Taneytown's rails help put art show on track

Artrain exhibit to bring Rockwell, Warhol, other works to city for 4 days

June 28, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

An exhibit of paintings by Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol, among others, will fill the void between Taneytown's Country Kitchen Restaurant and Skiles Funeral Home for four days beginning Aug. 5.

Artrain, a traveling museum that has been taking fine-arts exhibits to rural areas since 1971, will make Taneytown the first stop of its 1999-2002 season.

The five rail cars containing works by world-renowned artists will sit at the Maryland Midland railroad crossing at East Baltimore Street.

The "Today Show" and People magazine have already called to inquire about doing stories.

"I can tell you quite honestly that this thing started as a little tiny stone rolling down a hill, and now it's a boulder," said Mayor Henry C. Heine Jr. "It's quite exciting."

To get ready for the attention and tourists, the city is sprucing up the place where Artrain will sit.

Adjacent property owned by Southern States Cooperative will be paved with help from Carroll County. Allegheny Power is allowing the city to hang flowerpots from its poles along East Baltimore Street.

Several corporations and businesses have donated money for the $10,000 fee for Artrain to come to town.

Thousands of people are expected to attend. Taneytown is not only the first stop after the exhibit opens in Washington, it's the only stop in Maryland. When Nancy McCormick, director of economic development for Taneytown, was working to get the exhibit, her competition in the region was Baltimore and Gettysburg, Pa.

A Michigan connection

How did Taneytown win?

"Well, yes, it was me. I'm the culprit," McCormick said.

She was a member of the Michigan Arts Council when it founded Artrain in 1971. Before moving to Taneytown in 1995, McCormick was a Michigan entrepreneur and community leader.

On a visit home about two years ago, she told Artrain acquaintances that she would love to see an exhibit come to Taneytown.

Several months later, she got a call from Artrain staff asking if she was sure the town could handle the visit.

Baltimore and Gettysburg were also interested, she was told.

"I said, `We have the rails,' " McCormick said.

The rails belong to Maryland Midland Railway Co., which is donating an engine to pull Artrain to Taneytown. The company is allowing the five rail cars to occupy the stretch of track south of East Baltimore Street for a week. Freight trains that normally go through there will have to take alternative routes.

Artrain, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is a private, nonprofit cultural organization founded to take art exhibits from the Detroit Institute of Art to rural areas in the state. It has since received national grants and corporate sponsorship from DaimlerChrysler AG and taken exhibits from museums around the country.

`Artistry of Space'

This exhibit will be "Artistry of Space," to mark the 30th anniversary of the first walk on the moon. It will include paintings, sculptures and other fine art pieces from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration collection. Since 1962, NASA has invited more than 250 artists to interpret space flight and exploration in their work.

Artrain will bring paintings by Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Peter Max, Jamie Wyeth and Robert McCall.

The pieces have been exhibited at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., and at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, but have never been shown together in one exhibit, said Debra Polich, president of Artrain USA.

The galleries are in three of the rail cars. Another car holds a gift shop, and a fifth is the caboose, where an engineer sits 24 hours a day to run controls such as air conditioning and electricity, which will be donated by Allegheny Power.

Taneytown is exactly the kind of town Artrain wants to visit, Polich said.

"We go to communities as small as 300 and as large as Washington, D.C.," she said. "Interestingly enough, the smaller the town is, the bigger the turnout."

Past Artrain exhibits have averaged between 350 to 4,000 visitors over four days, Polich said.

"Based on the enthusiasm and excitement that Nancy and all the folks that are working with her are generating, I wouldn't be surprised if we surpass our average," Polich said.

Pub Date: 6/28/99

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