School 33 moves work of eight artists from the studio to show space

August 15, 1991|By Mike Giuliano | Mike Giuliano,Special to The Evening Sun

Eight artists who maintain studios at the School 33 Art Center are also sharing a group exhibit in its main gallery. For the public, it's a welcome opportunity to see some of the artwork made here; for the artists, it must have been nice during this scorching summer to have to carry their work only from second floor studios down to the first floor gallery.

The one photographer in the bunch, Michela S. Caudill, is represented by a black-and-white photographic series, "Portrait of a Law Firm," that has promising intentions it can't quite pull off.

Caudill says in an artist's statement: "I have deliberately avoided the formal poses and stylized portraits which typify corporate photography." Instead, she wanted to capture the more mundane daily activity in the Baltimore law firm of Semmes Bowen & Semmes.

Some of the resulting photos are austerely composed, as in one shot of shelved computer discs and another shot of a receptionist isolated in her middle of the office "island." Other shots offer glimpses through the windows of the downtown skyline just beyond this seemingly self-contained business world. And still other shots of lawyers include such prominent civic activists as Thomas Waxter and David Daneker.

Although these shots prove Caudill's thematic versatility and documentary competence, her series is disappointing in that the office routine is not established in a thorough manner. Also, there is not much psychological insight offered by the portraits of lawyers and office staff.

Among the exhibiting painters, Nicholas Corrin's oil painting "As the Crow Flies" is an abstract landscape in which his brushwork is expressive to the point of anger.

Similar in her tendency to pictorial allusion rather than outright depiction is Diane Kuthy, whose oil on paper "Many Moons" has moon-like orbs partially veiled by paint layers in the upper half of the painting, while the bottom half is comprised of a black and yellow checkerboard pattern that is also washed over with paint. In her planetary orb-filled work, one gets the feeling that if there is a geometric order to the universe, it is partly obscured.

Murray Taylor's bluntly figurative acrylic painting "Importance" is clearer by way of presentation, but no clearer in terms of absolute meaning. He depicts a man on a bench, with a woman standing behind him, both clad in swimwear-type clothing. There is a contemplative silence in this couple that seems almost sad. If their expressions are less animated than the painterly strokes used for the green grass in front of them, that's quite deliberate. Another Taylor painting in the show, "Floater," depicting a drowned man in a pool, reinforces the bleak reading of his subjects.

Alexandra Semionova's charcoal, ink and acrylic on paper, "The Flight," is an ominous downward look at a generic grouping of buildings that seem less than inviting. This sense of imminent threat also comes through in her "Fate Lays the Last Card," in which shrouded figures play a card game in which one would not want to be the loser.

Scott Ponemone's three-panel acrylic painting "Red Tide" is an intriguing high angle look down on a crowd gathered in a red carpeted lobby. Our attention is drawn to the tops of their heads as much as to their faces. It's too bad that Ponemone, unlike his studio colleagues, is only represented by a single piece in this show.

Helen Sharkey's black-and-white paper collages are related to her recent sculpture. The pictographic references to African and northern European myths and primitive art are conveyed better in some collages than in others.

In his grouping of mostly small sculptures, John Hayes typically relies on modernist tactics for presenting an abstracted torso, but his sculptural vocabulary is not distinctive.

The Studio Artists Exhibition remains at the School 33 Art Center, at 1427 Light St., through Aug. 23. Call 396-4641.

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