Artists-jurors link fails to connect

January 30, 1998|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,SUN ART CRITIC

The current juried exhibit at Villa Julie adds a new wrinkle to the genre. The idea promises much more than it delivers, and would have been better jettisoned. But the show justifies its own existence, primarily on the strength of one of its artists.

For the typical juried show, artists submit slides to a panel of jurors (usually artists themselves), who then choose the work to be exhibited. The names of the jurors are known, but the visitor unfamiliar with their work has no way of knowing whether there's any connection between it and that of the artists in the exhibition.

In this case, each of three jurors picked one artist for the show. And exhibitions director Peter Bruun decided to show one work by each juror to reveal possible connections.

But there aren't any meaningful ones, so the idea falls flat. Oh, it's possible to see some similarity between David Bartlett's landscape photographs and juror Francine Brady's abstract monoprint with its topographic-looking lines and its green and brown tones. But it's a stretch.

Of Barbara Shilo's brightly colored, figural works of social commentary and juror Debra Rubino's etching of a stone, Bruun curiously states that both artists "create a mood of timeless waiting." But waiting isn't timeless, and does a stone wait? To create a connection between Kim Hunter's photographs of children and the work of landscape artist Florian Svitak, Bruun had to reach 35 years into Svitak's past and choose a student drawing of a boy which Bruun acknowledges has nothing to do with Svitak's mature work. Talk about stretches.

Bankrupt as the wrinkle proves, however, the show's worth seeing for Bartlett's beautiful photographs alone. The brownish tint and hazy atmosphere of Bartlett's photographs give them a turn-of-the-century look, and Bartlett superbly captures the textures of trees, ground, stones and foliage, so that one can almost sense the smell of the earth after a spring rain. These landscapes have an extraordinary presence that makes their images linger in the mind.

Shilo's colorful mixed-media works, using photography, gouache, collage, fabric and other materials, reveal an agreeably wry sense of humor. Her "The Staircase" makes the point that time plays the fool with one's expectations of the future. Her "Daughters of the American Revolution" wraps these stuffy-looking ladies in the American flag. Her "Carolina Gothic" pictures rural life as boringly repetitious.

Hunter's pictures of children belong to a type that attempts to make children appear complex and mysterious. But the pictures turn out to be less about the children pictured than about the artist's projections, so they're less affecting than they hope to be.

'A Juried Show'

Where: Art Gallery of Villa Julie College, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (to 8 p.m. Wednesdays), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; through Feb. 6

Call: 410-486-7000

Pub Date: 1/30/98

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