Escape to the Meeting House

About a year ago, five women artists approached The Meeting House Gallery with an idea for a show

The theme was escapism, and Will Krupka, a member of the Meeting House art board, was impressed.

“They were probably the most professional artists we’ve had since we opened,”Krupka said. “We get approached a lot. What was nice about them was they approached as a group.”

The five artists met at a painting class in Montgomery County years ago, according to Barbara Kahla, a landscape painter.

“We’ve just stayed in touch,” Kahla said. “We’re very supportive of each other.”

“Escapism” opened in November and runs through Jan. 26. The exhibit features Kahla’s landscapes; waterscapes by Susan Shalowitz; works in metal and enamel by Tova Shpantzer’foodscapes’ by Jennifer Kahn Barlow; and nature paintings by Malathi Jayawickrama.

“They created the theme,” Krupka said. “They are nice people. They know what they are doing.”

Kahla and her husband enjoy traveling across the United States and her oil paintings reflect her adventures.

“We’ve been back and forth and up and down,” Kahla said. “It is a form of escapism. Seeing different types of terrain …deserts, mountains, things like that. It is just interesting to see different parts of the country and climate.”

Painting is also a form of escapism, she said.

“Painting gets you out of your day-to-day routine and you do something different,” Kahla said.

All of the artists, Jayawickrama believes, escape in their work’s topics – whether through seascapes or food or through flowers and landscapes like her own work.

“Somewhere along the line, I got into doing peonies with a lot of details on large canvases,” Jayawickrama said. “I love doing that.”

While she has numerous landscape paintings to her credit, flowers now have her attention, she said.

“I find the florals I like doing,” Jayawickrama said. “I do a lot of white flowers reflecting different colors on them.”

This is the first show at the Meeting House for all five of the artists, according to Krupka.

“They wanted to get more exposure to their work,” Krupka said. “We had a large opening [on Dec. 9]. Over 100 people came.”

Since opening 11 years ago, the Meeting House Gallery features a new exhibit every two months according to Krupka. Located in the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, the gallery receives steady traffic from the congregations that meet at Oakland Mills as well as the nursery school and outside events that take place in the rented rooms.

“About 2,500 to 3,000 people come into that gallery every week,” Krupka said. “It gives the gallery great exposure. It is amazing how well-known we are.”

Recently remodeled and updated, the Meeting House features new lighting and fixtures, too, Krupka said.

“The main space is so welcoming and nicely lit,” Kahla said. “It is nice there is so much traffic there with the various congregations.”

“Escapism” runs through Jan. 26 at 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m,, daily. 410-730-4090 or

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