Senior artists put work on display in 'Young at Art' exhibit

Students of Monday and Tuesday art classes at North Carroll Senior and Community Center call their courses "Young at Art." So it seemed a natural decision to call their first art exhibit at the Carroll Arts Center just that — Young at Art.

The exhibit, which runs through June 10, features work in watercolor, oil, acrylic and mixed media from the painting students of the center. The exhibit is open for viewing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Art instructor Joanna Barnum is one of two art instructors at the senior center. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and a member of the Baltimore Watercolor Society, she said shortly after she began to teach art classes at the center two years ago, a conversation began about having an art exhibit.

"We started talking about how nice it would be if the students from both [our Monday and Tuesday] classes had a local art exhibit," Barnum said of discussion with fellow instructor Kathleen Stumpfel and center manager Renee Deiaco. "So we started to slowly brainstorm. One of the ladies in the afternoon class was able to help coordinate an exhibit at the Carroll Nonprofit Center. At the same time, Renee had reached out to the [Carroll County] Arts Council about the possibility of the students doing an art show there. The nonprofit center show came down in mid-April just before the one at the Arts Center went up. It is not the same show but a few of the pieces are the same."


Both art exhibits came together with some help.

"The Westminster Women's Club sponsored our first exhibit, Seniors At Work, at the Carroll Nonprofit building from January to March," Deiaco said. "Susan Williamson, from the Carroll Arts Center, was able to give us space in their gallery from April to June. I encouraged all students to participate. With the help of three seniors, we delivered the paintings and hung the exhibit in the gallery. It's a very rewarding experience to have our seniors' paintings displayed in the community."

Barnum said about 30 artists are participating in the Carroll Arts Center show.

"Our artists are great," she said. "Some came into classes already having a lot of experience. I even have a few retired art teachers. Then I also have people who haven't painted before. It's a mixture of levels but everyone has their unique interests in subject matter and they all take it pretty seriously and have been very open to what I have to share and new things to try. I've noticed a definite progression in everybody's work over time."

Barnum said the variety of voices, perspectives and artist interpretations makes this exhibit unique.

"The way I like to teach and the way I think Kathleen likes to teach, too, is hoping people will get better at what they want to do and how they want to approach it," said Barnum. "Some teachers teach in a way that maybe the students' work looks like little clones of the teacher. I certainly don't want that. I want them to do it their own way."

Stumpfel has a studio art degree from the University of Maryland, has worked in commercial art and is the current president of the Baltimore Watercolor Society. She said about half of all the art students at the center took part in the exhibit.

"This exhibit gives these students a chance to show and share the art they have worked hard to create," Stumpfel said. "Artists always hope to share with a receptive audience. Our reception was in combination with the 12-by-12 art reception [an art show in another room] and there were over a hundred people who came to see the works for both shows."

Artist June McCoy, of Manchester, has a watercolor painting of a sailboat in the show. She said she's been taking art classes at the senior center for five years.

"I have learned a lot, but I could still learn more," McCoy said. "Over those years we've had three different teachers and their styles are all different. It's good that they are each different because you learn more that way."

McCoy said those who take the classes have become friends, and learn from each other, as well as from the instructors.

"Not only are the teachers wonderful, but we also have a lot of really good artists in this room," she said. "The comradery of sharing back and forth is really a highlight for me."


Sabine Yeager, of Finksburg, credits the art classes she's been taking at the center for two years with changing her life in many ways.

"Cancer drew me to this," Yeager said. "When I was diagnosed, [two years ago] I came here as a release. I was in a pencil class first. Then Joanna started teaching here and everything began falling into place. I have progressed. Now this is what I do. The cancer is gone, but this is who I am now."

Yeager said she was juried — selected by a body of persons for participation — into the Baltimore Watercolor Society in early April. Then she found out that one of her pictures was also accepted into the Mid-Atlantic Regional, an event held by the Watercolor Society.

"Out of 400-some entries, only 93 of them made it into that [the Mid-Atlantic Regional show] and one of them was mine," she said.

Yeager has three pieces in the show at the Arts Center, each one very different from the next.

"One is a castle tunnel, kind of dilapidated in watercolor," she said. "I also have a mixed media landscape picture and one that is Stonehenge-like, but it is a location in Germany. I was born in Germany and I'm 100 percent German."

Yeager said she likes to paint a variety of subject matter.

"I have no specific thing that I like to paint," she said. "I've done landscapes, a self-portrait and I'm getting ready to paint this [dog]. I like watercolors the best. I am constantly learning."

George Skepton, of Owings Mills, has been coming to art classes at the center for for about six months. He said he started after Yeager told him about the classes.

"I like art because it is relaxing," he said.

A lifelong photographer, Skepton said he always wanted to try his hand at art.

"I work in a computer lab with the photography," he said. "This gets me away from the computer. The balance and eye you need for photography comes into play when painting, too."

The mixed-media piece Skepton has in the show is black with two eerie eyes peering out. He said he encourages others to use their imagination and give art classes a try.

"It is relaxing, but also creativity is important," he said.

Susan Williamson, visual arts coordinator at the Carroll Arts Center, said she was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the artwork in the Young at Art show.

"When they uncrated the art, I was amazed," Williamson said. "It is beautiful. We didn't know what to expect but their artwork is fantastic. It's not only the quality of the work but also the way it is matted and presented. I only have good things to say. It's fabulous."

Williamson noted the command of drawing and use of painting materials in the pieces at the show.


"The teachers at the senior center must be wonderful," Williamson said. "They are doing an amazing job bringing out what is inside these artists. The general public is amazed, too. I've had people complimenting the skill in these pieces."

More information:

The North Carroll Senior and Community Center, at 2320 Hanover Pike in Greenmount, currently offers three drawing and painting classes for seniors over the age of 60 for the spring 2015 session on Mondays and Tuesdays. Center manager Deiaco said she encourages seniors who are interested to visit the classes, of which a new session will begin in the fall. These courses are offered by Carroll Community College's Lifelong Learning Program. For more information or to sign up for a class, call the North Carroll Senior and Community Center at 410-374-5602.

The Carroll Arts Center is at 91 W. Main Street in Westminster. For more information on the Young at Art Show call the center at 410-848-7272.

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