The current Maryland Institute, College of Art faculty show is ++ one of the strongest in years, but it also suffers from a sense of isolation from the world around it.
Everyone knows the institute has a faculty of thorough professionals, so high-quality work isn't remarkable. It's expected. But this year's show is especially rewarding; the artists, with few exceptions, appear to have made an effort to show really good work. Even those familiar with their work will be impressed.
Among the impressive are Jann Rosen-Queralt, Michael Economos (whose painting "Homage to Joe C.," for recently deceased poet and faculty member Joseph Cardarelli, shows the emotion that went into it), Paul Napoleon Moscatt, Michelle La Perriere, Susan Waters-Eller, Babe Shapiro and Timothy App (whose "Dirge," also for Cardarelli, communicates emotion in its own abstract, understated way).
There also are some new names (at least ones I don't remember) who have contributed notable works. Piper Shepard's "Carrier," a wooden construction bearing stacked printed cloth in front of a large gray and blue drawing, achieves a mood of great serenity and welcomes contemplation. And Tonia Matthews' big print, "Paper Scissors Rock," is beautifully realized, especially in its contrasts of light and dark.
So, on one level it's a real pleasure to look at this show. But if you remain for a while, the feeling may gradually creep over you that there's not a lot of work that gets down and wrestles with such things as gender, race, poverty, war, the city, the environment or interpersonal relationships.
That's not to say any of these artists ought to deal with such things. An artist must express what's in him or her to express; to force something that's not there inevitably results in bad art.
But the show as a whole feels distanced and cool. Maybe that's one reason why David Krueger's "The Glossy Ibis" packs such a wallop. This is a big, ugly, gutsy painting, with an enormous bird dripping fishing lures from its body and dwarfing the fishermen in tiny boats at its feet. I'm not sure what it means. Maybe it's saying that nature will have its revenge on those who ravage it just for fun. Or maybe it's making a more general point -- that all we're doing to the world will create a race of monsters to destroy us. Anyway, Krueger's painting reaches out and grabs you by the lapels and gives you a shake. When you come out of this show you'll remember that picture.
What: Maryland Institute, College of Art Faculty Exhibit
Where: Mount Royal Station building, Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street; Fox building, Mount Royal and Lafayette avenues
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays), noon to 5 p.m. Sundays; through Nov. 6
Call: (410) 225-2300