Kohl Showcases ‘Vitality’ of Charm City Artists

By Kay Wicker
Elm Staff Writer

The Kohl Gallery features an eclectic collection of work by Baltimore City artists showcasing the theme vitality. The exhibit will run through March 30.
- Photo courtesy of Aileen Gray

Starting Feb. 10 and running through March 30, the Washington College Kohl Gallery has the honor of hosting the works of five Baltimore City based modern artists: Christian Benefiel, Leslie Furlong, Andrew Liang, René Treviño, and Karen Yasinsky. Their works are here as part of the new three year exhibition artNOW: Baltimore. Over the next three years, the works from artists from cities such as Washington D.C. and Philadelphia will join the on going exhibition.

“Each year we will be picking five artists that are representative of what’s happening in their city. We’ve called it artNOW because it’s art of the moment,” said Alejandro Castro, the show’s co-curator and a professor here at WC.

“This year we’ll be doing Baltimore. Next year we’ll be doing Washington D.C. and the year after will be Philadelphia.”

Part of the exhibit’s efforts is to bring exposure to these artists. “They’re all under 40 and very well established. So they can relate to the art students here,” Castro said.

In addition to exposing the talents of these artists the exhibit will act as a guide to what the art world of Baltimore is doing.

“The thing about Baltimore is that it really is a city which experiments a lot. Certainly not dull by any means,” Castro said.

Castro arranged this show with the help of several different people. “It started out as my idea, and then I got the help of my co-curator Cara Ober who’s a curator in Baltimore. I then talked with the art department here and they were all really excited about it. The support has been great,” he said.

Even though Baltimore has no commercial art scene, it is not unusual to feature city artists in the exhibit.

In the artNOW brochure Ober wrote, “Baltimore’s local art scene is rich, teeming with experiment, and growing exponentially.”

“Although it’s not immediately obvious, artists Christian Benefiel, Leslie Furlong, Andrew Liang, René Treviño, and Karen Yasinsky have a lot in common. All five present visions which challenge the historical boundaries of visual art, although in starkly differing ways.”

Of the artists Castro said, “[The artists] show interestingly enough a real difference of approach, which is something we tried to do. We didn’t want just painters or just sculptures or just video people. We wanted to show things that were done in different media. So it’s kind of an eclectic assemblage.”

The five artists were chosen from many of their peers because they stand out, represent the broadest part of Baltimore, and speak to this year’s theme for the exhibition: vitality.

“We just decided that’s what young artists are about. They’re enthused with their work and they try to tell us something,” Castro said.

The WC campus can get involved with the exhibition in more ways than just being patrons. At the closing of artNOW: Baltimore there will be a contest in which students can create a work responding to one of the pieces they’ve seen.

“Students are being challenged to respond with what they think. There will be a cash prize. The work can be music, it can be written, it can be an art form, it can be whatever. Here’s a chance for students to react to some pretty amazing art. Anything goes,” Castro said. More information regarding the contest will be given to the student body at a later date.

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