Shortcomings have their own interest

November 20, 1997|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,SUN ART CRITIC

None of the three artists currently showing in School 33 Art Center's main gallery elicits a purely positive response. But it's an interesting show nevertheless, partly because of its negatives.

Michelle La Perriere's paintings possess the surreality of dreams, where strange juxtapositions reign and meaning seems always to lurk just beyond one's grasp. In "Well, all girls love horses, you know. (Barbie's Anti-Climax)," dresses and stockings swirl around a ghostly looking horse. In "Juana's Low Grade (For Mom. C'Mon Vickie)" -- the titles are as surreal as the paintings -- two young ballerinas, one right side up and one upside down (or maybe it's one ballerina and her reflection), dance near a cuddly poodle and a broken bowl.

The paintings suggest the effort to explore the unconscious. Everyone knows the mixture of desire and fear that accompanies such explorations, but La Perriere's seductive images, painted in lush colors, leave out the fear part. There's a lot of beauty here, and La Perriere surrenders too completely to its charms. These paintings lack edge and at times border on the cloying: that poodle's a bit much, as are the fairy-like flowers that flit across "Shower of Comets (For Neil Rabeau. In Memoriam)." La Perriere has shown elsewhere that her work can definitely have edge, and here's hoping it creeps back in.

Wendy Roberts' abstract paintings on wood panels consist of washes or veils of color. Colors and sometimes other elements suggest landscape. The black horizontal near the top of "May 12th, 1997 (For Elinor)" might be a row of trees at the edge of water and its reflection. These works deliver more than they seem to promise at first glance, but ultimately less than one hopes. They somewhat resemble the paintings of Mark Rothko, but are not deeply meditative. Roberts looks like an artist on the verge of an accomplishment not quite achieved.

VTC Carol Samour wants to show the ugly, disturbing side of landscape. Her artist's statementspeaks of "the rather nightmarish growths and disfigurements in the American landscape."

Fair enough, for the ugly is usually more interesting than the merely pretty. Samour does show some odd-looking growths on telephone poles and the like, but the means are often too obvious to achieve the desired ends. In several places Samour tilts the camera in relation to the horizon, resulting in a skewed perspective that makes one feel a bit off-balance at first. But it quickly becomes a cliche. There's a good idea behind the series, but it's not carried through with great success.

Upstairs in Gallery II, Luis Castro's sculptures resemble everyday items -- a comb, a pair of glasses. By rendering them in outsize scale and executing them in durable limestone, he asks the viewer to regard them as Art with a capital A. But then he turns the tables and re-relates them to everyday objects by inviting the viewer to touch them, move them, play with them. He's not alone in attempting to break down the barriers between art and life, but he does it in a way that's consistently appealing. My favorite of these 14 sculptures is "Link," which looks just like a piece of dough out of which somebody has cut two round cookies, or maybe biscuits. Takes me right back to mother's kitchen.

School 33

Where: 1427 Light St.

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays- Saturdays, through Dec. 5

Call: 410-396-4641

Pub Date: 11/19/97

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