Maryland Art Place show extends diversity to a fault

February 02, 1994|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

With two sculptors, a photographer, a printmaker, a painter and two artists collaborating on an installation, the "Maryland on View" show currently at Maryland Art Place is all over the place.

The show -- part of an ongoing series showcasing emerging arts --doesn't have a theme, so one can't expect overall unity. But less diversity of medium would have produced a less fragmented appearance.

The quality of these artists on display is as diverse as the media in which they work. Xaiojia Peng's wooden sculptures are strong, especially "Machicolate Nephroid," which suggests a medieval parapet, a kidney-shaped swimming pool and a futuristic space ship -- thus combining references to past, present and future ages in one simple, elegant form.

Chris Mona's brooding woodcuts are also rewarding. They have an end-of-the-world appearance. The people in them look as if they're desperately, and unsuccessfully, trying to enjoy themselves in the face of impending doom.

Joseph Gillette's black and white photographs of rural Virginians don't pull any punches -- a row of enormous beer bellies, a drunken man leaning out of a car and bran dishing a gun -- but they only amount to a partial picture.

We need more than the 13 images here.

Most of Roberto Laureano's abstract paintings have dark borders surrounding window-like openings to areas of light-infused color. They suggest mystical, visionary experiences, but they are not deep. While visually pleasant, profound meaning escapes them.

Somewhat the same can be said of Michelle Lolli's sculptures, except that they are not visually pleasant.

Nor are they meant to be.

Made of various materials including plaster, wire, hemp and rubber and painted with acrylics, they project little more than a sense of gloominess.

Natalie Bookchin and Elizabeth Cohen have collaborated on an installation called "Circulation," in which the artists "examine the theme of women's work -- both within and outside the home," according to a MAP statement. But the objects grouped around the walls of this work -- such as a transparent raincoat with its pockets full of thimbles -- neither enhance nor distract attention from its centerpiece, a three-minute video of Bookchin fiercely whittling away at a carrot until it has been reduced to a stump.

The crude sexual symbolism of this act would be obvious even without the recent trial of Lorena Bobbitt. As it is, this amounts to cheap sensationalism that does credit to no one involved.

ART REVIEW

What: "Maryland on View"

Where: Maryland Art Place

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through March 12

Call: (410) 962-8565.

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