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Issues confronted in cultural display


In the 20th century, Latin American artists have played a unique role in the development of modernism, blending European formal invention with subject matter drawn from Latin American history, politics and religion.

The result has been a striking multicultural embrace of the connections and discontinuities between both worlds.

Osvaldo Mesa of Cuba and Soledad Salame of Chile are near-contemporaries whose works are featured in a show at the Harmony Hall Regional Center gallery in Fort Washington, Md., through Sept. 30.

Mesa's work is a hybrid of painting, sculpture and installation that fuses modern techniques and objects with Afro-Cuban traditions in an attempt to connect disparate elements and ideas about heritage, racism and politics.

Salame's concern about preserving the natural environment has led to the creation of what she terms "living paintings," which combine architectural forms with plant life, incorporating nature and its processes.

But both artists have used the conventions of Western painting and sculpture to address social issues - race, politics, religion and the environment - in ways that dazzle the eye and challenge the mind.

The Gallery/Harmony Hall Regional Center is located at 10701 Livingston Road. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call 301-203-6070.

Gallery show

A fine selection of works from the Walters Art Gallery's collection of small Northern European portraits goes on display Sept. 17 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

The show, the companion to the National Gallery's exhibition of small Italian paintings, highlights some of the many works of Netherlandish art acquired by collector Henry Walters (1848-1931), including Hugo van der Goes' "Donor with Saint John the Baptist" (1475), perhaps the most famous masterpiece among the museum's holdings.

The Dutch and Italian Cabinet Galleries are in the National Gallery's West Building at 6th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. For information, call 202-737-4215.

Associate curator hired

The Baltimore Museum of Art has hired a new associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs to replace Jan Howard, who left earlier this year for the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.

Darsie Alexander comes to the BMA from the department of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she was an assistant curator.

Alexander is a graduate of Bates College in Maine and received her Master's degree in art history from Williams College in Massachusetts.

At MOMA, Alexander helped organize photo-based and contemporary exhibits drawn from the museum's permanent collection, including "Modern Starts: MOMA 2000," the museum-wide millennial project and "Anatomically Incorrect," a show that compared early surrealists like Dali and Giacometti with such postmodern artists as Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith and Laurie Simmons.

The BMA has also announced the arrival of Anne Mannix as the museum's new director of public relations. Mannix comes to the BMA from the Campbell Group, a Baltimore advertising and public relations firm.

Exhibit opens

The Trout Gallery of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania is mounting an extraordinary exhibit, "Writing on Hands: Memory and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe," featuring more than 80 manuscripts, prints and books from the 15th through the 17th century focusing on the use and importance of images of the hand in acquiring knowledge.

The show, which runs through Nov. 25, includes an original etching by Rembrandt, woodcuts by Albrecht Durer, and engravings by Lucas van Leyden and Hendrick Goltzui.

This is the most ambitious exhibition ever mounted by the Trout Gallery, and it is accompanied by a handsome catalog and Web site, which at presstime was still under construction, www.writingonhands.org.

The Trout Gallery is in the Weiss center of the Arts on High Street in Carlisle, Pa. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call 717-245-1344.

New gallery

The Ashley Gallery, Baltimore's newest art space, opened last month at 1704 Eastern Ave. in Fells Point. Ashley Gallery represents New York painter John David, Westminister artist Ryan Hopkins and Nevada painter Marjorie Weaver.

Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday noon to 6 p.m. For information, call 410-905-5503.

Correction: In a recent column about antiques, I misidentified a federal inlaid mahogany and satinwood veneer card table offered for sale by E. A. Mack Antiques of Baltimore.

The table was produced in the shop of Boston cabinetmakers John & Thomas Seymour, not by a follower of their style.

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