Notre Dame College's "Fourth National Drawing and Print Competitive Exhibition," at the Gormley Gallery through March 1, is one of those shows that one doesn't really have any complaints about but doesn't really get excited about either.
There is a lot of good solid work in it -- in fact, it's all good solid work, though some seems a bit derivative. Many works show an impressive mastery of medium, from etching and lithograph to pencil and gouache. One searches, however, for the work that grabs and holds the attention by reason of its originality, its depth, its toughness. The show as a whole is nice but a little bland -- one finds oneself passing from picture to picture thinking, "very good . . . very good,"rather than "Wow!"
But that's not to say there isn't interesting work here. If Hal Shunk's litho-silkscreen "Nineteen fifty-seven" looks just too Rauschenbergy to succeed on its own, his "Metope" is much more satisfactory in its color, texture and design.
Katherine Liontas' lithographs, "Oklahoma Why Make Your Promises" and "The Field That I Know," owe a debt both to the regionalism and the style of Thomas Hart Benton, but have enough of their own personality to survive.
R. Olof Sorensen's charcoal "Study in C Major" has a surface movement that does remind of music -- perhaps a violin evoking the swooping, darting flight of sparrows. In their alteration of light and dark, their recession of space, their detail, Neil McDaniel's three small lithographs from the "Highway to Heaven" series are particularly successful.
William Wagner's three pencil drawings, "Watcher," "Two Women" and "Ceremony," have a breathy atmosphere thanks to his delicacy of touch. Nevin Mercede uses gouache well in her two works, "NIMESA CS588" and "NIMESA CS888," among the most visually pleasing in the show.
Steve YoungPeter's pencil and colored pencil "Untitled No. 36" reminds of Jasper Johns, partly because YoungPeter has a sure touch. If Steve Brown's "Reflex Response Series: Fig. A" breaks no new ground it sure does capture the expression of the child it depicts.
And if the show in general breaks no new ground, it provides enough rewards to make it worth a visit.