As July gives way to August, the Academy Art Museum turns the page on most of its gallery space with three new exhibits, including one by its 2023 artist-in-residence and a triplicate exhibit tracing the influences on three 19th-to-20th century European masters who, in turn, changed the spatial perspective of the next generations of painters to pave the way to Modernism, Cubism, and Post-Expressionism. The third new show mocks contemporary notions of luxury, high fashion, and interior design with an abstract sensibility.
“Spatial Reckoning” features pioneering works in the evolving careers of classically schooled artists from France (Jacques Villon, 1875-1963), Italy (Giorgio Morandi, 1890-1964), and Spain (Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973). Each was inspired by the works of Paul Cezanne, who turned early from Romanticism and, looking past 19th-century Impressionists, pointed toward a new way of seeing and then painting it that way.
Morandi painted still lifes throughout his career, depicting household bottles and vases, landscapes, and occasional figurative portraits. His style progressed gradually toward more subtle coloration, with objects emerging from a haze. At first, a devotee of Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec, Villon tilted toward Fauvism and Cubism at the turn of the century, creating multiple perspectives on the same flat plane. At the same time, Picasso sought to evoke an emotional response to his novel artistic liberties with what might have been representational paintings in other hands. “Spatial Reckoning” opens Aug. 1 with artworks on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Cincinnati Art Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and other collections.
First up among the three new AAM exhibits is Baltimore-based Amy Boone-McCreesh’s “Visual Currency” on July 28, with an Aug. 3 reception for each show. Working in sculpture, collage, and mixed media, McCreesh presents visual critiques of arbitrarily shifting tastes that rule high-end adornment, decoration, and fashion while speculating on what might lay in store for what could be considered posh in future abundance.
AAM’s 2023 artist-in-residence Laura Letinsky, a native of Canada now living in Chicago, is a still-life photographer who specializes in layering effects of human presence in the scenes she captures. A Guggenheim Fellow whose art comments on the role of women in domestic settings while questioning their context. Letinsky’s art is held in the collections of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty and Guggenheim museums, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. As part of her residency, Letinsky will present an August masterclass on how the camera can shape a greater understanding of the world.
If you’re suffering from writers/actors strike withdrawal – or even if you aren’t – you might enjoy seeing and hearing the Emmy and Writer’s Guild award-winning wordsmith, comedian, and host of the HBO show “Last Week with John Oliver.” Now on forced hiatus from his weekly gig, Oliver gets a chance to return to his roots as a touring stand-up comic. He comes to Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre in the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center for one show only at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2. From 2006 to 2013, Oliver made his TV mark as a correspondent on another multi-award-winner, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” guest-hosting for a long stretch near the end of its run.
If you miss the Hippodrome show or prefer to see him with another prime-time talk host, you can catch Oliver with the host of “The Late Show with Seth Meyers,” also sidelined by the strikes. Oliver and Meyers appear together in three shows at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan, Aug. 17-19.
Following the lead of Plein Air Easton, which just completed its 19th annual festival, Artists Paint OC: Plein Air 2023 opens on Aug. 9 as artists spread out along the Boardwalk, streets, harbors, the bay, and its marshes and, of course, the ocean beach to paint in the open sea air starting at 9 a.m. until whenever. Fifty invited artists will continue painting scenes all over Ocean City and Assateague Island until Aug. 12, when they show their works at a free reception for the Wet Paint Show & Sale, 5-7 p.m. at the OC Performing Arts Center. You can enjoy live music, hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar while you peruse the paintings and maybe take one home (don’t forget your credit card). Artists Paint OC winds up Saturday morning, Aug. 13, with a quick-draw paint along the Boardwalk near Division Street, plus a Kids Paint OC Art Show at a closing reception, 1-3 p.m.
The Mainstay in Rock Hall brings the classic rock sounds of the Blake Thompson Band to its backyard stage – weather permitting – as July starts to make way for August at 6:30 on the evening of Sunday, the 30th. A Kent County native, Thompson’s musical taste ranges from classic rock and pop to blues, soul, and R&B, having toured with Little Feat, David Crosby, and the namesake bands of Steve Miller and Dave Matthews. Best known for his electric guitar chops, Thompson counts Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Alvin Lee among his heroes. Together with his wife, singer/songwriter, and violinist Kate Russo, the pair mixes in original songs of their own.
The Chicks, a dozen-time Grammy-winning trio – most of whose awards came when they were known as the Dixie Chicks – bring their 2023 world tour to Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2. Joining them on the Maryland tour stop is the Canadian band, Wild Rivers. On June 25, 2020, in response to the Black Lives Matters movement and the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, the Dixie Chicks changed their name following criticism that “Dixie” bore connotations of American slavery. In July that year, the Chicks released “Gaslighter,” their first album in 14 years. A month later, they performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which nominated now-president Joe Biden.
Steve Parks is a retired New York arts editor and writer now living in Easton.