Show focuses on abstract printmaking

December 04, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

Printmaking is alive and well, and so is abstraction, in the Maryland Institute's latest show, "Collector's Choice: A Selection from Bob Blackburn's Printmaking Workshop."

Blackburn, a member of the Institute faculty and a printmaker himself, has a workshop in New York. The show has been selected from his collection of the prints made there by a number of artists, and his taste tends toward abstraction.

Among the artists, we will all recognize Grace Hartigan, whose lithograph "Butterfly Woman" has her characteristic dynamic energy, fluid line, color sense and vivid imagery.

The other names here are less well known (at least to us), but they include a number of artists to be reckoned with. Joan Vennum's etching "Zaans," with its liquid shapes oozing down the sheet past two triangles, has a complex presence in which sensuality is played off against intellectuality and pure abstraction against the resonance of history.

Leo Manso's lithograph/collage "Untitled" is abstract, too, but has its own resonances. Its central shape, primarily in bold red, suggests a uniformed man with arms upraised, and the inclusion of a piece of paper, written on in Italian in an old, flowing script, adds an unmistakable period flavor. Somehow, Napoleon comes through, but it isn't necessary to "see" such an allusion to admire this in purely visual terms.

Intensity of color, specifically of yellow, marks Christos Gianakos'etching "Untitled, Aurora Series"; the form of a ladder in black seems to have been burned into the yellow like a brand. Herman Cherry's monoprint "Untitled #2," another abstract work, imparts a sense of deep feeling.

"Collector's Choice" runs through Dec. 17 in the thesis gallery, Fox Building, Maryland Institute College of Art, Mount Royal and Lafayette avenues. Call (410) 669-9200.

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Daniel Wilkinson's paintings, at Towson State where he is a visiting artist, suggest what happens to a memory (say, of a place) in the mind over time. All sorts of things inhabit these works, from recognizable forms such as a tree or a car seat to abstract passages, and light and space sometimes seem related to the image and sometimes seem like independent entities.

These work best when there appears to be an overall organization imposed, as with "Through the Banister" or "Red Tree." Others, however, such as "Roe" or "Segesta," are simply too confused for their own good.

The exhibit runs through Dec. 11 at the Fine Arts Center, Osler and Cross Campus drives, Towson State University. Call (410) 830-2808.

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