Grimaldis opens its summer show

Hartigan, Middleman, Leake, Coe are included

Arts: Museums, Literature

July 29, 2004|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

The summer show at C. Grimaldis Gallery is always a lively affair, being a recapitulation of artists we've come to know in previous exhibitions and an intriguing taste of what's in store when the fall season arrives.

This year's show is as varied and elegant as ever, with many beautiful and poignant paintings by Grace Hartigan, Raoul Middleman, Eugene Leake and Henry Coe. Coe's modestly scaled landscapes of the French countryside, in particular, are marvels of pastoral quietude.

A highlight of this show is two recent, large-scale color photographs by Athens-based artist Dimitra Lazaridou, whose virtuosic control of composition and color signals a major evolution in this gifted photographer's work. These works were exhibited earlier this year Greece.

Lazaridou, whose earlier photographs of industrial sites and distressed urban areas were mostly taken at night, has begun working in daylight again. Her latest pictures, though similar in subject matter and point of view, are infused with a new chromatic radiance that truly approaches the sublime.

Hartigan is represented by a rare "grisaille" painting, Still Life with Bulldog (2003), one of fewer than half a dozen such works from the artist's ouevre in which closely spaced tones of gray and black combine to produce startlingly three-dimensional effects despite Hartigan's longstanding modernist commitment to flatness.

Two smaller works, Zeus and Swan, an oil-on-paper from 1978, and her 1996 etching Woman with Cowl, round out her contribution to the show.

Middleman weighs in with an equally unique suite of works, a series of vigorous aerial views of New York harbor and its environs painted from a temporary studio high in the North Tower of the World Trade Center during the summer of 2001, just a few weeks before the complex was destroyed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

These brash, colorful works, which depict the city below as a bustling hive of activity and crazy-canted architecture, now seem almost like paeans to lost innocence in a city that no one has ever accused of lacking in experience, sophistication or guile.

Though Leake stopped painting due to advancing age (he's 93 this year), his Maryland landscapes, painted between the mid-1980s and the late 1990s, demonstrate once again why he is surely one of the state's most beloved and sympathetic artists. One wishes he could go on painting forever.

Other memorable works include Peter Milton's tour de force etching 20th Century Limited, an incredibly complex allegory about the end of modernist painting; fine sculpture by John Ruppert, Costas Vorotsos, Jon Isherwood and John Van Alstine; Baltimore cult film legend John Waters' over-the-top sendups of Hollywood movie scenarios; and Cuban photographer Jose Manuel Fors' haunting collages of memory and desire.

The exhibition runs through Aug. 20. The gallery is at 523 N. Charles St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Call 410-539-1080.

For more art events, see page 32.

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