Cold weather arrives with Bonita Glaser show

Fall and winter have been on Bonita Glaser's mind, and now they're depicted in her exhibit "Familiar Journeys" at the Artists' Gallery in Columbia. Although her subject matter extends beyond those two seasons, viewing the show in mid-October does make you sensitive to every dropped leaf and fallen snowflake.

The watercolor medium facilitates the atmospheric effects and overall moods she's going after in her seasonal views. Colors melt and softly glow in these works.

In "Autumn Gold," Glaser provides a close-up view of tightly spaced trees in a forest. Neighboring shades of colors including brown and green emphasize the dense growth, but it's too peaceful a scene to become gloomy or claustrophobic.

She dramatically opens up for a more panoramic view in "South Mountain, Autumn." A fence-lined rural road cuts through a rolling pasture in a watercolor that has the crisp definitional lines you would expect to see on a sunny fall day. The location is pretty much the same in "South Mountain, Winter," but the snowy field and overcast sky nearly obscure the fence-lined road and other landscape features.

Additional winter scenes include "Snowy Snowy Night," in which the predominant shades of blue and white make for a meditatively quiet nocturnal scene; "Little Patuxent Winter," in which the brownish tones used for both the river and the flanking trees aren't lightened much by the occasional patches of snow on the ground; and "Activities Canceled," in which three tiny human figures are easy to miss amidst a park setting that's so completely blanketed with snow that standing in the snow is probably the only activity that hasn't been canceled.

For a break from all that cold whiteness, have a look at "Summer Breeze." More abstractly conceived than most of the 16 watercolors in this show, it has a recognizable tree trunk surrounded by slices of color conveying a sense of how a blue-and-white sky would be glimpsed through tree branches.

More realistically rendered, "High Noon" depicts people gathered under broad umbrellas on a beach. It's a sun-bathed scene that's made especially festive by the rainbow-patterned designs on most of the umbrellas.

No particular season is announced by one of the finest watercolors in the show. "Harbor Rest" is such a small-scale work that you have to pull up very close to get a good look. It depicts three sailboats whose absence of sails indicates that they truly are resting on a sea that does not have any waves. Purple-gray colors dominate the scene almost completely. The near-monochromatic qualities of this image somewhat resemble the atmospheric effects that Whistler achieved in his watercolors done along the Thames in London.

Among the trips through nature that the artist takes, one that keeps her within Howard County is shown in "The Old Firehouse." This distinctively yellow-hued landmark in Ellicott City occupies much of the foreground, with the middle distance filled with relatively loose washes of green suggesting the tops of trees, and a prominently sited church steeple in the background to further place us in this town's historic district.

Bonita Glaser exhibits through Oct. 26 at Artists' Gallery, in the lobby of the American City Building at 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. Call 410-740-8249 or go to

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