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Howard County Arts Council exhibit travels the world

By Mike Giuliano

7:55 AM EDT, May 31, 2013

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The "Resident Visual Artists Exhibit 2013" showcases artists who maintain studios at the Howard County Arts Council. They're making art at this Ellicott City facility, but their imaginations roam all over the place.

A case in point is Mary Jo Tydlacka, who is well-known for watercolors depicting the historic district in Ellicott City and other sites around Howard County. She travels far from home for the subject matter in the current show, however, with three watercolors and an oil painting that depict Italy.

The painting, titled "The Layers of Rome," presents densely packed small buildings in the foreground that dramatically lead your eyes back to lofty churches in the background. Tydlacka's palette favors oranges and browns that make this ancient city seem like it has been baking in the sun.

Another resident artist taking a visual trip is Jereme Scott, whose large oil painting "Watcher of Suite (Sweet) Singapore" deploys a slightly dreamy blue-gray palette to depict a dog resting on a bed that's placed against a floor-to-ceiling window offering an impressive view of the Singapore skyline. Its skyscrapers reach up toward brooding clouds in the sky, and there also are a few palm trees that don't reach nearly as high.

Other artists in this exhibit certainly travel within their own imaginations. In some cases, they continue to explore new creative possibilities within formats they've been using for a long time.

James Adkins, for instance, has oil paintings on paper that include "Models and Myths (Study." In this painting, two nude female models are in the foreground and some classical statuary rests in the background. Adkins continues to try out different poses for his studio nudes, but a constant throughout his career has been the implicit connection between the stillness of these models and the similar mood conveyed by classical statuary.

His exploration of variations within the established model-in-the-studio format extends to trying out different props to place near the models. In "Passages," the female nude is on her stomach as she looks down at a letter on the floor. Although she's not making eye contact with the viewer, the children's stuffed animals behind her have their beady little eyes looking your way.

Also inclined to work variations is Joan Bevelaqua, who has three graphite and colored pencil drawings in an Orchid Series. These depict various arrangements of studio still-life subject matter. Here it includes flowers in a pot, a book, a bottle, and an antique dress on a hanger. The imagery is mostly in black and white, but she introduces a bit of coloring for the flowers.

Amanda Gordon Miller overtly checks out the material properties of her chosen medium in her exhibited woodblock prints. The one that makes the strongest impression, "Alpacas," features two of those animals pressed against a wood fence in a pastoral setting. The artist calls your attention to differences between the wood grain of the fence and the patterning of the animal coats.

It's also nice to see at least a couple examples of artists who use their chosen mediums in unexpected and unusual ways. Alice St. Germain-Gray's "Heart Tree Study" presents three bell jars placed atop a pedestal. Inside these transparent containers are tiny and twisted green trees made out of glass; moreover, they bear small red fruit that is heart-shaped. This artwork is as lovely as it is surreal.

Although Leora "Lee" Smith's mixed media works include quilting, the results are hardly traditional quilts. "The Pond," for example, deploys scattered bits of quilting to create simulated vegetation and wildlife. The quilted natural life pushes out from an otherwise flat pictorial surface in which collage and watercolor represent a rural setting. This is an unusual landscape that only exists as an artwork now hanging on a Howard County art gallery wall.

Also exhibiting are Andrei Trach, David Zuccarini, Myungsook Ryu Kim, Andres Gomez Leguizamon, Diana Marta, Art Landerman and Jamie Travers.

The "Resident Visual Artists Exhibit 2013" runs through June 23 in Gallery I at the Howard County Arts Council, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. Running concurrently in Gallery II is the exhibit "Beyond the Surface," featuring Jack Girard, Anne Bagby and Liz Wolf. There is a Columbia Festival of the Arts-pegged reception June 20, 6-8 p.m.; it includes Resident Open Studios from 7 to 8 p.m. and a free performance by All-County Improv at 6:30 p.m. Call 410-313-2787 or go to http://www.hocoarts.org.