A1. Sondheim Semi-Finalists Exhibition (MICA’s Meyerhoff Gallery and Decker Gallery) While the Sondheim finalists show at the Walters was chock-full of in-your-face social issues, many of the semi-finalists tackled their subjects with more subtlety and nuance. Dustin Carlson’s mini-bike sculptures, Marian Glebes’ tiny ecosystems, and Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato’s FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture (pictured) all confronted national and local themes without sinking into aesthetic stereotypes. And they were only a few of the many artists in this thrilling show. (J.M. Giordano) Read the Review here.
2. The Other Real (Nudashank) Conor Backman’s show was a tour de force exploration of the nature of reality and representation, whether he was using soda cans to riff on a painting contest in ancient Greece or reproducing waves, the wave forms of magazines, and the images in surfing mags. Backman’s based in New York, but we hope he’ll keep showing in Baltimore. (Baynard Woods) Read the review here.
3. Psychokinesis (Metro Gallery) D’Metrius Rice’s Psychokinesis traces modern painting back to its Orientalist roots, collapsing the past century of the art-history canon (and millennia of non-Western art that informed it) into a gloriously flat, visual Esperanto. It’s easy to lose oneself in Rice’s colorful, collage-like paintings, catching countless homages to diverse historical attempts at conveying space and time through two-dimensional media. (Michael Farley) Read the review here.
4. See Through (ICA/D Center) Mary Anne Arntzen’s See Through invited the viewer to look through the city’s cinder-block walls, chain-link fences, and latticed windows, but Arntzen’s paintings are really about transparency of process. Her surfaces provide an honest document of decision-making, mistakes, revisions, and the wavering human hand. Through gestural painting, usually associated with macho expressionism and hubris, Arntzen’s hand exposes an endearing vulnerability. (MF) Read the review here.
5. Surface Treatment (Springsteen) Seth Adelsberger’s submersion paintings somehow manage to manifest some of the best qualities of the Northern Renaissance (that sheen that almost makes them seem illuminated from within) and mid-century American abstraction, while doing something wholly original as they blend these visual styles with a commentary on our screen-based lives (see page 30). It’s hard to stop looking at these paintings. (BW)
6. Stopgap (Gallery Four) Installation artist Lisa Dillin has always used her exacting sculpture to create environments that tweak the way we feel. With Stopgap, she unleashed those considerable skills to change the way we think. Interactive works such as “Communal Drinking Source” and “Primal Tan” were social realms where the natural and artificial miraculously coexisted—and were funny, thoughtful, and absurdly sublime. Plain and simple, Stopgap showcased an artist making a mammoth creative leap forward. (Bret McCabe) Read the review here.
7. Picture Windows: The Painted Screens of Baltimore and Beyond (MICA) This revelatory show, curated by folklorist Elaine Eff (see page 39), rescues Baltimore’s painted screens and the tradition from which they emerge from the realm of nostalgic kitsch and details the power of its color and imagery. (BW)
8. Screencaps (Nudashank) Dina Kelberman’s intense investigations into the digital imagery of smoke and fire, on one hand, and the doors of Star Trek, on the other, amounted to one of the first truly successful instances of monumental digital art. In a genre where it often feels you’d do better to stay home and watch on your own screen, Kelberman’s use of Nudashank’s wall for her scrolling series of pyromaniacal animations was a revelation. (BW) Read the review here.
9. Morris Louis: Unveiled (Baltimore Museum of Art) This sampling of mid-century abstractionist and native Baltimorean Morris Louis dips into the past and pulls out some of Louis’ earliest abstract expressionist works that were heavily influenced by contemporaries like de Kooning and Pollock. This show tracks his decision-making throughout the years, creating a map or a network of associations among the paintings. Louis toyed with technique and scale, pouring, dripping, and staining paint onto canvases ranging in size from the minimal to the monumental. (Rebekah Kirkman) Read the review here.
10. Not Yet in Ruin (Springsteen) The works that James Bouché, a 2012 MICA grad, created for this show possess the kind of fearlessness that youthful brio confers. Ruin attacks notions of stately artistic grandeur with a savage grace: The show explores man’s desire to commemorate his greatest achievements by stripping monumental forms down until nothing is left but minimalism’s pompous ego. Bravo. (BM) Read the review here.