Tucked in between restaurants and clubs at Power Plant Live is a nondescript corridor that leads to something very, well, descript — the always lively Maryland Art Place and its latest exhibit, "Young Blood."
This show, featuring works by nine recent Masters of Fine Arts degree recipients from the Baltimore area, provides a visual adventure that starts at the front door with a mixed-media installation. Sarah McNeil's "Manchine" reflects what she describes as "concepts of philosophical toys and psychological machines."
Resting on a pedestal is a small plastic model of a suburban house. A light glows in a front window; inside, a tiny midcentury-style kitchen table is piled with printed matter. At the back of the model, through open cellar doors, a stop-motion animation reveals a man in athletic shorts lifting one leg, exercising.
A short distance from this miniature installation is a full-sized, midcentury table, like the one in the model, also piled with printed matter — leaflets, magazines, ads — related to physical exercise.
And all of that comes just at the front door of the gallery.
"It's a good summer show," said MAP's program manager, Sofia Rutka. "It's fun."
This is the fourth annual "Young Blood" exhibit, chosen by MAP's program advisory committee. The artists earned their MFAs within the past year at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Towson University, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Maryland, College Park.
A bit of a house theme runs through the show. A large sculpture by Adam Junior called "Nowhere Else to Go" involves plaster homes spread across the top of the piece, supported by an intricate, lattice-like structure of balsa wood — a telling metaphor for what Junior describes as the "precarious structure of relationships" supporting the human race.
If the McNeil and Junior items take a micro approach to houses, Robert Guevara goes macro. His "Precipice and Void," filling up a sizable portion of one gallery room, uses drywall, wood, steel, tubing and an electric blower.
The huge apparatus breathes — a wireless motion sensor triggers the blower, which sends air beneath the installation's tarp-covered sections. The expanding materials seem to be reliving memories of past usage, or perhaps straining toward some future purpose.
If there's something of a haunted element in Guevara's work, it's even more pronounced in the other pieces sharing the room.
"if you could," a found-object sculpture by Jesse Burrowes, consists of three battered musical instrument cases balanced atop shovels anchored in cement. From the bottoms of the cases sprout little alligator feet, which seem to be in motion, trying to flee.
Memory and loss, as well as humor, animate a group of painted "Still Lives" by Katie Taylor, filled with transitory images — variously filled honey bear jars, 17-year cicadas, browning banana peels, used tea bags.
Pieces by Wun Ting Wendy Tai also address issues of time and mortality. "The Measurement of Mourning," a subtle, backlit wall-mounted sculpture of acrylic, aluminum and glass, consists of small medical vials in neat rows, like pieces of a game that is over.
Tai's "Salt Water — No. 2" employs three identical funnel-like vessels suspended over piles of rock salt; water will slowly drip from the containers, changing the consistency of the salt, throughout the exhibit's run.
Amy Boone-McCreesh's prismatic items made from paper and other found objects, Jill Fannon's playful "performance photographs" and Linling Lu's elegant recycled-material "Gentle Shields" fill out the prismatic, multi-sensory show.
If you go
The "Young Blood" exhibit runs through Aug. 27 at Maryland Art Place, 8 Market Place, Suite 100. Call 410-962-8565 or go to mdartplace.org.