There's still time to catch Al Zaruba's one-person sculpture show at Montpelier Cultural Arts Center, but it closes in a mere nine days. Zaruba's sculptures look like creatures from outer space, and also from your most frightening dreams, which is what makes them relevant.
They look like human fears and dreads made visible and therefore are more manageable than when they reside solely in the mind. They're frightening but funny as well, awkward but also obviously the product of a sophisticated, ruminative, highly original mind.
Zaruba says his work springs from "the fatal flaw in human nature," and whether it deals with individual fears and aspirations or societal concerns, one can see an aspect of "the fatal flaw" at work.
"Hunting Sins" comprises a series of blue spirals of various sizes, each with an eye at the center and a pointing finger at the other end, and each standing on three spindly legs.
It's a piece about people who at one level or another hide their insecurities and fears behind a screen of aggression, whether it be the schoolyard bully or the witch-hunting McCarthyite.
"Anima Mundi" consists of one huge spiral, again with an eye at HTC the center and with reaching arms at the other end. It casts a "shadow" on the wall, made of Zaruba's visionary writings, and in a nearby corner are two paddles, also part of the work.
It's about the forces of hope and fear that pull people in two directions, hope that pulls one haltingly forward, fear that makes one draw into oneself, and the wrong choices everyone makes (those silly paddles that wouldn't propel this monster anywhere).
In "Epilogue," a group of rickety dwellings (or cages) on legs crowds inside the perimeter of a wooden fence made in the shape of a ship.
The world is a ship of fools, each bottled up within himself, refusing to engage fully with his fellow creatures, to give fully to the world, to experience fully the adventure of life.
These are only examples of the many interpretations Zaruba's works invite. They do fully engage with the viewer.
Zaruba's been in Baltimore shows, but this is his first major one-person show in this area, and it's more than worth a trip to Montpelier. See it.
Montpelier Cultural Arts Center, at 12826 Laurel-Bowie Road (Route 197 off Baltimore-Washington Parkway) in Laurel, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The Zaruba show continues through Aug. 20. For information, call 410-792-0664.
Stroll amid the art
The annual Annapolis Art Walk takes place on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Twenty galleries in downtown Annapolis will be open at those hours, and there will be artist demonstrations, refreshments and music. For information, call 410-267-7077.