School 33 displays evolution of artists

Review: The exhibit at School 33 Art Center highlights 10 resident artists, their diverse styles as well as more adventurous works.

Fine art

September 25, 2001|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

There's probably no better place to see the current diversity of styles and approaches in the art world than at School 33 Art Center's annual studio show, but hurry because the exhibit ends Saturday.

The show highlights recent work by the 10 resident artists; each residency lasts up to three years. The program is designed to encourage local artists to develop long-term projects and complete significant bodies of work.

Several artists in the current show exhibit in other venues as well, but School 33 gives them a chance to display works that often are more adventurous than what's seen in commercial gallery shows.

For example, Karl Connolly, whose camera-inspired oil landscapes are regularly shown at C. Grimaldis Gallery, weighs in at School 33 with a series of abstract striped paintings that strike this viewer as a natural, albeit startling, evolution of his earlier work.

The palette of colors is similar, but the designs initially remind one of the so-called "zip" paintings of the Abstract-Expressionist Barnett Newman, and also of the striped works of Washington artist Gene Davis.

These new works are an exciting development in the artist's oeuvre, especially when placed alongside some of the small photographic-oriented landscapes, as they are in the show. The juxtaposition emphasizes the abstract qualities in Connolly's painterly approach to realistic depiction.

I also was impressed by Carolyn Case's paintings of the insides of packing crates (she refers to them as rooms), which evoke the tactile qualities of wood with uncanny persuasiveness, and Claudia McDonough's striking oil-and-Plexiglas paintings. Their geometric patterns echo the arched, dome-shaped forms of their supports.

Installation artist Kevin Wolff is not one of the School 33 residents, but his video and fresnel lens installation on the gallery's second floor is an extremely intriguing, even exuberant exploration of spatial and temporal distortion that makes it one of the gallery's current high points.

School 33 Art Center is at 1427 Light St. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 410-396-4641.

Spare yet lively

Speaking of adventurous, I'm always struck by how even the most traditional subjects can be transformed in the hands of a master. Raoul Middleman's equestrian drawings at C. Grimaldis Gallery this month bear out a suspicion I've harbored since childhood that you can tell a fine artist by the way he or she draws horses.

Middleman's drawings were made at Baltimore's Pimlico race track, and taken together they just about sum up this city's distinguished racing tradition. Relatively few drawings show the horses and jockeys competing on the track, however. Most are sketches of the small, telling moments that constitute a day at the races - in the paddock or stable, and approaching the starting gate.

Middleman describes all this in spare, quicksilver strokes that capture the energetic high spirits of the animals and riders, as well as the excitement of the event. These are delightful little works that pack a big punch. Also on view is James Dusel's Stilled Lives; moody, poetic black and white photographs of classically-inspired sculpture.

Grimaldis is at 523 N. Charles St. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call 410-539-1080.

Photography

Resurgam Gallery is exhibiting photographers L. Hudson Pinkney and J. Michael Whitaker this month.

Pinkney became interested in photography while serving as a tank commander in Vietnam. He is represented by photo essays on the last big tobacco sale in Maryland (which took place this year); on the British turnover of Hong Kong to China in 1997; and shots from Baltimore, New York and Vietnam. His mostly black-and-white pictures have the matter-of-fact authority of the great era of magazine photojournalism and Baltimore's tradition of local-interest and pictorial photography.

Whitaker's yen for street photography has taken him all over the world to snap the ephemeral, decisive moments of people at work and at play in London, Paris, Venice, Florence, New Orleans, Atlantic City, Madrid, Lisbon, Havana and Prague.

Resurgam Gallery is at 910 S. Charles St. Hours are Thursday through Saturday noon to 6 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 410-962-0513.

Color of tropics

Visitors to Resurgam will want to take time to walk across the street to the Montage Gallery in Federal Hill, which is showing works by the West Coast artist Anne Barga through October.

Barga lives and works in Portland, Ore., and spent many years in Hawaii. She paints colorful, modestly scaled abstractions that combine the witty, whimsical figures of such early modern artists as Klee and Miro with the warm palette of the tropics, and the Pacific Northwest's luxurious greenery.

Montage is at 925 S. Charles St. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 410-725-1125.

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