There is so much constant movement in our world that it takes an artist to translate some of that motion into a lasting image. In the aptly titled exhibit "Motion" at the Artists' Gallery in Columbia, painters Rana Geralis and Nancy Lee Davis encourage you to linger and look at the animals, people and cars that ordinarily don't slow down for inspection.
This pairing of two artists is at its most concentrated in the side-by-side installation of two very small works that amount to portraits of individual animals: Columbia resident Geralis has a watercolor, "Paint Pony," and Clarksville resident Davis has an oil painting, "Cow Eating."
That little picture of a pony is but one of many equine subjects that Geralis has in this show. This artist often favors side profile views that call your attention to the handsome figure cut by these beautiful creatures. In "Little Rider," that side profile portrait is visually emphasized by having the golden-hued horse standing against an abstracted blue and green background. In "White Horse," the side view makes it seem as if this horse is proudly posing for its portrait.
Such works effectively give a sense of frozen movement, because these animals associated with speed are shown at rest. However, Geralis also has pictures conveying what the horses are like when they're in motion. The oil painting "Racing Action" is among the works that make you want to place a bet during what is, after all, Preakness season.
Davis pretty much leaves the animals to Geralis. In her demographically and geographically diverse oil paintings, Davis likes to show people whose ordinary movements have been frozen for a moment.
In "Waiting Tables," a waiter stands next to an unoccupied table whose white tablecloth complements the waiter's white shirt. This seems to be a calm moment before what any restaurant hopes will be a rush of customers.
Speaking of a meditative moment, "Monks Walking" shows a couple of monks under an umbrella. They're walking away from us, so we think more about their physical form than their personalities. The shades of purple that predominate in this painting contribute to a contemplative and harmonious sensibility.
Davis often has her subjects turned away from us. In "Spanish Dancing," two female dancers have their backs to us. They're motionless, but their red dresses and red fans announce that they're poised to spring into flamenco action.
This artist's travels include pictures of everyday life in Cuba. In "Cuban Farmer," this rustic-looking figure is, yes, viewed from the back as he walks away from us. His wardrobe is so old-fashioned that he seems like a figure from an earlier time.
And the cultural quirk that has many modern Cubans still driving very old American cars is reflected in "Cuban Vehicle." This is a portrait of an ancient vehicle that presumably still gets somebody around town. It's enjoying a well-deserved rest at the moment.
Rana Geralis and Nancy Lee Davis exhibit through May 24 at the Artists' Gallery in the American City Building, 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. Call 410-740-8249 or go to http://www.artistsgallerycolumbia.com.