Artists show fruit of collaboration

Pair: Unusual joint effort results in a successful exhibit at Howard County Center for the Arts.

May 02, 2002|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Art is not a team sport.

That's what an instructor used to tell Ginger Peloquin, a resident artist at Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City.

It seems a pretty natural deduction. Artists are considered solitary figures, individual in mind and body of work. They're hardly the sort who meet for brainstorming sessions or to discuss how they can make their pieces more uniform.

But for Peloquin and Jay Kissel, another resident artist, their new show is a team effort.

"We observed each other's work and found a commonality," says Kissel, who lives in Columbia. "We have an organic sort of theme of digging away and building up."

That means Kissel and Peloquin are fascinated by layers and juxtaposition in nature on physical (the erosion of rock) and spiritual (the balancing of yin and yang) levels.

They joined forces and created Through What Lens, which opens Monday in the center's second gallery.

The show features eight of Kissel's mammoth paintings and three "viewing stations" that Peloquin devised to complement Kissel's work.

The viewing stations grew from Kissel's interest in looking at his acrylic paintings from close and far.

Peloquin decided to create three-dimensional works through which - and around - one can view Kissel's.

They're almost in the way, requiring people to move about the room to see what is hanging on the walls.

The exhibit is an offshoot of the annual Resident Artists Exhibition, which runs concurrently in the first gallery.

In that one, the 12 other resident artists (14 rent studio space at the center) display their work side by side with no connection.

Peloquin and Kissel broke away from the pack and applied for use of the second room.

Experience and common sense told them it would be tough.

"Collaboration in the visual arts is almost a contradiction in terms," says Peloquin, 42. "Artists tend to be fiercely independent people who have spent a great deal of effort to discern and then communicate their own voices. To then back off to forge a common vision is often less than harmonious."

But Kissel and Peloquin are respectful of one another. Peloquin gave Kissel the right of refusal on anything she devised, and Kissel's main concern was that Peloquin feel completely free to create what she wanted - except noisy, multimedia projects involving television screens. (Kissel, 40, exercised his refusal right when that idea was delivered.)

Kissel is a painter. He has spent about 20 years developing a style, which he describes as "nonobjective." His work is methodical and the brush strokes precise.

Peloquin's all over the place. She began as an architect. Then she moved on to classic, realist figure painting and is now creating art in three dimensions, melding shapes from glass, wood, metal, Plexiglas and other media that draw her attention.

The pair's personalities probably could best be described by their studio door policies. Peloquin is an open-door kind of artist.

She likes people to wander in and out, stop and talk and exchange ideas. If she had her way, she would put a big directive sign on the door commanding people to visit with her.

Kissel is a half-open, half-closed-door type of guy. He's more reserved and perhaps more inwardly focused than Peloquin, who lives in Catonsville. His studio is a lot neater than Peloquin's.

Their's isn't a normal collaboration, where people work toward a common product.

Peloquin describes it as a "one-man show with a twist," parallel to a novelist finding a like-minded writer to compose a forward for his new book.

"Collaboration is not easy by any means," she says. "There's a whole give and take to it, and you have to feel your way gently. But it's really rewarding. This is not work I would have done otherwise. You get to rethink your own voice when you take the time to understand somebody else's."

"Through What Lens" and "The 18th Annual Resident Artists Exhibition" run Monday through June 22 at Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. A reception is to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 10. Information: 410-313-2787 or www. hocoarts.org.

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