Annual Art Walk will allow visitors to stroll into world of imagination

Annapolis event seeks to demystify creative process

August 05, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

The potter's wheel is twirling at the Annapolis Pottery, Genevieve McWilliams' hands are mired in shapeless muddy clay, and her fingers are giving form to her imagination.

A deep crab-soup bowl? A jar? Maybe a long-necked vase, detailed with etchings and glazed in earth tones?

A lump of clay transforms into whatever McWilliams wants.

"That seeing something become from nothing is really exciting," said McWilliams, owner of the pottery shop on State Circle, one of the stops on the Annapolis Art Walk to be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 12.

"We live in a really high-tech world, but [artists] are still doing things the way they've been done forever and ever," she said.

Art Walk, begun nine years ago in the spirit of similar events nationwide, is aimed at demystifying gallery art to infrequent visitors and bringing admirers face-to-face with artists and craftsmen.

Owners of nearly 20 art galleries tucked among the narrow streets of Annapolis' colonial district are participating in the effort to make art more accessible.

Inside the shops, owners will serve wine and cheese by candlelight, hang their favorite pieces, and clear a space for invited artists to bring in canvas and paintbrushes, sketch pads and charcoal, paper, wood, glass or clay.

Some of the artists will greet visitors as they browse. Others will get dirty and demonstrate how beauty is created.

"People think that the artists are stars," said Margaret Lee, a painter and co-owner of the Main Street Gallery. "They are in awe of people who can paint and create bring up an image from an empty piece of paper or a canvas."

Gallery owners say they've seen as many as 300 visitors on past Art Walk nights, many of them first-time gallery visitors. Organizer Cynthia McBride said some people avoid galleries, because they are intimidated by what they expect in prices (though some pieces start at $20) or by perceived standards (one owner said she has received calls about admission prices and dress codes).

That's why the galleries go into reception mode -- offering drinks, food and jazz to draw in customers.

But McBride said she hopes visitors will walk away with something more. "Art communicates a lot about our culture," she said. "Genre art shows people doing everyday things. While we look at it now and say, `Isn't that beautiful,' 100 years from now that will have recorded a moment in time that may not be the same."

At the very least, Art Walk is an excuse for an evening in Annapolis. "This seems to be a way to get people interested in the arts," said Judy Brick, who helped organize the event. "It's festive -- a fun night."

Pub Date: 8/05/99

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