When Ken and Marty Hankins, of Shiloh Pottery in Hampstead, joined the Carroll County Arts Council some 40 yeas ago, its home was much different than the renovated theater with multiple gallery spaces.

The Arts Council was based out of a closet the first year, Ken said, and there was only one paid employee. The couple remembers when it’s current home at 91 West Main Street was a working movie theatre. Ken saw the first “Star Wars" movie there in 1977.

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The Arts Council’s 17th annual Members Show art exhibit runs through Nov. 2. An opening reception was held on Thursday. This year’s theme is a celebration of 50 years of the Arts Council.

Shiloh Pottery has entered something nearly every year of the member’s show, which has run for 17 years and accepts one work per member. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose what to enter. As a functional pottery maker, the plates and mugs Ken makes aren’t as showy as some other creations.

His entry was a set of mugs and pitcher with glaze that variegated in a gradient from brown to teal to blue. Organic interruptions in the glaze were visible from crystallization and other phenomena that happens in the kiln.

“I have 25 glazes, but these two are my favorite,” Ken said.

Arts Council Executive Director Judy Morley was excited by the wide variety of mediums that artists worked in, from acrylic painting to fiber arts to jewelry photography and woodworking.

Every one of the 135 pieces in the galley is on view until Nov. 2 and available for sale. Some were a hot commodity and already boasted “sold” signs during the reception Thursday evening.

“Two of the pieces sold as they were hanging them on the wall,” Morley said.

The variety of mediums was matched by the variety in Arts Council member artists. Some were longtime members like Wayne Morrison who also recalled the move into the Arts Center at 91 West Main.

“Things have grown, especially since moving here,” he said. Between gallery shows and performances of music and theatre, the organization is “a tremendous force for the arts in the county,” he said.

Others have come more recently. Sarah Gawens became a member of the Arts Council about two years ago when she felt like it was time to get more involved in the arts community in Westminster.

“You need that kind of support, especially when you’re in a rut,” she said. Events like the opening are a valuable chance to catch up with other artists.

For some, like Melissa Libertini, viewing work in all different mediums is inspiring. Her own work, an acrylic called Nebbia d’ Acqua, which translates to water mist, was a swirling abstract in layered white and blue tones.

“I just layered up the colors and blew on it,” she said of her technique. Laughing, she added that protective gear was necessary. “I ended up with paint everywhere."

It’s a good feeling to have her work out in the public and on display among her peers, she said, an opportunity she didn’t always think she would look for.

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“I didn’t start painting for anyone other than me," she said.

Melissa Pearson was a first-time entrant int he members show and came all the way from College Park to attend the opening reception. She was drawn in to the Arts Council after visiting the annual PeepShow with family.

Her collage, which incorporated human figures and sheet music, was the largest in a series, she said.

Guests at the reception were also asked to vote for their favorite works. The winners were awarded a cash prize in memory of Ruth Gray.

The winners were:

Calvin Custen, “The Path Home," Etching

Lucille C. Kerns “Second Wind,” Watercolor

Beth Mansfield “Undercover,” Oil

Amber Harte Maurer Farran “Sulfur Springs Barred Owl,” Colored Pencil

Nan Nelson “Sikh and Shepherd’s Path,” Acrylic

Michael Perlin “Table,” Walnut and Turquoise

Molly Sims “Sunlit Egret,” Oil

Barbara Van Rossum “Basket Case,” Oil

Bruce Woodward “Big Water,” Acrylic

Miwon Yost “Bus Stop, Amalfi,” Oil

A 50th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser for the Arts Council is scheduled for Oct. 27. at 1 p.m. Activities will include a film, live music, a luncheon and a retrospective exhibit. For more information on Arts Council events or how to become a member, visit CarrollCountyArtsCouncil.org or call 410-848-7272.

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