by Mindy Hirt
While visiting a friend at Towson University, I stumbled upon something unexpected. Typically when on other university campuses I make my way to their art galleries, just to see what is happening. When I entered their brand new Center of the Art building, I was graced with three different galleries to look at. It was the last one I entered however, that I found an artist that really caught my attention and interest.
Particularities and Abstraction: Paintings by Christine Gray, W.C. Richardson, Fiona Ross, and Erling Sjovold was the exhibition on the third floor of the art center. I must say, the show was well worth the hike up the stairs. The collection was made up by an interesting group of artist, each used organic and geometric patterning along with abstraction in a unique way of their own. Taken from the Center of the Arts Gallery website in reference to the artist and their works in the show: "Painting from elaborate models, Christine Gray orchestrates fantastic landscapes, which present the tensions between the real and the synthetic, the pathetic and the magical, and the anxieties of prolonged revelry. W.C. Richardson's paintings are geometric structures that interact with freely drawn contradictory and shifting spatial cures and explore the tipping point between order and chaos. Fiona Ross's paintings on paper explore the order of crystal formation, bubble rafts, fractals and labyrinths as she observes them in the dehydration and evaporation of fluids and solids in her studio. Erling Sjovold's landscapes are on the edge between reality and invention."
Christine Gray's painting, Oracle Four, quickly caught my eye among the side of the gallery that was mainly filled with abstract geometric shapes. At first, I saw a beaver sitting outside of his den, taking in a winter seen melting way to the spring flowers. However, the longer I stared at the painting the more it began to transform before my eyes. The Beaver turned into a mass of cardboard scraps, the flowers turned into a decorative wallpaper, trees turned into toothpicks with construction paper cutouts, and a large log turned into a single brush stroke. This element of surprise was refreshing after searching the previous artist patterning and abstractions for more than just their material qualities of ink on paper and oil on canvas. I was eager to move to the next of Gray's paintings.
Oracle Four by Christine Gray
The wall that was filled with surprising landscape triggered my thought processes. Each and every one of her paintings caught my attention and rilled me in to look closer. I wanted to figure out what was hidden in each one. After I found everything that I thought there was to find, I tried to piece together the information the artist had given me. It was like playing detective on an episode of CSI. The original suspects in the paintings evolved and shifted. The clues then slowly were pieced together to come up with ideas of nature and how it was made to create these cardboard structures that Gray painted. "The tooth picks may have once been great trees," remarked an on looker and I agreed with him. Her paintings were fun to explore and ponder. I would highly recommend climbing to the third floor of Towson's Art Center to adventure through them yourself.