It seems appropriate that the three-artist exhibit at the Howard County Arts Council, "Tension and Flow: Sculpture in Flux," sprawls over so much of the floor and walls in its Gallery I. Art will seem to cover much of Howard County this weekend, as the arts council's annual "Road to the Arts" features coordinated receptions for exhibits in various galleries in Ellicott City, Columbia, Historic Savage Mill and Fulton.
Unlike well-behaved traditional sculptures that are content to rest upon pedestals, the works in "Tension and Flow: Sculpture in Flux" are unruly in various ways. Susan Morrison's floor-mounted sculptures are supported by steel rods that minimally allude to a pedestal format, and the fiber sculptures themselves are at best playfully suggestive of representational subject matter. "Bloom" does evoke a blooming flower and "Pink Bird" has overlapping pink "feathers" that would be suitable for a flamingo, but they're sufficiently abstracted to resist being, er, pigeonholed.
More overtly evocative and also occupying even more gallery space are works by Benjamin Entner in which graphite-coated sheets of paper are joined together to make hollow sculptural forms that are kept inflated thanks to the turn-on bathroom fans inserted into them. "Still Life: Graphite on Paper (Hare and Carrot)" does indeed have a gray-hued giant hare sprawled across the wall and floor and an equally gray carrot next to it. Another sculpture has a make-believe plucked chicken so big resting on the gallery floor that it would provide a feast for starving artists.
If Morrison and Entner make objects that somewhat resemble plants and animals, Stewart Watson's sculptural assemblages incorporate actual pieces of antique furniture and other possessions that belong to the artist's family. In "Shoe," a circa 1870 shoe belonging to the artist's great-grandmother has been placed in a protective plastic sleeve, mounted against the wall like a work of art, and made even artier by the artist's application of green fabric fringe around the shoe. "Stationary Amblitude" does something similar with a circa 1930 walnut tea cart belonging to the artist's mother.
There's also a sense of sculpture taking over gallery space in the two-artist exhibit "Of Place and Space" in the arts center's Gallery II. Mary Annella "Mimi" Frank has numerous tiny steel chairs in a series whose name, "Cassiopeia Dreams of Better Days," refers to a Greek mythological figure tied to a chair rotating in the night sky. Some of the exhibited mini-chairs rest on wall-mounted shelves, other chairs are mounted directly on the wall, some rest on the floor, and some of the ones on the floor are piled up to form a chair skyscraper.
Libby Barbee's "Flora and Fauna, Chesapeake Bay" is a wall-mounted piece consisting of a gridded arrangement of 56 pieces of cut white paper whose incisions provide exposed layers that are marked up with ink drawings of fish, crabs and vegetation. Although Barbee's work is not a sculpture, its incised layers literally give it a bit of pictorial depth.
"Tension and Flow: Sculpture in Flux" and "Of Place and Space" run through Oct. 18 at the Howard County Arts Countil, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. Also, a lobby exhibit of "ManneqART: Sculpture on the Human Form" runs through Sept. 28. There is a reception Friday, Sept. 20, 6-8 p.m., which includes the arts council's annual meeting, grant awards, and a presentation with Howard County executive Ken Ulman. There also will be a gallery talk about contemporary sculpture on Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. And the arts council also is a good place to get information about the 12 ARTsites sculptures recently given longterm installations at outdoor sites around the county. Call 410-313-2787 or go to hocoarts.org.
Receptions around county
The other "Road to the Arts" receptions are spread out over the weekend:
• On Friday, Sept. 20 from 5- 7 p.m., the Howard County Department of Education Professional Gallery has a reception for "GT Summer Institute for Talent Development: Visual Art Student Showcase." This exhibit runs through Oct. 4 at 10910 Clarksville Pike in Ellicott City. Call 410-313-6885 or go to hcpss.org/academics/arts/visualarts.
• There is a reception Sept. 20, 5- 9 p.m., for "Wiley Purkey — Inside the Studio" at Perspectives Art Gallery, 8191 Main St., in Ellicott City. The show runs through Sept. 29. Call 410-461-7763 or go to jsrassociates.net.
• Also in Ellicott City, Still Life Gallery Fine Art and Custom Framing has a reception Sept. 20, 6-10 p.m., for "Art Mojo!" The exhibit runs through Sept. 29 at 8173 Main St. Call 410-461-1616 or go to stilllifegallery.net.
• The Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, has a reception Sept. 20, 6-8 p.m., for "ManneqART: Sculpture on the Human Form." It runs through Sept. 28. Call 410-730-0075 or go to http://www.columbiaartcenter.org. On Saturday, Sept. 21, Artists' Gallery has a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. for an exhibit by Marian Gliese and member artists. The exhibit runs through Sept. 27 in the American City Building at 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. Call 410-740-8249 or go to artistsgallerycolumbia.com.
• The Meeting House Gallery has a reception Sept. 21, 2:30-4:30 p.m., for the group exhibit "We Are Family." It runs through Nov. 9 at 5885 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia. Call 410-730-4090 or go to themeetinghouse.org/gallery.htm.
• There is a reception Sept. 21, 5-7 p.m., for distinct exhibits by ceramic artists Kyle Bauer and Ben Freund at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. The shows run through Sept. 29. Call 443-518-4189 or go to howardcc.edu.
• On Sunday, Sept. 22, an exhibit by Roxana Sinex and Robin Kinney has a reception from 1 to 5 p.m. at Roxy's Art, Historic Savage Mill at 8600 Foundry St. in Savage. The show runs through Dec. 26. Call 301-776-8285 or go to roxys-art.com.
• The exhibit "African Art from the Collectors' Collections II" has a reception Sept. 22, 2-4 p.m., at the African Art Museum of Maryland. The show runs through Aug. 2014 at 11711 E. Market Place in Fulton. Call 301-490-6070 or go to africanartmuseum.org.