Active Artists

April 24, 1994|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Special to The Sun

During the coming summer season here in Ocean City, many visitors will purchase T-shirts, boardwalk trinkets, saltwater taffy and other traditional souvenirs of a vacation at the beach.

But a few discerning travelers will also take home an original work of art painted in this seaside resort town and displayed in the sales and exhibition gallery of the Art League of Ocean City at 94th Street on the bay side.

Perhaps they'll select a watercolor of dune grass shimmering in the sun, sailboats on the bay or a herd of Assateague ponies that a local artist painted while sitting on the beach. Or maybe they'll choose an oil painting of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse -- one of the most popular subjects among art buyers in Ocean City.

Other art enthusiasts might be looking for paintings of boardwalk and inlet scenes, the fishing pier, sea gulls on the beach and waterfowl in the wetlands to hang in their vacation homes or year-round residences.

"You can buy original artwork of a very high quality in Ocean City," says Jody Veader, a watercolor/pastel artist and former Baltimore City schoolteacher who is vice president of the Art League of Ocean City. "And Ocean City has a wealth of opportunities for painters. We really have some fine artists down here. But people don't expect to find fine art in Ocean City."

"People come down here for the sun, beach and boardwalk," says Charlotte Hollyday, president of the Art League, who lives in Ocean Pines and enjoys painting watercolors of flowers. "We'd like them to know that we also have fine artwork here. We can offer them something a little more worthwhile at the ocean to pick up as a souvenir."

The Art League of Ocean City is a nonprofit organization formed in the 1960s. Its membership of nearly 300 supporters of the fine arts includes about 50 working artists as well as local and out-of-town individual and business patrons. Members of the Art League volunteer their time to open the gallery to the public four afternoons each week.

Art lovers will enjoy the changing monthly exhibits inside the colorfully painted pink, purple and aqua city-owned building on 94th Street that has been home to the Art League since the mid-1980s. Visitors come to the building to buy and to browse through the gallery with its watercolors, oils, acrylics, batik, photography and occasional sculpture. Usually about 30 paintings are on display.

"There are always new things to look at here," says Isobel Troutman, treasurer of the Art League, who paints watercolors in her home studio in Ocean Pines. "We always have a show hanging and sometimes there will be a visiting artist."

The exhibits usually feature the work of artists from Ocean City, Ocean Pines, Berlin and Salisbury, although there may also be works from Baltimore painters. The shows are judged and winners receive cash awards ranging from $25 to $75.

"Some of our works are very traditional while others are expressionist or abstract," says Nancy Howard, who is not an artist but an enthusiastic supporter who also happens to be the volunteer publicity chairman for the organization.

"A visit here is something a little different to do while you're at the beach," Miss Howard says. "It's a nice midafternoon break after you've been on the beach for several hours. We don't care if you come in wearing your beach cover-up. This is not a formal city."

The Art League sponsors art classes and workshops in the spring and fall, organizes painting trips, offers an annual scholarship to a local high school student and provides an opportunity for local artists to display and sell their work. Prices for their paintings range from $50 to $600.

The gallery is open to the public from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday from February through mid-December. An opening reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres is generally held on the first Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The public is invited to come and meet the artists and hear about their work. Admission is free.

ON DISPLAY

These exhibits have been scheduled from May through September:

* "The Poetry of Light," examining how light reveals form, will open May 6 and continue through May 29.

* "The Flowers Have It," revealing the beauty and variety of flowers, will be on display from June 3 through June 26.

* "Outdoor Light," capturing light in the atmosphere, sunshine, storms, rain, fog, light on water, in the sky and city lights, will be held from July 1 through July 31.

* "Out in the Noon Day Sun," highlighting summer fun, heat, sizzle and frizzle, will be featured from Aug. 5 though Aug. 28.

* Plans are not complete for an invitational show to be held Sept. 2 through Oct. 2. It is tentatively planned to include artists and their pottery and weaving.

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