Student's sketches illuminate Baltimore

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

Sightseer: Artist...

September 15, 1996|By Laura Lippman

Student's sketches illuminate Baltimore; Sightseer: Artist 0) Gina Triplett finds a niche in scouting out Baltimore for others attending Maryland Institute, College of Art.

Gina Triplett came to Baltimore three years ago, from a town in Minnesota so small that she grew up on a farm at the end of a gravel road. She was far from a country mouse -- she had spent plenty of time in Minneapolis-St. Paul -- but Baltimore seemed pretty formidable at first.

Now a senior at Maryland Institute, College of Art, the 22-year-old Triplett is conquering Baltimore neighborhood by neighborhood, restaurant by restaurant, and jotting down her discoveries in a series of guidebooks, filled with her sketches. "Gina's Guides to Baltimore" -- small spiral-bound pamphlets of no more than 12 pages, with drawings in the style of cartoonist Lynda Barry -- now help other art students discover the city.

The first time, the school gave Triplett $20 and set her loose this summer on the Federal Hill-Inner Harbor neighborhood. Triplett, who never guessed that anyone would see her drawings, turned in an uninhibited account that included before-and-after-lunch self-portraits.

(A slender woman, she envisioned herself as quite, um, portly after consuming a coffee and a chicken club sandwich.)

"I don't think I would have done that if I knew people were going to see it," she says now. She also included the information that she got lost and almost lost a sandal on the water taxi to Fells Point.

It was exactly the tone the school wanted. So Triplett ventured farther and farther afield -- to Mount Washington, Hampden and the Farmers' Market beneath the Jones Falls Expressway.

"Sample heaven," she wrote of Fresh Fields in Mount Washington. She recommends the spinach and feta focaccia, then browsing at the various stores and galleries. (These are thrifty guides. Triplett usually had part of the $20 left over after every trip.)

She's embarrassed to admit all these locales were new to her, even after three years of living here. But now the Farmers' Market is part of her weekly routine, and she loves Hampden -- despite the big dog who chased her to the light rail on her first visit there.

With school back in session, Triplett now does weekly picks for the school's newsletter, Cobalt Blue. Her picks so far include visits to such artist-friendly sites as Art Links, the Inner Harbor miniature golf course ("A fine selection of elevator and campfire music plays in the background to keep you on your toes") and Louie's ("nice atmosphere").

Triplett does not plan for Gina's Guides to replace Fodor's, but she enjoys her adventures across Baltimore. She is thinking about doing a future pick on a junk store in East Baltimore, but is worried about exposing this favorite source for odd objects. And she might even go on a water taxi again -- if her shoe can take it.

Pub Date: 9/15/96

Divorce number two of three -- that was the killer for Sunny De Vese. The child custody fight might have made a television movie. The legal wrangling went five years, so long that divorce lawyers started referring their clients to De Vese for advice on how to handle the emotional turmoil.

Through experience, like it or not, she became something of an authority. The Annapolis woman had enough material to write a book. And she did: "The Divorce Manual," a 116-page guide small enough to slip into a jacket pocket.

"Everyone thinks their divorce is different," says De Vese. "What I saw was everyone's divorce is very similar."

The mother of two grown sons doesn't claim to know everything about divorce, and she does not suggest that people getting divorced rely solely on her book for counsel. She has, however, seen the patterns. Hence, her book, published in June, posits a series of four stages: guilt and fear; agreements; anger; acceptance.

"I hope I can help you understand the stages and why they occur and that you will be able to move through them more easily," writes De Vese.

Her first marriage, when she was 18, lasted a year. She was just too young, she says. At 25 she married a second time, only to split from her husband 13 years later amid the collapse of his husband's business and his frequent and occasionally violent emotional outbursts. Her third marriage, which lasted four years, ended in 1992 because of a cultural gap between her and her British husband, says De Vese, who is 56 years old.

She writes from experience. The voice in the book is plain, matter-of-fact; the advice is practical. Some may find the breeziness hard to take, as in repeated references to the DDP, or Darn Divorce Process, or ATB's, meaning those people About To Be divorced. Cutesy shorthand notwithstanding, De Vese writes that divorce is a "serious, painful, lonely business that you must address with a realistic attitude."

She advises couples against splitting up unless they have exhausted all means of saving their marriage.

The book offers sundry reminders:

"Make sure your children know you're divorcing your spouse and not them."

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