Unlike Brown's sculptures, thesedrawings do not appear to form a connected narrative, but are discrete. One looks for a point here in vain, except that Robb evidently enjoyed making these drawings and we can enjoy the results.*

The "1991 Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition" at the School for the Arts (through March 27) brings us some familiar and some less familiar work. Among the former are Rodney Carroll's sculptures, of which the best here is the largest, "Between the Lines"; he gets a lot out of the interplay of manmade steel and natural wood.

Stephen D. Kent's works of mixed media and found objects are arresting. "Foucault's Pendulum" and "Cracle" probe the history of art and science to present neat, handsome puzzles. Michelle La Perriere combines two-dimensional work (painting, drawing) with found objects that bridge the gap between the painting's illusionism and the viewer's real space.

Mention must be made of Volker Schoenfliess' sculpture "Elvis on a Half Shell," which refers of course to Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," but is also reminiscent of Rubens with the rock star surrounded by putti, each of which is a little pompadoured Elvis. Art seldom gets much funnier than this.

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