Aaron Marcus' model careerNeed a young dad? A nerdy...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

March 06, 1994|By Stephanie Shapiro

Aaron Marcus' model career

Need a young dad? A nerdy banker? A hayseed?

Call Aaron Marcus, professional chameleon.

With his pleasant, malleable features and theatrical background, Marcus makes an ideal Everyman. And so he makes his living as a commercial model.

You may have seen this commercial model in Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek. In ads for pain medicine, therapeutic equipment, mattresses, banks. In Hertz, AT&T and Ikea ads. Or performing in an industrial movie for the IRS or Navy.

He's the "guy next door, the guy you can trust. When you see him, you feel warm and comfortable," Mr. Marcus says of his public image.

Mr. Marcus' work often takes him to New York, and as far as Hawaii. The Baltimore resident works with 60 agents and is constantly attending auditions and "go-sees," where models literally line up for inspection.

"When I go to New York, it's kind of frightening to see how many people look like me," he says.

Mr. Marcus also offers workshops on how to become a commercial model. Unlike fashion models, a commercial model doesn't have to be 6 feet tall and beautifully configured. There are people "who look like middle America, like me, and also guys who are 200 pounds overweight," he says.

In the Baltimore-Washington market, a commercial model can earn up to $125 an hour, and a billboard job can bring in $500, he says.

Mr. Marcus, 38, even gets work when he doesn't look the part. Once he was hired to model as a construction worker. Puzzled, he asked an ad man why.

"If you ever go to a construction site, there's always one guy who looks like he doesn't belong," he said. "You're the guy."

A friend told Luana Kaufman that she steals others' dreams.

Study her mesmerizing collages, and you'll understand what he means. Angels, architectural garnishes, tulip petals, halos, Madonnas, upside-down horizons and other scavenged images float and merge surreally, significantly, mysteriously in Ms. Kaufman's work.

"The Muse Brings Garlic," a collection of 82 collages by Ms. Kaufman, goes on display today at Gypsy's Cafe on Hollins Street in Baltimore and continues through April 2.

Contrasting and complementary colors and shapes culled from visual chaos have inadvertently led Ms. Kaufman to what she calls "the grand land of the psyche." Titles such as "Freudian Swim," "Sleep Tower" and "Sky Dance" reinforce the psychological depths and heights of her vision.

But the collages -- limited edition prints of the originals -- offer a simpler pleasure as well for the artist. "I love cutting things out," she says. The process reminds Ms. Kaufman of an evening spent long ago in Taiwan, where her family onced lived, making collages with her mother while a typhoon raged outside.

Ms. Kaufman, 36, is a resilient survivor of Baltimore's waxing and waning arts scene. She trained as a dancer at Sarah Lawrence College, but has always incorporated the visual arts into her work by using computer and video projections, costumes and other props. In recent years she has created and performed several "multimedia dance-theater productions."

The collages represent yet another, deeper dimension of Ms. Kaufman's artistic vision, one that has surprised even her. "It's something I didn't know needed to be out there," she says. And if a composition delivers a psychological or political message as well as an intriguing image, "I feel like I've done a great piece."

Stephanie Shapiro

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