Wall to Wall Exhibits: Curators mix and match to mark festival's 15th anniversary in an eclectic and fertile Baltimore style.

Artscape

July 17, 1996|By Mike Giuliano | Mike Giuliano,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Jacob Glushakow is considerably older than Artscape. This Baltimore painter celebrates his 82nd birthday next week, while Baltimore's annual arts celebration marks its 15th anniversary along the Mount Royal Avenue corridor this weekend.

It's never too late to make a debut, however, and Glushakow is about to participate in his first Artscape. As part of a 60-artist exhibit titled "A 15-Year Survey of Baltimore Art," Glushakow will be showing a 1994 oil painting of Hollins Market based on his memories of how it looked many years ago.

Among the visual arts exhibits in this year's edition of Artscape, the 15-year survey exhibit is the one where you're most likely to see an eclectic mixture of realistic paintings, abstract sculpture, mixed-media works and more.

Working in an entirely different manner than Glushakow, for instance, is sculptor Ralph R. Baney. An art professor at Dundalk Community College and Ellicott City resident, he has shown his sculpture in several previous Artscapes.

Baney's entry in the 15-year show is an abstract, carved mahogany sculpture, "Celebration of Life." He calls it "a very organic form with a very highly finished surface. I think the form itself should be dynamic and the craftsmanship should go along with the form. I go out of my way to bring out the inherent beauty of wood."

That Glushakow and Baney express themselves so differently is the very point of the exhibit. There is a large and eclectic artist population in Baltimore and no single style predominates. What the artists selected for this show do have in common is that "they have made a major contribution to the cultural community" over the past 15 years, according to Clair Segal, president of Artscape's organizer, Baltimore Festival of the Arts Inc.

And, by extension, Segal discusses the show in terms of how Artscape itself has grown over the years: "God knows we have more shows than ever and we show more artists and more diverse artists than before."

But if this sounds completely wonderful, consider the pragmatic worries of Gary Kachadourian, visual arts coordinator for Artscape, as earlier this week he oversaw installation of that survey in the Decker Gallery of the Maryland Institute, College of Art's Mount Royal Station Building.

"This show is broader stylistically than other shows we often do," Kachadourian notes as he looks at an assortment of artwork spread around on the floor that must somehow be made to seem harmonious on the wall. "It's a more complex hanging job than usual, with sparseness not being an [installational] option."

This show was selected by equally diverse curators: Baltimore artists Amalie Rothschild and Joyce Scott, and George Ciscle, who recently resigned as director of Baltimore's museum without walls, The Contemporary.

If Ciscle's taste is for cutting-edge contemporary art and Scott has multicultural and mixed-medium inclinations, Rothschild is an older abstract artist who had a very concrete idea as to which artists she wanted in the show.

"My idea was that there are a lot of art teachers who have been influential for a long time," Rothschild says of such artists as Glushakow and Baney. "They do exhibit, but maybe not as much as some others because of their teaching duties. They're role models for other artists."

Rothschild adds that while her own list of artists was weighted toward local art-world veterans, she appreciated the fact that her co-curators brought younger artists into the show: "When we met and they read off their lists, I didn't even know some of the artists they were talking about. That's good for the show. We don't think there is a specific image that is Baltimore art, because there's such a variety coming out of here."

Co-curator Joyce Scott, known for beadwork and mixed-media art with social content, says of this yeasty artistic climate: "Artscape has exhibited artists who show a plethora of styles. For me, the art in Baltimore is fertile, constantly growing, not moribund, quirky. I like the edginess of it.

"As a curator, this show meant that artists who were influential, but maybe not within the art-world mainstream, should be included. I like people who cross lines like [painted-furniture artist] Tom Miller. I'm a mixed-media artist and so I hope to include people who cross some kind of border. When I sat down with the other two curators, we went through our mental file cabinets. Then the three of us threw all of the veggies in the pot." Scott's tasty metaphor prompts discussion of how recent Artscapes differ from the early years, when the smirking nickname "Foodscape" adhered to a festival that some local art-world inhabitants felt devoted more attention to food and entertainment than to art.

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