In exhibit, water, water everywhere

CRITIC'S CORNER

Art

October 19, 2005|By GLENN MCNATT | GLENN MCNATT,SUN ART CRITIC

Chilean-born painter Soledad Salame's commitment to environmental preservation has led her to create a large body of work inspired by the belief that we all share responsibility for protecting our planet's fragile ecosystems.

An earlier project, which Salame exhibited both here and at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Chile, presented an ingenious body of mixed-media works inspired by the tropical rain forests of South America, which confront twin threats of deforestation and environmental degradation from mining and energy exploration.

Salame's rain forest pieces were notable both for their philosophically "green" consciousness and for their highly inventive use of such nontraditional art materials as epoxy resins, leaves, bits of earth, grasses, tree bark, even the bodies of rare insects and other forest fauna.

In Agua Fluida, on view at Goya Contemporary gallery, Salame focuses on the most vital natural resource of all: water.

The show presents paintings, prints, photographs and an amazing three-panel installation that demonstrate the artist's enduring commitment and a new level of technical virtuosity.

The centerpiece of the show is a large, three-panel light box entitled Lenticular, which takes its name from the thousands of tiny plastic lenses embedded in the panels on which the images are imprinted. The installation recalls the hologramlike pictures that show different images when viewed from different angles.

In Salame's installation, painted images of water are imprinted on the light box panels in such a way that as one walks past them water appears to flow. These luminous images have a spellbinding quality that is otherworldly.

In Continents of Water, an installation of nine photographs arranged in a square grid, Salame presents an image of the macrocosm within the microcosm of tiny water droplets magnified to monumental scale.

The work is unusual in that the images are physically embedded in the panels rather than attached to their surfaces.

The exhibition also includes solar etchings and monoprints of the Continent images and preliminary paintings and drawings for Lenticular. This is a show of rare beauty and intelligence that should be considered one of the must-see events of the season.

Agua Fluida runs through the end of November. The gallery is at 3000 Chestnut Ave., Suite 210. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Call 410-366-2001 or visit goyagirl.com.

Chappelear exhibit

Larry Chappelear, a painter who works and teaches in Southern Maryland, has created an intriguing body of work over the course of his career, ranging from traditional landscapes of fields, woods and water to his more recent series of abstract assemblages based on the colors and materials of the region. Now Chappelear is the subject of a substantial retrospective exhibition at the University of Maryland University College art gallery that features more than 50 of the artist's color-drenched works.

The show had its genesis several years ago, when Chappelear began creating abstract collages out of strips of discarded veneer, which he painted and arranged in vertical patterns that recall the fractured spacial distortions of Cubist painting and the spontaneous free-association of abstract-expressionism.

Having begun as a landscapist, it's perhaps no wonder that Chappelear's abstract works seem to be continuations of a sensibility that finds loveliness in the humblest rural artifacts. Many of the pieces evoke the spirit of, without really looking like, the weather-beaten sides of barns and farmhouses, or the honest patinas of well-used tools and agricultural implements, with their rich cacophony of earth-tone hues and roughly textured surfaces.

Chappelear says he has been influenced by any number of venerable predecessors, from Paul Cezanne to Richard Diebenkorn to Robert Rauschenberg. But in these latest works, as the UMUC show attests, he has achieved a style that is all his own.

The show runs through Jan. 9 in the Arts Program Gallery of the UMUC Inn and Conference Center, 3501 University Blvd. East, in Adelphi. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Call 301-985-7937.

Artful architecture

Former Sun art critic John Dorsey and photographer James DuSel, whose collaborative efforts documenting Baltimore's architectural gems are the subject of a new book titled Look Again in Baltimore, are featured this month in an exhibition at C. Grimaldis Gallery.

The show presents a selection of DuSel's sensitive, large format photographs of such recognizable Baltimore landmarks as the Walters Art Museum's Palazzo Building, the Latrobe Spring House at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the domed roof of the Basilica of the Assumption.

DuSel's often fragmentary views of buildings and architectural details are compact studies in the interplay of light and dark that endow the familiar with elegance and, occasionally, a hint of mystery as well.

In the rear gallery, sculptor Chul-Hyun Ahn presents Visual Echoes, the latest installment in his amazing series of mirrored light boxes that simulate infinite space. Ahn's show includes a positively scary well-like installation that seems to drop you right off the edge of the planet, and it inspires the same awe and terribilita one might experience standing at the rim of one of land artist Michael Heizer's 50-foot holes in the ground.

Look Again in Baltimore runs through Nov. 12. Visual Echoes runs through Nov. 26. The gallery is at 523 N. Charles St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Call 410-539-1080.

glenn.mcnatt@baltsun.com

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