Ellen Burchenal's paintings among noteworthy works at local galleries

June 20, 1991|By Mike Giuliano | Mike Giuliano,Special to The Evening Sun

Ellen Burchenal's exhibit of recent paintings and works on paper at the C. Grimaldis Gallery's Charles Street location continues her exploration of two concerns: how volumetric forms can also seem nearly organic, and how those shapes can nearly seem three-dimensional against the flat surface.

Her new work shows career development, though, because she is now expressing herself more freely in the assertiveness of her colors and their application. Likewise her interest in layering fields of color now seems more emotional, as in her painting "Cloud (Blue & Orange)," which includes some informal drips.

This artist also has another show in town this month, "Doors and Windows," in Gallery II of the School 33 Art Center. Some of these works, done earlier than the pieces at Grimaldis, give a good idea of how she developed her vocabulary of lozenge-shaped forms in gridded arrangements. Among her newer pieces in the School 33 show is the mixed-media "Cloud With Prop," in which there is an atmospheric drawing on the wall and a mesh sculpture extending like an appendage from the drawing down to the floor. Here, her dialogue between two-dimensional and three-dimensional mediums is made quite literal without being any less interesting in its directness.

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Mark Barry's deliberately naive paintings of city scenes haven't always charmed me as much as others, but he seems to be coming into his own with his current show at the Knight Gomez Gallery. The skewed perspectives and the insistent flatness of his figuration are just right for his painting on paper "Combo," in which a baggy-suited jazz trio is depicted in much the same manner as the almost geometric shapes denoting its instruments. Another appealing painting, "The Rug Cutters," features a dancing couple whose extreme tilting won't seem at all exaggerated to anyone who has ever gotten carried away on the dance floor.

Sharing the gallery with Barry is sculptor Raya Bodnarchuk, who is more impressive with her larger, floor-standing bronze and wood figurative sculptures than with her much smaller table-top pieces. There are strong folkloric associations to her almost life-size human figures; their reductive forms are solid, sleek, calm and eternal. Humanity will survive so long as they are around.

Exhibiting in the office gallery of Knight Gomez is photographer Harry Connolly, whose black-and-white portraits of kids in Patterson Park remind you of why baseball brings a smile to the face.

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If you want to get an alley view of Baltimore's old row-house neighborhoods, consider the paintings of Crystal Moll at the Katzenstein Gallery. When a telephone line-crossed alley is your vantage point, you see a porch here, a "cropped" window there, and everywhere narrow buildings that can't afford to be any larger.

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Artshowcase, a slide registry service that puts its clients in touch with Maryland artists, has temporarily taken over the former Dalsheimer Gallery on North Charles Street for an exhibit by 12 artists. Although the exhibited work tends more to the decorative than to the challenging, it sure is nice to once again have art on display in what was a familiar stop on the Baltimore gallery circuit. Artshowcase curator J.E. Dockery says a longer term arrangement is a possibility at this site.

"Ellen Burchenal: Recent Paintings and Works on Paper" remains at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, at 523 N. Charles Street, through June 29. Call 539-1080. Burchenal's exhibit "Doors and Windows" runs at the School 33 Art Center, at 1427 Light Street, through July 12. Call 396-4641.

Mark Barry, Raya Bodnarchuk and Harry Connolly exhibit at the Knight Gomez Gallery, at 836 Leadenhall St., through June 29. Call 752-2080.

Crystal Moll's paintings remain at the Katzenstein Gallery, at 729 E. Pratt St., through June 30. Call 727-0748.

Artshowcase is presenting an exhibit at 336 N. Charles St.

through June 29. Call 783-0007.

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