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Artists converge at Meeting House Gallery in Columbia

Artists converge at Meeting House Gallery in Columbia
Peter Plant, "Adirondack Chair" (Courtesy photo/HANDOUT)

The six artists in the exhibit “Convergence” at the Meeting House Gallery have distinctive styles that make it easy to notice when you are going from the work of one to the next. Ranging from realism to abstraction, their work varies in other ways as well.

Although the photographs by Jeff Zaller definitely qualify as closely observed images of the real world, he sometimes gets so close to his subjects that you may think about these things as more than just documentary shots.

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In “Buoys,” Zaller calls attention to what are clearly nautical buoys clustered together on dry land. Because of the close vantage point, you may find yourself thinking about them as rounded sculptural forms that have brightly colored zones of blue, white and yellow. It takes a bit of attached rope to bluntly remind you that this photo is, indeed, depicting buoys that serve a practical function.

Similarly, “Wall, Denver” depicts what is obviously a painted brick wall, but the tight cropping of this photo makes you think about abstract zones of red, blue, black and gray totally covering the brick surface.

The above-mentioned photos are of inanimate subjects, but Zaller also opts for a closeup and vividly colorful approach to animate life in his photo “Parrot, Costa Rica,” in which the bird’s upper body contains vividly hued concentrations of orange, yellow and green feathers.

A versatile photographer, Zaller also has a few shots in which the built environment is quite specific. In “Verticality,” the top of New York City’s iconic Chrysler Building is centered in the background of a composition that has it flanked by two tall buildings in the foreground.

Much lower to the ground is the shop window in “Hampden, Baltimore.” Not only is this window filled with an eclectic array of items for sale, but it also reflects the houses on the other side of the street.

An artist who certainly appreciates the natural world, Forest Arnold has the watercolors “Zebra Butterfly," “Diana Butterfly” and “Swallowtail Butterfly.” These carefully observed studies of single specimens give a sense of the variations in patterning on their wings; and the abstracted colors in the background ensure that your attention remains on the butterflies.

Arnold does more than chronicle inhabitants of the natural world, however; other watercolors look to the heavens and present cosmic imagery. A nice example is “Comet McNaught,” in which a comet is a white streak soaring across a deep blue night sky.

The mixed media paintings by Peter Plant tend to be much more mundane in their subject matter. The artist’s approach might be termed a reductive realism that calls attention to essential detail. In “Concrete Reality,” a couple of trucks are parked at a cement factory. Basic definitional lines are deployed for the trucks and the facility, and the background is mostly a wash of pale yellow and green.

Plant’s “Barnesville, MD” features a country road that has been reduced to silhouetted tree trunks and utility poles against an evening sky. Likewise, “Hawk Hunting” reduces the composition to silhouetted birds and bare trees seen in twilight conditions.

For pure abstraction, check out Peter Wuttke’s acrylic paintings. They include “Lavender Swirls #1,” in which that color and others almost seem as if they are flowing; and “Molten Glass #88,” in which the paint seems so glossy and fluid that at least in your imagination it seems like it’s still wet.

Also working in an abstract mode is Summer Allen. Typical of her approach is the oil painting “Rain in Lisbon,” whose vertical brush strokes convey a sense of downward flow. As with Wuttke, there is a fluidity to such paintings.

Working in a three-dimensional manner that sets her apart in the present exhibit is Ruth Dvash Parks, whose soft fiber figurative sculptures are made from materials including fabric, metal, leather, wood, and ceramics.

Figurative sculptures include a “Fisherman” casting a net, and “Napping,” in which a prone figure sleeps on a bench. Sure to generate a smile is Parks’ “Golf Ball.” It’s a white orb that is so much larger than an actual golf ball that trying to use it for a game of golf would be a surreal experience.

“Convergence” runs through Aug. 24 at the Meeting House Gallery, in the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center at 5885 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia. Call 410-730-4090 or go to themeetinghouse.org/art-gallery.

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