Two must-see art exhibits are on display during the month of May, one in Havre de Grace and another at Harford Community College.

The Poldi Hirsch Memorial National Invitational Art Exhibition, at Maryland Gallery East in Havre de Grace, will continue through May 31. And recent paintings by Bel Air artist Jonathan West are on display at the Chesapeake Gallery at Harford Community College through June 3.

The Poldi Hirsch National Invitational Art Exhibition, named for the deceased wife of Havre de Grace Mayor Gunther Hirsch, is co-sponsored by the East Coast Artists cooperative, based in Havre de Grace, and the Havre de Grace Arts Commission.

Landscapes, figure studiesand collages are all represented in the painting category. Artists exploring printing techniques submitted some of the most adventurous work.

For example, Ellen Moore created a complex image in "Under-Past," which entraps the figure of a small girl holding a cat within a network of urban architectural fragments.

Jeff Hirst's "Blue SmokeFigures" is an abstract composition that combines scribbles and landscape forms on a watery-blue background.

An Aberdeen resident, Carol Jean Bertsh, contributed a photograph, "Moon Goddess," that is hand-touched with pale colors. Another Aberdeen resident, Winston Cevis,created a Madonna-like image in "Tammy and Jasmine," a document of ayoung woman with her child in which the photographer used an elevated perspective to flatten space and simplify form.

The following artists received awards:

Painting, 1st prize: C. M. Hobbs Thorsen, Brooklyn, N.Y. Painting, honorable mentions: Berkeley Bayne Aken, Churchill, Md.; Joan Cates, Stanwood, Wash.; Jane Harrison, Kinston, N.C;D. W. Steward, Bellevue, Wash.; Fae Swinyard, Orern, Utah.

Graphics, 1st prize: Ellen Moore, Richmond, Va. Graphics, honorable mention: Jeff Hirst, Minneapolis, Minn.

Photography, 1st prize: Edward Shmunes, Columbia, S.C. Photography, honorable mentions: Carol Jean Bertsh, Aberdeen, Md; Winston Cevis, Aberdeen, Md.

Sculpture, 1st prize: Bruce Grant, Harrisburg, Pa.

Bel Air native Jonathan West, 32,has returned after a five-year stay in New York City. In West's paintings, slashing brush strokes and colors that have been splattered and dripped testify to his interest in the techniques of "action painting."

West states that he is strongly affected by contemporary events.

He said his new paintings were prompted by the Persian Gulf war. West abstracted his motifs from illustrations in newspapers and magazines. Allusions to maps of the Middle East and the consistent use of a yellow ground on the canvas connect these paintings to the desert battleground.

The strongest painting in this group is titled "Desert Storm."

The thickly painted central area suggests both the shape of Iraq and a fallen human figure. Meandering greenish lines in the lower half recall the camouflage of American uniforms and the trails of nomadic tribes. Dripping black paint suggests petroleum as wellas the blood shed by both sides during the conflict.

* Maryland Gallery East is at 200 N. Washington St. in Havre de Grace. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m. The Chesapeake Gallery ishoused in the Chesapeake Center at Harford Community College in Bel Air. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from noon to 2:30 p.m.and from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

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