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3 intriguing exhibits winding down at Morean Arts Center

You have only a few days to see three exhibitions at the Morean Arts Center before they close. Make time, because you'll be rewarded with first-rate examples of technical skill and intriguing themes.

Carol Dameron and Diane Elmeer have their own galleries for their paintings and, in Dameron's case, drawings as well. Though different in style, their works have connections, the central two being their use of oil paint on wood, which creates a rich, luminous surface, and the mysterious landscapes they create for their peopled narratives.

Dameron is such a fine painter. The trees with gauzy leaves against startling white cloud-bursts, the swish of a dog's tail, the overall details that remind one of 17 century baroque paintings, all contribute to a sense of drama. Their muscular handing is very 20th century. She describes her subject matter as allegorical and I agree. I have no idea what her works are about. She absolves me of guilt by writing in her artist's statement, "It is not necessary to understand the precise symbolic meaning of each painting or drawing. Just standing next to it or in front of it is enough." So that's what I do: Enjoy.

Elmeer's paintings are fantastical, not allegorical. Clearings in the woods are populated by nude men, women and children, scaled diminutively, in ambiguous community. There are also dogs, frogs and a large pelican. Her paintings also recall the baroque style with their dramatic light and shadow, though her palette is startling at times. I was considering the adjective "lurid" but its connotations are negative. She pays great attention to the minutiae of the natural world; her details are extraordinary and sometimes charmingly eccentric. Dragons in the Woodpile, a group of nine panels that isolate and look closely at single elements — a tree trunk, for example — doesn't have trompe l'oeil hidden images in them but they could.

"Storytellers" is a group show in various media by Stuart Asprey, Ian Everett, Amy Lee and Eleen Lin. It's delightful. Asprey's tongue-in-cheek porcelain vessels with funny storylines; Everett's illustrations for the adventures of an opossum named Poppy Odeletta, and Lee and Lin's cultural references and familiar images bent and reimagined are all good visual reads.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at lbennett@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8293.

. IF YOU GO

Carol Dameron: Barcelona;

Diane Elmeer: Of Sticks and Stones, Leaves and Grass;

Storytellers

The three exhibitions are at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, through Sunday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free. moreanartscenter.org; (727) 822-7872.

3 intriguing exhibits winding down at Morean Arts Center 04/22/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 4:54pm]
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