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Interfaith center's diversity now manifest in art

"Four Square Bowl" by Sue Nicholson
"Four Square Bowl" by Sue Nicholson (submitted photo)

Some of those who worship at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center also have what amount to spiritual feelings about art. The center's Meeting House Gallery currently has a group exhibit, "Unity Through Diversity," in which all of the artists belong to its member congregations.

Although this gallery does not display overtly religious art, the art on view celebrates nature, human nature and other subjects worthy of contemplation.

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Looking at the mixed media watercolors by Barbara Bednarzik, for instance, you get a sense of how beautifully colors melt together in nature. In "Snowy Night," the bare trees are distinct and yet everything else is melting into whiteness; and in "Rocks, Water and Trees," there is a near-abstract melding together of white, blue and brown.

Other artists in the show also have watercolors, paintings and photographs that call your attention to the wonders of nature.

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Photographer Peter Barbernitz's "Cardinal" is a notably sharp close-up of a solitary bright red bird perched on a snow-covered branch. Barbernitz's more panoramic "Morning Fog in Assisi" has that Italian landscape nearly obscured by the fog. And human nature gets into the picture in this same photographer's "Light and Shadows in the Louvre," which is a high-angle look down at marble sculptures and human visitors in a sculpture court at this French museum.

For more direct depictions of humanity, exhibited examples include Ron Berkowitz's pen and ink drawing of country music star "Merle Haggard." Indeed, there are numerous detailed lines that delineate this performer's beard and his wrinkled face.

In an amusing installational touch, that portrait of the country performer is hanging next to Berkowitz's pen and ink drawings of Israeli politician "Shimon Peres" looking very serious and of a "Galapagos Tortoise" poking its head out of its shell. What if anything Merle Haggard, Shimon Peres and a tortoise have in common must be left for viewers to decide in the privacy of their own minds.

The human presence is nicely conveyed in Barb Siskind's photograph "Good to be Home," which is a tightly cropped image calling your attention to a tea kettle on the stove. As the steam rises up from the kettle, you get the sense that the unseen human occupants of this house have got themselves a nice place here.

Among the various other mediums represented in this show, Linda Pescarmona has a first-rate selection of stoneware vessels whose organic curves definitely remind you of things in nature. These vessels include "Shell Form," "Organic Form Haystack," "River Rock Vessel" and "Seed Pod Form."

And, using glass mosaic, Roslyn Zinner has works that include "Hanging Out With Friends," in which three people are shown from the knees down. Even without the downward-oriented perspective, you would find yourself looking at one person's feet owing to the fact that the person is wearing green shoes with orange shoelaces. Such footwear might not meet with everybody's approval in terms of go-to-church shoes, but definitely seems appropriate for go-to-art-gallery shoes.

Also exhibiting are Gerald Greenbaum, Dan Brown, Forrest Arnold, Eterae Weinstein, Dan Cohen, Jeff Zaller, Laurie Bulka, Susan Cohen, Beryl Little, Jerry Weinstein, Linda Baer, Stuart Berlin, Sue Nicholson and Rebecca Canfield.

"Unity Through Diversity" runs through Jan. 3 at the Meeting House Gallery, in the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center at 5885 Robert Oliver Place inColumbia. Call 410-730-4090 or go to http://www.themeetinghousegallery.org.

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