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Galleries dress up for Columbia Festival of the Arts

By Mike Giuliano

6:00 AM EDT, June 13, 2013

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Go to the usual exhibit and you'll visualize how the artwork hanging on the gallery wall would look hanging on your living room wall. An exhibit installed at both the Columbia Art Center and Howard Community College, "Wear Art," encourages one to contemplate how women would look wearing the exhibited clothing and jewelry.

Although this Columbia Festival of the Arts-connected exhibit includes its share of whimsical creations, everything is functional. One might not be inclined to wear these items while mowing the lawn, but they'd make a lady look fashionably distinctive for a night on the town.

Perhaps it's with the summer season in mind that some of the exhibiting artists have produced lightweight and otherwise cheerful-looking wearable art.

In the Columbia Art Center portion of the exhibit, one of the most seasonally apt items is Anna Tai's "Summer Motif Shawl." Its fabric design features repeating circular shapes that may remind you of either suns or flowers; reinforcing that impression are fabric dyes, including green, yellow and orange. There's also a lot of open space left between the linked circles, so this is the sort of shawl one might want to wear on the occasional chilly evening at this time of year.

A nearby tabletop display of jewelry includes Holly Stover's "Turquoise Waters Bracelet." Its small blue-hued stones resemble beads of water. It would look cool and refreshing on the wrist.

A consistent standout in the Columbia Art Center portion of the show is Cindy Brandt. Her "Violet Shawl" has an appealingly pale color, and its gentle folds make it seem like it would flatter whoever wore it; and her "Violet Sky Top and Skirt" is true to its sky reference thanks to sky-evocative violet dye and cloud-evocative white dye on the fabric.

Other options for dressing up include Tamara Embrey's "Red Tide-Tunic," a sleek dress whose wavy horizontal bands explore variations in red patterning. Martha Simons' "Curly Kale Cardigan" has densely overlapping green material that makes this the perfect sweater to wear to an organic produce market. Just hope nobody tosses you into a shopping cart.

On a more sacred note, Martha Gilbert has created two wardrobe items that belong in church. Indeed, these are items suitable for whoever is officiating at a service. "Feed My Sheep-Liturgical Stole" features the words "Feed My Sheep" and depictions of two sheep imprinted on this blue liturgical garment; and "The Vineyard-Liturgical Stole" features linked leafy shapes that lead down to simulated bunches of purple grapes at both ends of the stole.

Although the Howard Community College portion of the exhibit did not have an itemized checklist available in the gallery at the time of review, it contains a similar mix of clothing and jewelry. Here, too, Cindy Brandt is among the most accomplished artists. One of Brandt's scarfs has shades of yellow and pink melting together so beautifully that you'll feel stylish just looking at it in the HCC gallery.

The Columbia Art Center portion of the exhibit "Wear Art" runs through June 30, with a reception Wednesday, June 19, 5 to 7 p.m. The Columbia Art Center is at 6100 Foreland Garth, in the Long Reach Village Center, in Columbia. Call 410-730-0075 or go to http://www.columbiaartcenter.org.

The Howard Community College portion of "Wear Art" runs through July 28 in the Rouse Co. Foundation Gallery, with a reception June 26, 6 to 7:30 p.m. The reception is followed at 7:30 p.m. by a free performance in HCC's Studio Theatre by What Improv Group?, whose wig-wearing characters make a fashion statement all their own.

Running concurrently in HCC's Art Department Gallery is "Lumin-Essence," an exhibit of abstracted landscape paintings by Georgia Nassikas. The painterly highlights of Nassikas' exhibit include the way in which a blue body of water brightens up an otherwise dark landscape and sky in "And In the Evening Glow"; and the way in which a chalky gray-white sky is just starting to lighten up in "Early Light." HCC is located at 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia. Call 443-518-4189 or go to http://www.howardcc.edu.