At Scott, beautiful flowers, hypnotic landscapes

August 20, 1996|By Diane Scharper | Diane Scharper,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The two shows currently at the Steven Scott Gallery could not be more different.

With Gary Bukovnik's watercolors, you get what you see: flowers -- not the magical flowers of Georgia O'Keeffe, but beautiful flowers. From the red amaryllis, to the purple iris, to the cream-colored lilies with six brown stamens, to the sunflowers with their bright yellow coronas, flower paintings can not get much better.

The petals, leaves and stems are exquisitely drawn; each detail of color is rendered -- the lily has its freckles; the iris its spots. Set in clear glass vases or clay pots, these could be ordinary flowers. And in a sense, they are.

The landscapes in the "Eighth Anniversary Summer Group Exhibition" insist on connection. These 11 artists do not paint landscapes so much as they paint the meaning of landscape.

Some of the work seems hypnotic. Patricia Tobacco Forrester's watercolor, with its larger-than-life-sized foliage, its wide brush strokes and its close-up detail of leaves and stems, stays in your mind's eye. So do Anne Marie Fleming's pastels -- the cherry blossoms in early spring, the sky on a January evening, the three trees in high summer.

Robert Andriulli's purple and pink sky, "Clearing," exerts a similar hypnotic effect, as do Michael Lewis' clouds and David Hopkins' pastoral scenes. Hopkins' work, especially, has the feel of a Robert Frost poem. Standing in sharp contrast to the Hopkins paintings are the gritty street scenes and the orange brick rowhouses of Matthew Daub's "Willow Street."

Some of the work, such as Tracie Taylor's amusement-park zebra with its sad eyes, is whimsical. Hollis Sigler's "Aldrin" also seems whimsical, at first.

The pea-green background, the cracked mirrors, the rose-covered trellis, the blue evening gown, the clothes strewn about the floor, the purple clouds jutting out of nowhere -- like the fingers of God: These could be the illustration for a fairy tale. But the painting is deadly serious.

The words written on the border explain that pesticides are known to cause breast cancer and that Sigler -- known for her "Breast Cancer Journal" -- grew up in the age of pesticides. Although the message might be too heavy-handed for the medium, you cannot pass this painting without coming to terms with it.

The two oil paintings by Raoul Middleman, professor at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, seem to erase the boundary between the viewer and the painting. One is a pastoral scene, in which the soft pink and orange tones of the sky set off the blue pond, the rolling green hills, the red farmhouse, the glistening countryside.

The other is a seascape on a stormy August day. Large purple and black clouds -- looking like bruises over the brown and beige rocky coastline -- appear. A solitary figure stands on the shore and watches over the ocean.

Only three other works here contain recognizable human figures: Tom Miller's "Summer in Baltimore" and "Maryland Crab Feast," with their Matisse-like blues, reds and yellows; and "Small Craft," a pastel by Joseph Sweeney with its Thomas Eakins-like ambience.

Yet a human presence can be felt in each of the paintings in the show, as if the artist painted a scene just after someone has walked through a door or has disappeared momentarily behind a stand of trees. Meanwhile, the painting invites the viewer to enter and to wait.

On exhibit

What: "Eighth Anniversary Summer Group Exhibition" and "Gary Bukovnik: Recent Watercolors, Monotypes, and Lithographs"

Where: 515 N. Charles St.

When: noon to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays (through Aug. 31)

Call: (410) 752-6218.

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