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Little Moments

Richmond painter Andras Bality's enlarged "snapshots."


Bality is also ubiquitous. At Comfort, the hip Broad St. eatery, his large paintings have been enjoyed by diners on a continuing basis. His output can also be enjoyed at an unlikely place — a mural adorns an alley wall off Ninth Street in the financial district.

But these are teases. It's a treat that a dozen recent works are now at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. The name of the Flippo Gallery exhibit is "I Can Still Hear Talking," which suggests that this is a collection of memory pieces — works inspired by events, places and people resonating in Bality's psyche. Since many of these new works seem personal and contain considerable warmth, it's not surprising that they seem like enlarged snapshots — nothing profound but nothing unimportant either, just the little moments we live our lives in.

His ideas work well at either an expansive or intimate scale. Some of his paintings are dramatically large and brightly hued. "Laudria Snowborders" shows a tree-filled backyard in the snow. A red canoe has been stored for the season on sawhorses. A few warmly dressed figures cavort, one clutching a Day-Glo snowboard. "Sleepover" depicts children flying high on a backyard swing set. The point of view is perhaps from an upstairs window. A dog, autumnal foliage and a wooded background add additional warmth, but an unseen tree casts a threatening shadow, keeping the scene from being too upbeat.

In "Rebuff," a bright orange sky is reflected on a broad beach and sweep of surf. The work hovers on being abstract, but a few small human figures and a kayak give the piece human scale.

Since Bality has always favored the familiar, it's not surprising that Richmond scenes offer inspiration. "Nickel Bridge," showing the sweep of our wild river, and the icy isolation of "Forest Hill Toll Plaza" prove that inspiration can be in one's own front yard. A delightful painting of skaters on the Rockefeller Center rink keeps the subject matter from being provincial.

A number of Bality's small sketchbooks are on display and provide a glimpse into how this artist translates his ideas into finished pieces. But one drawback of the installation is how the showcase containing these sketches interferes with getting up close to the finished pieces hanging over it.

Yet as nature, particularly the changing seasons, may be the major theme of "I Can Still Hear Talking," it's a perfect show for this time of the year, as autumn gives way to winter. S

"I Can Still Hear Talking" recent painting by Andras Bality is on view at Randolph-Macon College's Flippo Gallery in Pace-Armistead Hall through Nov. 26. Call 752-3018.

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