Gallery exhibit of `People and Places'

Watercolors, paintings exhibited at C. Grimaldis.

Arts: Museums, Literature

April 07, 2005|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

An artist sits in front of his easel painting a floral still-life set up on his studio table.

The expression he wears is earnest, but also a little melancholy, as if he were contemplating anew the traditional meaning of his subject: the fleeting nature of beauty, and of life itself.

Self Portrait With Flowers is one of the highlights of Raoul Middleman's show of paintings and watercolors at C. Grimaldis Gallery.

Middleman's images in People and Places: recent paintings and works on paper generally have the unmistakably energetic brushstrokes and quicksilver spontaneity we've come to expect from Middleman's signature artworks.

But this year, there's also a quieter, elegiac note that gives the artist's normally exuberant workmanship a bittersweet tinge.

Grand Staircase of the Escalante, for example, is a watercolor landscape view of distant, snow-capped mountains under a lowering sky of cumulous clouds heavy with water.

In a little while it may rain, but for the moment everything seems suspended in a magical equilibrium of light and color.

The watercolor has the delicacy of a Japanese scroll painting and an unexpectedly wistful serenity that feels like something of a departure from the riotous, ebullient vegetation of Middleman's more usual upbeat Maryland landscapes.

This is a mysterious and pregnant image that seems as much an homage to Hokusai's idealized views of Mount Fuji as a description of the passes along the Blue Ridge, whose bracing mountain air is rendered here with such skill and subtlety that it is almost a palpable presence.

The show runs through April 30. The gallery is at 523 N. Charles St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 410-539-1080 or visit www.cgrimaldis gallery.com.

For more art events, see Page 36.

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