Sharing art and artists

Artworks: The "Meet the Artist" series at Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia brings art and the artist to those who cannot make the trip to a gallery.

August 26, 1999|By Linda Pacylowski | Linda Pacylowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In an area so close to fine museums and galleries, it would seem senseless for anyone to be host of an artistic event with such competition.

However, one woman in Howard County does just that. Judi Bard is founder and director of the "Meet the Artist" series at Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia, where she is a program specialist for the Howard County Office On Aging.

The series was launched two years ago and recently presented its second forum. West Virginia artist Pat Dolecki and her daughter Sarah, a photographer, displayed their artwork and fielded questions at the senior center.

Though the audience was composed mostly of senior citizens, Bard encourages people of all ages to attend sessions to enjoy the works of area artists. But for those who cannot make the trip to a gallery, this series brings art to them. "The purpose of the series is to display, share and give the seniors the experience of art. Hopefully, this will evolve to an intergenerational program," Bard says.

That the reception and display are close to the lunch hour, between 10: 30 a.m. and noon, is no coincidence. Bard wants the program to be available to more people, especially to those who work. Combining culture and community was a motivating factor for Bard in offering the series.

"This series is one of Howard County's best kept art secrets. The reception from start to finish is short and sweet, completely accessible for people of all ages. We hope to host all kinds of artists from sculptors to painters to photographers and beyond," Bard says.

Pat Dolecki, 53, is a watercolor painter whose works are colorful still-life representations. In the 10 years since Dolecki took an adult class in her home state, her works had hung only in the homes of her family and friends.

Since 1997, when Dolecki was honored with a Best Still Life award in the Evans Run Art Association's Annual Exhibit of Shenandoah Valley Artists Art in Martinsburg, W.Va., other walls across the region have been graced with her creations.

Her daughter Sarah, 17, is a rising photographer in high school. She had no intention of following in her mother's footsteps with a paintbrush, but artistic talent runs in her blood.

"I first started painting 10 years ago during an adult art class and I haven't stopped since. What began just as a lark turned into an absolute love of watercolor," Pat Dolecki says. "Sarah began taking pictures four years ago, and that early hobby has transformed into, hopefully, a self-designed major when she attends college."

The photographs Sarah Dolecki displayed at the senior center captured images of animals and fish at the National Zoo in Washington and were for sale. During the reception, both artists described the process and inspiration for each piece of work to the 30 to 40 people in the audience.

Bard has bigger plans for the "Meet the Artist" series. She hopes to have receptions in all 10 of Howard County's senior centers. She does not want to begin charging admission, though she worries about a lack of sponsorship.

So far, the artists have volunteered their time, encouraging education about their art rather than expecting fees and sales. Two years ago, the series began with a local sculptor -- a show that offered a hands-on demonstration. Plans for future shows include more photographers and a stained-glass artist, though no schedule was available.

At the end of the reception, the Doleckis made a few sales, but they were a bonus to an enriching morning. Several Howard County senior citizens gained exposure to professional art despite disabilities that prevented them from traveling to galleries in Baltimore or Washington.

Perhaps the day's event was better summed up by an audience member: "This is a nice outing, isn't it?"

Pub Date: 8/26/99

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