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In the arts: Espresso, Picasso and the marshmallow peep

Rosey Canapp's photograph "Citrus Surprise" is on display in the 4th Annual Peep Show at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster through April 15.
Rosey Canapp's photograph "Citrus Surprise" is on display in the 4th Annual Peep Show at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster through April 15. (Pam Zappardino Photo, Carroll County Times)

I'm fairly certain that Picasso never used marshmallow as an artistic medium. I'm almost as certain that he never used marshmallow as a subject in any of his paintings. So he might be just a bit startled if he walked through the Peep Show at the Carroll Arts Center this week, an exhibit that depends for its very existence on the sugary, gooey critters that are never more omnipresent than in the early spring.

While most of the works in the show use marshmallow Peeps as building blocks, much like a sculptor would use clay, there are some that might be called "Art of the Peep."

Jeanne Porter's is a case in point. As you scan the Center's Tevis Gallery, your gaze will find her finely painted copy of Picasso's "The Lovers" with something added that never occurred to Mr. P. Nestled in the joined hands of the couple is a Peep, its yellow color mimicking the woman's skirts, almost lost in the reverie between the two, a silent witness to their passion, understated in its Peep-ness.

In another painting, Susan Williamson's "Red Hot Chile Peep" looms large, bright yellow against the colors of Mexico, nestled between deep red chiles, folk art with a modern, urban twist. Differently colored bunny Peeps with the face of Norma Jean stare out of a photo collage in Cookie Reading's "Marilyn Peeproe." Warhol would smile, I think. In a well composed photograph by Rosey Canapp, pale orange Peeps spring, full grown, from, well, an orange rind, split open to reveal them nestled within, inquisitive and baby chick cute.

Then there is "Espeepo," a slightly abstracted Peep drawn by Sherri Hosfeld Joseph. Joseph captured the essence of Peepness here and her medium is likely the most unusual in the show. Using espresso like paint on fine paper, she curved just enough lines into the shape of the ubiquitous marshmallow chick, coffee bean dust adding texture, classic frame setting the subject off perfectly. Not a marshmallow was harmed in the making of this drawing, and yet it is the consummate Peep.

I do have to give a shout out to some great Peep constructions: Sydney Blacksten's "Peep Panther," Marta Davis' "Welcome to Bawlmer, Hon," the "Peeposaurus" by the Lazelles, complete with Peep teeth, the flashy, befeathered "Wrong Bird for Easter," by Bob Nobles and Ian Proctor, and Kate and Micia White's "Peep Falls," Niagara turned rainbow Peep colors at the passage of New York's Marriage Equality Act.

Wilma Welling's "Sunflower" is so artistically constructed that it hardly seems Peeps were used, until you get up close and personal and find them smiling out at you. It seems a bridge between the two kinds of entries.

It's all in a day's art at the peep show. And where else can you find Picasso, espresso and marshmallow in the same place?

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