Festival attracts artists, buyers

Ellicott City Restoration Foundation's event showcases the mill town through artwork on display

Howard Live


Ellicott City will be on display tomorrow as a home - and a subject - for artists during the annual Fall Arts Festival.

While visual and performing artists demonstrate their talents in the historic district, the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation will judge entries in a contest that asked amateur photographers to turn their lenses on the historic mill town.

"It seems like we have so many places where I like to take pictures," said Adele Air, who leads tours from the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin and is entering the contest.

"There are great 19th-century buildings with various types of architecture ... and different types of building materials," she said. "For the most part, it is pretty untouched by the 21st century."

The festival is the fourth since the Ellicott City Business Association began organizing the event, drawing ideas from several defunct art-related festivals.

"It has grown a little bit each year," said Sarah Tanenbaum, owner of Sarah and Desmond's gourmet bakery and vegetarian cafe and chairwoman of the festival. "We're trying to get the surrounding community into Ellicott City and to really showcase our local artists."

The festival will include live music and dance performances on a stage outside the B&O Railroad Station Museum and tents along Main Street where visual artists can exhibit and sell their work.

At the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, there will be free children's activities, including face painting, a juggler, craft projects and music.

Local businesses will also offer activities, including a caricaturist at Mat About You art gallery and a chocolate fountain at Sweet Cascades.

Entries in the photography contest will be on display at CentreTEK, an information technology company on Main Street.

The restoration foundation has been around since 1980, said board member Ed Lilley, and it has no funding beyond the grants it secures for specific projects. Members devised the contest as a way to collect photographs that can be used in calendars and note cards to raise money for the group.

Last year, Lilley said, "the majority [of entries] were of buildings; some were focused on people." The "vintage" category is for photos taken before Tropical Storm Agnes caused significant damage in 1972.

Prizes also are given in adult and junior categories. Photographs altered with computers are not allowed, but color and black-and-white photographs are welcomed.

Dennis Lowry, who won the contest last year with his photograph of a flight of crooked stone stairs, said he enjoys getting shots in the historic district.

"It is an old town," he said. "I was a bit of an architecture student when I was a kid. The architecture down there fascinates me."

Lowry, a computer graphics artist, lives in Columbia, but he said he goes to Ellicott City fairly often because his wife works at Ellicott Mills Brewing Co. He taught himself photography about 10 years ago and often takes pictures during lunchtime walks or on weekend trips.

This year he is entering at least two photographs of the Howard County Historical Society's building, a Gothic-style church with a 100-foot bell tower that was dedicated in 1894.

Air, a historic sites coordinator for the county's Department of Recreation and Parks, entered photos of Mount Ida, which is the Patapsco Female Institute's visitor's center, and the Heritage Orientation Center, among other locations.

Many area businesses have volunteered to donate a portion of their proceeds during the festival to an American Red Cross fund to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Several locations are also collecting donations for the National Trust for Historic Preservation to go toward saving historic structures damaged by the storm.

Local residents understand the need for preservation because "Ellicott City is a flood town," Tanenbaum said. "A lot of donations go toward the people affected by the hurricane, which is obviously the first concern. But as a second step, it's really important to support the historic preservation."

Another goal of the festival, she said, is to promote the idea that art is accessible.

"So many times people don't have original art in their houses," she said. "They are not really in touch with artists that are in their own backyards. Part of the idea is to understand that ... people can and should have art all around them."

The Fall Arts Festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday on Main Street in Ellicott City. Information: ellicottcity.net or 410-465-9700.


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