Anthropologist Wilbur Norman's field is just about...


January 03, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Anthropologist Wilbur Norman's field is just about anywhere

Today's multiple choice quiz . . . Wilbur L. Norman is:

(A) A rare book dealer,

(B) A pawn shop broker,

(C) A scholar gone awry.

Try all of the above. But whether he's buying a book by Sir Isaac Newton, inspecting a used VCR or reminiscing about his research in East Africa, the end is the same: seeing humanity, up close and personal.

"Anthropologists," he says, "can do people-watching in any kind of sphere."

After getting his Ph.D and studying overseas, he left the field to fulfill a lifelong dream: owning a book store. In the last 10 years, he's developed an eclectic clientele for the medical and science books he sells from his Southwest Baltimore home.

And he's come across some real finds, including a rare Audubon lithograph he sold for $45,000. But some discoveries -- like a Charles Darwin paper he bought at a flea market for $25 -- are too precious to part with.

Despite such high-brow pursuits, Mr. Norman, 39, says working in a West Baltimore pawn shop brings a balance to his life.

"Doing only rare books gives you an insular view of the world," he says. "The pawn shop business is very contemporary, very here and now."

In Laurie Flannery's world, everyone wears sunglasses and an attitude.

Even the dog.

Through her line of pins and earrings, she brings to life the funky characters and animals that roam around in her head. With their wildly spiked hair, snarling expressions and defiant poses, they are jewelry as part art, part joke. Think Bart Simpson in silver.

"My ultimate goal is to not be serious," says Ms. Flannery, who lives and works in Mount Vernon.

Before becoming an artist, she dabbled in many fields, working as a Club Med hostess, a bartender and a librarian. During each stint, she fought boredom by drawing cartoons, many of which she saved.

Her fans are most often captivated by the spirit of fun in her jewelry. She says she owes her strange sense of humor to her family and Mad magazine.

Relatives and friends, she says, often double as models these days.

"I had one pin of my boyfriend's father," she says. "But I threw that away. I knew he wouldn't like it."

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