From the studio to the gallery

Howard County Times

Artists who have their studios at the Howard County Center for the Arts get an opportunity to place their work on public view in the “Resident Visual Artists Exhibit 2018.” They are all exhibiting multiple pieces, enabling visitors to see how these artists explore variations in subject matter and style.

The exhibited oil paintings by Stanley Agbontaen, for example, deal with a variety of figurative subjects. In “Mother Love,” a woman's face is pressed against the face of an infant. That near-melding of mother and child is technically echoed by the way in which the mother’s black hair nearly melts into the black brush strokes that are an important part of the assertively colored, abstract background.

There is a similarly close bond between two people in “Sisters,” in which a standing woman tends to the hair of a seated woman. These sisters have downcast eyes that reinforce the quiet mood maintained by siblings who don't need any conversation at the moment.

Agbontaen deals with larger groupings in “Festival of Love,” with its festive human crowd on parade; and “Cityscape,” in which cars, buildings and trees make for a deliberately crowded composition that is emphasized by the density of the paint application.

For yet more pictures of humanity, look at the acrylic paintings by Mary Jo Tydlacka. In “The Dancer,” the upright figure posing for her portrait exudes self-confidence. There is also a solid sense of pride shown by “Russian Woman,” whose restrained pose is set against a gridded background whose patterns and images evoke Russian folk art. “In the Garden” features a blue kimono-clad Japanese woman holding an open umbrella; and “Evoking Billie Holiday” presents that iconic vocalist with her trademark gardenia in her hair. All of these female subjects have a self-assured and yet very quiet quality.

There is also a stillness characterizing the otherwise very different oil paintings by James Adkins. In “Nude/Modest I” and “II,” several female nudes stand near each other within a studio setting. Some of the women have placed their hands in poses that protect their modesty. Are they being shy around each other or, in a sense, is their self-consciousness owing to an awareness that ultimately they will be going on display in an art gallery?

No people appear in several oil paintings by Joan Bevelaqua, but the human presence is strongly implied. In “Remains #3,” an old-fashioned white dress is displayed within a pictorial space that is empty except for the nearby presence of an animal skull, black feather, brown leaf and three acorns. These accompanying objects lend the composition a mildly melancholic sense of mortality.

The emotional tone is more neutral in “Remains #4,” which depicts a comfortable armchair, and “Ballet,” in which a dress is on display. The chair and the dress have enough of an antique quality to them that you may be prompted to think about people who are no longer here, but such thoughts have the gentle tone of acceptance.

Although David Zuccarini’s oil paintings and pastels fit within the venerable tradition of studio still-life and portrait subjects, he gives them edgy attributes that tweak such conventions. “Bindings,” for instance, depicts a pear resting on a shelf. It's not an entirely reassuring little still-life, however, because there is a red ribbon wrapped around that pear. Depending upon your outlook, you may see that ribbon as either decorative or menacing.

Among the artists in this group exhibit who allude to landscapes and other natural subject matter, the acrylic paintings by Myung Sook Ryu Kim are sketchy to the point of borderline-abstraction. "Forgotten Forest" has tree trunks and foliage handled in a schematic and gestural manner, while “Grasping the Wind” and “Wind, Cloud and Moon” rely upon swirling blue brush strokes to conjure up the wind.

Also landscape-oriented is Joyce J. Ritter, who applies fabric, batting and thread on canvas. Characteristic of her approach is “Rain Forest Stream,” in which green-hued fabric bands suggest the look and texture of a natural landscape.

There is also natural inspiration in the exhibited work by Alice St. Germain-Gray, but her medium is very different. This artist uses art glass beads and goldtone wire to make delicate and tiny pieces that often have botanical associations. There are also human associations, as one can see in “Golden Treasure, Nested Heart.” A glass bell jar has been placed over a heart-shaped glass bead that seems like it is a valuable relic.

Also exhibiting are Andrei Trach, Diana Marta, Jereme Scott, Art Landerman, Jamie Travers and Brendan Tammany Nass.

“Resident Visual Artists Exhibit 2018” runs through June 22 in Gallery I at the Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. Running concurrently in Gallery II is “Surface and Structure,” an exhibit of fiber and mixed-media works by Chloe Irla and Sooo-z Mastropietro. There is a reception June 21, 6- 8 p.m. Call 410-313-2787 or go to hocoarts.org

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