Artist's work evokes memories of the past

NEIGHBORS

October 08, 1998|By Geri Hastings | Geri Hastings,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IF YOU have visited a home in The Heritage neighborhood of Glenelg, you may have admired a charming painting of a country scene, signed "A. Hatmaker."

Looking around the home, you might have seen other pieces by the same artist: wooden bowls and boxes, and antique clothes stretchers -- accessories that help create a country atmosphere.

The artist -- Alberta "Mert" Hatmaker of Glenelg -- is an active member of the community as well as a folk artist.

Her painting career began about 12 years ago, when her youngest son, Josh -- now a sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park -- entered first grade.

Looking for a way to occupy her time while her sons were at school, Hatmaker saw art as a natural outlet for her creativity.

"Art," she says, "added an additional dimension to my personality."

Perhaps Hatmaker's interest in painting dates to the time when her father, who took care of a cemetery in Zanesville, Ohio, learned that his family home on the cemetery property was going to be torn down.

To ensure that memories of their home would not be lost, Hatmaker took slates from the roof and painted pictures of the home on them.

She painted other slates with bucolic scenes and historic buildings from the area -- places that her mother, father and 11 brothers and sisters frequently had visited.

Hatmaker describes herself as a "primitive folk artist" because she lacks formal training -- and because there are no shadows in her paintings.

One of the paintings -- owned by Gina and Dean Dubbe of Glenelg -- depicts the homes of many of Hatmaker's friends and neighbors in the Heritage neighborhood.

On the porch of each painted home are little pumpkins, each representing a child who lives in the house.

Hatmaker has been so successful with the sale of her paintings, prints and cards that she can barely keep up with the demand.

Her work is on display at several galleries in Maryland and at Butterfields -- "a catch-all store for country furniture and accessories," she says, in Highland.

Melanie Irwin, assistant manager of Butterfields, notes that customers who buy one of Hatmaker's paintings often return to the store for another.

"People are always reminded of something from their past when they look at Alberta Hatmaker's paintings," Irwin said.

Hatmaker also sells her paintings at eight juried craft shows around the country.

Last weekend, her paintings were displayed in the Mill and the Art Barn at the Waterford Festival in Waterford, Va., outside Leesburg.

One of Hatmaker's fondest memories is encouraging her father to paint when he was ill with Alzheimer's disease.

While he was staying with her and her family, Hatmaker asked her father, "What can you remember that you can paint?"

His first painting depicted the red sleigh in which he had picked up his wife during their courtship.

Another painting repeated the pattern of a quilt that Hatmaker and her mother were sewing at the time.

Hatmaker drew the boxes on the painting, and her dad filled them in with places and scenes remembered from his youth.

L Now Hatmaker and her mother share ownership of the painting.

Hatmaker, who is the mother of four grown sons -- Brian, Matt, Adam and Josh -- lives with Norm, her husband of 30 years, in a country home that for five years was the site of the autumn Smalltown Christmas Craft Show.

Hatmaker still finds time to quilt with the St. Louis Church quilting group and, until recently, volunteered at a women's shelter in Baltimore.

She also volunteers at the Christ Child Opportunity Shop in Georgetown. Proceeds from the shop benefit disadvantaged children in the Washington area.

New faces

Carroll Community College in Westminster has announced that Ginger Graham-Lewis of Glenelg has joined its faculty as assistant professor in college's Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

Before joining the faculty, Graham-Lewis worked at Harbor Hospital in Baltimore as a physical therapy team leader, supervising staff, developing programs and being responsible for patient care. She has also worked at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Most of Graham-Lewis' students fall into two groups: those just a few years out of high school, and those who are working on a second or third career.

According to Graham-Lewis, "The latter are very mature, serious-minded about their studies, and have generally had experience in either a medical field or a service-oriented field."

Graham-Lewis, her husband, Michael, and their two children -- Ahren, a sophomore at River Hill High, and Alexandra, 2 -- are active in the community.

The family recently completed a year as host for a foreign exchange student from Switzerland.

Miss Junior Glenwood

Lauren Littleton, 10, daughter of Bill Littleton and Kelly Aylward, has won the title of Miss Junior Glenwood Preteen.

In July, Lauren traveled to Parsippany, N.J., representing Howard County in the state and national finals of the Miss Junior America Pageant.

She won the state competition and was crowned Miss Junior Maryland Preteen.

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