Annapolis Art Walk draws crowd to galleries

In 16th annual event, artists show work, demonstrate their techniques to visitors

August 25, 2006|By MARY JOHNSON | MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun

From West Street to Main Street to State Circle to Maryland Avenue, yellow balloons hung outside 20 galleries on a pleasant summer evening, marking the galleries' place in the 16th annual Annapolis Art Walk.

Good weather brought out one of the largest crowds ever to admire the array of professional art, and to watch and talk with artists demonstrating their skills. Visitors could ask about the artists' creative processes, or they could casually peruse their works while enjoying music and refreshments.

Sponsored by the Annapolis Gallery Association, the Art Walk provides an excellent opportunity to discover the wealth of art available in Maryland's capital city, demonstrating the validity of its claim to be considered a major art center. This year, the artists and works displayed were so intriguing that my husband and I managed only to visit fewer than half of the participating galleries.

Our tour Thursday began at Main Street Gallery, where quality art is displayed in seven rooms on three floors. On the first floor, pastel artist Stan Sperlak created a dawn sky streaked with brilliant colors, in the process staining every finger with pastel chalk shades. Upstairs, watercolorist Bill Jaeger was in the early stages of creating lifelike water lilies. On nearby walls hung several of his striking floral representations with blooms captured at unusual angles to reveal a new perspective on their natural beauty.

Annapolis Pottery, located on State Circle, was filled with original and eminently collectible craftworks created by local and national artists. Here master potter Ian Stainton gave a pottery throwing demonstration.

On Maryland Avenue at Aurora Gallery, known for its contemporary glass and jewelry collections, wall-to-wall visitors congregated inside. Despite the challenge, two of our friends inched to the counter to purchase pieces of Aurora's handmade jewelry.

Each year we try to visit a new gallery, and this year we discovered the not-for-profit Maryland Federation of Art Circle Gallery. Executive Director Bryan Bohn told us that MFA Circle has been at 18 State Circle since 1968, making it Maryland's oldest artist-run organization promoting professional exhibition opportunities for visual artists. Here we discovered striking work by William Henry Tallon depicting abandoned beach houses in disrepair, lush tropical landscapes and unusual floral representations.

Easy Street Gallery on Francis Street showcases stunning glass and decorative objects. We observed watercolorist Rosemary Freitas Williams portraying the home of gallery owners Megan and Brett Cureton. The artist soon set aside the nearly completed work to pick up another in an earlier stage, explaining that she found it "better to work on two or three works at once, never only on one" so as not to lose her edge.

Our last stop was McBride Gallery, where Sherrill Cooper was creating one of her impressionist paintings. She explained that she starts with "a medium value because I love light and dark," a technique that fills her paintings with shimmering life. Outside, award-winning artist Robert Barber chatted with owner Cynthia McBride as he created his version of the exterior of the gallery and its environs.

"This was the largest Art Walk attendance ever in my 16 years here," said McBride Gallery's Judy Brick. "Many people from other galleries told us that they had the same experience this year."

For further information, visit the Annapolis Gallery Association online at www.artinannapolis.com.

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