Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia Art
by Ann Erskine
New Paintings by Mary Cate-Carroll at the Montage Gallery
"To carry the finest art encompassing a mature visual language and composition, comprised of images that will inspire people. Our artists, a composition of established and mid-career emerging artists, create artwork from abstract expressionism to surrealistic landscape. We strive to bring contemporary fine art with an edge, philosophy and idea, message and sophistication. Our interest is in knowing the artist, the intimacy of the artists' artwork and understanding its evolution and the transfer of these private elements to the patron d'art."
Thus reads the mission statement of the Montage Gallery in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. The owner, Mitch Angel, moved the gallery here from Portland a year ago to settle in the white washed walls and exposed brick interior of an old rowhouse. The exhibits change monthly and showcase local, regional and international artists working in watercolor, oil, even three-dimensional mixed media.
Mitch recently curated a show of works by the artist Mary Cate-Carroll. The show is entitled "Landscapes from the Edge" and features large oil paintings of what Mary calls "metaphysical landscapes." These include realistic scenes of fields and roads and cityscapes punctuated with flaming skies, cracked earth surfaces, and strangely looming street signs and billboards. The paintings' frames are covered with mixed media: plastic miniature warriors, toy parts, dollhouse furniture, etc. The frames are then painted with metallic colors and become part of the artwork. The centerpiece of the exhibit is an antique door with a painting titled "Eroded Values" (see below) filling the place in the door where a window might be. The landscape in the painting features a city silhouetted on a horizon that's aflame with sunset. Off-center in the foreground is a sheep standing between cracks in the earth, symbolizing humanity. (left: Ponder, oil and assemblage on wood, 45 x 45 inches)
Mary is a native of Baltimore and a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art where she studied with Grace Hartigan. She took drawing and painting courses at the Corcoran Museum in Washington, DC and did her undergraduate degree at Mary Washington College in Virginia. She received her MFA in 1983 and then taught for ten years. Now, she paints at her home in Finksburg, Maryland where she lives with her husband, Charles Carroll. She's been doing art for more than twenty years. Mary was initially influenced by Van Gogh and the European post-impressionists but felt a need to detach herself and move towards the American school. After studying the works of Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, Grant Wood and Edward Hopper, she became an assemblage artist in the early to mid 1980's with a series of artwork entitled, "American Liberty." In the last three years, she has expanded her visual vocabulary to include images such as telephone poles as a symbol for religious crosses and sheep as a symbol for humanity. (right: Mystery, oil and assemblage on canvas, 36 x 40 inches)
Social commentary has become a focal point of Mary's work. One of her best known works is titled, "American Liberty Upside Down." This is a family portrait with an outline for a missing child: she fiercely opposes abortion. The end of the millenium doesn't frighten this artist a bit. She feels that she has gone to the edge, looked beyond and brought back her own vision. "The future is what we will make it. And we make the future now, depending on how we deal with the problems we have now." (left: Eroded Values, 1999, oil on wood, 30 x 80 inches)
"Landscapes from the Edge" is on display at the Montage Gallery at 925 S. Charles Street in Baltimore.
Read more columns on Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia Art by Ann Erskine in Resource Library Magazine
For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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