As a student at Eisenhower Middle School in the 1980s, Andrei Trach discovered he liked drawing. Under the guidance of Laurel High School art teacher Diana Fitzwater, he discovered art provided a path for his life.
“By high school, I could see I could do something and when you can see you can do something, it is ridiculous to not do it,” Trach said of creating art. “It takes a lot of practice, too. You’re certainly under the obligation to be the best artist you can be. The desire to excel.”
While Fitzwater was apprehensive about Trach majoring in fine arts, encouraging a career in illustrations or graphic design instead, he was determined.
“I developed my art a lot through her [guidance],” said Trach, 47, who graduated from Laurel High in 1991. “I started with oils and pastels.”
Trach has a solo exhibit, “The Guiding Spirit,” that opened April 7 at the Watkins Nature Center in Upper Marlboro. Running through June 9, the show features more than 20 pieces of Trach’s works produced as a series over the past few years.
“It started with just black and white, charcoal and graphite, with a lot of random markings,” the South Laurel resident said. “I slowly moved into color and used different mediums. It’s free flowing and not tied down.”
Trach’s exhibit is only the second to be featured at the Watkins Nature Center’s gallery, according to Stuart Diekmeyer, visual arts specialist for the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
“He was a good fit,” Diekmeyer said. “It is a very busy center, with a fair amount of children. Andrei’s work is slightly spiritual. It’s textured and has handprints. Students can identify with it.”
Thomas Engleman, associate professor of art and director of galleries at Howard Community College, said Trach’s works are “high-energy pieces.”
“He uses a number of different types of paints, including a metallic paint that really gives a shimmer to his works. They are visually enticing with things going on,” said Engleman, who featured Trach’s art in the online exhibit “Living Free,” hosted by the college last month. “In his larger scale canvas paintings, the application of paint is extremely thick, it juts off the painting. His textures ... are interesting to me.”
Trach works full-time as an art handler, so he sees and handles a wide-spectrum of art that he helps transport and hang in galleries and museums throughout the area. For most of his career, Trach has worked in oil paints, drawing and some sculpture, notably his “Vainglorious Bluebird” sculpture on permanent display at Centennial Park in Hyattsville.
“I have been an artist for a long time,” Trach said. “I have a very wide range, diverse portfolio at this point.”
His representational work — ”stuff that looks like stuff to over-generalize” — often features landscapes familiar in South Laurel, where he will go and paint on site, he said.
“It is pretty laborious to do, but it makes a difference to me,” Trach said. “Doing it from just a photo, I prefer not to do it. I play off of everything that is there. Everything is out there moving. The whole performance.”
While several of his fellow resident artists at Howard County Center for the Arts, where he has had his studio for several years, teach classes, Trach is still learning, he said.