When seen together, as they can be now at Towson State, the surfaces of Mia Halton's and Ruth Pettus' paintings play off each other in a way that shows the strength of each artist.
Both are heavily worked, but Halton's surfaces emphasize the frenetic jollity of her paintings, like people continuously high on the pace of urban life. Her scratches and lurches and careenings go with the crowding of her canvases with figures and partial figures, nudging each other into corners and vying for attention as if they were a bunch of upstaging brats. You can't make a whole lot of logical sense out of Halton's pictures, and partly for that reason, you can't help liking them. They seem to be saying that maybe there's too much sense around anyway. Her titles can add to the effect: "Art Is So Real But Lunch Is So Vague," for instance.
By contrast, Pettus' hand seems broad, heavy, expressive, in the grip of some deep emotion, and that only emphasizes the ominous tone of her paintings of men, singly or in groups. Looking at her "Man With Raincoat," one is reminded of the phrase "the banality of evil." Looking at her "The Hearing," one knows that these blank faces are in the process of doing something unconscionable in a completely conscienceless way. That Pettus' paintings feature men, they can be seen to refer to men, but they also have broader implications for the world at large, the things that people do to one another.