Old 'Faces' brings new name to Slayton House

Visual Arts

  • Marie McGing's scenic views of Ireland and Scotland are part of the two-artist exhibit now at the newly renamed Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House.
Marie McGing's scenic views of Ireland and Scotland are… (Marie McGing, Bernice Kish…)
July 26, 2011|By Mike Giuliano

The monthly art exhibits at Slayton House are a reliable showcase for local artists. When the administrator in charge of those exhibits, Bernice Kish, recently retired as Wilde Lake village manager, her contributions over the past 25 years prompted an honorary name change. What had been known as the Slayton House Gallery is now the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House.

An indication of how this gallery complements the overall program mix at Slayton House was experienced when I went to see Marie McGing's current photography series, titled "Faces of Aging."

As I looked at the facial close-ups of nursing home residents hanging on the gallery wall, children and teens who had enrolled in a summer camp were rehearsing just a few feet away. Several of the kids occasionally pulled close to contemplate the elderly faces.

McGing identifies her subjects by name and age. Her tight focus on the faces pretty much eliminates anything in the background. Characteristic of her approach is a black-and-white photograph of 66-year-old Patrick Monaghan. His gray beard and wrinkled face are captured in such detail that there are more lines than one could count.

The photographer mostly relies upon single portraits, but there are also examples of double portraits. In a photo of 83-year-old Catherine Baker and her daughter, the women face each other in a side profile composition. You find yourself looking for the physical features and expressions that link close relatives.

"Faces of Aging" is actually a small portion of McGing's overall exhibit, which is dominated by color landscape photos shot in Ireland andScotland. These range from a panoramic shot of snow-capped mountains in Ireland to a carefully composed shot of a Scottish golfer lining up another kind of shot at the famous course in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Many of her photos emphasize natural beauty and how rustic barns and castles nestle within the landscape.

She's also open to the occasional shot in which people are the center of attention. In "The Red Hat Ladies," seven red-hatted women are viewed from behind as they stand in front of a swank jewelry store window. They're all mesmerized by the expensive adornments, further reinforcing the social links between them.

McGing shares the Bernice Kish Gallery with Molly Safren, who has an exhibit of oil and charcoal paintings collectively titled "Eye Around the World."

Safren defines her figures with slender, curving lines that suggest the person without filling in much detail. In fact, much of the pictorial space is left white or filled in with bits of emotionally appropriate colors.

Typical is "Two Young Girls from Gaza," whose delicately rendered, nearly identical features make them resemble dolls. Pale shades of blue, gray and white bring out the calmness of the side-by-side posing.

This subdued tone extends to paintings in which the subject is expressing strong emotion.

In "Haitian Woman Mourns," the seated woman holds her hands up to her chin as if trying to keep herself upright at a time of such overwhelming sorrow. There isn't much detail in this portrait, however, and so it's left up to your imagination to supply any individual identity or narrative.

Likewise, figures presumably as animated as a "Woman Playing Violin" are depicted in a relatively quiet and non-specific manner. Assertive lines define the violin's bow and the body of the instrument, but the woman herself is just suggested by a few lines and gently splashed colors.

The one painting in her exhibit that's definitely more extroverted surely possesses this trait owing to the subject matter. In "Mardi Gras Reveler," a purple-faced woman has gold-colored accents on parts of her face. Actual feathers and beads also have been applied to the canvas. It's party time.

Marie McGing and Molly Safren exhibit through Aug. 13 at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, at 10400 Cross Fox Lane, in Wilde Lake Village Green, Columbia. Call 410-730-3987 or go to http://www.wildelake.org.

Beerbohm's 'Odd Birds'

Those who move fast still have time to see an exhibit of small mixed-media sculptures by Ken Beerbohm, "Odd Birds," at the Artists' Gallery. These whimsical, pun-obsessed pieces include "House Sitter," in which a bird rests atop a house; "Birdie," in which a bird plays golf; and "Swift Lift," in which a bird rides atop a missile.

Beerbohm's exhibit runs through Friday, July 29 at Artists' Gallery, 10227 Wincopin Circle in downtown Columbia. Call 410-740-8249 or go to http://www.artistsgallerycolumbia.com.

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