East City Art Reviews: 2017 Faculty and Staff Show at King Street Gallery

By Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D. on December 12, 2017


Pablo Callejo, Temptation, multi-media reliefs, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

The annual exhibition of work by faculty and staff of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Montgomery College (Takoma Park-Silver Spring Campus) is now on view in the spacious and light-filled King Street Gallery in the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center in Silver Spring.  The work exhibited this year is of an exceptionally high quality overall, with a few standout pieces that merit special attention.

Chief among them is a pair of reliefs by Pablo Callejo titled Temptation (2017).  Displayed horizontally on the ground and framed in wood, the reliefs are large—approximately five feet high, about four feet across and over a foot deep.  Made from gypsum, gesso, oil and resin on a wood base, they feature a glistening, jewel-toned and textured surface that resembles water; especially from a short distance.   Two naked figures seem to be rising from the swirling substance, one female and one male.  With eyes closed, both seem to be comfortably lying in their own spaces.  There is an expression of calm confidence on the woman’s face. With her right arm across her torso, she offers a shining red apple to her companion who languidly extends his right arm to reach for it across the space between them.  It is an arresting work, with dark undertones, and a mythic narrative that, in recalling the biblical temptation of Adam, becomes universal and timeless, while also, perhaps, striking a contemporary chord in suggesting sexual temptations and transgressions.

Norberto Gomez Jr., Mysterium iniquitatis, installation: digital print with concrete blocks on synthetic felt, 44” x 72”, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Also compelling are the ceramic, concrete and wood structures by Michael Anthony, who, like Callejo, is a staff member largely involved with exhibitions in the Center’s three galleries.  Anthony’s largest work might evoke an instrument of torture, while it also might conjure a more benign machine of some kind, or, as some viewers have exclaimed, a guillotine! As this greets the viewer from one vantage of the atrium, an installation by Norberto Gomez comprised of a large digital print and accompanying elements on the floor in front of it is seen through the entry to the gallery space from another.  Ominous and threatening, but at the same time, visually curious, Gomez’s title, Mysterium iniquitatis, underscores the ambiguity and dark irony intended here. [1]

Jenny Walton, Silver Linings, silver point and graphite on paper, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Among smaller works, I’d like to mention the exquisite silverpoint and graphite drawings of cloud forms by Jenny Walton and three landscape etchings by Jake Muirhead.  The porcelain sculptures of Xiaosheng Bi have a particularly delicate quality, resembling flowering plants and organic structures. Perhaps most delightfully engaging are Carol Hinds’s three soft sculptures of decorated fabric lizards that have been installed as though crawling up the wall.  Viewers of all ages seem entranced by their substantial forms and fairy-tale fantasy.

The exhibition is on view December 6 – January 26, 930 King Street, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (off of Georgia Ave.).  The gallery is open regular business hours M-F.  It will be closed Dec. 23-Jan. 1.

[1] The artist has indicated that the title is derived from that of a song by Christian Death, a “death rock” band.  Gomez, a full time faculty member, is also a musician who tours with a rock band.