Here, the `setting' is more worthy than the `stone'

Exhibit gives Ultra Violet another 15 minutes of fame


September 04, 2004|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

In the 1960s, Pop artist Andy Warhol famously predicted that in the future "everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."

And if the future didn't arrive quickly enough, the famously insecure artist with the blond fright wig was always ready to give it a push, by turning the motley crew of hangers-on at his "Factory" studio into instant, if ephemeral, celebrities.

Most of them, like the French-born Ultra Violet, a former Dali groupie who latched onto Warhol during a 1964 film shoot and whose real name was Collin Dufresne, were just as instantly forgotten.

But now Ultra Violet is enjoying a second-installment of 15-minute celebrity in Maryland, where her quirky art is on display in a one-woman exhibition at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.

The show - titled Is Christ Politically ... Prophetically ... Correct? Ministry of Angels - is an embarrassingly clunky installation involving several hundred square feet of unframed canvas painted sky blue with puffy white clouds, dangling blue-and-white mobiles, collages, computer-generated images, found objects and other assorted junk, all slapped together without a scintilla of subtlety, skill or style.

Ultra Violet calls her piece a "skyscape," and apparently intends it as a kind of airy portal to the higher spiritual realms. But the overall effect is one of almost unendurable banality, which may be Warhol's greatest legacy to his often less-than-gifted proteges.

The Washington County Museum, by contrast, is a real gem, with small but exquisite collections of Old Master paintings and 19th-century European and American art, and two crackerjack temporary exhibitions - by contemporary realist sculptor J. Clayton Bright and the Eight Americans of the Ashcan School - that will make the trip to Hagerstown worthwhile anyway.

The show runs through Oct. 17. The museum is at 91 Key St., City Park, Hagerstown.. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Call 301-739-5727.

A touch of whimsy

The title of the exhibition at Gallery International, All Media Competition and Show, sounds a bit grandiose, but actually it's as apt as any for this sparkling group show, which brings together 48 artists from far and wide chosen by guest curator F. Lennox Campello.

Campello, a co-owner of the Fraser Gallery in Washington, selected the works on view from the more than 200 entries submitted, and he readily concedes that he followed no formula or format other than his own whimsy in making his choices.

The results, however, are as delightful as they are occasionally surprising. And, true to its title, the show's offerings are divided almost equally among paintings, sculpture, photography and mixed-media works.

There are also quite a few Duchamp-inspired artworks of the buzzing, whirling, mechanical variety, including Wade Kramm's ingenious Candle flipbook, an electric-powered contraption that mimics the flickering motion of an animated cartoon, and Adam Bradley's Dandelion, a weirdly alluring wind-up diorama depicting the soul's reluctant fall from grace.

One of the most polished works in the show is New York-based photographer Yolanda Del Amo's Domestica, a large-scale color photograph mounted on Plexiglas and aluminum that recalls the staged but unforced naturalism of Tina Barney's upper-middle-class domestic dramas. The Spanish-born Del Amo, whose photographs convey a compelling but stubbornly ambiguous narrative thrust, is on the evidence of this work clearly an artist to watch.

The show runs through Sept. 24. The gallery is at 523 N. Charles St. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Call 410-230-0561.

Making an impression

Next month, in a bow to tradition, both the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art will be putting on big Impressionist-themed shows.

So perhaps it's no coincidence that In Full Bloom, this month's show of Impressionist-inspired paintings by Sam Robinson at Steven Scott Gallery, is giving viewers a head start on the dewy-dappled look.

Robinson, who makes his living doing custom decoration and murals in the area's grand homes, re-creates the serenity of those well-appointed interiors in masterfully executed realistic paintings that shimmer with the Impressionist glow.

The same can be said of his outdoor scenes, which bring the beautiful color harmonies of Monet at Giverny to the rural Maryland landscape.

This is a small but perfect show that is also the perfect appetizer for the main Impressionist meal that begins next month.

The exhibition runs through Nov. 27. The gallery is at 9169 Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Call 410-902-9300.

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