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For beginners, an exhibition at MAP


"Fresh Out" at Maryland Art Place isn't a particularly dynamic idea for a show, but the project is redeemed by some good art. The six artists represented all recently graduated from college and can use, in the words of the show's press release, "professional recognition and incentive."

Not much of a theme there. But curator Charlotte Cohen, who used to work at MAP and is now a team project leader at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Serv ice, has found six promising artists, resulting in an invigorating show.

John Wojciech's group of paintings, mostly untitled, depict little but have a lot to give. There are suggestions of identifiable objects -- such as a doorway or a pyramid or a curlicue that looks like a piece of ornamental wrought iron -- combined with a lot of abstract brushwork of an elegance that often makes these paintings sing. It's always a pleasure to see an artist whose touch is so sure. But these works also convey mood, character and emotion, and they are occasionally reminiscent of other periods, such as the way "Sin Spiral" evokes the baroque.

Robert Caldwell's 16 models of suburban houses grouped close to each other stand on poles like bird houses. The untitled grouping works as a metaphor for the way we live. The houses, with their many doors, windows and cheerful wallpaper, look open and friendly, but they aren't. Raised in the air as they are, everybody who might live in these houses would be cut off from his neighbors. That's more and more the way we live, what with television killing off conversation and the national fear of crime. This is also a work about individual isolation in an existential century; inside these houses, many rooms are cut off from one another, so anyone in them would be unable to communicate with others in the same house.

Elizabeth Turk has two installations showing in Baltimore, one at School 33 and one here. This one is much better. Called "Baptism," it's about water -- dark curtains define four sides of a space centered on a square of slate on the floor, onto which is projected a film of rain falling on a pavement. Rain sounds play as well, helping to create a pleasantly mesmerizing experience.

Rebecca Bafford presents a series of porcelain forms based on T. S. Eliot's poem "The Waste Land." Although the artist provides a guide that connects each piece with a specific line in the poem, trying to identify each one as a visualization of its line dilutes the cumulative effect of these forms.

Of Jeffrey Colburn's wood and brick sculptures, the best are his graceful hanging fence called "Ramble" and the brick "Didg Wall," reminiscent of an ancient ruin. Hidesuke Takai creates paintings whose technical strengths sometimes outweigh their thematic ones. The best here is "Cave Dwellers," suggesting both evolution and the human race's relationship with the rest of nature.


What: "Fresh Out"

Where: Maryland Art Place, 218 W. Saratoga St.

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through June 24

Call: (410) 962-8565

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