Past the boutiques and restaurants on Main Street in Ellicott City, it would be easy to miss Dee Cunningham's painting studio. The skate shop that shows art and the metal sculptor get overlooked, too.
There’s a ceramic artist, a jewelry maker, a photographer, a specialty car painter and more than a dozen others. So Cunningham created an event to highlight the hidden art scene in the former mill town.
Artwalk will take place Oct. 11, with 21 galleries and studios showing work.
“We didn’t even know we were all here,” says Cunningham, who has helped form a coalition of the artists and art businesses. “It’s been fun getting to know each other.”
It may surprise people how many artists work in the area, says Debra Korb, executive director for the Ellicott City Historic District Partnership. “There are little pockets. And there’s art in places you might not expect to see it.”
The Good Roll Skate Shop and Bean Hollow, the coffee shop, for example, both show art.
And just up the hill from the boutiques and restaurants, there’s an enclave of artists with a range of skills, from Cunningham, who specializes in decorative painting and faux finishes, to Bill Knapp, a found-object sculptor.
“We’re trying to bring awareness to the artists working in and around this area,” says Cunningham.
In 2013, Artwalk’s first year, the event was held during Ellicott City’s Fall Festival. Now in its second year, it’s a stand-alone event — a series of open houses of studios and spaces that are not always open to the public. Some artists will demonstrate their work, and there will be raffle prizes for those who visit multiple studios. A shuttle will be available to transport event goers to and from opposite ends of Main Street.
We talked with just a few of the artists participating in this year's event.
Kay Sandler, Watercolors
A real estate title company is one of Ellicott City's surprising venues for art.
"We're not an art gallery as such," says Sandler, who divides her time between practicing law and painting.
But when clients comment on the paintings on the walls of their Ellicott City office, Sandler's husband and business partner surprises them with the news that they're originals.
"Because people are buying homes, we sometimes sell pieces right off the walls," Sandler says.
Before she bought the gallery with her husband, David Dempster, two years ago, Sara Arditti had an imaginary gallery.
"We'd go to museums and galleries and pick out which pieces we'd want if we owned a gallery," says Arditti, who has dabbled in a variety of art, including painting, drawing, cartooning and book illustrations.
After a year in Paris and stints in the Middle East and Washington, D.C., with her husband's job in construction management, the couple ended up in Howard County.
Their gallery showcases only regional and local artists. "There's so much talent in the Mid-Atlantic area," says Arditti. "I don't have to go elsewhere."
She also operates a custom framing shop in the space, specializing in fragile and challenging pieces, and sells jewelry, favoring artistic pieces, especially the steampunk style.