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Staff displays art work at Frederick Road bakery

Atwater's artists work for show, not dough

By Brian Conlin, bconlin@patuxent.com

2:46 PM EDT, August 16, 2011

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The perspectives of more than a half dozen artists have greeted customers of Atwater's who venture upstairs at the Frederick Road bakery throughout August.

And it's likely that one of the people who served customers their coffee or pastry is responsible for some of the art.

That's because on Aug. 11, Atwater's Naturally Leavened Bread Bakery and Café hosted an art show featuring the photographs, paintings and sculptures of its staff.

"It's fun because it's where we work, and downstairs, we tell regulars all of our art is being put up," said Catonsville resident Morgan Jackson, who had several oil paintings of people under water on display. "I see people we see every day coming in here. It's kind of cool."

The junior biology major at Susquehanna University, in Selinsgrove, Pa., said she uses art more as a hobby and hopes to pursue a career in nutrition.

Jackson wasn't alone in her pursuits of things outside of art.

In fact, most of those on Atwater's staff had other career plans, many in the sciences.

Kathryn Cohagan, a lifelong Catonsville resident who studies psychology at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, in Baltimore, said her photographs, several of which were on display, allow her to preserve memories.

Included in the exhibition, for example, was one of her favorites, a photograph of an area near the Sydney Opera House.

"(The show) is exciting," said Cohagan, who has worked at Atwater's for more than a year. "I like that it's at a place that I feel comfortable."

Comfort may have been an underlying theme of Catonsville resident Ian Delwiche's photographs.

A junior at Cornell University studying engineering, he picked up his photography skills by stopping by the darkroom at his high school, he said.

His favorite of his two black and white photographs was of a dam at the school's Ithaca, New York, campus that he passes often during the school year.

"In order to get to class, you have to take a bridge," Delwiche said. "You get to see this every day."

Delwiche said he enjoyed the work of his colleagues and that he was not surprised at the quality in the exhibition.

"In a bakery, you have a lot of artsy people," Delwiche said.

Sammy Joe Temple, a senior at Catonsville High School, found expression using several different media.

In addition to photographs, her paintings and sculptures are also part of the show.

She spoke enthusiastically about her favorite photograph, of a classmate looking at a friend and how she altered the negative to make it appear layered.

Her enthusiasm was evident as she spoke about the meaning of her paintings and the processes she used to create her sculpture.

But she seemed most excited to talk about the work of others.

"I'm taken aback by how amazing theirs are," said Temple, who said she will consider a minor in photography in college. "Seeing theirs makes me want to take classes to learn how to be like them."

Temple specifically liked the work of Sarah Schwartz, a Baltimore resident who would not describe herself as a professional artist but was more seasoned than her colleagues.

Twice Schwartz has been the featured artist on display at the Atwater's location in the north Baltimore neighborhood of Belvedere Square.

"It feels like home at this point," said Schwartz, a three-year veteran worker of Atwater's, which has two other locations in Towson.

Asked how she liked sharing the spotlight, Schwartz said, "I'm appreciating how everyone's artwork here compliments each person."

Having the art come from within the company's talent pool fits the bakery's theme because owner Ned Atwater likes to keep things local.

The Catonsville resident said he buys as many ingredients as possible from local farmers.

He said even the pottery used at the store comes from craftsmen in the area.

"It's just a much better feeling, even if it doesn't save us money," said Atwater, who admitted that buying locally often is more expensive.

In the Catonsville bakery's 18-month history, Atwater said it has displayed the works of several local professional artists who hoped to make a sale.

As he got to know his staff, he found that he had a wealth of artistic talent pouring coffee, and serving cookies and other treats.

"This is for fun," said Atwater, who noted the work of his staff impressed him. "They could sell them. Most of them are choosing not to."

Asked if any of her paintings of the underwater figures were for sale, Jackson hesitated.

"If the price is right," she eventually said with a laugh. "One or two of them are priceless."