“Abstract Surge” strikes me as an apt title for Cheryl Warrick’s exhibit of 28 images in the two snug Academy Art Museum galleries just off the atrium main entrance.
The acrylic paintings, watercolors, and works on paper present the viewer with waves of creative imagination. It starts with loose geometric grids and repetitive patterns, first in “Dialogue I” and continuing on the adjoining wall with “Start of Something,” two sheets of paper forming a mural of progressive sequences dotted with unintelligible written words and hints of about-to-bud plant life against a desert-sand landscape interrupted by black-hole tunnels. “Intersection,” another two-sheet mural on paper, suggests a roadmap against a variegated topography with disconnected segments of a paved highway to nowhere.
Moving toward the next gallery, you’ll begin to see a transition to brightly colored patterns and shapes that bring to mind, perhaps, colliding hot-air balloons, a jumble of wrapped gifts, or decorative party baubles. Making figurative sense of these images is a fool’s errand, perhaps mine as an art critic. They are the evident product of a fertile visualization by a skilled artist who may or may not know what they mean herself. Who am I to say? Your guess may be as good as hers. Other than that, each piece is rendered with the insight and artistry it takes to express whatever brought hand and brushstroke to a blank painting surface.
For the next three weeks, the annual student exhibition occupies most of the remaining AAM gallery space with more than 350 artworks by schoolchildren and teens from Talbot, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, and Caroline counties.
The Lederer Gallery is devoted to paintings, watercolors, photography, drawings, sculptures, and even fashion design by middle and high school artists. Some of them took inspiration from the Warwick show, unveiled about a month before the Dec. 17 student opening. Awards of merit will be presented during the Jan. 11 closing night. Two of these works stood out to me. It’s hard to miss “Rise and Sparkle,” by Easton’s SS Peter and Paul 11th grader Genevieve Webb, a brightly painted non-functional toilet with glitter accents. “Dr. Strangelove,” a pen-on-paper print by Centreville’s Gunston School senior Brielle Tyler, features a picture-perfect likeness of General Jack Ripper who, as played by Sterling Hayden, “learned to love the bomb” as the subtitle to Stanley Kubrick’s film classic suggests.
Across the hall, the Healy Gallery is chock full of pieces by K-6 students, with still more student works on display in the auditorium. A reception for grades K-3 is at 4:30 on Jan. 9 and for grades 4-8 at the same time on Jan. 10.
Hosey Corona’s site-specific “Terrestrial Caravan” exhibit greets AAM visitors in the Saul Atrium entryway gallery with a climate-change message and colorful notes of hope through the upcoming seasons until the end of August. The word “Caravan” brings to mind a former president’s characterization of Latin American mass migration to the United States’ southern border – unabated to this day – driven by drought, floods, violence, and impending starvation. Painted vignettes hanging over lobby windows depict migrants traversing a torrid landscape bearing backpacks or towing suitcases. On the opposite wall, Corona’s “Climate Ponchos” double as wearable rain-gear sculptures. Despite the underlying theme that large swaths of the planet may become uninhabitable, the “Terrestrial Caravan” imagery is leavened by reminders of the restorative powers of nature. Witness the floral headdresses worn by these weary and desperate travelers to glimpse a hope that is not yet lost.
In the upstairs hallway gallery, “Earth Abides” from the museum’s permanent collection touches on similar climate-change motifs through Feb. 28. (See a previous review on this Spy Media site.)
“Cheryl Warrick: Abstract Surge”
Through Feb. 19,
Mid-Shore Student Art Exhibition
Through Jan. 11
“Hoesy Corona: Terrestrial Caravan”
Through Aug. 31
Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton
Steve Parks is a retired New York arts critic now living in Easton.