Exhibit is broad in scope, yet cohesive Art: A show of works by alumni of the Maryland Institute, College of Art marks the 20th anniversary of its president

Fine arts.

October 13, 1998|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,SUN ART CRITIC

Fred Lazarus became president of the Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1978, and to mark his 20th anniversary, there will be a number of celebratory events this academic year. None could be more appropriate than the current "20/XX," an exhibit of works by 20 alumni who have graduated since 1978 (actually 19, as one artist's proposal couldn't be accommodated for space and financial reasons).

Of all the components of an educational institution, from buildings to faculty to students, none indicates its worth so well as its alumni.

If a school is about its students, students are about what they will become. Only later can one get some idea from their work of what their school was like.

Will Hipps, the Institute's director of exhibitions, acted as curator with aid of faculty and staff recommendations.

The resulting show touches so many bases that it's partly about touching bases.

There's a broad chronological range, from Neil Riley, '79, to Max McNeil, '98. The range of disciplines includes printmaking, illustration, photography and fiber, though painting with eight and sculpture with three representatives dominate. Moreover, there are 10 men and 9 women; six minority artists (two African-American, two Latino, one Japanese, one Asian-American); and a geographical range from Maine to Florida and Puerto Rico to Japan, but with a plurality of five artists from Maryland. Talk about politically correct!

Happily, Hipps has created a good show as well. Its highlights include Karl Connolly's paintings of people and landscape, including "Excavation"; they are superficially straightforward but subtly mysterious and unsettling.

Eunice Kambara's haunting installation "Still" addresses the awful and beautiful responsibility we have for all of life. Tom Miller's satirical painted furniture, including his "Garden of Eden" chair, manages as always to be happy and moving at once.

Pablo Cano's found-object sculptures, including "Opera Singer," achieve amazing dignity and prove that you can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear if you're good enough.

Neil Riley's little paintings of the corners of life, such as "Office Door, Dark" and "Office Door, Light," argue for the possibilities of beauty in seemingly mundane surroundings. Deborah Fisher's surreal assemblages of handmade "tools" heighten one's consciousness of oneself and one's surroundings.

So what we have here is a show that looks like it was put together by a committee but succeeds anyway.

It contains a couple of artists who wouldn't have made my final cut, but overall it testifies that Lazarus has built well on the success of his great predecessor Eugene Leake, and there could be no higher praise than that.

The show is in the Maryland Institute's Mount Royal Station building (Cathedral Street and Mount Royal Avenue), Fox Building and Bunting Center (both at Mount Royal and Lafayette avenues).

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays), noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The show runs through Nov. 8. For information, call 410-225-2300.

A Blake celebration

The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center has found a new home and will be celebrating it this Saturday.

The center, dedicated to jazz and art, has been looking for a permanent home since fire damaged its former Charles Street building several years ago. Meanwhile, it has been temporarily quartered at the Market Place.

Now the city has purchased as the center's new home the 21,000-square-foot, four-story building at 827 N. Howard St.

It is on the block known as Antique Row and was previously the nursing school of Maryland General Hospital across the street.

Renovations on the building won't begin until next spring, but on Saturday, the center will hold a "Ragtime/Jazz on the Sidewalk Fun Day" featuring music, an art show, health screening, unfurling of banners announcing the new center, and live skits from the Broadway musical "Grease."

When the building reopens as the Eubie Blake Center, it will have two principal functions. A jazz museum will highlight Eubie Blake and other Baltimore jazz greats, including Cab Calloway, Chick Webb and Billie Holiday. The center's other mission will be to feature the work of African-American artists through exhibits and other arts programs.

"Ragtime/Jazz on the Sidewalk Fun Day" takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the 800 block of North Howard Street. For information, call 410-625-3113.

Redevelopment festival

The Highlandtown Groundbreaking Festival on Sunday will celebrate the coming redevelopment of three Eastern Avenue buildings, including the former Patterson Movie Theater, which will become the Patterson Cultural Center managed by the Fells Point Creative Alliance.

The festival will feature two stages with music and other performances, rides, a display of antique cars, sales of arts and crafts and pre-renovation tours of the Patterson theater.

It will accommodate 12 live-in artists' studios, a 100-seat theater, a 4,000-square-foot gallery, a cafe and offices.

The festival will run from 10: 30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the 3500 through 3800 blocks of Eastern Avenue. For information on the festival, call 410-561-0065.

Grant boosts Egyptian art

The Walters Art Gallery has received a $325,270 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for reinstallation of its Egyptian art collection as part of the $18.5 million renovation and reinstallation of its 1974 building. The building, now closed for renovation, is expected to open in the spring of 2001.

A major part of the Egyptian reinstallation will be devoted to works of art that have never been on view since Henry Walters acquired them early in the 20th century.

Pub Date: 10/13/98

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