Artshowcase mounts eclectic exhibit

September 16, 1992|By Robert Haskins | Robert Haskins,Contributing Writer

The Esseff Foundation -- named for Maryland philanthropists Drs. Peter and Mary Esseff, who founded it last year -- provides funds to assist artists at the beginning of their careers and to bring the work of established artists to this area. To benefit the foundation, Artshowcase has mounted a handsome exhibition of diverse works by 20 artists working in fine, illustrative and decorative genres.

As might be expected, this show is extremely eclectic; at times, shockingly so. For instance, the surreal, Magritte-like acrylics of John Pacovsky -- whose illustrative work for Absolut Vodka makes his artworks immediately recognizable -- are the first works to see, and set a raucous tone.

Almost immediately, however, this tone is dispelled by Sister Cor Immaculatum Heffernan's "Holy, Holy, Holy" -- a pair of bronze sculptures whose execution and spiritual imagery evoke a dignified and radiant stillness. Such contrasts between material, mode of expression, and imagery continue throughout the exhibit.

At the more entertaining end of the spectrum, the prints of Dennis Corrigan are outstanding. Some, like "Chuck's Strange Nasal Device," are darkly humorous in the way a malevolent Gary Larson might be, but a little too obvious. Mr. Corrigan's color prints are more successful. In "Three Men Holding a Grudge," for instance, the artist's imagery is more subtle and fantastic, but without sacrificing any of his acerbic wit.

Other works in the exhibit are even more thought-provoking. Lazlo Dus' lithograph "Ragyoyas," for instance, is a meditative .. essay in texture with a limited range of color.

Equally stunning is an aquatint with etching by Diana Hansen, "Epomeo." Ms. Hansen's style is influenced by American Indian motifs and modern European masters, but her unique synthesis of these influences is fluent and powerful.

In the rear gallery are smaller exhibits by three of Artshowcase's resident artists. Bim Jones is a promising young artist who produces haunting landscapes in pastels on a wide variety of surfaces. Sue Ashley's more abstract silk paintings are marvels in composition and texture. Finally, Jean Fulton's imaginative water colors -- some of which draw upon the imagery of mythic Eastern goddesses meant to evoke the artist's mother and grandmother -- are alternately enigmatic and good-humored.

Esseff Foundation and solo exhibits

What: Esseff Foundation for the Arts Benefit Collection (main gallery); solo exhibits by Sue Ashley, Jean Fulton and Bim Jones (rear gallery).

Where: Artshowcase, 336 N. Charles St.

When: Through Sept. 26.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Call: (410) 783-0007.

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