Local artists have chance to shine at Arts Council members show

Carroll County's artists of every skill level will have an opportunity to exhibit their work at the 13th annual Carroll County Arts Council member show, opening Thursday at the Carroll Arts Center. The event features 144 pieces from as many artists, with artwork exhibited from a variety of media from drawings and paintings to sculptures, jewelry and more.

Gallery director Susan Williamson said there were several added incentives for artists to participate this year. For the first time, the council is hosting an Audience Choice Awards, where those present at the exhibit's opening Thursday can vote for their favorite pieces. The five favorite artists will win $100 awards. In addition to the competition, this is the first year each piece exhibited will be for sale.


Williamson said it can be difficult to encourage people to buy art from local creators.

"It's hard being a working artist now. A lot of people aren't collecting. Some have inherited art from their parents and a lot of young people are becoming minimalists. They don't want a lot of stuff," Williamson said. "We're encouraging people to buy artwork made by artists instead of going to places like retail stores where it's not handmade, or it's handmade at 10 cents an hour."

Westminster artist Jerry DeWitt, who created a mixed-media piece featuring both a sculpture and painting of Chickadees within a shadowbox, said sometimes an art sale is welcomed, while other times, it can be a little bit of a problem.

"In another show we did, I had made a piece that I promised to a family member," DeWitt said. "When I found out they were for sale, I ended up buying it myself to give to her."

DeWitt said he's fascinated with birds, his main subject for art.

"I want to have a bird's soul one of these days," DeWitt said. "I woke up in the middle of the night one day and knew I wanted to do something different. That's when I started sculpting in addition to the painting."

Unlike many of the Council's exhibitions, the members show isn't juried, allowing members to submit any piece they feel best represents their artistic style. The pieces — all unrelated to one another — were placed in the center's three galleries in the order they arrived.

"The randomness works, though," Williamson said. "All of the pieces of work seem to feed off each other in some kind of way I can't explain."

For Robert Lemieux, this is his first art exhibition. Lemieux, of Westminster, has presented a mounted piece of stamps themed around flowers and butterflies. Lemieux said he began creating these pieces to give away as gifts, before being encouraged to enter them into a gallery.

"I was a little hesitant. It's not like I created this stamp. I was creative in my use of the stamp," Lemieux said. "Talking with [Arts Council Director] Sandy Oxx and Susan certainly eased my concerns. They told me to come on down, because they thought the work was really good."

Janice Bennett, of Mount Airy, said she's been including her work in the member show every year since she first joined the Arts Council six years ago. Bennett said coming together with the council was the birth of her artistic hobby.

"I was turning 60, and I started thinking about my future retirement," Bennett said. "I decided I wanted to try something new, so I started taking an art class there. I submitted my first painting after that."

Bennett said she loves coming to the exhibitions to meet fellow Carroll artists and see the work they've produced over the past year.

"It's educational. When you see other people's work, it inspires you to work harder," Bennett said. "There are so many talented people. When you see their work, you try to grow your own skills to improve."


Williamson said the true meaning of the member show is to give a sense of recognition to the hard work local artists put forth.

"Artwork is work," Williamson said. "I still have some sort of inner feeling that it is artists who can save small towns. Artists contribute immensely to the economy, as far as buying supplies, paying for marking, websites. When we think of artists, I'm not sure if everyone thinks of that chain."


For more information: Visit or call 410-848-7272.

If You Go

What: Members Show

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3

Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster

Cost: Admission is free, artworks is priced individually