Catonsville couple invite community to gallery opening Friday

Vineyard Hill Road in the Foxhall Manor, College Hills community off South Rolling Road is a quiet street with a basketball hoop where it dead-ends.

Two Vineyard Hill residents hope that changes, if only for a few hours, on Friday, and their neighbors don't mind.

On Oct. 5, 5-7 p.m., Asher Mikow and Carolyn Forestiere will host the grand opening of a unique gallery in their home at 1002 Vineyard Hill Road that they share with their children, 6-year-old Dax and 3-year-old Sky.

The public is invited to stop by and enjoy the display of photographs by five recent University of Maryland, Baltimore County, visual arts graduates.

Nearly 100 photographs by Chrystal Smith, Kimberly M. Haines, Brittney Danielle, Marlayna Demond and Stephanie Ellis adorn the walls of what used to be the formal living room and formal dining room in the house.

"We told them, 'Do not think of this as a traditional museum. Treat it as a collage.'" she said she told the photographers, some of whom were displaying their art in a gallery setting for the first time. "But everybody got everything up that they wanted to. They made it work."

The carpet has been removed, walls repainted and track lighting installed in the ceiling to convert the rooms into the David Mikow Art Gallery, named in honor of Asher's father.

The couple, who married in 2003, said they, and their children, often take time to sit on the bench in one of the rooms and enjoy the variety of photographs on the walls.

"Our lives are not governed by art," said Forestiere, a political science professor at UMBC whose husband is a policy analyst for the federal government.

"But I love art. I studied in Italy, took courses at (College of) William and Mary, We have two small kids, and we wanted to put art in the house," said the Virginia native.

Her husband had given her two small paintings as a birthday gift that were not dispalyed for a year, she said.

"We started looking at our space and I started to have this vision, to get stuff and put it up to celebrate Catonsville," she said. "And when we thought about what to call it, the answer was so clear."

Her father-in-law was a watercolor artist and teacher in California.

"He would use a Japanese technique to form brushes, which meant putting the brush in your mouth," Asher Mikow said.

The paint contained toxic chemicals, such as benzene, he said, and the continued exposure killed his father at age 27.

The gallery is their way of honoring his memory, said the couple, while providing a venue for young artists in the area to show their work.

They will not be selling the art, but will provide a way for those interested in it to contact the artists, they said.

They hope to do a series of shows and open their home on Tuesdays, 1-3 p.m., for anyone to stop by.

The couple said they plan to host an exhibition on print-making in early December.

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