The Bohrer Park Gallery was the scene last Thursday evening for a different kind of art show…one featuring the mystery of science fiction and fantasy and the whimsical levity of humor.
Artists representing the science fiction genre in the invitational show are Erik Dillinger, Stephen McDowell and James Russell. Fantasy artists are Tessa Barr, Dan Ellis, David Heatwole, Andrea Kleinbussink, Kelley Phan and Carol Walsh, and the humor genre is represented by Michael Auger and Goodloe Byron.
The gallery at Bohrer is expansive and well suited to large works and ones where you stand back in contemplation to take in all that is being expressed. The wall on the right as you enter is dedicated to the entomology-inspired sci-fi work of young visionary Stephen McDowell. His precise colorful worlds are illustrations for his “webtoon,” which is a canon within the story, but tangential, revealed McDowell. The webtoon called “Um” can be found at the link bit.ly/umwbtn and is an epic science fiction story with the characters in his paintings in the background. “As an exercise in what a character would look like, I started painting them,” Stephen said. He developed the idea for the webtoon five years ago and started publishing chapters
this year. “I really like stories that are connected … tendrils out into a bigger world … roots extending with their imagination. I’m autistic and this is a relatable palette of emotion.” An entomologist friend collaborated on the idea with him. He said that her enthusiasm for bugs inspired him to tap into the world of insects and find a way to show them in our world. “The Latin names of the insects are an entomology lesson,” Stephen said. “People connect with it and I’m excited about that. It’s where I get the biggest gratification.”
Around the corner are the fantasies of Contessa Magdalena (Tessa Barr). The large vertical “Alchemical Birds” immediately strikes you with the central figure representing nigredo or blackness and the peacock, pelican, crow and phoenix representing various states of transformation. The solar system above also represents a stage in the process. “I’m very interested in astrology and the phases of the alchemical process,” Tessa explained, “the spiritual and supernatural.” I recently wrote about Carol Walsh, a Lakelands resident whose work is compositing—photographs of live models superimposed through digital imagery with her photographs into illusory nature settings. It was satisfying to see so many of them displayed together in their reverie. I commented on their professional presentation and the viability of using a 20×20 square. “The square takes you away from the usual photography … what you think of when you see a photograph,” Carol said. “Caressed by the Sea” is a favorite, invoking imagination and daydream, and also “Seduction” with a lovely blue heron gracing the corner.
Directly opposite, in both direction and mood, are Michael Auger’s playful images featuring “Name Your Poison,” an intensely bright painting of an octopus bartender highlighted by the use of ultraviolet reactive paint and a black light—“UV reactive,” Michael said, “I’ve reinvented black light!” A full-time freelance artist since 2006, he commented that people always find something to identify with in his work. “My subconscious factors into what I do, and it comes out my way. I don’t do somebody else’s thing,” he emphasized. I also loved his British-inspired, tea-sipping character entitled “Tea Time.” Auger has a great website, www.Arty4Ever.com, featuring much more of his work.
Also in the comic vein are Goodloe Byron’s colorful abstract animals, many with huge sad eyes—pugs, a meerkat, a mammoth. His dinosaur mural graces the wall behind Brewer’s Alley restaurant in Frederick, and his fish boogie across the walls of The Surf House in Urbana.
The unpredictable fantasy work of Dan Ellis, a freelance artist in Montgomery Village, is highly influenced by Anime. He acknowledged this, but said that he stylistically tries to depart, not wanting to be in a box. “I draw a lot of inspiration from the 1960s to 1980s old-school fantasy art and surrealism,” Dan said. A smallish image of a sheepish elf made me smile.
I was also intrigued by Eric Dillinger’s sophisticated charcoal drawings of characters who inhabit futuristic worlds, some illustrations from a graphic novel he is currently writing.
If you’re looking to delight your eye and let your imagination soar, stop by the Bohrer Park Activity Center Gallery (506 S. Frederick Ave. next to Gaithersburg High School) and view the exhibit Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Most of the works are for sale by contacting the information desk at the gallery and many can be viewed on the slide show here.