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'Visions of Hope' art exhibit marks James Rouse's 100th birthday

An art exhibit designed to lift your spirits, "Visions of Hope" is true to its name at the Columbia Art Center. The group show was put together by Blossoms of Hope, Howard County Tourism and Promotion, and the Columbia Archives.

This annual exhibit's proceeds have helped support the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital.

And, speaking of an optimistic spirit, this year's exhibit also acknowledges the 100th anniversary of James Rouse's birth on April 26, 1914. The exhibit includes biographical texts and photos about Rouse's founding of Columbia and his other civic-minded activities around the country.

In exhibition terms, some of the artwork directly attests to the Blossoms of Hope cancer-coping effort, other pieces allude to Rouse's accomplishments, and yet other pieces simply express good cheer.

The Blossoms of Hope campaign is most overtly addressed by Anna DeBose-Hankins' mixed media painting "A Vision of Hope," which incorporates inspirational written statements, a painted depiction of a pink ribbon, and actual circular mirrors that literally enable viewers to see themselves facing the issues involved here.

Addressing the exhibit theme in a somewhat more indirect manner, Willie Kalyniuk's clay "Blossom Pot" includes the shape of a single blossom atop its lid. This pot was awarded a third place prize in the show.

Where Rouse's legacy is concerned, it's the subject of works including Dora Strope's watercolor "Columbia's People Tree." That downtown Columbia sculpture's stylized human figures are treated even more abstractly in this watercolor, which likewise depicts the adjacent waterfront in a softened and almost dreamy manner.

Indirectly alluding to Rouse as an urban visionary, Chaya Schapiro's ink drawing "New Town" is composed of closely spaced houses that are drawn with schematic lines and blocky forms.

Most of the art in this exhibit does not refer directly to either the fight against cancer or Rouse's fight for better communities. Instead, it offers encouragement in a more broadly philosophical way.

Trudy Babchak's first-place-winning acrylic painting "High Hopes" depicts female dancers whose upraised arms suggest the mood engendered by their movement. These nearly abstracted figures are placed within a totally abstract composition whose swirling interplay of reds, blues and yellows also has a dance-evocative quality.

Eileen Williams' second-place-winning fabric and mixed media "In My Mind's Eye" consists of a triangular-shaped, wall-mounted panel whose entire surface is densely covered by fabric-coated geometric forms. The panel's surface also supports three face masks that have been further humanized by the addition of glasses. This work is all about what you see in your imagination, and it's an optimistic vision.

"Visions of Hope" runs through April 27 at the Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth in Long Reach Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-0075 or go to http://www.ColumbiaArtCenter.org.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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