One way to counter the heat is with a jolt of cool contemporary art, and exhibits at two commercial venues — C. Grimaldis Gallery in Mount Vernon, Jordan Faye Contemporary in Federal Hill — conveniently provide such relief.
For good measure, the Jordan Faye gallery is also throwing a block party Saturday afternoon. "That seemed like a great summer thing to do," says founder and owner Jordan Faye Block.
This sort of gesture has helped make the gallery a good fit for the neighborhood since opening 11 months ago in a handsome 1880s building that originally housed a branch of the Enoch Pratt Library.
The Chicago-born Block, who came to Baltimore to get her M.A. at MICA a few years ago, opened this large, mixed-use facility primarily to highlight fresh talent in the area.
"Last November I started the 'Salon Series,' exhibiting young emerging artists not represented by anyone," Block says. "It's an open call; there's no judgment. I help them with marketing. I selected 13 artists from the first four salons to create the 'Salon All-Stars,' a group I thought were the most professional and had the highest quality."
The All-Stars display was partially taken down last week to make room for "Time Flies," a show of works created in Baltimore over the past decade by Kate MacKinnon, who is moving in the fall to New York. Most of the MacKinnon retrospective will be on view through Saturday. The All-Stars show — some items, including Donald Edwards' witty sculptures created from found objects and David Purcell's imaginative cardboard sculpture, are alongside the MacKinnon's display — will be fully reinstalled by the end of the weekend and will run through Aug. 15.
MacKinnon's abstract paintings have a distinctive high-gloss finish, the result of a process the Boston-born artist developed while completing her graduate studies at MICA. Multiple layers of additive-enriched paint are applied over a period of weeks to create the lustrous, texture-rich effect.
"I love the depth that Kate's work has," Block says. "Some of them really pop and vibrate. Every time I look, I see some nuance I didn't see before."
MacKinnon's newest project, the "Grey Series," is an impressive group with subtle variations of hue and design. There are six in the series so far, with another eight expected. "It's a loose homage to the 'Stations of the Cross' by Barnett Newman," the artist says, referring to the 14 black-and-white abstracts that secured Newman's stature in the early '60s.
Meanwhile, "Summer '10," a diverse, diverting melange of work from about two dozen artists, continues through Aug. 21 in the Grimaldis Gallery.
The exhibit includes Kim Manfredi's vividly colored abstract oil, "Slowbirth," which suggests something of a cosmic awakening. From Markus Baldegger come several untitled oils on linens filled with small oval shapes that form reiterative, propulsive patterns on fields of black and gray.
Dimitra Lazaridou's untitled, wall-sized photo mounted on aluminum has a stop-you-in-your-tracks quality, with its haunting image of three steps leading up to what appears to be a walled-up doorway. Only the deep green from a small clump of plant life in one corner relieves the lonely gray.
Stylish silver gelatin prints by Alexey Titarenko capture images of the crumbly, yet still vibrant, world that is Cuba, while Christopher Saah's archival pigment prints present compelling, Edward Hopper-ish scenes of our contemporary world.
Other highlights include an outgoing abstract by Paul Jeanes, "Fragrant Accumulants No. 2," with its red and lime focal points amid a swirling sea. Provocative, hefty sculptural pieces by Madeleine Dietz involve steel structure, earth and, in one case, light.
A richly detailed oil by the late Grace Hartigan can be viewed from or through "Time Out," a wonderful sculpture by Jane Manus — a geometric structure of welded aluminum painted bright red, centered by an off-kilter doorway-like shape (like in a German expressionist film) and framed by two small benches.
Making the refreshing show seem even more appropriate for summer is an acrylic on velvet by Tony Shore depicting a nude woman sprawled in front of the open appliance that gives the well-executed work its name: "Refrigerator."
If you go
Jordan Faye Contemporary is at 1401 Light St. Call 443-955-1547 or go to jordanfayecontemporary.com. C. Grimaldis Gallery is at 523 N. Charles St. Call 410-539-1080 or go to cgrimaldisgallery.com.
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