Photographers' `Winter Scene'

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December 30, 2004|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

The holiday group show at Baltimoregallery on Eastern Avenue is titled Winter Scene, so it's no surprise the seasonal theme crops up in many of the two dozen or so works on view. The gallery is coming up on its third anniversary as the only exhibition space in town devoted exclusively to photography.

As might be expected, there are quite a number of wintry landscapes, in color and black-and-white. They evoke the season's weather well enough but don't always capture its festive mood.

Kay Springwater's quiet image of trees and snow along New York's Riverside Drive is an exception, however: The photograph, which seems like a black-and-white scene until you notice the tiny, pastel-colored automobiles in the background, has a poetic stillness that is quite affecting.

Also, Joe Stewart's postcard-sized photograph of a Christmas angel flying amid puffy clouds against a red brick wall perfectly expresses the kind of quirky, sardonic humor Baltimore artists are rightly famous for.

Among the still lifes, Helen French's complicated image of a broken Christmas tree ornament, whose reflective fragments mirror parts of the sky, the tree and the room, is most intriguing.

What makes the image unusual is the way the ornament's shiny, broken surfaces chop up the pictorial space like the fractured facets of a cubist painting and smear it out like an "all over" abstract expressionist canvas.

Not all the pictures are so closely tied to the holidays. Some recap highlights of earlier shows at the gallery. Among these, Linnie Greene's images of seaside beaches and sidewalk cafes are charming and sentimental in the manner of Gilded Age illustrations, while Robert Szabo's tintype still lifes and blurry images of Civil War re-enactments manage to look like the real thing even though they're not.

The show runs through Jan. 16. Baltimoregallery is at 4519 Eastern Ave. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and by appointment. Call 410-276-7966 or visit the Web site at www.baltimoregal lery.org.

For more art events, see page 32.

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