City-run School 33 Art Center is one of Baltimore's great art assets. Aside from its exhibits program and children's and adult art classes, it has nine spacious, rent-subsidized studios that artists can occupy for up to three years. Every two years there's an exhibit of artists' work, and the one now on display reveals the strength of the current group.
There's a good mix here -- abstract and representational, works that stick to one discipline and works that cross boundaries.
Jyung Mee Park's stunning "Interstices" looks like a painting, but it's actually an abstract drawing of white ink lines on three transparent nylon gossamer panels that reach from floor to ceiling. Park's overlapping, intersecting, undulating lines bring to mind Far Eastern calligraphy, and also Mark Tobey's "white writing." While a great deal of energy probably went into the execution of this work, what it communicates above all is a sense of serenity. The effect might be different, and equally valid, if it were seen against a contrasting, dark background instead of the white wall behind it; but that could result in a loss of some of the subtlety that marks it as now installed.
James von Minor's "Striped Trefoils" combines sculpture, painting and drawing in five stacked rows of cutout wooden trefoils painted in stripes, alternating with four rows of trefoils drawn in charcoal on the wall. The counterpoint of repeated shapes contrasted with similar treatments of the cutouts' surfaces makes for a lively image. There's a satisfying tension and dynamism here, despite an overall symmetry that tends toward the static.
Diane Kuthy, Claudia McDonough and Garry Mitchell all contribute abstract paintings whose repeated shapes -- especially in the case of Kuthy and Mitchell -- bear some resemblance to one another. Mitchell's work is the most sophisticated of the three, McDonough's the most reposeful, and Kuthy's has the most emotional connotations.
Jennifer Becker's wall sculpture, "Three Oars," indeed takes the shape of oars. But the real reward lies in noticing the work's parts rather than the overall image -- the artist's use of materials (wood, paper, metal), her surface treatments and her strong, unorthodox shapes.
Jennifer Merriman's four-part landscape painting, "Forest Journey," has appeal, but her painted ceramics depicting the village of Monkton are more pleasingly idiosyn- cratic.
The works of both Philip Roberts and Atsuko Fukui-Chirikjian reflect artists of promise who are still developing their visual language. School 33 is obviously a good place to do that.
AT SCHOOL 33
What: "1995 Biennial Studio Artists Exhibition"
Where: School 33 Art Center, 1427 Light St.
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through Aug. 5.
% Call: (410) 396-4641.