A diverse palette for local crafters at arts festival


June 26, 2000|By Douglas Lamborne | Douglas Lamborne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN HE HEARS a chainsaw snorting in his Deale neighborhood after a summertime thunder-boomer, Leonard Barry comes running. "I want the wood," he said - especially if it's box elder or cherry. "You can find good wood at the dump, too."

Yes, he actually forages through dumps.

Barry takes the wood - his wife, Margaret, calls it "recycled road kill" -and turns it into bowls and vases. That accounts for the name of their enterprise, Turnings by L.J.B. They lug their wares to such shows as the Annapolis Waterfront Arts Festival, which concluded yesterday at St. John's College.

What is their most popular item? "People are hard to figure," said Margaret Barry. "You might sell bowls at one show, vases at another. The high-end bowls seem to do best in Annapolis."

Leonard Barry, a retired government employee, has worked with wood for decades and has been "seriously turning" for 10 years. Margaret Barry teaches first grade at Deale Elementary.

Also exhibiting at the arts festival was Aimo Hill of Annapolis. Hill is a full-time painter who says he "can't think of doing anything else." He exhibits his work through a circuit of 18 to 20 shows a year in the region and has reached his own conclusion as to what's popular.

"Realistic paintings are coming to the fore, abstracts are receding. If you have a painting with grapes in it, people want to see the grapes," he said. "This is a good sign. To me, this means art is appealing to more people. Most people like to recognize what they're looking at."

Hill's paintings are all - surprise - realistic, many of them small still lifes with the look of the Old Masters about them."`Little gems,' I call them," he said. "Most people have larger paintings already in place. They will look at these smaller ones because they can make room for them. They can fit in with what they have."

Hill paints during the show and welcomes conversation. "I'd much rather talk about painting than anything else," he said at the Annapolis event.

Exhibitor Speedy Hogarth of Edgewater has long been a member of a "living history" group called The Patuxents, which attempts to re-create the life and artifacts of Colonial times. He found a niche - leather bags - and started to make them by hand after researching their construction at museums and libraries.

"My stuff is not cheap to begin with," he said when asked whether one was more popular than another. "They range from $175 to $300 a bag. I guess that makes them all high-end."

The festival included several newcomers.

Danna Moore of Annapolis used the show as her "public debut" to announce her new business, My Gardener Herbals, a line of all-natural, handmade herbal soaps. She offered 25 kinds of soap, including her more popular ones: espresso (yes, made with coffee), hunter's and fisherman's soap (made with anise, not some former critter) and lavender.

Photographer Rick Brady of Riva said he was "new to showing." Long a specialist on the commercial side of photography, he is taking his old negatives of Chesapeake Bay scenes and reproducing them either as lithographs or through various electronic methods.

"The computer is now my darkroom," he said. He spoke of one new technique that is too complicated to be described here (or, more likely, beyond the comprehension of this describer). But the computer is obviously becoming a big part of the arts world, with both Moore and Brady noting that they have Web sites under development.

But some of the hottest items for the weekend were served up at the Coolie Sno-Balls stand, run by Kevin Harried of Annapolis. He and sons Keddy, 15, Tyrik, 14, and Kavonta, 10, offered 55 flavors. And which was the most popular?

Egg custard, said Dad.

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