By John Chambless

Staff Writer

Sun and sand meet the water in “Summer in the Rockaways,” a solo show of paintings by Paul Metrinko that opened last weekend at Bookplace in Oxford.

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Painted on plywood panels only a few inches wide, these expressive beach scenes perfectly capture the haze of summer sun and the field of little splashes of color that are the artist's shorthand for sunbathers. As small as they are, the paintings convey a languid mood, as well as an expanse of space. The gently curved shorelines and the vivid blue water coalesce at a distance into what looks like photographic detail. Up close, you realize how Metrinko uses the most sparing little swipes of color. It's a neat trick, and every one of these works is a little surprise.

Four paintings of a public pool take a bird's-eye view, with little figures clustered on the rim of the blue circle of pool water. There are two views of undulating golf coures seen from a similar lofty perspective. Don't overlook the very subtle gray-blue view of the water and sky of New York Harbor, with a squiggle of paint denoting the Statue of Liberty on the left edge. The sketchy white lines of a tennis court are explored in four other small works. 

Even if they don't depict the exact beach you spend your summers on, these little jewels sum up

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 the universal attraction of everyone's vacation days. “Summer in the Rockaways” is ideally timed for the season. Metrinko's fresh, uncomplicated style is delightful, and you'll want to take home one – or several – of these affordable bits of summer fun.

“Summer in the Rockaways” is on display through July 27 at Bookplace (2373 Baltimore Pike, Oxford). The store is open Fridays through Sundays. Visit www.bookplaceoxford.com for more information.