These artists helped civilize Wilde Lake

Howard County Times

The ongoing events celebrating Columbia’s 50th birthday extend into the fall with the group exhibit “50/50 Artists’ Reunion Show” at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House. All of these artists have exhibited at Slayton House over the years, and the exhibit itself serves as a reminder that Wilde Lake was the first Columbia village.

Although the exhibiting artists have an array of subject matter, it’s not surprising that visitors may find themselves gravitating towards work that directly has Columbia in mind.

In that respect, you can’t get much more direct than Alfred Biegel’s oil and acrylic painting “Our People Tree.” This depiction of that iconic sculpture on the downtown lakefront provides viewers with enough backdrop to give the social context. You see a plaza with cafe seating, trees and a general sense that the sculpture itself is a people magnet.

More selectively and abstractly conceived is Dennis Gilbert’s digital composition “People Tree Emerging.” His tightly-cropped image only presents four of that sculpture’s abstracted human figures and they are set against atmospheric black-and-white clouds.

The lakefront serves as the location for an outdoor performance in Mary Jo Tydlacka’s acrylic painting “Columbia Festival of the Arts.” Her simplified forms and assertive colors have a folk art-evocative quality, which is here applied to capturing the essence of a local gathering.

Pushing further into abstraction in representing a Columbia location is Jerzy Kajetanski’s oil pastel “Twin Rivers Road, Columbia.” The road, trees and a lone human figure are all recognizable as such, but they are reduced to basic forms and colors.

For landscape imagery that is more realistic in terms of artistic treatment, one of the most beautiful pieces in the entire show is Marie McGing’s black-and-white photograph “Wilde Lake on Ice.” The shimmering white houses back up to an ice-covered lake; and the reflections of those houses can be seen on a lake that doubles as a mirror.

The weather is warmer and the view is much more tightly cropped in Bonita Glaser’s watercolor “On Clark’s Farm.” A single sheep faces us down in what amounts to a portrait, with rolling hills and a barn in the rural Howard County background.

Other artists in the exhibit may not be depicting local scenes, but their names will be familiar to local residents who have frequented galleries over the decades. In terms of name recognition, Bernice Kish’s watercolor depiction of tulips, “New Directions,” is a nice reminder that this retired manager of Wilde Lake Village organized art exhibits at Slayton House for many years, and its art gallery is now named in her honor.

The many additional names in the exhibit that will be familiar include Chaya Schapiro, whose oil painting “Porch” depicts potted flowers; and Bruce Blum, whose photograph “Chrysanthemum” calls your attention to its white petals set against a pitch-black background.

Most of the artists in this show work in a realistic mode, but those who are into abstraction do not hold back.

Andrei Trach’s oil painting “Channelling” is a tiny canvas, but the various hues of paint are so densely applied that it seems like a mini-energy field.

Rhona RK Schonwald’s acrylic painting “Primary Levi” is not quite so densely painted, but the colors do get piled on in places; and Karen Carpenter’s acrylic painting “Perilous Beauty” has much looser, abstracted zones of color.

While you are looking at the artwork, do not overlook a vitrine resting on an administrative counter. Inside is an original brick from when the Wilde Lake Village Center was constructed in 1967. In a more specific sense, this brick was part of the since-demolished Giant supermarket. It’s no longer just a brick, but now serves as symbolic food for thought.

“50/50 Artists’ Reunion Show” runs through Oct. 14 at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in Columbia. Call 410-730-3987.

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