Gardner stands out among Loyola's 'Four Artists'

April 20, 1994|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

Of the four artists in a stimulating exhibit currently at Loyola, Symmes Gardner is represented by the fewest works but makes the biggest impression. His paintings, with their active, expressionist brush stroke, tactile surfaces, strong light and imposing forms, grab hold of the viewer and won't let go.

In the largest of them, "Sleep," a lone figure lies sleeping in a field under a gray sky. The figure is big and bear-like, but in its unclothed state it also projects a vulnerability that belies its size.

That is the most ambitious of Gardner's works here, but his smaller canvases are just as impressive. The still life "Vine and Sheaf," thanks to its light and solid forms, has a startling carrying power. When you're up close, you respond to its active surface; but look at it from across the gallery and it hits you with added force. And "Earth," which shows a shovel on a rectangle of earth, also has considerable force. In these two paintings Gardner puts his objects up close to the picture plane, so what you see is thrust at you. It almost inhabits your space, giving it major presence.

Of the other artists, Richard Sober's 18 small canvases combine rich color with the dreamlike imagery and odd juxtapositions of surrealism. In "Back Porch," the porch is really a deck, with an eye staring at us out of the top of a table, while the left side of the picture offers a slightly skewed view of an interior in a way that's vaguely reminiscent of Dutch 17th century paintings.

In "Blue Ghost Chasing Pink Horse," the subjects of the title appear on a painting sitting on a platform that's rolling through someone's living room on railroad tracks. Sober's paintings are intriguing -- they appear nonsensical on the surface, but they also hint at meanings that lurk just out of the viewer's grasp.

Of Ben Marcin's photographs, his color infra-red prints are of some interest, but his best works are a group of photos in which a partition bisects the picture plane vertically.

Michael Iampieri creates, in watercolor and colored pencil, odd-looking creatures that pair off, sometimes row upon row of them marching along in cadences that make engagingly patterned surfaces. These are works of considerable charm.

ART REVIEW

What: "Four Artists"

Where: Art Gallery, Loyola College, North Charles Street and Cold Spring Lane

When: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays, through April 29

Call: (410) 617-2799

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