Artscape makes splash Festival: Sausages are sizzling, people are dancing and everyone's a critic at Baltimore's annual celebration of the creative.

July 21, 1996|By Jean Thompson | Jean Thompson,SUN STAFF

Artscape started with a splash yesterday for sculptor Steve Reber, and a bang for doll artist Oletha DeVane.

Reber is the creator of the 10-foot-tall, inner-tube fountain at the intersection of Cathedral Street and Mount Royal Avenue.

He hefted buckets of water to fill his Disneyesque sculpture, which seems to spring from a pot made of plaster daisies. While he poured, a balmy breeze carried a cooling spray from his fountain over onlookers.

The same breeze was playing havoc with DeVane's delicate dolls, crafted of clay. In her booth on Mount Royal, she smiled and kept righting them in a losing fight against an otherwise welcome draft.

Suddenly, a calypso band shouted over pounding drumbeats: "Is everything all right?"

On the second day of Baltimore's biggest street party and celebration of the creative wellspring in everyone, the answer was a resounding "yes."

The music blared, the sausages sizzled, the couples danced in the street. Everyone seemed to be an artist -- or a critic.

"I think that the humorous side tends to be more dominant, even when I don't intend it to be," Reber, 37, said, describing his effort to craft from inflated rubber tubes a fountain inspired by the many he saw during a recent visit to Italy. "I like that it's also kind of contemplative -- it's soothing, a simple water drop is."

Sister and brother Nina Gerrity, 29, of Baltimore and Bernie Gerrity, 34, of Bowie paused beneath the gray-black-and-white work by the 1983 Maryland Institute graduate.

"I like it: It's got the essence of summer -- inner tubes, river rafts, water," Bernie said enthusiastically.

His sister looked askance at him and blurted, "It's bizarre."

Three-year-old Katharine Mersinger wandered up to admire a plaster daisy, with help from her mother, Paula Heneberry, 35, of Rodgers Forge.

"I like just being downtown with everybody. I want to show her all of life," Heneberry said, noting the diverse displays and offerings and the joyful sense of togetherness in the crowd.

Where else would one find Big Al's Pit Beef and Bombay Grill booths side by side, and customers sampling some of each? At the Shabazz booth, where fish and chips scented the breeze, a (( cook waved his tongs and shouted cheerfully, "Home girl, hey, home boy, come on, try this!"

Artscape's appeal is its ability to corral something for everyone, people from everywhere, a melange of messages and styles and statements -- all under one roof called the sky.

DeVane, 46, a McDonogh School teacher from Ellicott City, waved to artist friends as she explained the traditional African fabrics in her dolls' costumes. The figures are inspired by the biblical character Hagar and are her expression of tribute to women of color, she said.

"Variety is what Baltimore is about," she said, adjusting each regal doll's costume. "What Artscape is about is the opportunity to be here all together."

Artscape will open at noon today with exhibitions, concerts, readings and street entertainment. The final concert will begin at 8: 45 p.m. To hear a recording of the Artscape performance schedule, dial 396-4575.

Pub Date: 7/21/96

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