School 33 juried exhibition falls short of lasting appeal

March 22, 1994|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

Some shows grow in the mind with time, and some diminish. An example of the latter is School 33's spring 1994 juried exhibition, which brings together five artists whose work, for the most part, has more immediate than lasting appeal.

The juror was Alice Yang, assistant curator at New York's New Museum for Contemporary Art. She contributes an essay that tries -- and fails -- to pull the artists together under one umbrella. Yang states that she did not intend to create a theme show, but after selecting the artists she realized that "from various perspectives, they are all responding to the theme of the body and its organic metaphors."

That argument gets stretched too far, however, until it snaps like a rubber band. Claudia McDonough's abstract paintings, Yang says, respond to the theme of the body because they're "scaled to human height." Oh, come now.

Let's put that far-fetched notion aside and deal with these artists as individuals.

Gale Jamieson uses women's stockings to simple but telling effect. In "Interlacement," dozens of stockings cascade to the floor from a coat hanger hung on the wall. They create a sense of of generational succession. They look like a dress worn by someone long gone. They speak of loss and of vulnerability, but at the same time of perseverance and strength.

An untitled piece by Jamieson consists of a row of stockings hung from the wall, each one bunched up in places and tied with thread. It has something to say about the conflicting pulls of individuality and community, and the fragile balance we all establish between the two.

Garry Mitchell's small paintings, some on canvas and some on board, contain colorful organic shapes that look as if they're moving, floating across the surface in the effort to coalesce into something more recognizable. It's impossible not to respond to Mitchell's layered, sensual surfaces. His better images, such as the ones numbered 16 and 20 in this show (all are untitled), deserve respect. But there's a contrived, facile air to others.

Claudia McDonough stretches printed fabrics on a frame and then paints them; the fabrics' designs disappear under the paint, but add extra depth and texture to the image. The three dark-hued paintings here are the more effective ones. These are attractive but not profound paintings.

Mia Lyren coats her body with ink and then presses it against paper, leaving the impression of a nude. This is a device, and by the time one has seen the four works here its freshness has become worn. Guy Overfelt's paintings, related to industry and technology -- with machine-like images and diagrams -- might mean more in another context; here, they seem out of place.


What: Spring 1994 Juried Exhibition

Where: School 33 Art Center, 1427 Light St.

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through April 22

Call: (410) 396-4641

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