There’s a powerful sense of the spirit of the Eastern Shore in Discovering the Native Landscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Adkins Arboretum’s nineteenth annual Juried Art Show. On view in the Arboretum Visitor’s Center through March 30, the show celebrates the Arboretum’s conservation mission and captures multiple aspects of our landscapes and waterscapes, from the familiar to the playful to the stunningly beautiful.
The show was juried by Benjamin T. Simons, director of Easton’s Academy Art Museum. Both he and the artists will be on hand for a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 10 to talk with visitors about the work in the show.
From 115 entries submitted by 45 artists from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Georgia and Washington, D.C., Simons chose 23 works for this show.
“I was mindful that the works would cohere as an exhibit and also relate to our landscape,” he explained. “There are various traditions represented, like plein-air, pastel, oil and sculpture, and I was glad to see there’s an etching because we’re introducing etching at the Museum, and there are some nice drawings, as well. A skillful drawing is really a pleasure.”
Simons awarded the annual first-prize Leon Andrus Award, named in honor of the Arboretum’s first benefactor, to Baltimore artist Karen Klinedinst for her three haunting photographs shot and processed on her iPhone. Although her work was new to him, Klinedinst is a frequent visitor to the Arboretum, photographing its grounds and teaching workshops in iPhoneography. Taken at the tidal Black Marsh Natural Area in the upper Chesapeake, this trio of photographs focuses on egrets in the expanse of their native habitat and calls to mind the radiant beauty and nuanced details of nineteenth-century Romantic paintings.
Speaking of the luminescent quality of Klinedinst’s work, Simons said, “To me, it has a kind of ‘nature-photography-meets-Civil-War-era-photography’ feeling, and that’s what I found so appealing about it. They’re printed on vellum with white gold leaf, which gives them really a special glow.”
Simons awarded the Leon Andrus second prize to Francesca Blythe of Potomac for “Wood Shell,” a sweeping driftwood sculpture burnished with velvety smoothness to a deep warm brown.
“She’s seeing something there that’s very spectacular,” he said. “It’s got an elegance of line to it, sort of a pointing finger quality, kind of an ancient hand, or a dragon head.”
Simons also awarded three Honorable Mentions, choosing two paintings and a drawing. The drawing, “Silhouette: Caledon Marsh I” by Donna Frostick of Henrico, Va., is a very unusual work made with a Sharpie marker. Drawn with intricate strokes of stark black on bright white paper, it hums with energy.
“It’s a strange effect that that produces,” Simon commented. “It’s funny because you get a reflection off the water just by leaving it blank.”
The two paintings he chose are very different from one another. “Pioneer Point,” by Washington artist Carol Rowan, is a skillful and meticulous rendering in oil paint of a traditional Eastern Shore scene with two workboats moored in a quiet cove. “Foggy July (Leonard Cove, Trappe, MD),” by David Leonard of Easton, is also an oil painting, but its loose, spontaneous style captures a momentary impression of a small dock and pilings shimmering in the heat and humidity of a summer day. Simons was pleased to find such singularly varied approaches to the Eastern Shore landscape.
“That’s probably what unifies the show the most, the sense of place,” he commented. “Almost all of them convey a sense of place that’s one of the most powerful parts of living here.”
This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through March 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or email@example.com for gallery hours.