In Grimaldis summer show, works plumb the shadows

Critic's Corner//Art

Art Column

August 08, 2007|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,Sun Art Critic

The summer group show at C. Grimaldis Gallery offers a chance to review some of the most intriguing works from the past as well as glimpse the best of what's to come in future exhibitions.

In recent years, Grimaldis has presented a growing number of photographers in addition to painters, sculptors and installation artists.

Greek photographer Dimitra Lazaridou, who made her gallery debut in 2002, weighs in with a new installment of large-scale color images of distressed immigrant neighborhoods in her native Athens.

These works, which at first strike one as determinedly deadpan, objective depictions of undistinguished modernist architecture, are, in fact, redolent with emotion and a sense of loss. Lazaridou's compositions invariably emphasize the building's doors, windows and other portals, which always seem shut tight - preventing either entry or escape.

Her blank-faced apartment buildings and anonymous streets are visual metaphors for the socially restricted environment in which the immigrants live. Ironically, many of them originally fled their homelands in search of a better life in the West.

Their dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams are signaled by the graffiti and obscenities crudely scrawled on walls amid the squalor and by the heavy shadows that hang like a shroud over their homes.

Christopher Saah's atmospheric night photographs of old Hollywood landmarks emit a similar aura of anxious foreboding, except that in Saah's case the seedy exteriors aren't so much a reference to present-day realities as to the 1950s-era aesthetic conventions of cinematic film noir.

In these furtive images, you almost expect to see jaded detective types wearing trench coats and fedoras sleuthing down bottle-blond harridans under the acrid yellow glow of sodium vapor street lamps.

Rene Trevino, a relative newcomer to the gallery and a recent graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, also evokes '50s-era film noir in his oversized storyboard drawings from director Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 thriller North by Northwest.

The drawings depict the inimitably dapper Cary Grant in one of the movie's most memorable sequences, when Grant arrives at a remote desert rendezvous only to find himself attacked by a low-flying biplane whose propeller threatens to make mincemeat of the hero.

Trevino's masterful evocation of this cinema classic, executed in graphite and pastel on heavy watercolor paper, is so good you may be tempted, as I was, to rent the movie and see it all over again.

Tony Shore, winner of this year's $25,000 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, has made a career of painting empathetic images of his large extended family in the working-class Southwest Baltimore neighborhood of Morrell Park.

The show presents several of Shore's signature portraits and genre scenes on black velvet. In addition, it introduces his relatively new series of Dutch-inspired still lifes.

These intensely observed images of food and drink, including a couple of flavorful-looking dishes featuring Baltimore favorites like lake trout and catfish, are realistic enough to almost make one's mouth water.

The show also presents works by Karl Connolly, Raoul Middleman, David Brewster, Dennis Farber, Keith Martin, Eugene Leake, Grace Hartigan, Henry Coe, Marc Boone, Sungmi Lee, Neil Meyerhoff, Beverly McIver, Chul-Hyun Ahn, Christopher Myers and John Van Alstine.

Summer '07: A Selection of Gallery Artists runs through Aug. 25 at C. Grimaldis Gallery, 523 N. Charles St. Call 410-539-1080 or go to cgrimaldisgallery.com

Quilt talk

If you haven't seen Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt, the second installment of the landmark show of African-American quilts that opened this summer at the Walters Art Museum, hie yourself over there and take in what is surely one the loveliest exhibitions of the season.

Local photographer Linda Day Clark, whose sensitive portraits of the Gee's Bend quilters and their community are the subject of a companion show on museum's fourth floor, will give a gallery talk about her experiences living among these hard-working artists at the Walters on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The talk is part of a series of events planned to enhance viewers' appreciation for and understanding of the important contributions made by Southern vernacular artists to 20th-century American art.

The museum is at 600 N. Charles St. Call 410-547-9000 or go to thewalters.org.

glenn.mcnatt@baltsun.com

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