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Realists and abstractionists meet at Meeting House Gallery

By Mike Giuliano

10:40 AM EDT, October 2, 2012

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The four very different artists in The Meeting House Gallery exhibit "Eclectic" live up to that title, but they can be divided into two basic groups: Two of them are abstract artists, and two of them are representational artists.

Among the latter group, the most stringently realistic is Victor Pozhidayev. Although his landscape-oriented oil paintings and pastels obviously could be displayed at any time of year, fall seems like just the right season. His oil painting "Autumn Light" deftly captures the effect of sunlight being filtered through a forest. The brown and green tones deployed for the trees and forest floor are characteristic of the subdued and perhaps gently melancholic mood the artist achieves in much of his exhibited work.

Another seasonally appropriate oil painting is "Forest Road," in which deep browns set the tone for the entire landscape. The trees are nearly bare, for instance, but still have some brown leaves clinging to the branches. Stylistically, this painting resembles the so-called Barbizon painters in mid-19th-century France.

A reminder that colder weather lies ahead can be glimpsed in two oil paintings, "First Snow" and "Frozen Waterfall." Tell yourself that these scenes look beautiful, and don't tell yourself about the corresponding temperatures.

Pozhidayev's other work includes several urban scenes that conjure up street scenes in Old World cities. The pastel "City" is a nocturnal view of silhouetted people gathered on a street lined with buildings that appear to be hundreds of years old.

The second representational artist, Rosalind Alumanah, has acrylic paintings and watercolors depicting African village life. These are schematic works in which she simplifies human forms, has spare background detail and selectively uses color to highlight clothing patterns.

The acrylic painting "African Dance" is a good example of her approach, because the four dancing women are largely defined by their extended limbs. Your attention also is drawn to their colorful garments.

Alumanah supplements her typical figurative approach with the application of actual beads and pearls to make a necklace for the woman proudly standing in the foreground in the mixed medium painting "Village Scene." And she ventures into abstraction with the acrylic painting "African Motifs," which has swirling black-and-white patterns that seem like they might relate to textile designs.

Of the two abstractionists, Lauren Kingsland has quilts whose generally abstract patterns sometimes suggest floral or other vegetal designs, such as in "Tropical Splendor." She also has the occasional directly representational reference, as in the photo-derived image of men atop elephants that's but a small quilt square in "Elephant Booking Kolam."

These are visually busy quilts that are at their busiest and happiest in "Sphere of Goodness," whose centered sphere consists of boisterously colored small pieces that are tightly linked together.

For total abstraction, look at the numerous acrylic paintings by Miroslava Longfield that belong to a series she calls "Mysterious Ways." Some of these works have a densely brushy backdrop of blue and black with lighter and brighter colors splattered across the dark surface. These paintings are like a cosmic soup that is stirred a bit differently from one painting to the next.

"Eclectic" runs through Nov. 4 at The Meeting House Gallery, in the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, at 5885 Robert Oliver Place, in Columbia. Call 410-730-4090 or go to http://www.themeetinghouse.org/gallery.htm.