An art-dominated home with 22-foot ceilings Visitors are greeted by animal sculptures and a flying nymph

Dream House

March 03, 1996|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A visitor to the Pikesville home of Donald and Renee Gorman is greeted by a collection of wooden and metal animals on the outside and a flying nymph just inside the door.

The animals lining the semicircular driveway and standing next to the doorway include flamingos, cranes, a donkey, a giraffe and a lion.

The nymph hangs from the 22-foot-high ceiling just inside the door, a life-sized figure of a woman with large silver wings. Her costume includes a black corselet and red garters.

They are all part of the extensive art collection amassed by the Gormans, who own and operate the nearby Puffins Restaurant.

They live next door to the home of Mr. Gorman's late father, Sam Gorman, who founded Pikesville Hardware. Their home sits on part of a five-lot, family-owned parcel with a 250-foot frontage. One empty lot is used as an herb garden for the restaurant, which specializes in seafood and vegetarian dishes.

The Gormans had lived in five other homes before Highview Construction Company built their present house five years ago.

The windows at the entryway and at the northeast corner of the living room reach nearly from the floor to the ceiling.

The eastern half of the 45-by-60-foot house -- containing the living room and dining room -- has no second floor, yielding a 22-foot-high ceiling.

An alcove containing the kitchen is attached to one side of the living/dining area; an enclosed porch is on the other side.

The animals at the entrance are the work of Westminster sculptor Gary White, as are other works including a carved wooden polar bear holding a black fish in the living room and a scrap-metal bull next to the swimming pool and decks in the back yard.

The nymph was created by Virginia artist Zachary Oxman, whose works in their collection include an oversized cigarette pack with silver wings sitting atop a partition between the kitchen and the entryway.

One of Mr. Oxman's more famous creations, a Hanukkah menorah, was commissioned by the White House and was on display near the Oval Office several years ago.

His mother, Laney Oxman, a well-known ceramic artist, did many of the other decorative ceramic works in the Gorman home, including colorful frames for two mirrors.

The Gormans first met Mrs. Oxman 15 years ago, and acquired pieces from mother and son over time, even before other collectors became familiar with their efforts.

High on the north wall of the living room is a ceramic figure of a woman with her knees folded under her. Paintings, photographs and masks also cover the walls, which are painted white inside and outside the cedar clapboard home.

A semicircular leather couch in the middle of the living room faces a black built-in bookcase, which houses a television set as well as a collection of Native American and other pottery.

The other half of the first floor includes a master bedroom and bath. Over them, on the second floor, are two more bedrooms. Now that the Gormans' daughter and son are grown and have moved away, the rooms serve as a guest room and an office.

The second floor is reached by a stairway from the entrance to a balcony overlooking the living and dining areas.

The artwork displayed on the balcony includes a pair of paintings by Mr. Gorman, works of a style that he calls, simply, "visionary."

Collecting art and even producing his own works was something that fit in with the frequently odd hours in the restaurant business, Mr. Gorman says. He and his wife went to shows, met artists, and found the eclectic pieces that now decorate their home.

There are similarities, he observed, to the creative processes of both the artisan and the chef. "There is an art to food," Mr. Gorman said.

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