Little in the way of art, now on display at Towson

October 28, 1993|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

Not long ago I had a conversation with a friend in Philadelphia who asked about the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Her son was thinking of applying there and the two of them had just

visited the Institute. I said I hoped they had seen the current faculty exhibit, since I thought that would give them a good idea of the caliber of the faculty.

Were I a parent whose child was thinking of studying art, after seeing the current faculty exhibit at Towson State University I'd certainly hope he'd go somewhere else. It's hard to believe the Towson faculty puts its best foot forward in this show, but why they would want to exhibit less than their best is also a mystery. At any rate, for the most part the show is bland, unimaginative and boring, if not worse.

Most of the work is technically competent but unchallenging, and some of it leaves one puzzled to almost angry.

One strains to understand Ronald Cubbison's small graphite drawings called landscapes. Are they, perhaps, formally satisfying? Is there a sense of discovery in finding abstracted landscape elements? Do they come across as studies of light and shadow, or of line and volume? Do they have some emotional content? But they resist the advances of this viewer.

Cubbison's work at least invites curiosity, whereas the blurred and jumpy images of Haig Janian's photograph series come across as examples of pretentious self-indulgence. But this is not the worst.

That place of honor must go to Daniel Brown, who stuffed some paper in a cardboard box and called it "For Some Reason, and I Don't Know Why I Decided To Make This Sculpture From Paper." I'm not making this up and it isn't funny. But apparently neither Brown -- who's ordinarily an interesting ceramics artist -- nor anyone else at Towson realizes that people are going to look at this piece of nonsense and think it's representative of his work as an artist.

At least the show is not unrelievedly disappointing. Carmen Robb's "Self Portrait at the Drawing Table" shows her drawing skill, even if she has done better than this. Christopher Bartlett's two untitled paintings of waterside scenes possess the appeal his work has shown before.

Tom Supensky's ceramic creatures, especially the rodent in "In Need of Glasses," radiate genuine humor. Greg Moring's sculpture "Triangulation" shows him increasing his scale and working in rusted rather than painted steel; this piece is not an unqualified success, but it's a worthwhile attempt. And Laura Wesley Ford's six-panel abstract painting, "Untitled, For Helen," stands out for its colors, its rhythms, its logic within and between its elements, its forcefulness as an image.

But the Towson faculty has to be better than this exhibit as a whole indicates. It looks as if it was put together in slap-- fashion, and as if too many of the artists contributed any old thing. Don't they know that the interested public will judge them on the basis of this show?

ART REVIEW

What: Towson State University Art Faculty Exhibit

Where: Holtzman Gallery, Fine Arts Building, Osler and Cross Campus drives, Towson State University

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; through Nov. 6

Call: (410) 830-2808

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