Carving out an art niche

Baltimore Area Woodcarving Show gives craftsmen a place to display talent

March 22, 2007|By Shanise Winters | Shanise Winters,Sun Reporter

When the Baltimore Area Woodcarving Show made its debut in 2003, the intentions were simple - draw attention to Maryland's senior citizens' homes and offer a local arena for woodcarvers to showcase their talent.

On the eve of its fifth annual show, it appears that this event, which drew more than 700 spectators last year, has done more than it originally planned.

The idea of a woodcarving show appealed to Carilyn MaGuire, who felt that despite a growing number of local woodcarvers, Baltimore lacked a competitive exhibition opportunity. She is now the Baltimore Area Woodcarving Show chairwoman.

"Baltimore is a good-size metropolitan area with a surprisingly large woodcarving community," said MaGuire, "but there weren't any shows in the area for talented woodcarvers to showcase their work and enjoy the work of others."

Though shows and competitions are scattered along the East Coast, including the annual Mid-Atlantic Woodcarving Show and Competition in Abington, Pa., these may not be the venues of choice for those looking to showcase their work closer to home.

MaGuire, a woodcarving student herself, enlisted the help of Jim Cook, a retired machinist turned woodcarving instructor, and John Jacobi, a woodcarving instructor who would become the co-chairperson of the Baltimore Area Woodcarving Show, and organized the event.

MaGuire, who quickly became known as the driving force behind the annual event, said that the show has brought attention to woodcarving and to the center. This in turn has helped to increase the number of woodcarving students at the Catonsville Senior Center (CSC), where the show is held.

Cook, a Baltimore Community College teacher who has been teaching advanced woodcarving at CSC since 1989, says turning out a beautiful piece of work is not the only reward his students receive from the woodcarving classes.

"Students become self-assured when they create something with their own hands - even though I am assisting them, they are creating these pieces all on their own," said Cook.

Cook, who was introduced to woodcarving by his uncle, a master cabinetmaker, says he got more involved in the craft after years of working with metal.

According to Jacobi, the turnout of the shows, as well as the attention they have received, are both positive outcomes of the show.

"The first show was a good surprise; it took off well," said Jacobi, who teaches woodcarving for beginners at CSC.

Despite a drop in spectators last year, Jacobi expects a high turnout this time around.

"Now that word has gotten out about our show, people from all over are interested in attending," said Jacobi, "We have heard from people up and down the East Coast and beyond; New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania."

MaGuire adds that applications for this year's show have come from Delaware and Virginia as well and expects that members from the Carroll County, Anne Arundel County and Southern Maryland woodcarving clubs will be returning for this year's show.

Last year, 50 carvers entered 121 pieces for competition. This year, with competition categories ranging from animals to human figures, there are no limitations for woodcarving creativity.

The Baltimore Area Woodcarving Show is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at the Catonsville Senior Center, 501 N. Rolling Road. Admission is $3. It costs $4 to enter the competition in advance and $5 at the door. For more information, call 410-887-0900.

shanise.winters@baltsun.com

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