BAUhouse exhibit of local artwork displays wide range of development


In her introduction to "Untitled: Multi-Media Works" at the BAUhouse (through June 28), the show's curator, Sharon Stainback, laments the paucity of opportunities for local artists to show their works to the public. That this is true in most cities does not make it less true in Baltimore, which is why artist and viewer alike are fortunate to have alternative spaces such as the BAUhouse.

Of course, not every artist who has had little or no opportunity to exhibit locally is ready to exhibit.This uneven show presents five promising artists, but not all have brought their promise to the kind of fruition that makes viewing them as rewarding as it someday may be.

David Friedheim is one who has. His figurative sculpture made of cast-off metals is funny, full of personality, and draws on 20th century precedents including David Smith and Miro. His work is strong enough that he can even do a "Homage for Miro," a whimsical figure that has shapes and colors that speak of Miro but which retains its own integrity. "R.G.," with its head in profile and a contraption for an ear, is perhaps the most urbane and witty of these appealing works.

Photographer Carl Clark shows 10 black-and-white photos from his "Subway Series." These stark images from the permanent night of the subway's underground life look like a small selection from a much larger series. Individually, and in this small group as well, they want to have greater impact than they do; a shot of two people not interacting can suggest isolation until one reflects that a picture of someone alone and bored on a subway isn't necessarily a statement about human alienation. A large body of these photos might build up an effect that these few, seen in the context of a group show, can't quite achieve.

Of David Johns' paintings, the two largest and most ambitious are the most intriguing. Johns' work, a statement accompanying the show tells us, draws on Christian, African and Haitian voodoo rituals, and "Festival" and "Black Sea" contain a jumble of imagery that may include them all. At this point, eagerness leads him to include too much; greater selectivity could lead to greater resolution. But he has a very strong color sense, which is the salient feature of his work here. He could well be an artist to watch.

Linda Day's photographs of children are something of a mystery. Both Stainback's and Day's statements about the photographs speak of children undergoing some of the same experiences as adults, but the photographs don't really show such things. The artist and the curator see more in the work than is yet there.

The urban scene and landscape are included in Russ Moss' photographs, but his most sympathetic pictures are of the Senegalese people, especially "Village Talk" and "Senegalese Women." One feels that he has made only a beginning with these, that he should continue to record the Senegalese and their world.

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