Marta's works show what fine things can be done with a pencil

May 30, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

Since drawing is the most direct and can be the most exciting of all art media, and given the many fine artists around here who draw, the Life of Maryland Gallery had a wonderful opportunity with "The Drawing Show" (through Aug. 9) to give us something of substance, something meaty, something we could get our teeth into and chew on like a good rich pot roast.

Instead, it has given us little peppermint sticks of art, the innocuously illustrational, the kind of thing whose chief rewards lie in recognizing the landmarks in the downtown scene or marveling at how realistic such-and-such looks down to the smallest detail. As it has at other times, this gallery has managed to put together a show of quite remarkable blandness.

It's a rare show, however, that doesn't provide some glimmer of light; among the company she finds herself in here, Diana Marta shines like a lighthouse beam. Her pencil and oil stick drawings ++ have dynamics, texture, mood and a real feel for the individual medium.

Of the pencil drawings, "The Bridge That's Formed" achieves an onrush of movement which encompasses traffic, bridge and a monument, and there is the feel of white midday light in "Visitation." Among the oil stick drawings, the traffic lights of "Red Lights" swim pulsingly against a background sea of green glass building, and the diptych "Street" possesses a nice range of textures and colors and a sense of tense quiet.

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Sculptors, Inc. is a diverse group of artists whose works range from the steadfastly traditional to those that march to a more contemporary drummer. City Hall curator Jeanne March Davis says that in choosing works from this group for the current "Transformations" show at the City Hall Courtyard Galleries (through June 27), there was an attempt to demonstrate the diversity this group encompasses, and in that sense the show is entirely successful.

It contains everything from the monumental male nude to the stylized head to abstraction; from wood and stone to neon; from the modeled to the constructed. It at least shows what a variety of processes and products are clustered under the umbrella of sculpture these days. And it has its standouts in D. Scott Cahlender's concrete, steel and cable "Bow," a piece of tensely balanced understatement, and two of Gagik Aroutiunian's at once anthropomorphic and other-worldly looking creatures from his "Traveler and His Road" series.

The walls of the galleries have been painted to resemble a sky with clouds for this exhibition, a happy thought.

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