Many of the artists in "Art Maryland 2012" are not afraid to experiment with materials. That leads to some unusual creations in this group exhibit of regional artists at the Howard County Arts Council.
Travis Childers, winner of the Juror's Choice award, has glued together hundreds of tightly clustered yellow pencils to make the tree stump-emulating wood sculpture titled "Stump." In "Hive," Childers has glued together hundreds of ballpoint pen tops to make a hive-evocative black plastic dome.
Besides these three-dimensional sculptural asemblages, this same artist also has a work called "Skies." From a distance it looks like an abstract painting comprised of narrow bands of melting colors associated with skies. Pull closer and you see that its tiny sky-themed images are actual newspaper photographs of skies that were lifted from newspaper pages by applying clear tape to the newsprint; these pieces of tape have been neatly arranged to form narrow bands placed against the canvas support.
Childers' adventurous use of materials obviously appeals to this exhibit's juror, Philippa Hughes, who is Founder and Chief Creative Contrarian of the Pink Line Project in Washington, D.C.
Others in the exhibit also have an exploratory nature. Literally cutting into their material and reshaping it are several artists who like to recycle paper. Karen Lynn Gray's paper collages including "Secret Passage" have such densely overlapping small pieces of paper that the magazine-derived photographic images of plants, people, coins and other items become a nearly chaotic jumble. Honorable Mention winner Diana Marta's "100 Boat Current" features small paper boats made from art magazine pages.
This eclectic gathering includes additional artists who transform materials in unexpected ways. Sculptor Ralph R. Baney's pedestal-mounted "Lyrical" is an upwardly spiraling construction made from materials including copper wire. Rising up from its round wood base, this is a motorized sculpture that rotates.
Ceramic sculpture plays a role in Sara Dittrich's wall-mounted "Hierarchy," because tiny slip-cast porcelain fingers hold strands of thread that extend across the gallery wall to be caught by similar fingers mounted several feet away.
Among the painters and photographers in the show, the most interesting work likewise offers unconventional subjects and perspectives.
Honorable Mention winner Robert Tennenbaum has three acrylic paintings that offer bird's eye views of Barcelona, Edinburgh and London. These high-angle looks down on urban landscapes are so schematic that these cities generally are reduced to green zones for parks and dark lines for roads or other boundaries. When you see a blue line snaking across the canvas in the London-themed painting, for instance, you realize it must be the Thames.
If Tennenbaum opts for a lofty perspective, Lindsay Rowinski gets close to the ground in her photograph "Median." Its close-up view of asphalt and concrete presents mundane details that most of us never would stoop to consider along a road.
Other artists imaginatively taking roads of their own include Honorable Mention winner Zachary Z. Handler. His exhibited work in a photographic series titled "The Discussants" includes a shot of a polka dot dress-wearing woman standing in a parking garage. Not only is her head tilted way back, but the garage floor also is tilted. Also displaying a slanted view of the world is Eric Johnson, whose photograph "Garage, Macon, GA" depicts crisscrossing ramps inside that garage.
People pay good money to be tilted and otherwise tossed around in Cheryl MacLean's photograph "Dusk in Motion (Howard County Fair)." It presents sunset-silhouetted riders on two fairground rides at this annual summer event. What's entertainment at a fair is now art on a gallery wall.
Also exhibiting are Shelley Meredith, Anthony Stellaccio, Katrina Mitchell-Cooper, John Viles, Penny Knobel-Besa, Kristoffer Tripplaar, Regina Tumasella, Ronald G. Brown, Annie Farrar, Hyeseung Marriage-Song, Daniel Rozmiarek, Sarah Wegner, Fran Abrams, Warren C. Chambers, Elizabeth Whiteley, Charles A. Sessoms, Courtnee S. Hawkins, Ed Charest and Kyle J. Bauer.
"Art Maryland 2012" runs through Dec. 14 at the Howard County Arts Council, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. Call 410-313-2787 or go to http://www.hocoarts.org.