Columbia Art Center exhibit shows creativity of all ages
By Mike Giuliano
For the Columbia Flier|
May 28, 2015 at 6:00 AM
The "Annual Student Faculty Exhibition" at the Columbia Art Center has labels telling you which artworks were made by teachers and which were made by students, but otherwise this large exhibit's installation presents all of them mixed together as equal members of the artistic community.
Whether they're instructors or students, artists find themselves considering how to work with materials, styles and artistic traditions. That last point is directly registered by instructor Arlene Mindus' watercolor "Ode to Andrew Wyeth's 'Alvaro and Christina Olson, 1968.'" Mindus depicts two people who were frequent models for Wyeth, and she favors Wyeth-associated monochromatic brown tones to depict a well-worn rural interior containing farm tools and buckets.
That watercolor actually is unusually direct within this show in terms of referencing specific artistic influences, but other figurative instructors share the general sense that artists constantly must decide what to include and what to leave out when painting a picture.
In the watercolor "Memories of Old Growth," instructor Robert Coe draws your attention to a gray-, brown- and white-hued tree trunk that's substantial enough to visually anchor a composition that otherwise only has a few patchy green zones surrounded by blank white paper.
Another watercolor with a tight visual focus is instructor Joyce Bell's "Work Horses." These five horses are so closely bunched together by a wood harness that they nearly merge into a single moving force.
Deciding which visual elements need to go into a composition also can be seen in student Patricia Henkel's oil painting "Pileated Woodpecker." A tree trunk functions as a straight black line at the right edge of the painting. Clinging to this tree is a mostly black bird seen in side profile. There is a pale blue sky in the background. That's all you get and that's really all you need here.
Besides those making paintings, watercolors and other works on paper, the exhibit encompasses a variety of other mediums. The ceramics in particular make you think about how artists literally give shape to their ideas.
Instructor Joe Vitek's "Stoneware Mug" calls your attention to various ways in which a ceramic surface can be marked. This mug has a mottled brown coloration at its base, and strikes a lighter tone with vegetal patterning for its top half.
Organic associations become more specific with instructor Christina McCleary's stoneware "Lemonade Time." The surface of a pitcher features a design of incised lemon slices, and six accompanying cups have surfaces whose shades of lemon, brown and white make them seem ready to receive some lemonade.
Also in an organic frame of mind is the ceramic dish made by student Scott McNabb, "Leaf Dish," whose rough-edged surface and pale green coloration make it resemble a big leaf.
Ideas that turn in a ceramic artist's head and then at the potter's wheel are conveyed by a number of the exhibiting student artists. Among them is whose clay "Saucer" has circular swirls set against a pale olive-toned surface.
In addition to conventional mediums that are taught at the art center, there is something as unconventional as a course in graffiti art. Instructor Fidel Carey-Realmo's "Not Too Much" features that title spelled out with white paint on a slab of foam core. The orange-painted foam core resembles a flaking concrete wall, and the red-lettered words "Not Too Much" have a spontaneous and fast quality in the paint application. Indeed, paint drips run down from each letter. Several student artists in the show also have graffiti-inspired artworks that bring street style inside the confines of an art gallery.
Students in other courses clearly are encouraged to think outside the box when creating mixed medium artworks. Your appetite for such artwork will be satisfied by student Natalie Willard's "Pizza Slice." This three-dimensional construction is made out of plaster, cardboard, paper and acrylic paint. If you were ordering it off a menu, you would make note that it's a thick crust pizza generously sprinkled with pepperoni slices.
The "Annual Student Faculty Exhibition" runs through June 7 at the Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth in Long Reach Village in Columbia. Call 410-730-0075 or go to http://www.ColumbiaArtCenter.org.