Quiet Waters to display products of artistic alliance


October 22, 2001|By Kimbra Cutlip | Kimbra Cutlip,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WALKING THROUGH the center of Galesville in the middle of the week when boating season is coming to a close, it may seem there isn't much going on.

Only one of the three restaurants is open for lunch. Aside from the seasonal boat haulings, there isn't much activity at the marinas. And while the West River Market has a steady flow of customers, the other shops in town are either quiet or closed.

But just past the market, in what used to be a garage and granary when the market was the town's general store, you might find two old wooden bay doors open wide and draped in works of art.

Laura Dixon might be inside, painting or creating a collage.

The old building is home to an antique store on one side and River Gallery on the other.

The art gallery, owned by Dixon and her two partners, Roxanne Weidele and Elsie Whitman, is officially open on weekends. But when Laura comes in to work, she opens the doors to any browsers who might drop by.

"There are a lot of people who come by during the week," she said, "and [my being here] might give them a chance to stop in and see what's here."

Recently, Dixon has been there quite often. She and her partners are preparing for a show that opens Wednesday at Quiet Waters Park Cafe Gallery in Annapolis.

The three have been working together for 15 years, and while each has shown her work outside the gallery, this will be their first joint show at another art gallery.

When they started working together, the idea was not to create a business, but to support each other's artwork. After graduating from Maryland Institute College of Art, Whitman was looking for neighbors to encourage her work.

"I knew I had to have a support group or somebody that was interested in the same thing that I was," Whitman said. She started talking with her neighbors, and was surprised to find she didn't have to go far from Galesville to find a large group of formally trained artists.

She formed a group of seven to 10 people that met once a month to draw and paint, and to critique each other's work.

"After we had been doing it a while, one of the members said, `Well, if you're going to produce work, you've got to show it,'" said Dixon. "So we put together a show under a tent next to the West River Market."

That was in 1986. A year later, they rented space in a Galesville home and formed River Gallery.

"The group was initially a way of forcing us to formally draw or paint," said Dixon, "and once we had the gallery, there was no need for that because we all felt committed to producing work for the gallery."

They stopped meeting regularly, and the other members of the original group drifted away. But some of them still show their work at the gallery, as do many other area artists.

Weidele, Whitman and Dixon continue to critique and inspire each other.

Weidele retired from a 31-year career teaching art in Anne Arundel County public schools two years ago and now is a full-time artist. She said having the gallery "forced me to do much more art. A byproduct was that I learned more by doing, and then I passed that back to my students."

At the gallery, her work ranges from jewelry and silk scarves to pottery and painting. At Quiet Waters, she will be exhibiting her newest passion, a series of vibrant pastel landscapes and seascapes.

Whitman will show works focusing on oysters, from oil paintings and photographs to assemblages of found objects including oysters.

"I'm fascinated by them, by their colors, by the fact that they've been around so long," she said.

Whitman creates art on a variety of subjects and in a variety of media, but she said she never tires of oysters.

Dixon said alternating from one medium to another helps keep the work feeling fresh. For this show, she will be featuring her most recent collages.

The collages are like intricate puzzles of torn paper that fit together to create images. But upon closer inspection, images on each piece of paper become visible. The red stripe of a flag might contain apples, a red bicycle, or an advertisement for fireworks.

"It was nice to be invited to Quiet Waters Park," said Whitman. "It's great for us as artists to branch out outside of the gallery and get exposure in another place."

The show runs Wednesday to Nov. 8, with a reception to meet the artists scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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