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The Marquee Ball

Photo: , License: N/A, Created: 2007:01:11 12:27:03

Jen Blazina’s “Sending” (left) and Richard Cleaver’s “Head and Shoulders”

The Marquee Ball

At the Creative Alliance at the Patterson April 2

Either the 1980s are genuinely back—again—or people who had to endure that decade the first time around are now in positions where they get to brand things. Artscape is thematically going back to the 1980s this summer, and one of the Creative Alliance at the Patterson’s more entertaining—and fancy—annual fundraising events goes back in time this weekend. The theme for CA’s 2011 Marquee Ball is “Back to the Future,” though people coming in costumes don’t have to go ’80s. Any decade will do.

The eve’s festivities include the annual Golden Formstone Award, this year being presented to puppeteer Kevin Clash, currently Sesame Street’s senior puppet coordinator and Muppet captain and Sesame Workshop’s senior creative consultant, whose first television gig was at Baltimore’s CBS affiliate. New this year is a Lifetime Achievement Award, being bestowed upon Beatrice L. “Beatty” Levi, who, along with a group of Baltimore friends in the late 1950s, started the Arts Seminar Group to travel together looking at museum and gallery collections.

The event also includes the Outatime Auction. Scores of local artists have installed their works on the Creative Alliance’s main gallery’s walls, and this year’s offerings include some extremely strong work. Gary Kachadourian offers one of his playfully wry ballpoint-pen-on-paper illustrations of an automobile engine (“Motor, fig. 202”), while Ruth Pettus includes one of her men-in-suits paintings that she recently found. And Joyce Scott, ever the firebrand, includes “Sexocution III,” one of her screenprints that makes extremely uncomfortable bedfellows of sex and death. The print features an unnerving image of a lethal-injection table rendered in hot yellowish orange, coupled with a red image of a gloved and heeled topless woman. It’s daft and creepy, comical and morbid, and you never quite know what you’re supposed to be thinking qua feeling when looking at it.

Some of the auction’s stronger works come from a few artists known more for their local efforts behind the scenes. Laura Amussen, the director of exhibitions for Goucher College’s Silber Art Gallery, includes a recent untitled mixed-media-on-canvas piece that is delicately powerful. And Maria Aldana, the Creative Alliance’s outreach coordinator, includes two appealingly complex pieces, the lithograph “We Are Alive Together” and the intaglio print “Calling on a Mobile Guardian.” The former is a colorful wash of representational moments and gestural impulses, the latter a black-and-white composition that conveys an almost Zen sense of calm.

But come Saturday night some lucky person is going to walk away with one of the simply strongest works here: Timothy J. Horjus’ “Structure 7,” a work of radiograph and ink on Arches paper. It’s difficult to say what, exactly, makes the image so inviting—the composition resembles a silhouette of a forest of odd trees—but the ink looks branded into the paper, the squiggles forming the outsides of the shapes are a fugitive mix of extra-fine lines and dissipating shadows, and the overall impression is that of some alien landscape at a creepily silent dusk.

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