Eye on Art: Concurrent Exhibits Offer Diverse Perspectives

Photo | Marylou Bono (Top, L to R) Patricia Stockman, Makuta Udah, (bottom, L to R) Cat Barnstone Szafran and Johan Lowie spoke at the reception for the Arts Barn’s new “Figuratively Speak- ing” exhibit. They are pictured in front of the late Myron Barnstone’s “Gemini.”

Photo | Marylou Bono
(Top, L to R) Patricia Stockman, Maduka Francis Uduh, (bottom, L to R) Cat Barnstone Szafran and Johan Lowie spoke at the reception for the Arts Barn’s new “Figuratively Speaking” exhibit. They are pictured in front of the late Myron Barnstone’s “Gemini.”

A twin bill of art was on tap recently with the opening receptions for “Figuratively Speaking” at the Arts Barn and the Olney Arts Association’s annual juried show at the Kentlands Mansion.

These two decidedly different takes nevertheless represent the inspiration and wealth of artistic talent throughout Montgomery and Frederick counties.

“Figuratively Speaking” explores the art of the human figure in a variety of styles and genres with an international flavor. Curated by Mary Weiss-Waldhorn, it features the drawing and painting of Johan Lowie and the late Myron Barnstone, sculpture of Maduka Francis Uduh and photography of Patricia Stockman. Lowie, Uduh and Stockman spoke about their work, with Cat Barnstone Szafran speaking about her late father’s work.

A virtuoso draftsman and master anatomist, Myron Barnstone founded a unique style of teaching classical methods and disciplines at his studio in Coplay, Pennsylvania, after establishing himself as a profitable artist in the ‘70s in London and Paris. His abstract geometric palettes relied on Fletcher’s color-mixing theories and what is known as the “Golden Section” applied to the science of his geometric design, bringing movement and drama to his pieces. Barnstone’s exhibited “Gemini” is a masterpiece.

Szafran noted that many of her father’s students carry on his teachings, particularly at Pixar and Under Armour, and hold workshops to assist others in translating the methodology shown in the surviving videos of Barnstone at work. The artist passed away in 2016. In March 2018, the Artist Angle Gallery in Frederick hosted the American debut of his collection; some pieces had not been exhibited for 50 years. His legacy continues with the Barnstone Art Education Project managed by Szafran in Thurmont.

Photographer Trish Stockman’s images from her series “Departure” are on aluminum. The medium works for the theme of ethereal floating and free-falling in nature. Experimenting with figures for the past two years, Stockman explores their interaction with the environment, transparency, weather conditions and the seasons. Created using child-sized mannequins from Gap Kids, which she wraps with tape and removes the inner cast to create the buoyant silhouettes, her figures reveal a sense of freedom and invisibility. She strives to attain a shutter speed fast enough to capture the light and movement in a single instant and does not use Photoshop.

Sculptor Maduka Francis Uduh graduated from art school in his native Nigeria and has been creating multi-media projects in Gaithersburg for the past four years. He painted signs in his early career and then perfected his drawing on the journey to his passion for sculpture. His nature-inspired work is created in ebony, marble, bronze, metal and clay, among other media. The striking figures reveal his observation of and obsession with gestures and textures to convey emotion. He blends traditional and contemporary styles as evidenced in the impressive three-figure ensemble installed in the prominent corner at the entrance.

Originally from Belgium, Johan Lowie draws and paints in his Frederick studio. He was more of a painter up until about three years ago when a life event rendered him unable to draw. He went back to his beginnings to relearn drawing concepts, and attended daily classes to revive his skills. He draws and paints the human figure’s lines and forms with and without a live model, using inspiration from his surroundings, personal stories and reflections on human behavior. Much of his work employs mixed media—acrylic, lino print, glue pen, gold leaf—and he stresses the necessity of choosing the finest quality paper. His works are contemplative, some would say metaphysical, which is how I viewed the Dali-esque “Labyrinth of the Senses.”

Curator Waldhorn said, “I love Johan’s work. It speaks to your silence.”

This is the third year for the Olney Art Association’s annual show at the Kentlands Mansion. Juried by Montgomery College Associate Professor of Art Molly Marie Nuzzo, the exhibit features 54 pieces by member artists. Nuzzo searched for creative vision when evaluating each piece, and kept in mind, among other questions, “Did the content of the work reach me as a viewer? Olney Art Association President David Terrar commented that the show represents some of the group’s best work, demonstrating each artist’s depth, quality and professionalism.

Best in Show went to Cecile Kirkpatrick’s watercolor “Dusk.” Juror’s Awards were presented to Sandra Bourdeaux’s acrylic “Sunny Window,” Margo Lehman’s watercolor “Deadly Beauties” and Isabelle Martire’s oil “Sassy Jean.” Honorable Mentions were awarded to Howard Clark’s photo “Heart of the Rainforest,” Vladimir Ricar’s acrylic “Gladiolas,” Katherine R. Richard’s oil “Highline View-Logan Pass,” Jennifer Rutherford’s oil “Mystery Pond,” Antonia Tiu’s watercolor “Cafe in Amsterdam” and Deborah A. Wolfe’s acrylic “Brookeville Creek.”

Since the Arts Barn reopened, the City Shop is being replenished with new artist work, so stop by and see the shows as well as the shop. “Figuratively Speaking” is on view until Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday. The Olney Art Association exhibition is on view through Nov. 11. Contact the Kentlands Mansion at 301.258.6425 prior to your visit for hours.