Honoring history of Highland home, and artists, too


November 17, 2006|By Janet Gilbert

Stories about works of art discovered in forgotten corners of cluttered attics never fail to pique our interest. But what if a treasure-trove of such works, hidden in plain sight in downtown Columbia, were to appear in a new, temporary setting -- all of it available for purchase?

That's what happens this weekend and next when works from the Artists' Gallery of Columbia -- usually exhibited in the lobby of the American City Building in Columbia Town Center -- come out to be viewed and sold at the home of member artist Cher Compton and her husband, Craig.

The free art show and sale will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday and Nov. 25 and 26 at 13726 Clarksville Pike in Highland.

"This is great work, and a lot of people don't know it's there," Cher Compton said of the paintings, sculptures, photos and other art at the gallery's Wincopin Circle location.

She said the Columbia gallery's space in the American City Building is hard for some patrons to find. Compton's home, on the other hand, is on the corner of a major Howard County thoroughfare (Route 108) and Briaridge Court.

The art exhibit and sale is the Comptons' way of honoring the history of their home. They were thrilled a few years ago when a carpenter doing minor repairs found a cedar shingle signed by the home's original builders nailed underneath the siding on the front porch. In the flourished, formal handwriting of a century ago, the shingle revealed May 16, 1906, as the date the home was completed and $2,500 as its total cost.

"I wanted to have a big party," Craig Compton said, "but we were just too busy [in May] to have it."

Time, place and purpose seemed to align for an Artists' Gallery of Columbia celebratory show at the Compton home.

The show will feature more than 60 original works from Howard County artists who are members of the Artists' Gallery, a small cooperative that grants membership based on a review of the artist's work by a jury of fellow professional artists.

The first floor and studio of the home will become a showcase of art from almost all of the gallery's 20 member artists. The show includes oil paintings, pastels, watercolors, sculpture, stained glass, Chinese brush painting, pottery, photography and metal work ranging from $45 to $1,500.

Many of the artists will be at the site off and on, allowing the public the opportunity to meet and speak with the creator of a piece

Barbara Steinacker, a Columbia landscape and portrait artist, is planning to attend and has a painting titled Tranquility in the show.

Steinacker said she often feels tranquil and at peace in the outdoor setting where she lives, near Lake Elkhorn.

"There's a bridge with a lovely view of trees reflected in the water," she said. "I have several paintings from that area."

In Steinacker's artist statement, she wrote: "There is so much chaos and noise in the world today -- and people are so busy -- that they rarely take the time to be in nature. I bring them the experience of a tranquil scene with only a glance."

Cher Compton is an accomplished artist who left an executive position in structured real estate finance to pursue art full time in 2000.

"I don't want to be 90 and look back -- I want to do the things I love now," she said.

Compton holds a bachelor of arts degree with a concentration in studio art/painting and a bachelor of science degree in business management from the University of Maryland, University College. She is also a certified public accountant.

"It certainly doesn't hurt to have a business background as an artist," she said.

Compton works in a variety of media in her home studio. She also teaches art classes there, as well as for Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks and the University of Maryland, University College.

Compton enjoys working with a range of students; children to adults, beginners to professionals.

"When you are repeating and demonstrating fundamentals [as a teacher], you remind yourself of what makes a work strong," she said.

For example, she said, "I'm really interested in how objects are symbols, and are used over and over in different cultures."

In one of her pastels, Apples and Lace, the fruit has a palpable vitality and is at once familiar and lovely. Compton finds apples, with their fullness and ripeness, to be symbolic of the fullness and ripeness of life at a certain juncture.

Compton's home is full and ripe -- perhaps a work of art itself, with its high ceilings, decorative moldings, and original doorknobs, locks and iron hinges. Adorning it with an art show in celebration of its 100th year seems fitting.

A well-placed basket of apples on the front porch might be a nice touch.


Is someone in your neighborhood worth writing about? Is there an event that everyone in Howard County should be aware of? If there is, Janet Gilbert, our neighbors reporter, wants to know about it.

E-mail Janet at janetgilbertsun@verizon.net, or call 410-313-8276. Janet also has a Web site: www.janet gilbertonline.com

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