If one could trace the annual Maryland Institute faculty exhibits over, say, the past 30 years or so, one would probably find some significant changes and equally significant survivals -- painting has survived as a discipline, for instance, but 30 years ago it was probably mainly abstract instead of mainly figural.
From year to year, however, one tends to notice certain constants and a few little blips of surprise. The show reflects a good, solid faculty which surely in turn reflects an equally solid curriculum. Many people keep on doing essentially the same things, and if they don't surprise they reveal a high level of competence; these people probably aren't going to create the next art movement, but they are going to turn out well-trained graduates.
Some works will inevitably catch the attention, though, because they seem either particularly fresh or well done or say something that needs to be said or -- well, they just catch the attention. Rich Lipscher's "Camp Nine at Eigenstate" certainly does, not only because it's prominently positioned in the lobby of the Mount Royal Station building and because it's big, but because it's intriguing, too. This surrealist wooden sculpture with well made parts on a round base suggests a community in which everything functions just fine but nobody has a soul.
Barbara Marcus' painting "Trilogy" presents a three-part scenario which the world apparently self-destructs and is reborn. It's not quite clear whether we bomb ourselves or pollute ourselves out of existence, but what difference does it make? You might call this work long-term optimistic, but it's certainly short-term pessimistic and it's the short term we have to get through right now.
James J. Hennessey's "Hawthorn" is a beautiful and mysterious painting. We're not quite sure what the figure in this indoor-outdoor scene is doing and why, and partly because of that the image remains a haunting one. Joe Giordano's "Series V. C Objects of Regard/Foreshortened Red Wagon" manages to make us think that sometimes a wagon is more than just a wagon.
Charles Flickinger's "Honeysuckle Snake Dancer," made of driftwood, appears to be in the act of transforming itself from wood into a human being before our eyes. The title of David Kreuger's "Crystal Night" reminds us of the Nazis' persecution of the Jews, while the futuristic image implies that mass destruction isn't over and may be just around the corner.
Jan Stinchcomb's "Solid Waste" records her investigation of a landfill near her home (and the threat of water contamination from it) in tiers of glasses pasted with documents relating to the investigation. It's an interesting idea that doesn't come off too well, partly because she uses stemmed wine glasses rather than something that looks more like a water glass.
Where: Maryland Institute, College of Art, Mount Royal Station building at Cathedral Street and Mount Royal Avenue, and Fox building at Mount Royal and Lafayette avenues.
When: Mondays to Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays noon to 5 p.m. Through Nov. 1.
Call: (410) 225-2300.