Robert Seyffert paints both landscapes and cityscapes, and, at least in the group of his works now on display at 819 Gallery, he's much better at the latter.
His landscapes -- of Nova Scotia and Brittany -- employ a palette that at times looks unnatural and oddly forced, for no apparent reason. Then, too, as Seyffert's paintings go deeper into space they become less satisfactory; he appears to be less than totally comfortable dealing with far-off horizons and something as vague as sky.
The cityscapes, however, are a different story. In these there is a definite backdrop of buildings more or less parallel to the picture plane, and the artist captures that kind of solidity much more firmly. He even endows it at times with atmosphere and mood -- one can infer, at least, the heat of a summer day from the bright wall of "East Baltimore," and the red windows of "East 20th Street, New York" connote some of the brashness of life in the city.
Colors are not always natural in these works, either -- a street may be lavender or blue -- but if anything they add to what one feels Seyffert's trying to get across rather than detract from it.
He's done something, too, with the cars that inhabit -- actually star in -- these pictures. The car in "East Baltimore" and "1953 Dodge, East Baltimore" possesses something of the dignity of a venerable matron and reminds us of that decade of America's love affair with the car. One cannot always say Seyffert's skies have a lot of skyness, but his cars certainly do have carness.
Robert Seyffert exhibit
Where: 819 Gallery, 817 S. Broadway.
When: Tuesdays to Sundays noon to 5 p.m., through Sept. 5.
Call: (410) 732-4488.