A BAUhouse best: 'Fear'

January 22, 1993|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

The announcement this week that the BAUhouse must vacate its present space was sad news. I know little about the performance aspect of its activities, but as an art gallery the BAUhouse has been consistently dedicated to presenting emerging artists. If the success of its shows has been varied, the ideas behind them have usually been interesting, and the space is good for showing art.

What makes the news all the sadder is that the latest and last show at this location, "Intimacy of Fear," is one of the best. Fear as the subject of an art show might seem a little strange, but at a time when much art deals with the expression of inner feelings a subject such as this could not be more appropriate. The show is so pleasing partly because of strong work and partly because it explores different fears, what curators Pat Creswell and Michelle Lamuniere call tangible and intangible fears.

"Tangible" doesn't, of course, mean the fear itself is tangible, but a fear of such possibilities in the outside world as nuclear war, environmental destruction, or violent death. Among the strongest of the works in this category is A. Scott Harmon's "Duende" (meaning the dwarf), in which figures with death's-head-like visages are topped with buildings spouting black smoke. Harmon's expressive brush stroke and thick impasto reinforce the strength of this image, one of the best in the show.

Patricia Waldygo's "He Is Warned of His Impending Death" and Victoria Britton's "Untitled" deal with the fear of violent death, while Howard Lee Theile's "Lodz Ghetto Inmate with Soup Ration" reflects the fear of persecution.

More of these works, however, deal with fears that have more to do with psychological states than with physical possibilities. Ted P. Metzler's "Dissolution Anxiety I" and "Dissolution Anxiety II," also among the best works here, show a figure in a narrow space pushing against the walls. We sense that the fear is not of actual walls that may close in, but of loss of the sense of self in a world that increasingly threatens to swallow up individuality and identity.

The title of Shayne L. Hull's "I'm Gonna Get Killed" may sound as if the work is also about violent death, but the image itself, of a staring individual with hand to face, is so strongly reminiscent of the condemned man in Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" that it's obvious this is about fear of one's capacity for evil.

Cathleen M. Cavanagh's "Untitled," a sculpture of the upper part of a woman in a cage, reflects the fear not so much of being physically caged but of being mentally pigeonholed or stereotyped, either by oneself or others. Sara Glik's "House on Tobacco Farm," unlike most of the works here, contains no human presence but is a photograph of a tumbledown house overrun with weeds. In this context it's an effective statement of the fear of mental and physical decay.

We need the BAUhouse, so here's hoping it finds a new home soon.

"Intimacy of Fear"

Where: The BAUhouse, 1713 N. Charles St.

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays; noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Through Feb. 20.

Call: (410) 659-5520.

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