In the "Local Landscape Scavenger Hunt" exhibit at Galerie Francoise, the term landscape is taken pretty loosely. It includes everything from closeups of trees by Carolyn Lyons Horan to the side of a building with a Sunny's Surplus sign on it by Greg Otto, to essentially abstract works by Bonnie Printz and Laura Wesley Ford.
And that's OK. A little variety never hurt, and this show makes sure we get plenty. We also get some variety in terms of aesthetic satisfaction. Some of these works have more to offer than others, but almost all avoid being cliche-ridden. The show as a whole adds up to a diverting summer's hour in the gallery, with some standouts to grab the eye.
Chief among them are the paintings of Joseph Schutzenhofer. There's nothing novel about his essentially rural subject matter -- the side of a building, say, with a piece of machinery in the foreground and maybe a car in the distance. But Schutzenhofer is a master at making his scenes seem just right. They are rendered with great skill, but loosely enough not to seem overworked and precious. There's a sense of immediacy and informality to these works, and Schutzenhofer arranges his compositions -- especially in "Muddy Creek Forks Station (Front)" and "Muddy Creek Forks Station (Side)" -- so that the spaces in them look both natural and inviting. You want to enter the picture visually and rummage around in it for a while. These are paintings that reward extended looking.
Greg Otto is something of a mystery. In most of his 11 paintings here he's going for the obvious effect, and the results are lightweight. Whether it's the candy-stripe colors of "Standard Oil Building" or the silhouetted building of "Bromo-Seltzer," you get it in a glance and move on. But then he weighs in with "Shoes & Boots," which mainly shows the side of a building on a sunny day, and his colors work together, his composition is pleasingly abstract, he interestingly explores shallow space. And you think, why doesn't he give us more like this?
Ann Zaiman makes good use of pastel in "Sundown at Brenton Point," a lively picture of water and rocks. Sukey Bryan exhibits fine brushwork in her one small painting here, "Centre." The clarity of Tom Woolfolk's images, especially "Indian River," enables them to stand out despite their relatively modest size. Barbara Denrich's "Remembrance: Father/Son Football" is notable for its lush color. And Kim Parr's moody, almost romantic "West Town" is clearly the best of her four canvases in this show.
As for the "Scavenger Hunt" aspect of the show, the gallery has a contest in which you're invited to identify the places pictured in rTC these landscapes. The person who gets the most correct answers wins dinner for two at Harvey's Restaurant or $100, the winner's choice. Winner to be announced at the "closing" party July 29, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. All are invited to enter.
What: "Local Landscape Scavenger Hunt"
Where: Galerie Francoise et ses freres, Green Spring Station, Falls and Joppa roads
When: Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Aug. 3.
Call: (410) 337-2787.