Art show of cooperation

Exhibit: The Columbia gallery's all-member show opened yesterday and features an assortment of artwork.

January 03, 2002|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

Kelmie Snider gave up a teaching career because after grading papers and creating lesson plans, she didn't have enough time for painting.

Now that she's scaled down her duties to be a science instructional assistant at Atholton High School, she has the freedom to paint and exhibit at the Artists' Gallery in Columbia, a cooperative gallery, which she said is the only affordable way to show her artwork.

"If you're going to display in a professional gallery, you truly have to be a professional - that's the only thing you can do because you have to churn out so much work," said Snider, who is president of the co-op. "I can't afford to do that. I have to have the job that I have - it pays my health insurance."

The gallery's annual all-member show opened yesterday featuring an assortment of artwork - including stained glass, photography and images embossed into copper - from the co-op's 19 members. The show runs through March 1.

Snider's artwork involves painting furniture. In her work on display at the gallery, "Butterflies Are Free," Snider painted butterflies and flowers on the top of a small wooden table she bought on sale at Bombay Co.

"I see the furniture as just another example of a canvas," said Snider, a Columbia resident.

Artists are chosen to join the co-op by current members and must submit a resume and work samples. Most members are Howard County residents.

Members pay $120 in annual dues and are required to work in the gallery three times a month, about nine hours monthly. One member staffs the gallery at a time.

Members who don't work in the gallery are labeled as inactive members, and can display their artwork only at the all-member show, Snider said. Two members are inactive in the co-op, which was formed in the early 1990s to give artists an accessible showcase to display their work, she said.

The gallery is set in a small room on the ground floor of the American Cities Building, attracting passers-by on their way to the post office or restaurants near Lake Kittamaqundi.

Snider said public interest in the gallery appears to fluctuate with the shows. During the rest of the year, the gallery features shows highlighting one of the co-op members, while other artists' works are displayed on a smaller level.

"Sometimes we have quite a bit of response, and sometimes we don't," Snider said. "I haven't been able to figure it out."

Clarence Page, a Columbia resident who specializes in using a torch to emboss images into copper, said he has been impressed with the response he has received since joining the co-op. He has sold his work through the gallery, which he said has developed a clientele that follows its artists.

He joined the co-op because "nobody came to my basement to see my art."

In "Lavender in a Vase," Page pressed pieces of a lavender plant into copper and heated it with a torch to create brilliant blues, golds and oranges.

"I use a torch like some artists use a brush," he said. "I use a torch to bring out the color."

Denee Barr prints photographs she has taken - usually portraits of nature scenes, cityscapes or families - on her handmade paper or watercolor paper. She then brushes a photo emulsion onto the paper, creating images that resemble nostalgic photography.

"It's really a great joy to bring beautiful work right here in our community," she said.

The Artists' Gallery is in the American Cities Building, 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays. Information: 410-740-8249.

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