On View: Two group exhibitions show a range of talent

Claudia Rousseau
The Gazette, February 20, 2013
On View
Stone wall

Dave Montgomery’s "Stone Wall"

Artmatters, the exhibition project of the Art Works Studio School in Mt. Rainier, is conducting a show of work by 15 artists from the Gateway Community Development Studios. This exhibit, with the title “We the Artists” meets the organization’s goal of promotion of the arts in the area, and the variety of the work included here is reflective of the diversity of the artists participating.

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The exhibit mounted by four photographers in Gallery B in Bethesda is similar in its variety of themes and levels of success. All four photographers are using digital techniques to achieve different effects, and all the work in this exhibit is in color. Steven Hoff’s contributions are characterized by extremely bright coloration, even to a departure from local color in some places, and certainly an all-over strengthening of color saturation. Hoff, like the others in this show, is interested in experimenting with printing techniques. One of his pieces is printed on the back of a clear plastic panel. The image of “New York at Night” shimmers through the surface, emphasizing the movement of people and lights in the picture. This is not to say I think the idea is a complete success, but it does show the artist’s willingness to take risks to achieve a certain effect. All of his other images include crowds in the city at night, or views of urban scenes, that, although not without interest, are less than exciting.

Martin Evans prints on metallic paper to create an effect similar to painting on copper — something artists did before the invention of chromium colors. All the photos have a peachy pearlescent glow that is successful in the “Bay Sunset” and “Flamingos” but seems somewhat contrived otherwise. His most ambitious photo in the show, “Looking Up,” is heavily worked to the point of thoroughly obscuring the subject.

Howard Clark’s photos tend to be of local subjects, and his large print of Glen Echo Park is among the works featured in “Tunnel Vision,” the installation of art and light in the Metro pedestrian tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. (The project was carried out by the Bethesda Arts and Entertainment District, which also runs Gallery B). Clark’s best here is a photo of “Glade Creek Grist Mill” near Lewisburg, W.Va., with its dense green tones and foggy atmosphere.

By far, the best of the four is Dave Montgomery, whose digitally stitched panorama photos are without comparison the most intriguing compositions in the exhibition. His process also is fascinating. Standing in one position, Montgomery takes several individual shots of a scene, whether it’s a simple stone wall (“Stone Wall – Fall”) or a complex architectural work (“Neptune Fountain”), a fabulous landscape (“Painted Hills”, “Great Falls”) or a commercial street (“The Collection”). These he carefully fits together with various digital tools to complete the image. In the case of “Painted Hills” the effect is cinematic, giving a sense of depth that could not be achieved with a simple shot. Montgomery’s stone wall has a density that is palpable, although his technique never interferes with his keen aesthetic sensibility.

Return/Go to the page about Dave Montgomery.