Exhibit at Artists' Gallery showcases two women artists

In the Artists' Gallery exhibit "Flowers and Figures," Marian Gliese's paintings explore variations in floral still-life subject matter and Cathy Z. Sawdey's drawings work variations on human figures in motion.

There's actually a sense of movement linking the otherwise distinct concerns of both artists. That's because Gliese's approach relies upon sensuously curving lines to depict the flower petals. Her glowing colors also help animate these still-life subjects.

And, her extremely tight cropping results in images that sometimes verge on abstraction. Although these are paintings of specific types of flowers, they're also explorations of colors vibrantly interacting.

The purple and yellow hues in "Ethereal Iris," for instance, are so assertive that they nearly qualify as a light source. This is recognizably an iris, but it's also a picture of two colors pushing up against each other.

In "Pansy V" and "VI," Gliese works variations on the meeting of red, purple, yellow and pink. The austere gray background makes these swirling colors seem to pop out even more. Verging on being organic abstractions, such paintings are reminiscent of mid-20th-century paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe.

Besides her floral subjects, Gliese also has "Butterfly I" and "II," in which their boldly patterned wings make them ideal natural models for this artist.

Where human models are concerned, Cathy Sawdey takes the convention of the studio model and in effect gets it moving.

The three drawings in a "Moving Man" series, for instance, are densely worked compositions in which multiple variations on a figure essentially share the same space. Extended and overlapping limbs give a sense of the model moving around. Most of the model-defining lines are thickly applied, but they convey a sense of forceful movement rather than static placement.

Similarly, "Couple Apart/Together" puts its figures through a real workout of sitting, standing and being intertwined at very close quarters.

In "Belly Dance Movements," four closely spaced treatments of the same figure provide variations in how the figure faces us, and also in whether the figure's arms are raised or lowered. Helping make for an organic whole is the sense of bodily curves defining what is, after all, a belly dancer.

Amid all of the drawings featuring either multiple figures or variations on the same figure, there is a single drawing, "Nude, Leg Thrust Out," in which there is only a single nude female figure extending a leg outward. Within the context of this exhibit, this particular model seems like a real loner.

Marian Gliese and Cathy Z. Sawdey exhibit through July 31 at the Artists' Gallery, in the American City Building at 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. There is a reception Friday, July 11, 6- 8 p.m. Call 410-740-8249 or go to http://www.artistsgallerycolumbia.com.

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