Artist gets metaphysical at Columbia Art Center

Howard County Times

Metaphysical ideas are given physical form in an exhibit by Fidel Carey-Realmo at the Columbia Art Center. Titled “Infinite Creator,” this show includes a mixed-media installation, paintings and even a few painted chairs.

The Baltimore artist’s heritage, which includes having a Mexican-American mother, may be reflected in the vivid colors found throughout the show and also in the shrine-evocative installation that occupies much of the floor space.

It would be a mistake to place this artwork within a strictly national context, however, because Carey-Realmo has interests extending around the world and, indeed, up into the heavens. Although not all viewers will find profound metaphysical insights here, everybody is likely to appreciate the ambitious thematic agenda, the clever incorporation of an assortment of materials, and colors so bright that you can’t ignore them and might as well enjoy them.

The central installation is flanked by two arches at either end. These portals are covered by a collage of photo-based images including a Buddha, Egyptian architecture and statuary, human portraits and the earth as seen from space. There are also painterly squiggles on and around the imagery.

Walk through these gateways and the floor is covered with stacks of wrapped boxes. The boxes have been covered with such busy colors and patterns that the ensemble seems like a rather surreal gifting occasion. By the way, you are free to rearrange the boxes. As the artist writes in an accompanying label: “You are invited to respectfully touch, move, stack, lean and arrange the boxes at your discretion. Be bold.”

The rest of the show mostly consists of paintings that do not exactly hang quietly on the walls. In “The Movement of the Holy Spirit,” for instance, there are so many vigorously gestural lines splashed across the surface that the painting serves as a reminder that the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1950s still informs some paintings being made today. For that matter, that earlier generation of artists also was inclined to find metaphysical ideas percolating in their all-over painterly abstraction.

In that painting and most of the others, Carey-Realmo uses latex paint that has an assertive and borderline-chunky appearance. If the gestural mark making suggests an open and exploratory quality, the paint itself has a weighty nature.

Paint is hardly the only thing that this artist likes to apply to a canvas. In paintings including “Inner Space” and “Joyful,” there is also glitter that literally adds a bit of sparkle to them.

Speaking of glitter, “Treasure” has an array of of found objects applied to the surface. The cones, cubes and other geometric forms projecting from the painting’s surface are accompanied by a paint brush and a costume party-suitable mask. Oh, and all of those objects are covered with gold glitter.

The artist’s imagination also finds him appropriating and putting to a new use a number of other objects. “Many Pieces, ONE Puzzle” has its surface covered by brightly painted puzzle pieces.

The above-mentioned paintings retain a sense of a painted canvas to which three-dimensional objects have been applied. A few works in the show dispense with any sense of a painted canvas, however, and instead use the objects to make sculptural constructions.

For “Pyramid,” the artist has taken numerous rolls that once held tape and has stacked those empty tape rolls in such a way that he has constructed a pyramid. Such an architectural shape obviously follows through on Carey-Realmo’s spiritual concerns.

If “Pyramid” looks to the ancient world for inspiration, ‘Priceless” makes use of an object that is all too familiar from our everyday lives. An actual flat-screen TV has been completely covered with latex and spray paint. Looking at the drips of purple paint extending across the screen amounts to the only program available for viewing. It’s worth a look.

Fidel Carey-Realmo exhibits through July 7 at the Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth in Long Reach Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-0075 or go to

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