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CCBC art gallery fights summer slow down

ArtArtistsArtscapeCommunity College of Baltimore County

Activity on the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County slows down in the summer as students and teachers use the time to recover from the school year.

But the art gallery in the Q Building has some outside help in its fight to attract area art lovers to its Re:Purpose exhibit, which features art made from recycled materials.

Re:Purpose opened on June 25 with a sponsorship from M&T Bank that has helped stimulate interest in the free show, which runs through Aug. 4 and features work by seven area artists.

The bank designated the CCBC gallery and 19 others in the Baltimore area as an Artscape 2012 Showcase Gallery. That designation is designed to link the arts to the community and extend the celebration of this weekend's Artscape, which bills itself as the nation's largest free arts festival, said Tom Crawford, a spokesman for M&T Bank.

"We asked, 'How can we extend the celebration of Artscape and really encompass the entire summer and pull some of these community galleries into the mix?" Crawford said.

What separated CCBC from other galleries was who designed it.

"They chose a student to curate the exhibit, which is very unique," Crawford said. "We just found it compelling that they were involving the student body."

Curating the exhibit at CCBC was Emilyann Craighead, whose career goal is be a curator.

"It's been wonderful. It's been just dream-like," the 21-year-old Towson resident said. "I love that so many people have shown up because I think these works are really wonderful."

Craighead had curated an art show on the Dundalk campus of CCBC in fall 2010, and said she appreciated the opportunity to do so again.

"I'm not that good of an artist, but I want to know what people do," said Craighead, who could graduate from CCBC as early as this fall and hopefully transfer to a four-year college.

Craighead earned the right to curate an exhibit based on an in-class competition.

Once selected by the school's Exhibit Committee, Craighead had a little over a month to put the show together.

"For the Artscape exhibition, you have five weeks from when you know you've been awarded space to contact artists and see if they're available," she said.

Her exhibit features the works of seven artists, with two coming from a list supplied by the Baltimore Office of Promotion in the Arts.

She said she hit some "bumps in the road" as she rushed to put the show together.

For example, she didn't have enough art to fill the gallery, but two artists pitched in and gave her some more work.

Despite the tense moments, Craighead said the opportunity to be part of Artscape was too good to pass up.

"It's such an honor to be part of that," Craighead said. "I'm really happy to be having it during the summer."

Making an impression

Instead of solely relying on M&T Bank's sponsorship and its connection with Artscape, the gallery has taken to the Internet to build interest , Buckingham said.

"We've moved very digital lately because it seems to get a greater response," Buckingham said.

The gallery has a Facebook page and Flickr site, which hosts images. Soon, the gallery may start a Twitter account, Buckingham said.

Diana Marta, an Oella artist featured in the exhibit, appreciates the support of M&T Bank and CCBC but said an artist makes art no matter how many people see it.

Marta, who has two works at the exhibit, created "100 Boat Current" by folding magazine pages into boats. The boats were placed as a single fleet that extended from about eight feet high on a wall to the floor and back onto the wall.

Another work, "Security Blanket," features losing lottery tickets stitched together as a quilt.

Though she likely would have made these works regardless of if they were seen, Marta said it's satisfying when people observe and respond to her work.

"One would hope that if your artwork is available to see on a regular basis that if they have time they will come and see it," said Marta, who has displayed work and curated at CCBC art galleries before.

"They put a lot of effort into making sure the exhibit is known about," she said. "I think it has had a good response so far."

The bank's marketing assistance included encouraging its area branches to hand out information about the gallery to bank patrons.

In addition, the bank funded a reception on July 9 that included a jazz pianist who played as 80 people perused the exhibit, said Nicole Buckingham, the gallery director.

"Eighty during the school year is a good number," Buckingham said of the unusually high summer turnout.

Despite the reception's high attendance, the overall number of visitors is lower than during the school year, Buckingham said.

"There have been fewer people (visiting) just because of it being the summer," Buckingham said, noting classes often tour exhibits during the school year.

"But the response to Re:Purpose has actually been really really good."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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