By Mike Giuliano
11:50 AM EDT, June 28, 2013
Various mediums are represented in the Maryland Art League's exhibit at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House. Some of the most interesting creative work can be seen in a compact installation of ceramics within this group show.
Walter Gran has a really personalized take on a familiar vessel form in his handbuilt clay "Snowball." Although this bulbous-shaped, white-toned vessel is not especially large, it possesses a solid and strong appearance. It also conveys a sense of how it was made, because its rough-sided surface bluntly registers the surface-elevating marks made by the artist's fingers.
Installed next to it is a very different piece by the same artist. Gran's handbuilt clay "Green Leaf" is a tray whose surface is composed of closely spaced strands of clay. Mostly white in coloration, it does have enough green lines to make this tray resemble the vegetal vein-marked surface of a large leaf.
Harmoniously sited adjacent to Gran's pieces is Diane Prather's handbuilt clay "Rope Jar." This lidded jar has a few round holes poked into its sides, with rope-evocative clay strands poking through those holes and partly wrapped around the vessel.
If you find yourself contemplating how these ceramic objects were crafted, that taps into the educational mission of the Maryland Art League. The nonprofit organization, which has around 70 members, holds its meetings at the Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City. It also mounts exhibits at venues in the area.
Pastel is another medium on display in the Maryland Art League's current show at Slayton House. Joyce Lister's pastel "Sentinel" depicts a single tall tree isolated in a field and backed by looming mountains. The straw-yellow field serves as the relatively neutral setting for this tree, which is a soaring conifer. The pastel medium is appealingly conducive to the assertive shades of yellow, purple and blue that Lister works into her composition. Lister has a related pastel, "Pingree Pines," that relies on similarly vivid colors.
Another artist working with pastel is Maryellen Gordon, whose "Riot at Centennial Lake" has a title that initially might sound alarming. There's no need to call out the National Guard, however, because the riot in question involves the strong shades of orange, yellow and dark green that define the shoreline-hugging trees in autumn, as well as the reflections cast by those trees on the mirrorlike surface of the lake.
Working in watercolor, Elizabeth Burin's "Iris Noon" is an abstracted treatment of that flower. Although the floral petals are gently outlined, this depiction otherwise amounts to melting and intermingling tones of purple, pink, yellow and green.
Among those displaying photographs, Bruce Blum sticks close to home with his black-and-white "Howard County Conservancy." Both the fields in the foreground and the old house in the background speak to this county's agricultural heritage. Even the utility poles and lines crossing the width of the image do not seem like an overly obtrusive modern presence. The photo's overall effect is to document and implicitly endorse the efforts to conserve the rural legacy.
If Blum's panoramic photo relies upon subtle modulations in black, white and gray to present a local landscape, Jerry Weinstein's color photo "Purple Coneflower" is quite different in nature. It's a tightly cropped, sharply defined and colorful depiction of a butterfly resting on a single flower so large that it qualifies as a landing field that's open during the summer.
Also included in this exhibit and working in a variety of mediums are Betty Myers, Joanna Kos, Rhoda Seiden, Douglas Hanewinckel, Ann von Lossberg, Nadia Azumi, Linda Trope, George Zheng, Ann Horner, David Pumplin, Laverne Hammond and Pam Jones.
The Maryland Art League exhibit runs through Aug. 15 at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in Wilde Lake Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-3987 or go to http://www.wildelake.org.