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At School 33, spring exhibition falls short of mark


Amada Cruz, who selected the artists for School 33's current juried exhibition, has impressive credentials. Now curator of exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, she has held curatorial positions at New York's Guggenheim and Washington's Hirshhorn museums. So it's surprising that she put together such an inconsistent, sporadically effective show.

Cruz notes that these artists share common ground in not being wedded to purity of discipline. They are willing to combine painting and sculpture, painting and photography, and so on. True, but with quite different results.

Of the eight artists, Luis Flores weighs in with a coherent and evocative work. Called "Arocoel (Grandfather)," it combines photography, collage, assemblage and construction to create a sense of oneness with the past that is both specific to the artist and easy to identify with.

Ellen Burchenal's discs -- combined into cloudlike forms, whether drawn on paper or cut out of wood and painted -- are wry, sophisticated, witty visualizations of change and flux, in the weather and by extension in the rest of our lives as well. Nothing ever stays the same, these works indicate, so you might as well accept the inevitable with a smile.

For "God's Eyes (Field)," Susan Eder photographed the faces of 81 deities in museum works of art, mounted them on rectangles of board, and painted out all but the eyes. The result is a wall full of eyes staring at you, with a guide to tell you what sort of deity each pair of eyes comes from. This raises intriguing questions -- do all the eyes of Jesus, say, have something in common? -- but interest in the parts wanes more quickly than one might expect, and as an entity, the work lacks punch.

John Cooper's "Pleiku: Toujours Always Toujours" combines painting and sculptural elements in a work that suggests the clash between chaos and imposed order, and the negative aspects of each. It's a tantalizing work; one wishes the artist were represented by more than this alone.

Drake Hawthorne's "Cryogenics" simulates a "fish run"; a series of little fans create a current of water in a race-track-like oval trough, pushing tiny dead fish encased in plastic around and around the oval. Unless, that is, most of them have got stuck, as they had when I saw the work.

If this is a comment on life, it may be saying that we on the treadmill of life are essentially as dead as those fish going around and around -- or not going around and around, as the case may be.

Elizabeth Turk's "The Memory of a Forest" is one of two of her installations now on view in Baltimore; the other and more effective is her "Baptism," on the subject of water, at Maryland Art Place. Her evocation of trees here, perhaps a more difficult subject, just doesn't come off.

It's hard to believe Daniel Sullivan and Katarina Wong are represented by anything like their best works, so let's not believe it and hope to see them better represented elsewhere.


What: "Spring 1995 Juried Exhibition"

Where: School 33 Art Center, 1427 Light St.

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through June 23

Call: (410) 396-4641

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