Maddie Levine carves a children's book out of 0) photographing pumpkins
To Maddie Levine, pumpkins are more than good filling for pies or fruits to hollow out at Halloween. They're art.
To prove her point, the Owings Mills photographer has just published her first children's book, "Pumpkin Art," a collection of 23 photos that depict the orange orbs as everything from jack-o'-lanterns to demons.
The project began a dozen years ago as an assignment at the Maryland Institute. Ms. Levine was searching for an unusual subject when she stumbled upon a pumpkin patch.
"Each pumpkin had its own personality, and the colors were very soothing," says the 44-year-old mother of one.
"Pumpkin Art," which includes verse by Philip Macht, is more precious to her since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She is donating the proceeds from the book, which sells for $35 at Saks Fifth Avenue, to the League for the Handicapped. (A book signing takes place at the League at 1111 E. Cold Spring Lane on Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m.)
Although she suffers from occasional double vision, she's considering another book -- albeit not one on bugs as some fans have suggested. Instead, she's directing her lens toward frogs, which so far have proven more difficult than pumpkins.
"The pumpkins didn't move," she says. "Frogs are either there or not there." Nearly six years ago, Nathaniel T. Rice went from freebasing cocaine to forming an anti-drug musical group called Parents & Students Moving Against Drugs (P.S. MAD Kids).
Through a blend of rap, gospel and pop, he and five youngsters (ages 10-15) have attracted a faithful following, making roughly 100 appearances annually.
"My whole premise is: There is hope. . . . I show up and chip away at the problem every day," says the 42-year-old father of one who lives in Woodlawn.
It's an attitude he lives as well as preaches. At age 20, Mr. Rice began using drugs and spent the next 15 years snorting cocaine and heroin.
Through the strength of his own faith and help from his wife, Elaine, a minister at the Maximum Life Christian Church in West Baltimore, he kicked his habit.
Mr. Rice has released the group's first cassette, "There is Hope, No More Dope," and recently began a weekly radio show on WWIN-FM with his wife. (The show airs Sundays at 7:45 a.m.; starting Nov. 2, it moves to Saturdays at 8 a.m.)
Once he's won audiences over with lines such as "If you smoke that dope or pop that pill, after that it's all downhill," he gets down to the lecture.
"I'm able to get away with it, too," he says with a laugh. "The secret is to get their attention with music first."