Artists' styles meld

Exhibit: Howard County ceramic artist Tatiana shares space in her Glenelg gallery with eight painters.

August 05, 2004|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

At a time when ceramic artist Tatiana is experimenting with unusual colors and shapes for her work, she has invited a group of artists with a very traditional style to share her gallery space in Glenelg.

The show, Painters of Substance, is on display through October and features eight artists who attend or graduated from the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore. They work in a style called classical realism, which focuses on traditional techniques and realistic portrayals of still lifes, human figures and landscapes.

The paintings are hung throughout the gallery, amid shelves, tables and pedestals crowded with Tatiana's creations. The artist, who uses only one name, offers a range of items from simple teacups to large, curving vessels glazed with 23-karat gold, palladium and silver.

"We change all the time," she said of the work in the gallery. "That's part of the fun."

Tatiana, a former cellist who moved from Seattle to Columbia in 1972, has used the gallery space in Glenelg to sell her work and to highlight that of others for more than two decades.

The renovated 19th-century church in the western Howard countryside is often a surprise to visitors, many of whom are drawn to the rural location by word of mouth.

The art is housed at the front of the building under a soaring dark wood ceiling and arched colored-glass windows. Tatiana also lives and works in the structure, and through doorways in the corners of the gallery, the kitchen and part of her studio are visible. A large kiln has its own building in the back.

"People can't believe [that] in the county, in Glenelg, there is an honest-to-God fine art gallery," Tatiana said.

She used to show works by many artists and craftspeople but has recently rearranged the gallery to better highlight just a few guests among her works.

The latest show brings together students from the Schuler School, which has been operating in Baltimore since 1959 with a focus on the techniques of the European Old Masters.

The four-year program does not lead to a degree, said Jenny Miller, a Schuler student who organized the exhibit, but it does create a hands-on salon atmosphere in which students learn traditional painting and drawing techniques, including how to grind pigment and prepare the medium to make paint.

As a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Miller said she noticed that not many people were working in classical, representational styles of art, which seemed to be considered outdated. But she believes there is a resurgence of interest in the style among art patrons.

"It is nice she [Tatiana] can give people in the area a chance to see that artists are working in this way," said Miller, who lives in Fells Point.

She said the unusual, intimate space at the gallery complements the hands-on, humanistic approach of the art.

Tatiana said the show fits nicely with her work, even though many of her pieces are more modern and unusual.

As a ceramic artist, technique is important to her as well, Tatiana said. Even a small mistake can ruin a piece, particularly those made on a larger scale.

"It requires a high degree of technical mastery before [an artist can] start ripping it and tearing it," she said. "It's essential to know what you are breaking."

Besides mixing new colors of glaze and precious metals, Tatiana has been making pieces with broken edges and "double-walled" sculptures that reveal an inside layer through a hole in the outer one.

"Energy exists in everything, and my work vibrates with the passion of its intention - the energy of Soul," Tatiana said in a statement. "Working with clay has been for me a way of practicing the sublime."

Still, she said, it can be a challenge to get the public to see and buy the work, particularly in a slow market after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Tatiana hopes to do her part to publicize other artists, including the participants in Painters of Substance.

"I was thrilled to show them," she said of the Schuler group. "I think they deserve to be seen."

Tatiana Ltd., at 14209 Triadelphia Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and weekdays by appointment. Information:, or 410-442-1144.

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