By Mike Giuliano
4:21 PM EDT, June 13, 2012
The title of the current group exhibit at the Artists' Gallery, "Buy Local: Art!," is this downtown Columbia gallery's way of reminding you that Howard County artists are happy to sell you their work.
It's a timely sales pitch considering that the exhibit coincides with the Columbia Festival of the Arts, whose Lakefest events this weekend will be just yards away.
Although the gallery occupies a compact space in an office building lobby, there is a generous display of artwork in various mediums; and within each medium, you can see how individual artists explore themes and techniques.
Among the photographers, Ann Eid's "Wood Door Kuwait" is an example of how this medium obviously is suitable for documenting the world around us. It's important to frame the scene, of course, and so Eid's camera pulls back far enough to allow for a bit of architectural space around a lofty and rather austere wood door.
Other photographers pull up very close to their subjects, and likewise take advantage of the sharpness that brings out detail you otherwise might not notice. Jerry Weinstein's "Columbine" and "Bearded Iris" provide vibrantly colorful floral detail; and Carl Segal's "Striped Beauty" certainly gets closer to atiger'shead than most of us would be willing to venture.
The many technical possibilities of this medium extend to Joan Forester's hand-tinted black-and-white photograph "Fishing Shacks, Victoria By the Sea." The seven wood shacks are humble structures whose weathered boards are enlivened by the gentle shades of yellow, orange and pink that have been applied by hand to the black-and-white image; for good measure, the artist also has made the sky a pale blue.
Among the painters in this exhibit, you also get a sense of how they investigate a range of approaches to that medium.
One of them gets really close to her subject matter. Marian Gliese's oil paintings including "Pansy V" and "Orchid I" have flowers that basically fill the frame; and her gleaming colors make these little paintings grab your attention from a distance.
For a more subdued approach to color, check out Jing-Jy Chen's watercolor and ink "Blue Crab." Although the depicted crabs have an assertive shade of blue on their shells, the watery background relies on much paler shades of blue.
Speaking of blue, Kathleen Schuman's oil painting "Blue Boat Cover" makes that color the center of attention in an otherwise quiet rural composition. Your attention is drawn to the blue cover on a white boat that's being stored on land, whereas the house next to it and the natural scenery are plain by comparison.
There aren't any loud colors shouting out in another rural scene, Deborah Maklowski's pastel "Kenilworth Morning," whose rustic brown houses seem right at home beside a dirt road.
Other painters in the show work their own variations on form and color.
Deborah Hoeper's watercolor "Village By the Sea" relies upon melting green tones to indicate how a hill slopes down to meet the ocean. This watercolor essentially has a blurry patch of green meeting an expanse of blue. Ironically, the village exists in the title more than in the composition itself.
A different approach is taken by Rana Geralis, whose pastel "Colors of Racing" depicts tightly spaced horses racing our way. Although the horses definitely are a visceral presence here, the real focus is on the brightly colored jackets and caps that distinguish one jockey from the next.
Zones of color are deployed for yet another subject in Nancy Lee Davis's oil painting "Kayaker." The person in a kayak in the left foreground seems like a tiny figure in a composition mostly given over to the jagged zones of blue, purple and pink used to represent tidal flats.
Some of the artists working in other mediums also have a painterly sensibility. In Winnie Coggins' "Red Lines Over Blue," the surface of a ceramic plate is a reasonably flat surface conducive for the application of red lines and blue squiggles. If you're planning to consume local art, this plate seems made for a locavore's dinner table.
"Buy Local: Art!" runs through June 29 at the Artists' Gallery in the American City Building, 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. There is a reception Friday, June 15, 5- 8 p.m.; and art demonstrations Saturday, June 16 from 9:30 a.m.- 6:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 17 from 12:30- 4:30 p.m. Call 410-740-8249 or go to http://www.artistsgallerycolumbia.com.
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