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TO SEPTEMBER 29

There’s cinematic grandeur—scale, imagination, and brilliance—in the steamship poster exhibition at the Maryland College of Art and Design on Georgia Avenue. The 20 placards from the Steven Barrett Chase Poster Collection are masterpieces of late 19th- and early 20th-century design, and the giant oceangoing ships they advertise represent a half-century of history and glamour. The seductively colored and textured lithographs are riveting on a purely aesthetic level, and the designs fuse home-port nostalgia with New World promise; numerous artistic influences—from 19th-century ethnic quaintness to art deco and cubism—are apparent in these images of European emigration and luxury cruising. Missing from the visual story is the fact that these ships served as troop carriers during World War II, but the exhibition’s accompanying texts remind audiences of this role. There’s something for almost everyone in this impressive show: History, great art, the exotic, and magnificent illustration. At the Maryland College of Art & Design’s Gudelsky Gallery, 10500 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. (301) 649-4454. (Martha McWilliams)