People need a little whimsy in their lives' Artscape: People who appreciate art and enjoy watching other people share the warmth at Baltimore's annual outdoor happening of the arts.

July 19, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Art came out of staid galleries and into a festive Mount Royal Avenue this weekend, allowing visitors to savor a crab cake, sip lemonade and listen to live jazz while making their critical comments.

Artscape 98, the city's 17th annual celebration of literary, performance and visual arts, opened Friday and continues through today.

Organizers estimated that 600,000 attended yesterday.

"Artscape is one of the nicest things that happens to Baltimore," said Suzanne Herbert Forton, an exhibiting artist. "I am really biased about my hometown, but where else can you enjoy such diversity."

The admission-free festival drew visitors from as near as Bolton Hill and as far as Sydney, Australia.

Cynthia Murphy, an art historian from High Point, N.C., bought a magic wand from Forton. "People need a little whimsy in their lives," she said.

Temperatures hovered near 90 degrees but a soft breeze, plenty of shade, freshly squeezed lemonade and ice-cold beer helped keep it cool.

If all that didn't work, there were miniature umbrellas attached to headbands -- Elsie Entwisle's first purchase on her first trip to Artscape. She had come to see the Irish dancers and "Mr. Mahler Finds a Dollar," the festival's award-winning User.Event 7 was not expected here! play written by her co-worker, Scott D. Morrow.

"I don't know why I haven't come here before," said Entwisle, a longtime city resident.

Flora Boone Richardson, visiting Baltimore from Birmingham, Ala., had no complaints about the weather. "Hot? This isn't hot," she said.

"Alabama is hot."

Richardson bought a silver bracelet fashioned from an antique fork -- fortuitously engraved with her initial. She then devoted her remaining energy to people-watching.

"I am having more fun just looking at people," said Richardson, "Everybody here is so creative."

And that includes both the sellers and the buyers, she said.

"The crowd here is more refined, and [the] jurying process for artists is higher," said Susan A. Carmen-Duffy, owner of Moonlight Artworks and creator of mandalas, an art form that originated in Tibet. "I am not sitting here next to Raggedy Ann dolls."

Instead, she was surrounded by embroidery, pottery, jewelry, sculpture and prints of Baltimore's traditional rowhouses.

"Everyone says they know right where these homes are, but I have done them from memory," said Tim Goecke, a Bolton Hill printmaker.

The only hint of country crafts was at Illumo Designs, which offered contemporary artifacts and "farm-fed ideas" -- a frame made from an auger and a clock set in a stack of horseshoes.

Kim M. Smith from Huntsville, Ala., bought a pin fashioned from scraps gathered at a museum exhibit on Africa and mentioned to the craftswoman that she was looking for a traditional African outfit.

"Do you like this?" asked Barbara Pietila, modeling a flowing printed garment and listing local stores that carry the line. "There is probably someone here selling them," she said.

Roberta Cohen offered a few shopping pointers.

"I am a real jewelry freak, so I make all the rounds first and then decide," said Cohen, whose first purchase was a wooden cake slicer.

Ashley Gaver, 7, and Karina Preis, 8, climbed into a "Jaws" replica and posed in its mouth full of teeth.

"It is not scary," said Ashley. "They took a few teeth out for us."

The question, "Are we going to eat soon?" could be answered with pizza, burgers and Maryland crab cakes.

The more sophisticated palates drifted to stands with hot, spicy and unusual fare.

Nobody wanted to leave.

When her grandmother offered her a train ride home on the light rail, 3-year-old Eilacha Hinton clutched her lemonade and the flying disc she earned by coloring a picture.

"I want to stay here with all the people," the child said.

Pub Date: 7/19/98

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