The group exhibit "Art Howard County 2013" showcases quite an assortment of subjects and styles at the Howard County Arts Council. Juror Fahimeh Vahdat, chairwoman of visual arts at Howard Community College, has picked work demonstrating the artistic diversity found within the county's art community.
One artistic subject that's fittingly well-represented is Ellicott City itself. The historic district is always ready to pose for pictures. The the challenge for artists today is to find distinctive ways to present this familiar subject.
Duane Lutsko rises to the challenge with the oil painting "Main Street." Although its view from the firehouse looking down Main Street definitely qualifies as a familiar place for artists to work, what sets this painting apart is the intensity of its colors. There are strikingly blue mailboxes and parking signs, a red parked car, and other assertively depicted aspects of this streetscape.
Setting up by the railroad bridge at the opposite end of Main Street, Janice Kirsh also has occupied a spot where many artists have stood in the past. What distinguishes her oil painting "Morning Delivery" is that the early hour warrants the hazy shades of brown and gray found in much of the picture.
Incisively conveying just how tightly packed the buildings are in this old town, Brian Gray's oil painting "On Tongue Row" calls your attention to the town's rough stone walls, as well as its narrow sidewalks and staircases.
Crossing the Patapsco River and venturing into Baltimore County, Mark Coates has an oil painting titled "Oella Patriots" depicting American and Maryland flags hanging outside a deli situated on a steep hill.
Other oil painters in the show tackle an eclectic range of subjects. Although the still-life subject matter is very traditional in Marcia Palmer's "Sewing Room" and Stephanie Boyer's "Crockery and Shells," your attention is held by the admirable sharpness of their images.
Several painters have just as much technical skill, but opt for relatively unconventional subject matter. Leah Lewman's oil painting "Ghosts" is an austere composition in which virtually the only figurative element is an arm with an upturned hand that's stretched across the floor of a room in which gray and white essentially are the only colors. Oh, and the fingers of the otherwise unseen human being's other arm also poke into the tightly cropped image. This quietly enigmatic painting even has a gray-painted frame to keep your thoughts confined to that somber color.
Sandra Dietzel's oil painting "Turkish Fish" astutely deploys black, white and gray to depict densely grouped fish whose beady eyes vacantly stare back at you.
Just as tightly packed together are the fleshy green and pink leaves in Lynda Mitic's oil painting "Zooaloe." This aloe plant is seen at such close quarters that you're prompted to think about it in what amounts to anatomical terms.
Among photographers in the show, John J. Stier has a strikingly composed color photo, "White Sands Tracks," in which footsteps are the only sign of a human presence in a desert sand dune. There is a real contrast between the sandy landscape and the blue sky above it.
Several of the exhibiting photographers work in black-and-white. David Pumplin's "Ladders, Acoma Pueblo, AZ" makes the most of its black-and-white format by emphasizing the dark shadow cast by ladders leaning against an adobe wall.
There are two photographers, both working in black-and-white, who also both focus on Buddhist temple architecture in Asia. Ann Von Lossberg's photos taken in Myanmar feature two temple interiors and one temple exterior, while Jacqueline Quinn LaRocca's three photos taken in Thailand all go for wider views showing how temple complexes fit within the landscape.
Artists in this exhibit exploring the possibilities of mixed medium sculpture include Ralph R. Baney, whose "Sinbad's Treasure Chest" presents a dark wood rounded form with a rope attached to it that seems capable of functioning as part of a pulley system.
Other mediums represented in this exhibit include a wall-hanging fabric piece by Elaine Katz, "Creation of the World," in which the imagery includes the sun and stars, vegetation, wildlife, and even Adam and Eve. The world's first man and woman are smiling, as if still enjoying the honeymoon phase of creation.
Also exhibiting are Roberta Kine Laric, Mary Jo Tydlacka, Linda Diane Bunk, Eileen Williams, Linda Newton, Warren C. Chambers, Tae Won Kim, Nick Brienza, Diana Marta, Judith Estrin, Roxana Sinex, Karen Winston-Levin, Inna Coleman, Matt DeLong, Joyce J. Ritter, Lisa M. Orton, Diane Gibson, Nelson Steele, Cheryl MacLean, Olga Bolgar, Daniel Hart, Stan Wenocur, Marie McGing and Jeff Hensley.
"Art Howard County 2013" runs through Dec. 13 in Gallery I at the Howard County Arts Council, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. Running concurrently in Gallery II is "Complex Transformations," featuring work by Allie Rex, Alice Whealin and Eric Standley. Call 410-313-2787 or go to http://www.hocoarts.org.