By Mike Giuliano, Baltimore Sun Media Group
6:01 AM EST, December 20, 2013
The Artists' Gallery makes the most of its compact space in a downtown Columbia office building. And its all-member holiday show and sale covers seemingly every available surface with art in various media.
As you would expect from a group exhibit that arrived with the onset of winter weather, this show has its share of reminders of the season. They range from directly representational depictions of winter to other, less direct references.
As part of the latter group, Winnie Coggins' clay vessel "Winter Winds" has white bands worked into its bumpy surface. The effect is of a strong wind raking a brown landscape.
Stylistically situated midway between realism and abstraction, Jing-Jy Chen's watercolor-and-ink "Winter" incorporates direct references to a tree-covered landscape, but its melding of black, gray and white tones also has a semi-abstract quality.
Straightforward realism can be found in Barbara Steinacker's pastel "Baby, It's Cold Outside." The artist sets this scene inside a presumably warm room, where the viewer first contemplates a candle placed just inside the window and then looks outside to gaze upon a snowy yard.
Setting up his camera outside on a cold day, photographer Carl Segal's "Bactrian Camels in the Snow" has two of those furry beasts looking very comfortable as they stand in a snowy landscape.
Whatever the season, many of the artists in this exhibit like to set their scenes out in nature.
Deborah Maklowski's colored-pencil drawing "Stone Barn" astutely brings out architectural detail in the subject's stone walls. The artist's drawing "Water's Edge" similarly makes sharp distinctions between rocks along the shore and a very blue body of water. Maklowski switches media for her pastel "Red Barn at Massey," with the softer attributes of pastel making for a visually softer image of a red barn set in a yellow field.
Some of these artists are willing to travel quite a distance for their natural subject matter.
Jerry Weinstein's photograph "Boat in the Harbor — Iceland" bears a title that might have you reaching for yet another layer of clothing, but this appears to be a warm-weather scene. The boat in question is a Viking-style vessel whose traditional design is in contrast to the modern-looking boats docked behind it. You get the sense that all of these boats are intended for weekend pleasure cruises.
For a Scandinavian scene that's definitely cold, John Stier's photo "Norwegian Winter" is a striking depiction of a small red cabin isolated in a snowy landscape. It's very pretty, but would you really want to live there?
For an artist who really makes a direct connection with nature, check out Jim Oliver's "Poplar Burl Plate." This slice of wood features a considerable range of tan and brown shades.
The exhibit also offers a number of representational paintings and other artworks in which the nature in question is human nature.
Among those works depicting people, some of the smallest examples are by Nancy Davis. Her tiny oil painting "Two Friends" depicts two children holding hands. They're seen from behind, making you feel as if you've gained a quiet glimpse into a friendship.
Davis has an equally small oil painting, "Girl and Birds," that also seems like it has captured a calm and private moment. A little girl wearing a blue dress is kneeling in order to greet two birds on the ground. That girl seems at home in an exhibit that often takes us close to nature.
The all-member holiday show and sale at the Artists' Gallery runs through Jan. 31 in the American City Building, 10227 Wincopin Circle, Columbia. Information: 410-740-8249 or http://www.artistsgallerycolumbia.com.