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Dunn and Forester provide a closer look

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The painter Diane Dunn and the photographer Joan Forester have different mediums, but they have a shared tendency to get close to their subjects in their exhibit "Patterns" at the Artists' Gallery.

Dunn's acrylic paintings actually alternate between those that get up close and others that pull back a bit further from the subject matter. The exploratory nature of the exhibited paintings owes a lot to the fact that most of them were inspired by a trip the artist took to the west coast of Costa Rica.

Among the paintings in which one gets a wider view are those in which beaches along the Pacific Ocean are the subject. In "Mirror Beach," the title alludes to how the same shade of blue is used to depict the sky and sea. In "Coconuts," there is lively surf meeting a beach whose sand is covered with coconuts extending back toward purple-hued mountains way off in the distance.

The landscape view is more tightly cropped in the finest painting here, "School Bus, Costa Rica," in which we see the back of the bus as it travels down a dusty dirt road. There is thick jungle off to the side of the road. One gets the sense of the vehicle heading through a tropical wilderness.

Moving yet closer is "Toucans," emphasizing bright plumage whose colors include orange, black, pink and yellow. There also are tightly cropped little paintings that amount to animal portraits of a "Poison Dart Frog" and "Ibis and Spoonbill."

These are realistic paintings, but occasionally they are slightly abstracted in close-up compositions. In "Lily Pads with Koi" and three paintings in a "Waterlilies" series, for instance, the fish and flowers are colorful forms set against pitch-black water.

Forester also likes to get close to her subjects. Her sharply lensed shots bring out details and, yes, patterns that a more casual glance might not reveal.

Forester often does this with very tightly cropped pictures of motor vehicles. In a photo of a car, "Chassis, Budd Car," and a photo of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, "Hot on Harley," the viewer's attention is drawn to all of the coiling metal parts that can be thought of as vehicular anatomy.

Sometimes Forester pulls back for a wider view that places a vehicle within its environment. In "Once Upon a Time," a very old and seriously weather-battered car rests in a field that itself looks the worse for wear.

Besides turning her focus on cars, the photographer gets close to other subjects. In "Why Not?" and "Wall Art," graffiti-covered walls seem all the more painterly when seen in such photographic close-up. And on a gentler side, "Delft Designs" features a tabletop arrangement of dainty blue-and-white china suitable for a reception.

Diane Dunn and Joan Forester exhibit through Dec. 6 at the Artists' Gallery, in the American City Building at 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. There is a reception Friday, Nov. 8, 6- 8 p.m.; and a Meet the Artists event Saturday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m.- noon. Call 410-740-8249 or go to http://www.artistsgallerycolumbia.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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