In the early 1980s, Prince George’s artist Laurence Chandler worked as a graphic designer at the US State Department, and often traveled alongside the advance trip team for U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Since then, Chandler’s talent has established him as a contemporary artist, best known for Abstract Expressionist and gestural paintings. His works are thought-provoking, bold, colorful and tactile.
An exhibition at Arts’tination, a gallery and community art space in the heart of National Harbor, showcases more than 30 of his recent acrylic and mixed media works on canvas and paper. The exhibition offers a glimpse into Chandler’s creative process, which he describes as “an intuitive journey graced by mood, imagination and technical facility.”
Paintings in the exhibition titled “What does it mean to be FREE?” incorporate varying symbols, colors, textures and patterns that interpret, explore and present themes related to living an “unbounded life”. The exhibition kicked off June 19th in conjunction with the Juneteenth federal holiday and will be on view at Arts’tination National Harbor, 162 Waterfront Street, through August 14, 2022. Hours of operation: Monday – Closed. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 1 p.m. – 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 1 p.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
One of the first works that visitors to Chandler’s exhibition will see is “Lineage (our grandmothers are full of memories)” (a 36” x 36” acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas). The painting takes its title from renown poet Margaret Walker’s poem about her enslaved grandmothers. Viewers will notice repeated black silhouettes of women to show strength, connections and generations working towards a better life for their children.
In another painting titled “Resilience” (a 23” x 29” acrylic on canvas board), the compositions have a swooping energy and are enlivened by color and texture. “It’s how a canvas, which is obviously an inanimate thing, could possibly feel if it were animated, constantly adapting to surrounding conditions,” said Chandler. Bold colors overlap and bounce against each other. Combed, curved lines create a vital and pulsing rhythm. Squiggly lines range from subtle to emphatic, emphasizing Chandler’s mark-making intuitive process.
Another painting titled “Ripples” (a 22” x 43” acrylic on deckled edge Arches watercolor paper) offers lots of colors, patterns, texture and details in keeping with Chandler’s signature approach to abstract art. Bold blues, shades of gray, green and copper appear to form waves, as if with water agitated by a breeze. Fluid brushstrokes of color are incised with contrasting squiggles and short straight lines to add dimension to his artwork.
While viewing the exhibition at Arts’tination National Harbor, visitors are invited to write their thoughts about being “FREE” on Message Tags, then drop the tags into the yellow exhibition box. Chandler was among the first to share his view: “FREE means “Choice — the freedom to make my own decisions about my life, where I live, work and play.”
About Laurence Chandler
Laurence Chandler is a native of Baltimore, Md., and an alumnus of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). He also has a Master’s degree in Education from Coppin State University in Baltimore, and served four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. Throughout his career, Chandler’s creative talent and passion for art has earned opportunities for him in both the private and public sectors, and in business as a commercial art gallery owner. Today, Chandler works full-time as an artist from his home-studio/business, Laurence Chandler Fine Art, in Lanham, Md.
Chandler’s works are in private and public collections nationwide, and have been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows including galleries in the DMV. Seven five-by-four-foot works from his “Encryptions” and “Sgraffito” series are permanently installed in the grand lobby of The Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park. American Art Lover’s Magazine featured his work in its Guide to Collecting Fine Art in Washington, DC, and Mid-Atlantic States (2011). In late 2020, several of his originals were showcased on a BET HER short film directed by Hollywood celebrity Kim Fields, best known for her role as “Tootie” in the 1979 TV sitcom “Facts of Life”.
Arts’tination, located in the heart of the National Harbor’s Waterfront District, is a gallery and community art space dedicated to supporting local artists and curating immersive creative experiences. It offers an exciting array of visual arts, music programming, workshops, and events. Arts’tination is a joint initiative of the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC), National Harbor, and Experience Prince George’s. Hours of Operation: Monday: Closed, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m., Friday & Saturday: 1 p.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.