If you want to get a sense of the diversity found in contemporary art, look no further than the “Art Maryland 2018” exhibit at the Howard County Center for the Arts.
Its juror, artist and arts journalist Cara Ober, selected work in various mediums that conveys a variety of messages.
Trying to ascertain the meaning of a given artwork is not always an easy exercise. Caroline Hatfield’s “Time is an Arrow and a Circle,” for example, is a floor-installed mixed media piece that literally lies at your feet. The artist has placed sand on the floor in a manner that prompts you to think about wind-altered sand dunes. Rising ever so slightly above the sand are cast aluminum forms that metaphorically may represent a city nearly covered by the sands of time. Then again, you are free to ponder any number of other interpretive possibilities.
If that unusual installation defies ready explanation, even some of the representational artworks done in more traditional mediums may not yield a simply explained meaning.
Not far from where Hatfield’s piece occupies floor space is an oil painting by Roxana Sinex that hangs on the wall in a conventional manner. However, Sinex’s “Windswept” just as firmly refuses to offer a straightforward meaning.
Her painting depicts two women standing next to each other on a sand dune. Their heads are turned away from us, so there is almost nothing one can conclude about them as individuals. Instead, one is more inclined to think about how they are placed within this environment. Indeed, the painting emphasizes their footprints in sand that is also marked by the wavy patterns caused by wind.
This eclectic show includes its share of representational artworks that earn admiration for how directly they capture their subject matter.
A fine example is Gail Nickells’ oil painting “Baltimore Oriole.” This sharply defined close-up of a single bird calls your attention to its black and orange feathers, as well as to the leafy branch on which it perches.
Another representational subject that immediately pleases is Joan Bevelaqua’s watercolor “Eggplants.” This still-life depicts three eggplants, one red pepper and one yellow pepper resting on a blue-and-white-patterned tablecloth. Those appealing food items are highlighted by the glistening light playing across their glossy surfaces.
In photography, a sharply realistic example is Donald Hobart’s “Moon Set Over Monument Valley.” The yellowish brown rocks, blue sky and pale moon make for a naturally beautiful image.
The eclectic stylistic range of this exhibit extends from realistic subjects to others treated with varying degrees of abstraction.
Kyle Drummond’s walnut and steel sculpture “Her” is a slender, gracefully curving upright construction that alludes to a female form.
Speaking of the feminine, a very different-looking sculptural form is Barbara Ferrante’s mixed media “Swallowed By Her Insecurities.” A fish sculpture has two plastic doll legs emerging from the its mouth. The fish’s scales are covered with clear plastic tags containing such words as “weight,” “unpopular,” “sad,” “infertility,” and, rather unexpectedly, “chin whiskers.”
A mixed medium work that relates to identity in terms of the work that one does, Angelina Prestel’s porcelain and white clay “June 21st to June 28th, 1360 minutes of labor” has four wall-mounted shelves on which rest many small vessels. You will find yourself contemplating the minor variations in size, shape and coloration of these vessels, and also the amount of labor the artist expended in making them.
Quite a few of the artworks in other mediums are also likely to have you thinking about the craftsmanship involved in creating them.
Eileen Williams’ mixed media and fabric “The Healing” features fabric-covered geometric forms that are packed together tightly; Ginny Fan’s hooked wool rug “Afghan” is rigorous in handling its patterns and colors; and Christina Guercio’s fused glass “Square Cross” expertly utilizes variously colored pieces of glass to form a cross.
Also exhibiting are Patricia Chevez, Karen Crouse, Stuart Gaines, Jennifer Becker, Meghan Walsh, Jean Cathey, Saroja Trollinger, Samantha Uptegraff, Wyatt Mitchell, Courtnee S. Hawkins, Zina Poliszuk, Dilay Kocogullari, Jennifer Hudson, Eileen Crowe, Nancy Hannans, James Adkins, Varada Vaidya, Joan Tarbell-Plato, Ona C. Martin, Megan Koeppel and Rebecca Pauvert.
“Art Maryland 2018” runs through Dec. 14 in Gallery I at the Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. Running concurrently in Gallery II is the group exhibit “Director’s Choice.” Also, the arts center has an Open House and Holiday Sale featuring over 50 vendors on Nov. 29, 5:30- 8:30 p.m. Call 410-313-2787 or go to hocoarts.org