Maryland Institute exhibit lacks depth


October 07, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic


Another year, another Maryland Institute, College of Art faculty show.

Same artists. Same kind of work. Same review.

These are thoroughly professional people, some are very good artists indeed, they are admirably qualified to teach their disciplines, but there's not a lot that's especially original or exciting in this show. If that sounds familiar, you've read it (or words to that effect) here on more than one occasion in the past. Which only goes to show that I'm as unoriginal and unexciting as the faculty show.

I don't have anything new to say about Doug Baldwin, Dan Dudrow, Grace Hartigan, Michael Economos, Raoul Middleman, Jann Rosen-Queralt or most of the other familiar names here -- at least based on one work apiece. And since the familiar names are by and large doing better work than the unfamiliar names, I don't really have anything to say at all.

Or yes, I do have something to say about the faculty show as a concept. The trouble with it, from the point of view of both the viewer and the artists, is this business of presenting one work apiece by 70 or so artists.

If the artist seems to be doing the same thing, you give it the quick glance and go on. If the artist seems to be doing something different, that's interesting; but how can you tell for sure whether or not it's an advance based on one work?

OC Take two artists here. Rex R. Stevens' "The Rawhide Kid" is com

pletely different from anything of his I can remember seeing before, and since it looks like a pseudo Lichtenstein I'm tempted to wonder why he's given up his own voice to imitate someone else's. But maybe as part of a body of work it makes sense.

Charles McGill, a painter I've much admired in the past, weighs in with "Seven Years," which has the look of a hastily slapped together piece of self-indulgence; it makes me want to see more if for no other reason than to be reassured that he hasn't gone soft.

The Institute's recent sabbatical show, which featured a few artists in some depth, was much better than

this. Maybe it's impossible to do a faculty show and not have this kind of sprawl, but couldn't they do something like feature a quarter of this number each year on a rotating basis? Maybe have different disciplines represented in different years, so we might get a big chunk of something more or less homogeneous each time?

As it stands, about the only function the show fulfills is to allow 70 people to say they have works on view. Perhaps the idea is that the eager collector will come upon a work he likes, call up the artist, go to the studio, see the work in depth and make the artist rich. If so, I wonder how often it happens.

Or perhaps the idea is that the students will be able to see works by all the faculty so they can decide whom they would like to study with. In which case, fine, but then it's a show for the Institute, not for the public.

The faculty exhibit is in the Decker Gallery of the Mount Royal Station building and the Meyerhoff Gallery in the Fox Building through Nov. 3. Call 225-2300.

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