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Salem Evangelical Lutheran’s Agape Gallery in Catonsville to feature new portrait installation Sunday

Paulette Khoury, left, looks at a color pencil drawing of musical artist Brendan Urie created by her daughter 17-year-old Bella Khoury, right, at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church Jan. 30. Khoury's work will be on display at the church's Agape Gallery starting Sunday, Feb. 2 until March 29.
Paulette Khoury, left, looks at a color pencil drawing of musical artist Brendan Urie created by her daughter 17-year-old Bella Khoury, right, at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church Jan. 30. Khoury's work will be on display at the church's Agape Gallery starting Sunday, Feb. 2 until March 29. (Taylor DeVille / Baltimore Sun)

Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Agape Gallery in Catonsville will host a reception on Sunday, Feb. 2 for its new installation, featuring the penciled and digital work of 17-year-old Bella Khoury.

The show, titled “Principium: The Beginning,” features around two dozen pieces created by Khoury, a junior at Liberty High School in Eldersburg, ranging from detailed color-penciled portraits of celebrities, herself and her friends to black-and-white still-life drawings and colorful abstracts, will be on display from Feb. 2 to March 29, starting with its open reception Sunday from 12:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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The installation will be Khoury’s first gallery show featuring her work solely; her pieces also were featured in the 2019 Congressional Art Competition for Congressman Jamie Raskin’s district, where her work, a colorful rendering of Panic! At The Disco’s Brendan Urie, was selected as a second-place honoree.

Khoury began drawing in the eighth grade, she said, inspired by the work of her grandfather, an artist who attended the Maryland Institute College of Art. Although she’s not a parishioner, she has ’taken piano lessons at Salem Lutheran for 11 years.

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She began by, and is still fond of, drawing characters, she said, which stems from her grandfather’s black-and-white contour cartoon drawing, one of the few pieces Khoury’s family still has after her grandfather succumbed to injuries from a house fire in 1977 that burned most of his work.

Khoury hopes to attend MICA after she graduates high school in 2021, and aspires to pursue a career in animation, she said. She’s taking an animation course at Baltimore’s art institute this summer.

Khoury draws inspiration from “things I like; I’ve always drawn people,” she said. “I don’t really care for landscape drawings, not gonna lie. Bob Ross can do it. But I’m not Bob Ross.”

The nonprofit gallery, which its director, Charlotte Brooks, started in 2014, puts on four, free two-dimensional art shows annually, featuring family-friendly content from local artists. The fare includes nature photographers, the Baltimore-based Nicaraguan Culture Alliance and the Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore.

Brooks, a retired art teacher, plans out shows a year in advance, she said. The next installation, scheduled for later this spring, will feature surrealist paintings, she said.

“As a culture we really need to understand that all people have talents of various kinds,” Brooks said. She tries to display traditional and nontraditional work created by different groups of artists to support diversity in the arts community and to spark interest in congregants and noncongregants, she said.

The Agape Gallery, a Greek word featured throughout the New Testament to refer to God’s unconditional and sacrificial love, may be the only church-sponsored art gallery in the Catonsville area, although some other parishes, like the Catonsville Presbyterian Church and Catonsville United Methodist Church, occasionally display artists’ work, Brooks noted.

The gallery is located on the second floor of Salem Evangelical’s parish on Frederick Road.

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