By Mike Giuliano
4:27 PM EST, December 10, 2012
Visitors to The Meeting House Gallery won't see any straightforward realism in the group exhibit "Holidays." Instead, these artists often rely on spare lines and blocks of color to suggest the everyday world.
The most overtly realistic of them, Ingrid Cowen Hass, has music-themed prints in which she uses a minimum of lines to represent musicians performing in small ensembles. In "Reflections of Schubert," a pianist and a vocalist are defined with relatively few lines. Similarly, the five musicians in "Brass Fanfare" and the trio in "Hot Jazz" are clearly recognizable and yet not detailed.
Hass also has watercolors in this exhibit, such as the classical music-inspired "Double Concerto." The performers in this watercolor are depicted with characteristically thin lines and little by way of shading or other physical detail.
As with her other depictions of musicians, this is an ensemble caught in performance. There is an angular quality to their bodies and also to their instruments, conveying how they move as they make music.
Slender definitional lines also can be found in this exhibit's pen and pencil drawings by Karen Lynn Gray. She has a particular interest in patterning.
In "Sunflowers," for instance, her schematic rendering does not give much detail. That's because she's interested in emphasizing the natural patterns formed by the petals of these large flowers.
Gray sets her floral and otherwise organic imagery swirling in "Bountiful," whose coiling shape essentially replicates the shape of the cornucopia placed at the center of the composition.
Striking a balance between representation and abstraction, Susan Feller combines digital photographic images of people and abstract washes of color in her mixed medium works. Typical is "Reconciliation," in which the photographic image of folded hands seemingly floats within the grayish wash surrounding it. Other works feature hands that are held in ways suggesting prayer and friendship.
Feller also has a "Holding Patterns" series in which photographs of entire figures prompt you to consider them in terms of individual psychology. Of course, these people are surrounded by washes of color and scattered bits of representational imagery and calligraphic marks. That's why their identities ultimately seem as fluid and unfixed as their surroundings.
The remaining artists in this exhibit leave realistic representation behind, but their abstract artwork does have organic allusions.
Joyce J. Ritter's art quilts use bands of differently colored cloth to suggest natural landscapes. In "Canyon," a silvery band of cloth suggests a river, and the earth-toned bands of cloth above and below it suggest the flanking rock formations. A related quilt, "Canyon Piece," even has a schematic representation of the sun.
Elizabeth Kosterich's sterling silver necklaces and other jewelry also have organic associations.
"Earth Connections" uses earth-toned colors. "Grasses in the Wind" includes grass-evocative lines painted on a disk. The design of "For Sun, Sand, Waves" incorporates lines and colors that conjure up ocean waves hitting the shore.
On first glance, it might appear as if Rhona LK Schonwald has affixed crumpled pieces of white cloth to canvas in her numbered series of works. What initially seems to be cloth actually is clay, however, and its thin folds lend themselves to the many variations achieved throughout this series.
Schonwald's earthy material is given elegant treatment here, and that impression is furthered by the artist's use of gold embroidery thread that's selectively wrapped around the clay forms.
"Holidays" runs through Jan. 5 at The Meeting House Gallery, in the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, in Columbia. Call 410-730-4090.