8 ways to enjoy the arts outdoors in Howard County

  • Sid Branham of Relay works on a painting of the historic Ellicott City train station and its surroundings during Paint It! Ellicott City.
Sid Branham of Relay works on a painting of the historic Ellicott… (Staff photo by Brian Krista )
June 10, 2014|By Allison Eatough

Grab your picnic basket and enjoy live blues music in an Elkridge park. Dig out the easel and paint pictures of flowers and historic storefronts in Ellicott City. Or as the sun sets, learn how to salsa dance under one of downtown Columbia’s most famous sculptures.

Across Howard County, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the arts outdoors this summer, says Coleen West, executive director of the Howard County Arts Council.

“We have opportunities all year round, but in the summer, we have a chance to see work outside of the galleries and concert halls,” West says.

Here are eight ways to bring the cultural arts, fresh air and some sunshine into your summer:

On and around Main Street, Historic Ellicott City
July 11 through July 13
$30 and $10 for juried and non-juried artists, respectively; free for spectators
410-313-2787 | 410-313-1900

Armed with paintbrushes and easels, artists from across the region will participate in the fifth annual Paint It! Ellicott City, an plein air painting event July 11 through July 13 in historic Ellicott City. Artists will paint what they see “en plein air,” or “in the open air,” using everything from oil and acrylic to pastel and watercolor paints. In the past, paintings have included Main Street shops and the B&O Railroad Museum’s Ellicott City station. Artists can participate in either the juried or non-judged portion of the event, West says. “These paint-outs are spectator sports, too,” she says. “You get to watch the artists at work, ask them questions about their art. It’s a great community engagement.”

Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park
3655 Church Road, Ellicott City
June 13 to July 20. Thursday through Saturday shows are at 8 p.m. Sunday shows are at 6 p.m. July 4 show is at 5 p.m. Gates open 90 minutes before showtimes. Adult tickets range from $29 to $38. Student tickets for ages 19 to 25 are $15 and available on Thursdays and Fridays. Children under 18 are free

All the world’s a stage during the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s outdoor production of “As You Like It” at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City. The company uses the institute’s ruins as a backdrop for the William Shakespeare comedy. “It’s a great summer event created with families in mind,” says Ian Gallanar, the company’s founding artistic director. “From the moment you enter the gates, you’ll know you’re in for something special.” Many guests bring picnics to the event, arriving up to 90 minutes before show time, Gallanar says. On Fridays, the company hosts conversations before the play about its history, themes or even special effects. Sundays are “Family Friendly Days,” where children can play outdoor games, dress up in costumes and get their faces painted. About 200 folding chairs are onsite for audience members. The company also has a “blanket zone” at the foot of the stage, as well as a few cafe and picnic tables for rent. Guests enjoy free parking at the Howard County Courthouse. Shuttles transport guests up to the performance.

Downtown Columbia Lakefront, off Little Patuxent Parkway and Wincopin Circle
Opening weekend: June 13 through 15;
festival runs through June 28
Cost: Free for opening weekend events

With strolling performers, intricate chalk drawings on asphalt and artists inside giant, illuminated globes hovering over downtown Columbia, the Columbia Festival of the Arts packs offerings of free, outdoor art into its opening weekend June 13 through 15. “You can get as hands-on as you’d like to be or as laid-back as you’d like to be,” says Nichole Hickey, the festival’s executive director. “It’s a broad variety.” While many festival favorites, including the Chalk-It-Up contest and the Center Ring Circus School Juggle Zone will return this year, new artists such as Australia’s Strange Fruit performance group are sure to draw attention, Hickey says. The group will be performing “Spheres,” a show where four artists are suspended above the crowd on 14-foot poles and then emerge from lighted globes. “They will be flying against the night sky,” Hickey says.

#4 ARTsites
12 sites throughout Howard County
Sculptures remain in place through July 2015
Cost: Free

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