Linda Van Hart is pictured with one of her sculptures titled “Helios.”
Linda Van Hart is pictured with one of her sculptures titled “Helios.” (Submitted photo)

Linda Van Hart and Ted McNett, both local artists, are having a show for the month of February at Off Track Art in Westminster.

Van Hart is a metalsmith who does botanical portraits in silver, gold, and copper. Van Hart began to do metalsmithing in 1976 with John Fix at Towson University. Fix was an instructor there and became her mentor. "It was like falling in love," Van Hart said.

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Van Hart loved metalworking because all her artistic skills could be utilized in metalsmithing. She began to make jewelry from silver and gold. She later expanded to make sculpture out of copper and steel. Van Hart enjoyed it so much that she took over a general crafts class at McDaniel College and has been teaching jewelry ever since.

Van Hart has also been the Visual Arts Coordinator for Common Ground on the Hill since its inception. It is an international arts and music event held for two weeks at McDaniel College every year. Van Hart teaches metalsmithing for Common Ground as well.

Ted McNett is a local blacksmith and president of the Blacksmiths Guild of Central Maryland, Inc., and is also Assistant Supervisor of Career and Technology Education for Carroll County Public Schools. McNett started blacksmithing in 1996. He also demonstrates and teaches classes at the Carroll County Farm Museum Traditional Arts Academy.

McNett has taken four jewelry classes from Linda Van Hart and two from John Fix. In addition, he is a blacksmithing and outdoor cooking instructor at Common Ground on the Hill.

The show at Off Track Art is titled "Sterling and Steel, the Art and Complexity of Metal" features Heart Armor and the Luna Moth Project. The opening reception is February 11 from 5-8 p.m. The show will run from February 2-26.

Regular Off Track Art Cooperative and Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, 12-5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12-4 p.m.

"Heart Armor evolved from studying a dry milk weed pod after the tragedy of 9/11 and the death of my brother. At that time, I was on sabbatical in New Mexico," Van Hart explained.

Describing the resulting sculpture she created, Van Hart said, "Two milk weed pods inverted and came together to form a heart shape as I thought of creating a piece of art that would bring peace to those in need. A rivulet of energy ran down the center like the river of the center of Taos Pueblo. The image of the river joined the pods like the two halves of Taos Pueblo which look like a heart when seen from the air. My studio there was just a mile from the Pueblo. My hammering on the Heart Armor was the same beat as the drumming of the elders bringing water back to the river that had gone dry in the first memory of the people: like a heartbeat. It is a talisman of hope that our future will be brighter if we can only pull strength from inner resources to get through the issues of the moment."

The Luna Moth Project is a collaborative memorial project with the Veterans Initiative of Common Ground on the Hill and will be completed at McDaniel College from June 24-July 27 to honor Staff Sargent Jimmy Malachowski, who was killed at 25 years old in Afghanistan. He was a 2003 graduate of North Carroll High School who had a great interest in insects.

The Luna Moth represents renewal and rebirth of body and spirit and is a fitting symbol for his memorial.

"Those who are unaware of how public sculpture evolves will be able to experience the process from brainstormed drawings through projected installation at Bear Branch Nature Center in Carroll County," Van Hart said.

Van Hart and McNett will hold a gallery talk Gallery Talk at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11 at Off Track Art at 11 Liberty Street, Westminster.

There will also be a metalsmithing workshop at Off Track Art from 1-4 p.m. on Jan. 28. Students will be able to make a sterling silver adjustable bracelet and ring.

For information or registration contact Linda Van Hart at lvanhart@mcdnaiel.edu or stop in to Off Track Art to register with any partner.

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Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster. Her column appears on the first and third Thursday of each month.

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