Three of the best-known contemporary artists associated with our area currently share wall space at the C. Grimaldis Gallery. "Maryland on the Map" features new work by Grace Hartigan and Eugene Leake and a selection of paintings by the late Keith Martin.
From her early years as an abstract expressionist painter in the heady New York art world of the 1950s through her subsequent decades as a painter and Maryland Institute faculty member in Baltimore, Grace Hartigan has proven time and again that it is possible for an artist to go through stylistic shifts and yet always remain herself.
In much of her recent work, strong black lines serve as figurative outlines that are filled in with cheerfully bright dots and splashes of hot pinks, reds, greens and yellows. Paintings such as "Garbo at Home" and "Plastic Animals" are typical of the energetic interplay between the suggested figures and the all-over painterly expressiveness. It seems especially appropriate, considering Greta Garbo's reclusive nature, that she does not, properly speaking, have a face in this quasi-portrait.
Eugene Leake, a former head of the Maryland Institute, College of Art who in retirement has been more vigorous than ever as a landscape painter, is becoming bolder and more varied with his brushwork.
In "Morning on Deer Creek" he conveys a solidity and a calmness in his depiction of trees and undergrowth. Look up to the pinkish sky, however, and notice how his touch is lighter and more gestural as one might expect in going from the ground to the air.
Leake continues to paint the modestly rolling hills of our region, but in recent years he has come up with such canvases as "Light Cloudy Sky" in which more square inches are being given over to brush-happy evocations of the atmosphere. And proof that his atmospheric concerns are capable of turning this realist into an impressionist can be seen in "Snow Fog," where the thick fog erases distinctions between ground and sky.
Keith Martin is represented by paintings and a collage that serve as a fair sample of his artistic interests over the years. Although the heavy lines and blocks of color in "The Furies" (1961) remain abstract, the dark tension in this painting may indeed put one in mind of the mythological Furies.
The surrealist edge to his career can be sensed in "Still Life" (1963-67), which presents dissected pictorial elements that are not quite recognizable, and "Metamorphosis" (1963), in which the suggestion of skulls and teeth is enough to get your imagination working on the rest of the picture.
Moving from "Maryland on the Map" at Grimaldis to another kind of MAP -- Maryland Art Place -- you can see what some of the up-and-coming artists in our area are up to in the current MAP group show. The exhibit "Critics' Picks" contains selections made by visiting critics Charles Biasiny-Rivera and David Carrier based on their trips to area artists' studios. This annual critics' residency program also includes workshops with local writers.
Represented in this worthwhile show are artists Mary Deacon Opasik, Luis Flores, Elizabeth Whitely, Sara Glik, Patricia A. O'Malley, Penny Harris, Henry Barrow, Louis Bowers, Ellen Burchenal, Susan Campbell, Holly Hoffman, Laura Wesley Ford, Connie Imboden, Jennifer La Chapelle, Betsy A. Damos, William D. Walter, Mary Ann Crowe, Chevelle Makeba Moore, Gina Pierleoni and Robert Salazar.
"Maryland on the Map" remains at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, at 1006 Morton St., through Sept. 28. Call 539-1080.
"Critics' Picks" may be seen at Maryland Art Place, at 218 W. Saratoga Street, through Aug. 24. Call 962-8565.