Victor Kerpel's "Inside the Gold Mine" is a harrowing scene of people using drugs in a dark, dingy room. From the title, it would seem that these are people who deal drugs as well as take them, who have a "gold mine" but whose lives are as desperate as those they victimize. It's a scene right out of today, but the style is realistic and the medium oil on canvas, about as traditional as you can get. Moreover, it's shown together with two studies, another bow to traditional art practice.
In a way, this painting is typical of "The Gathering Storm" at Maryland Art Place. Curated by artist and educator Joe Lewis, it's a show about issues -- of gender, race, religion, etc. -- but by and large the works in it are not angry or confrontational. They tend to look at the awfulness of drug culture and war and even sexual abuse with a matter-of-factness; and in some of them there is even a valedictory note for a world, or a life, or an innocence -- or even a kind of art making -- that is of the past or soon will be.
The title of the show refers to Winston Churchill's volume about the time when we were all sliding into the apocalypse of World War II, and the show has about it the feeling of things coming to an end. Plug in Peter Quinn's "Counting Stick" and an odometer starts to spin so fast you can't see all the numbers. This could be time, or life, or life as we know it, running by so fast that it's impossible to hang on.