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Artists display versatility at The Meeting House Gallery in Columbia

The artists sharing the exhibit “True Blue Bliss” at The Meeting House Gallery all have enough wall space to showcase their individual talent. Visitors have the opportunity to see the differences between artists, but also to see the variations in subject matter and style within a particular artist’s work.

Julie Smith, for instance, has several acrylic paintings of bison that accentuate their powerful and dignified presence. These are close-up views of single bison, so they amount to a kind of natural portraiture. In “Fearless,” the bison looking your way makes it clear that it lives up to that painting’s title, and “Chieftain” provides a side profile view of another proud bison. Unlike the clear skies found in those paintings, “Solstice Morning” features a bison whose bulk seems even more formidable owing to the eclipse conditions that present it as a blackened form backed by a dark purple sky.

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Smith’s interest in western scenes can also be seen in the acrylic painting “Wind Runners,” in which wild horses seem really free and fast as they charge across a grassy landscape.

Human nature makes an appearance in Smith’s mixed media “Let’s Dance,” in which three dancing women wear assertively colorful outfits in which checkered and polka dot patterns attest to their lively movement; for that matter, the imagery in the background includes musical notation.

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Pamela Gordimer also shows off versatility. Her oil painting “Embracing the Storm” is a vigorously painted seascape with storm-driven waves, while the oil painting “After the Storm” demonstrates much gentler wave action.

Venturing underwater, Gordimer’s acrylic painting “Into the Deep Blue Vortex” depicts seahorses, dolphins, turtles and an assortment of other sea creatures. The very deep shades of blue and green in this undersea view convey the intensity of the underwater experience.

Deliberately less colorful but in its own way just as intense, is Gordimer’s oil painting “Winter’s Grip.” It features bare tree branches that are coated with snow. Although white predominates, it’s not exactly a monochromatic painting. There are bits of purple and brown as well. Also, the paint application is so thick that one gets the impression of the extent to which a heavy snowfall transforms a landscape.

If these paintings demonstrate how well Gordimer uses vibrant colors and thick paint application in representational paintings, this same artist also has the capability to paint in a different style. Gordimer’s oil painting “Calla Lily and Moon” exemplifies how she is able to use delicate shades of pink and yellow in an abstracted floral composition that is evocative of work done by Georgia O’Keeffe in the mid-20th century.

Yet another artist with an affinity for nature is Donna Golden. Her watercolor “Window Box” is bursting with flowers that partly obscure a window and brick wall. There is also a floral profusion in the acrylic painting “Front Porch with Wisteria.” The two chairs on a porch have blooming wisteria above them and a flower bed in full bloom in front of them. No people appear in “Front Porch with Wisteria,” but this colorfully realistic scene is so pleasant that you envy the owners of those chairs.

Golden also has a number of small acrylic paintings in which one gets a tightly cropped sense of flower gardens.

The above-mentioned artists primarily take a representational approach to their subject matter, but Martina Sestakova has abstract watercolors in which pale colors seem to float within loosely defined forms. Sestakova also makes what she calls “sculpted paintings.” These involve the artist painting on folded pieces of cloth. The three-dimensional results give a sense of colors moving through space.

The Czech-born Sestakova makes further use of textiles in a series of painted scarves that she makes in a brand she calls RADOST, the Czech word for “joy.”

Working in an entirely different medium from any of the other artists in this group exhibit, Michele Krupka is exhibiting stoneware and porcelain vessels. Her interest in ceramic glazes means that there are so many variations on a color like green that your eyes happily go from one vessel to the next.

“True Blue Bliss” runs through Jan. 11 at The Meeting House Gallery, 5885 Robert Oliver Place in Oakland Mills Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-4090 or go to themeetinghouse.org.

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