MIDDENDORF/LANE, WCA Honors: Bishop, Burke, Neel, Nevelson and O'Keeffe, opens Tuesday, 5-8, continuing through March 3 at 2014 P St. NW. UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, Women artists in Washington collections, through Feb. 25 at College Park campus.
Twenty-seven paintings, drawings and etchings spanning the career of Isabel Bishop will be shown starting next Tuesday at the Middendorf/Lane Gallery. Through the years Bishop's style has remained soft, an indistinct hazy colored form with peachy overtones, but her subject has changed with the times. Her models in earlier works were primarily young innocents -- working girls sharing a secret over a walk or an ice cream. But in her most recent painting, "Students Walking Outdoors," the figures are aloof. There is no eye contact and each remains in his own world.
The Bishop work shares the gallery with five sculptures by Louise Nevelson, including the "Moon Garden Wall II," a freestanding wall of balck painted wood eight feet tall and six feet wide, completed in 1975.
The show at Middendorf/Lane is one of six cosponsored by the Women's Caucus for Art, whose conference opens here Monday.
Across town at the University of Maryland Gallery is a contrasting Nevelson, a diminutive, early (1947) terra cotta work, "Mountain Woman." The abstract form with soft angular crevices gently catches and holds the light as essily as it does a viewer's eye.
All the pieces in the College Park show come from the permanent collections of local museums and universities. In addition to two of Bishop's paintings from the '40s, "Lunch Counter" and "Two Girls Outdoors," there are some delicate and intricately embroidered smaplers, quilts, a Shaker inspirational drawing, and an excellent but small photography collection from the turn of the century. The photos were selected by Frances Benjamin Johnston, for a showing of works by women photographers at the 1900 Paris Exposition. Some of Johnston's own photographs, which she bequeathed to the Library of Congress, are included in this show.
There is a soft texture to the photos. Sarah Jane Eddy's use of light reflecting off window panes and hanging baskets in "Contentment" sets the tranquil mood as strongly as the image of a cat curled up on a stool next to its owner. Mary Paschall's exquisite "Milkweed" captures the moment when pods open and tiny seeds on silken wisps float off with the wind.