The two new exhibits at the Howard County Arts Council provide a thoughtful introduction to what promises to be a lively visual arts season in the county. Besides checking out the exhibits in local galleries in the months ahead, mark your calendar for a coordinated round of exhibition-celebrating "Road to the Arts" receptions from Sept. 18-20.
A visually cohesive group exhibit in the arts council's Gallery I, "Vertex," finds its four artists exploring and sometimes deliberately distorting geometric shapes and other linear organizational patterns.
Of these artists, the one who is most consistently on the grid is Laura Petrovich-Cheney. Her gridded assemblages of found pieces of wood generally have the structural rigor of a game board. However, the tiny individual pieces of wood are irregularly shaped and, for that matter, those that are painted often look the worse for wear.
Indeed, it comes as a bracing fact to learn that all of this wood was salvaged from Hurricane Sandy. This prompts various thoughts, including the appreciation that something as disastrous as a hurricane can in its own way contribute material to the creation of art.
The watery origins of this artwork are most keenly felt in the piece titled "Washed Up," because most of its constituent wood pieces are painted either sea green or blue. A similar effect is achieved by "Surge."
The destructive force of a hurricane is suggested by the more irregularly gridded pieces comprising "Sandy's Folly." Likewise, "A Little Off" has the gridded construction seriously bending a bit on its right side.
An otherwise very different artist who also has a geometric orientation is Haeley Kyong, whose acrylic paintings on wood panels are gently colorful explorations of the interplay between circular and triangular forms. Titles such as "Interlock," "Linkage," "Geometric Set" and "Ties of Kindred" indicate the artist's structural concerns.
Structural concerns push into three dimensions in the work of Robert Sibbison. Working within the seemingly conventional format of a painting, "Between" is a painted wood panel that's so unevenly shaped that it's as much a distorted sculptural panel as it is a painting. Also blurring the usual distinctions between painting and sculpture is "Mutating Patterns," a wall-mounted steel lattice that hangs against the wall much as one would expect a painting to do; also, this work explores variations in triangular, rectangular and other shapes.
Sibbison has several additional works that speak to his exploratory nature.
Michael Hough is the one all-out sculptor in this exhibit, but his welded found steel sculptures are anything but standard-issue creations. "Steam Punked" attests to his interest in the so-called Steam Punk esthetic. This and other sculptures stand on the floor like twisted metal constructions whose pipes, valves and other bits of industrial remnants make them seem like very odd machines.
A two-artist exhibit in the arts council's Gallery II, "Piece by Piece," also shares some of the geometric and pattern-conscious interests of "Vertex."
Travis Childers lifts faces off of newsprint via masking tape and then applies these face-imprinted strips onto canvas. The resulting works provide the viewer with densely packed horizontal rows of human faces and sometimes, as in "Eyes," with very tightly cropped faces.
Dominie Nash makes fabric collages and art quilts that all rely on leaf patterns. You find yourself considering the linear patterns that amount to a natural structural device for leaves.
Receptions along the 'Road'
"Vertex" and "Piece by Piece" run through Oct. 16 at the Howard County Arts Council, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. There is a reception Sept. 18, 6-8 p.m., that includes a reception, annual meeting and grants award ceremony. Call 410-313-2787 or go to http://www.hocoarts.org.
Among other Road to the Arts receptions, Perspectives Art Gallery, at 8191 Main Street in Ellicott City, has a reception for a Patuxent Lapidary Guild exhibit Sept. 18, 5-8 p.m. Through Sept. 27. Call 410-461-7763 or go to http://www.PerspectivesArtandDesign.com.
There is a reception Sept. 18, 6-10 p.m., for a group exhibit at Still Life Gallery Fine Art and Custom Framing, 8173 Main Street in Ellicott City. Through Oct. 18.Call 410-461-1616 or go to www.StillLifeGallery.net.
An exhibit of watercolors by Bonita Glaser has its reception Sept. 18, 6-8 p.m., at the Artists' Gallery, 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. Through Oct. 2. Call 410-740-8249 or go to www.ArtistsGalleryColumbia.com.
"ManneqART: Sculpture on the Human Form 2015- Nature, Literature, Art, Architecture" has its reception Sept. 19, 2-4 p.m., at Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth in Long Reach Village Center in Columbia. Through Sept. 25. Call 410-730-0075 or go to www.ColumbiaAssociation.org.
The reception is Sept. 19, 1-3 p.m., for a group exhibit at the African Art Museum of Maryland,11711 E. Market Place in Fulton. Through April, 2016. Call 301-490-6070 or go to www.AfricanArtMuseum.org.
Roxana Sinex and Robin Kinney have a reception Sept. 20, 1- 4 p.m., at Roxy's Art, 8600 Foundry Street in Savage. Through Oct. 15. Call 301-776-8285 or go to www.Roxys-Art.com.
The reception is Sept. 20, 3- 5 p.m., for Roderick Barr and Kay Sandler at Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in Wilde Lake Village Center in Columbia. Through Oct. 24. Call 410-730-3987 or go to www.WildeLake.org.