By Mike Giuliano
9:20 AM EDT, August 7, 2013
Assertive colors grab your attention in the group exhibit "Local Color 2013" at the Artists' Gallery. It doesn't hurt that the artistic subject matter merits such bright treatment.
For a burst of pure color, have a look at Etarae Weinstein's quilt "Key Lime Pie." Its central section is comprised of variously colored horizontal strips of cloth, but what really makes you notice this quilt is a lime green-hued surrounding panel that's as inviting as, well, a key lime pie. Nudged by its prompting title, Weinstein's abstract composition does conjure up a summer dessert.
Most of the other artists in this show are much more overtly realistic in their compositions. Betta Wozniak Fraize has an acrylic painting, "Fun in Baltimore," that is a straightforward depiction of the National Aquarium and other tourist attractions. Little bursts of color are supplied by the bright red paint on the Lightship Chesapeake, which is docked next to the aquarium, and also by the green and blue, dragon-evocative small boats that tourists are using peddle power to operate.
Heading from realism to surrealism, a very different sort of aquarium is portrayed in John Duke's oil painting "The Aquarium."
Its depiction of a boy leaning against a badly abraded stucco-coated brick wall qualifies as realism, but a first-floor window in that wall is a dream-worthy aquarium. A turtle and some fish swim within a window frame that's colored a vivid blue, as if this window is an odd aquarium. Visually, the realistic wall and the surreal fish tank window seem like an even greater contrast to each other owing to the near-monochromatic paint treatment used for the wall and the festive colors used for the window.
Although many of the artists in this exhibit are cheerfully direct in their deployment of color, some are much more subdued.
One of the most appealing works in the show is Ann Horner's oil painting "Antietam." This contemplative depiction of that western Maryland battlefield features four old cannons resting in an otherwise peaceful field. People who have visited Antietam will relate to that mixture of martial and pastoral moods.
Also muted, though in a different sense, is Kathleen Stumpfel's watercolor "Delores." It presents a woman's face as a blend of brown, white and other colors that nearly blend into the similarly colored background. The watercolor medium facilitates this kind of blurring.
Several artists tap into the immediate associations made between certain foods and their coloration. Lisa Coddington's oil painting "My Maryland" is a still-life composition in which cooking pots, spice containers and a single crab definitely set the scene for a meal. That orange-hued crab is not long for this world.
For another still-life composition, check out Denise Tarbell's hanging stained glass panel "Tea Time." It includes a schematic depiction of a tea-filled glass and a half-full tea pot. As sunlight passes through "Tea Time," it does seem to warm up that tea.
Stained glass obviously lends itself to colorful treatment, but other mediums offer possibilities of their own. David McCann's "Jewelry Box" is made out of cherry and maple. Your attention is drawn to subtle differences in the grain and color of these two types of wood. Although it's one of the quieter works in this show, there's no reason you couldn't use this box to hold attention-grabbing pieces of jewelry.
"Local Color 2013" runs through Aug. 30 at the Artists' Gallery, in the American City Building at 10227 Wincopin Circle, in Columbia. Call 410-740-8249 or go to http://www.artistsgallerycolumbia.com.