In his 1955 book "Six Maryland Artists," Alton Parker Balder wrote of the "grotesque creatures, terrifying scenes, and monstrous physiognomies" in Glenn Walker's art, and of an "inner violence" as "the major source of [his] creative drive."
You would never know he was talking about the artist whose pleasant enough but bland and sometimes repetitive paintings, watercolors and pastels make up a large part of his current retrospective at Artshowcase.
Most of these are from the 1970s and 1980s and, of course, artists do change. It's not evident that Walker (1927-1988) got better as he changed from the artist of Balder's words to the artist of the above-cited works, who seems late in life to have been suffering from a certain amount of creativity fatigue.
The same is not true of Walker's pen and pencil drawings, and fortunately there are a good number in this show. One can see the "inner violence" coming out in "The Funny Man" (1970s), who has a dagger in his heart, as well as in the early "And May God Have Mercy on His Soul" (1950s), a picture of a hanging with a group of leering spectators.
Many of the drawings are simply figure studies, including a number of nudes, but in them Walker reveals an interesting line and a versatility of approach that keep them lively and at times pointed. From the soft line and fleshy tones of "Seated Nude" (1950s) to the sharply observed "Female" (1980s), these
drawings comprise by far the best part of this retrospective.
"Glenn Walker Retrospective" runs through Dec. 28 at Artshowcase, 336 N. Charles St. Call (410) 783-0007.