BmoreArt’s Picks: February 16-22

BmoreArt’s Picks presents the best weekly art openings, events, and performances happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas.

This Week: We are featuring online events that you can participate in from the comfort of your own couch plus a few calls for entry to get involved locally and nationally. Stay home, stay healthy, stay engaged in the arts.

BmoreArt’s Picks presents the best weekly art openings, events, and performances happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas. For a more comprehensive perspective, check the BmoreArt Calendar page, which includes ongoing exhibits and performances, and is updated on a daily basis.

To submit your calendar event, email us at!

Timothy App: States of Mind
ongoing through March 31
@ Goya Contemporary

Goya Contemporary Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of paintings by Contemporary American artist Timothy App (B. 1947 Akron, OH. Lives and works in Baltimore, MD), whose work is included numerous significant public and private collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art; Albright-Knox Museum, NY; Long Beach Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts Santa Fe; Tucson Museum of Art, AZ; Art Cloud, Korea; The Phillips Collection, DC; among others.

Over the last five decades, Timothy App has developed a body of work that engages a complex exploration of abstract painting and has contribution to the larger art historical narrative around geometric practice. App’s signature style of geometric abstraction, with its assertive visual tensions, reveals a concise and thoughtful understanding of the nature of painting.

Talking about the work, App says: “These recent Threshold paintings are, in part, a confrontation with nothingness, placing the unsuspecting viewer on the brink of the unknown. And like much of my work, they are anthropometric in scale—body-sized– and symmetrical, facilitating the human being’s moment of encounter. On another level, they are a continuation of my ongoing endeavor to find authentic ways of making a painting. They have evolved over twenty years in tandem with other series. Like all of my work, they demonstrate a coalescence of formal concerns that I have carried with me for a very long time.”

He further elaborates by saying: “With a static work of art, meaning lies in the immediate encounter … where the moment of recognition occurs. At that instant, every deployment of form, every nuance of color and tone, every juncture of vital elements become paramount, and are there for the viewer’s thoughtful perusal.”

The artist has remained productive through the innumerable challenges presented by the times in which we live. Looking inward at this moment, App reflects on a lifetime of painting in his exhibition accompanying “Notes on Painting” and states: “After so many years of painting with a consistent premise, the ‘larger context’ has all but evaporated. What I do as an artist has become so intrinsic to who I am, so ingrained psychically, so mirrored in my personal history, that matters of social and political relevance have become inconsequential to my labors as an artist. A patient search, through a persistent endeavor with formal and aesthetic concerns, is the antithesis of the struggle for power. And political and social exigencies, as inevitable and necessary as they are, feed on the acquisition of and use, or abuse, of power. If my work deals at all with power, then I would hope that it is the power of the eye and hand guided by the mind and the imagination.”

The exhibition, Timothy App: States of Mind, will feature 7 new, large scale paintings and 6 studies which bring together various aspects of the artist’s evolution and growth, demonstrating his status as one of the region’s most important living painters.

Codex | Online Exhibition
ongoing through March 13
presented by UMBC Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture

Codex opens Jan 28 and runs through March 13, 2021, featuring the artwork of Brandon Ables, Jason Charney, Mandy Morrison, and Adan Rodriguez.

Encompassing a wide range of technologies and materials, their works embody the elements of social practice and community involvement as well as critiques on contemporary culture. The artists are 2020 recipients of MFA degrees in Intermedia and Digital Arts and were to be featured in an in-person exhibition originally scheduled for spring 2020; their works are now presented in a virtual environment.

Codex will be available as a virtual tour on the CADVC’s web page starting February 4th. The gallery will remain closed to the public.

Phaan Howng: A Bag of Rocks for A Bag of Rice
ongoing through May 15
@ Asian Arts & Culture Center at Towson University

Exquisitely disposed rocks and trees and vegetation. The promise of an inspired space of meditation and detachment. Such has been of the Westernized image of the Chinese and Japanese garden. Yet such enchanted “natural” spaces camouflage histories of empire, wealth, privilege, and exploitation of labor responsible for ecological extraction and displacement in order to create these private environments.

Fascinated by the human desire to create heterotopias (worlds within worlds, mirroring and yet distinguishing themselves from what is outside) through landscaping, Howng channels her heritage and uses Towson University’s Asian Arts Gallery as a site-specific platform to engage East Asian gardens as a case study. She suggests that the managed gardening practices and aesthetics implemented by those in positions of power and wealth were, historically speaking, aspects of a world-wide trend of appropriation and domination that led to our current global climate crisis.

Howng’s installation represents the Chinese garden by treating the gallery like a theatrical set. Taking cues from Ji Cheng’s (計成) manual “The Craft of Chinese Gardens” (園冶 yuán yě) written sometime in 1631 and 1634 — to create “artificial mountains” (假山 Jiǎshān) out of rocks — and researching the inspirations and motivations behind the creation of private gardens during the Ming Dynasty, Howng creates her own idealized mountain landscape and garden.

The exhibition title, “A Bag of Rocks for a Bag of Rice” refers to the process of creating a famous Zen garden in Kyoto visited by writer Italo Calvino. In his essay, “The Obverse of the Sublime,” he wrote about a tour of the perfectly harmonious space. The guide unwittingly revealed the human exploitation which made possible the consummate landscape: “These stones were brought here three centuries ago from every part of Japan. The Emperor rewarded whomever brought him a bag of stones with a bag of rice.”

Reflecting on Calvino’s essay, Howng inserts herself as both artist and laborer. Instead of simply painting landscapes on paper, hung on the wall, she physically constructs and paints mountains in three-dimensional space to be walked around. Made of cut plywood, they are hinged together, mimicking a mountain-scape and room divider.

Howng exaggerates all of the “unnaturalness” in contemporary gardens today. Consider how we use particular grasses, trees, and bushes from other regions, displaced and then replaced thus displacing indigenous plants. What about other “unnatural” but natural looking features: rubber mulch, fake rocks with speakers in them, a fountain?

Howng also mines objects from her studio that represent elements of Chinese landscape paintings — scholar’s rock, fauna, and more — and repaints them in the color scheme of Chinese porcelain to highlight their value as precious objects and the luxury items that imperial and colonial cultures define them as. She surrounds these objects with rocks purchased from Home Depot as well as fine blue and white porcelain from the Asian Arts and Culture Center’s historic art collection. But surrounding the garden Howng creates a barrier which prevents uninvited guests from sitting in and taking in the space, causing us to wonder about who has access to these gardens.

Thanks in part to COVID-19, to exacerbate this, the gallery and space acts as another layer to her concept — who has access?

Howng hopes that bringing these connections to light will inspire people to rethink how they cultivate their own gardens and adapt their practices to provide for a better ecological future.

Phaan Howng wishes to acknowledge that her exhibition was created and takes place on the ancestral lands of the Paskestikweya People which is known today as Baltimore and Towson. She humbly offers her respects to the Piscataway community for the privilege of having this exhibition due to the direct and indirect violence of settler communities. She hopes that this exhibition can help further the understanding of the slow violence that has been inflicted on indigenous people, plants and animals in Maryland and around the world as a result.

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