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The acrylic paintings of Annapolis-based artist Betty Murchison detail the quotidian rituals of African American women and girls. Whether flirting, lounging or chatting, her subjects enjoy quiet, anticipatory moments before the action happens. Or maybe, these canvases suggest, this is the action. Certainly the young teen "Chloe," painted at an awkward and lonely moment, offers a picture of quiet turmoil. But even here, Murchison outfits the girl in a pretty dress that seems to calm the inner angst. In fact, clothes play a major role in this painter's pictures -- most of her subjects are outfitted in sharp if simple dresses, recalling a time when market excursions were events. While in a constricted world for women, these lives seem, through Murchison's eye, enviably charmed.

Betty Murchison's Women on the Verge

The acrylic paintings of Annapolis-based artist Betty Murchison detail the quotidian rituals of African American women and girls. Whether flirting, lounging or chatting, her subjects enjoy quiet, anticipatory moments before the action happens. Or maybe, these canvases suggest, this is the action. Certainly the young teen "Chloe," painted at an awkward and lonely moment, offers a picture of quiet turmoil. But even here, Murchison outfits the girl in a pretty dress that seems to calm the inner angst. In fact, clothes play a major role in this painter's pictures -- most of her subjects are outfitted in sharp if simple dresses, recalling a time when market excursions were events. While in a constricted world for women, these lives seem, through Murchison's eye, enviably charmed.

By Jessica Dawson

Thursday, October 16, 2003: Page C05 

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