Gliese goes outdoors by going inside her imagination

It is in Marian Gliese's nature to see the natural world in a slightly abstracted and very colorful way. Her exhibit of paintings at the Artists' Gallery, "Nature's Kaleidoscope," features trees, birds, flowers and landscapes that reflect this artist's whimsical approach.

Indeed, her whimsical orientation often gets expressed in the titles of her works. In "Whimsical Trees XXI," the trees are slender forms whose arcing branches are lyrical expressions rather than literal depictions of what you'll see growing on the lawn outside the gallery.

This painting is also typical of her style in its inclusion of a bird perched on a branch. In this particular case, the bird is a tiny white owl whose beady black eyes stare you down.

Although birds of a feather flock together in nature, Gliese remains true to her spare sensibility by keeping their numbers at the low end. Typically, there are no more than one or two birds per painting.

In "Whimsical Trees XXV," two purple-toned birds share a branch and regard each other with what amounts to friendship. The two blue-hued birds in "Whimsical Trees XXVIII" seem to be more than just friends, because their beaks affectionately meet.

The above-mentioned paintings depict trees and birds from a bit of a distance, but other paintings rely on close-up detail. The two birds sharing a branch in "Serene Moment" have feathers sporting such assertive colors as red, orange and purple. The close view also calls your attention to their orange claws and yellow beaks.

Flowers make an occasional close-up appearance, as in the blue butterfly resting against a yellow flower in "Golden Nectar."

Not only are these paintings all about flora and fauna, but even the occasional human presence is only there by implication. In other words, you won't see any people.

The Indian culture of the southwestern desert is referenced in several paintings, among them "Native II." Its panoramic view depicts four white stone dwellings nestled against lofty mountains topped by a night sky.

These buildings do not seem to be occupied, so there are no human inhabitants currently living in Gliese's wild yet peaceful kingdom.

Marian Gliese exhibits through Sept. 27 at the Artists' Gallery, in the American City Building at 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. Call 410-740-8249 or go to

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