LakeFest takes off with birdhouse show

June 11, 2008|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,Special To The Sun

A blue-and-white farmhouse with a roomy front porch, a cottage with a stained-glass window and skylights, even a castle with four imposing towers: Housing options in Howard County will be plentiful this weekend - if you are a bird.

Nearly 50 creative, whimsical and sometimes humorous birdhouses have been crafted by local artists as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts' "Take Flight with the Arts" project.

"It's amazing the variety of them," said the festival's executive director, Nichole Hickey. "The artists have taken them in all different directions."

A display of the birdhouses is one aspect of the three-day, free, family-oriented LakeFest celebration that has become the traditional festival kickoff.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, fine arts and crafts, musical and dance performances, children's art activities and other events will be available at the Columbia lakefront. LakeFest continues from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

The birdhouse project is the latest in a series of public art projects for the festival that invite participants to begin with the same item. In this case, the Howard County Woodworkers Guild made 101 wooden birdhouses to serve as canvases for people's creativity.

Joan Forester of Columbia made one house with colorful patterns inked on a black background. Another she decided to expand into a duplex by nailing on a second birdhouse. She then decorated the outside by painting on a fence, flowers, shutters and shingles.

"This being Columbia, I wanted some moderate-cost housing," she said.

After last year's project to create art out of full-sized wooden doors, Hickey said the staff and volunteers in charge of moving and displaying them suggested "nothing bigger than a breadbox."

Forester, who is on the festival's visual arts committee, said she thinks the 9-inch-tall structues were an appealing choice and not as intimidating as the larger doors.

"I think it allowed lots of people to play," she said.

The approaches ranged from decorating every inch with intricate mosaic tile to covering the house in smooth, shiny aluminum to placing the birdhouse at the center of a two-masted sailing ship complete with acrylic waves.

The birdhouse project also fits in with the festival's desire to focus on environmentally friendly practices this year, said artist Alice Webb of Ellicott City, who encouraged about 20 of her painting students to get involved.

Webb painted birdwatchers on her house and a sky with soaring birds on the roof. She also added a synthetic bird on top.

"It's just amazing what they've done," she said of the participants. "There are no two alike."

At LakeFest, Hickey said, organizers are looking for "elements that are fresh, and also some things that are community-related."

This year, the ArtPark arts and-crafts-show and sale, which is held in the lakefront parking garage, has been given a new layout and new lighting to make it more attractive and more inviting, Hickey said.

For the first time, that area will include several food vendors. One booth will offer tastings of Maryland wines. Others will have cake, bread, nuts and ice cream.

The lawn area across from the garage will be set up with children's activities, Hickey said, including a stage for performers and hands-on crafts.

Two dozen musical acts are scheduled this year on two stages, including Grammy award- nominated rhythm and blues artist Ryan Shaw on Friday night, Latin dance band Grupo Fantasma on Saturday night and perennial favorites Deanna Bogart and the Glenelg Jazz Ensemble on Sunday.

LakeFest will again be the site of several entertaining and art-related contests.

On Saturday and Sunday, everyone is invited to take part in the "chalk-it-up"sidewalk drawing contest.


When: Friday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: Columbia lakefront.

What: Music, crafts, visual arts and children's actitivites everyday. Highlights - 9:10 p.m. Friday, Ryan Shaw; 11 a.m. Saturday, Kinetic Art Parade; 1 p.m. Saturday, Howard County Boat Float; 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Glenelg High School Jazz Ensemble with special guest Deanna Bogart.

Admission: Free.

Information: or 410-715-3044.

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