He liked the idea that art could be an escape. Painting, he saw, could be a way of making decisions and breaking rules.

When it came time to choose a career that would pay the bills, Adelsberger enrolled at Towson University with an eye toward studying industrial design, and graduated a few months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"Jobs were scarce," he says. "I couldn't even get a craft store to hire me. But at the time I was participating in a few group exhibits that were getting a good response. Every time I'd start doubting myself, I'd sell something or get an award for enough money to cover my studio expenses."

One grant sent Adelsberger to Berlin in June 2008, where he immersed himself in the vibrant arts scene. The kind of work that he saw there and the private apartments in which it was displayed inspired him to turn his own Baltimore studio into an art gallery.

That fall, he opened the Nudashank gallery with the artist Alex Ebstein in the H&H Building on Baltimore's west side. Nudashank showcased artists in their 20s and quickly became known as a place where careers could be launched.

After five years, the gallery had a growing reputation for spotting new talent, but still wasn't making much money. What's worse, Adelsberger and Ebstein found they were neglecting their own art. Last August, the duo closed Nudashank.

"We made great connections and we had an offer to open a gallery in New York," Adelsberger said. "But it took so much time that some years, I only made one or two pieces of my own."

It wasn't as though the five years of working on the gallery were a waste of time. Adelsberger enjoyed working with artists and found that the aesthetic questions they were exploring inspired his own painterly investigations. The techniques that these artists used pushed him to devise methods for solving aesthetic problems.

"The years that Alex and I spent running Nudashank," Adelsberger says, "had an impact on the artwork I'm creating today."

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

Seth Adelsberger

Age: 34

Occupation: Artist

Residence: West downtown Baltimore

Birthplace: Emmitsburg, Frederick County

Education: Bachelor's degree, Towson University, 2002

Previously known for: Founding and operating the Nudashank gallery (now closed) with artist Alex Ebstein