Art Between the Creeks lets the creativity flow

Group of artists takes opportunity to display edgier works

November 16, 2008|By Susan Gvozdas | Susan Gvozdas,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Sherri Bramlett's painting "Meltdown" was intended as a self-portrait. Instead, it turned out to be much more of an insightful gaze into the wreckage of the American psyche, she said.

Bramlett painted a clown face on a piece of Styrofoam and attached it to a canvas. A dream bubble above the face is filled with nightmarish angst. Plastic soldiers entangled in wire symbolize the Iraq war. A broken egg in a tangle of bramble represents nest eggs destroyed by the economic free fall on Wall Street. Gas station receipts, a losing lottery ticket and other bills are lacquered in, too.

"This is me drowning," said Bramlett, pointing out the clown in the roiling sea. "We all feel like fools and clowns now. We're all clowns in this whole circus of our economy."

Bramlett is a part-time artist. She makes her money as a hairstylist in the movie and television industries. She said she didn't want to have a mortgage payment weighing down her creativity.

"I'm not putting the pressure on my art to pay the bills," Bramlett said. "I have to have the freedom" to create.

In this way, Bramlett is like many of the 20 other artists showing at the Art Between the Creeks show, a four-day exhibition titled IS that ends today at the Annapolis Yacht Club's Sailing Center. Most of the artists have full-time jobs and wait for opportunities such as this semiannual show to display their creativity and sell some items. The last show was in the spring.

Today is known as "Bin Sunday," for artists to bring any of their unframed work that did not fit in the main gallery area and sell it in bins outside. The work is unframed and usually less expensive than the art inside, which ranges from $100 to more than $2,000, said Cindy Fletcher Holden, a local artist who re-established the show in 2002 after a nearly 10-year hiatus. The bin sale normally draws more people out, she said.

Art Between the Creeks is a group of local artists who live or work between Spa and Back creeks in Annapolis. The artists consider themselves off the mainstream path of commercial, nautical or landscape art usually found in the city's galleries. This is a venue to display edgier art in Annapolis, Fletcher Holden said.

"It serves two purposes: showing art off and pushing the artist," she said.

Fletcher Holden was one of three artists who started the original exhibit in 1992, titled Warehouse of the Refused. The name was a play on the 19th-century Salon of the Refused, put on by French painters who were not accepted by the major galleries of the time. The Annapolis exhibit ran for two years, but then two of the founders - painter Simeone Coxe and sculptor Monroe Hall - relocated, and the show disappeared from the scene until six years ago.

The exhibit was put on in the Maritime Museum until Hurricane Isabel flooded the venue in 2003. Since then, the show has been held in a makeshift gallery in a storage shed at the sailing center at the foot of the Spa Creek Bridge on the Eastport side. The spring and fall shows display work in a variety of media - from painting to photography to sculpture.

The economy has affected all artists. For the first time in 10 years, Fletcher Holden does not have a mural commission lined up. She said that it was fortunate that she was offered a position to teach ice skating and manage the rink at Quiet Waters Park.

"Art is not flying off the walls, but that is no reason to stop painting," she said.

Eric Roberge, a self-taught artist who is new to the show, submitted ink on wooden triangles. The wooden pieces were discarded by carpenters after they cut away corners in crown molding. Roberge, a full-time house painter, picked up the wood and transformed them into mini-pyramids with different motifs. Each one has an eye - a symbol that many cultures believe wards off evil spirits, he said.

"I've always been interested in eyes because it's how we see what's inside people," said Roberge, who also works as a disc jockey when he is not working on his pen and ink drawings.

Barbara Lacy, a professional makeup artist in film and television, proudly showed off two of her sculptures Thursday during the show's opening. Bling Ray, a 2-foot-tall piece of black wire encrusted with crystals and semiprecious stones, lighted up when plugged into a wall outlet. Her other piece, a mannequin hosiery display foot that she covered in mirrored tile, had moving feathers that sprouted from each ankle like the Roman god Mercury's winged feet. Foot Loose and Fancy Free may be a hard sale at $2,100, but Lacy doesn't care. She said the show is an outlet for her creativity.

"I love it," she said.

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