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Enough with the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and the Hallmark cards with saccharin sentiments.

Just once you'd like to see your valentine show up with something different -- something handmade perhaps, something exotic, something erotic. . . .

You can find a taste of all three in the Romantica/Erotica Sale that opens today at Maryland Art Place. More than two dozen emerging artists in Baltimore have contributed to the vast collection of Valentine gifts that range from X-rated coloring books to little molded plastic heart pins pretty enough for Grandma's collar.

In between, lovers of original art and just plain lovers will find a variety of objects to suit their fancy. There are handcrafted postcards and stationery, exquisite jewelry, silk-screened T-shirts and tablecloths, love scrolls painted in abstract design and embellished with poetry, and plenty of humor to bring a smile to your loved one's face.

Take LuAnn Zubak's "Marilyn Can," for example, a "mixed media" piece destined for the traditional American male. The collage/sculpture, with a $30 price tag, has a tin can base and is topped by a seductive photo of Marilyn Monroe. Wood, plastic beads, copper, and a pair of strategically placed sea shells all come into play in an inspiring piece.

For someone who appreciates creative jewelry, M. K. Dilli's funky pins and tie clasps made of alphabet beads and little silver charms start at $12. You can literally suggest a kiss, love, lust or something less printable in the dangling, four-letter-word pins.

Marie F. Cooke, a Baltimore lawyer who dabbles in art via polyurethane and cardboard, is offering her "Opinions" to be worn as pins for $8 each. A recycled photo of Donald and Ivana Trump making nasty faces at one another with a comment, "Who Cares," inscribed is typical.

Duane Thigpen's colorful love darts and arrows, carved from illus

tration board and painted in acrylics, are made to be worn close to the heart. And Robin Greenspan's "Diner Love Lite," embellished with antique radio parts, might be used to create a romantic mood for dinner.

As for erotica, the selections range from Jonathan West's adult coloring books, for $10, to Rodney Carroll's "Conceptual Rhythms," for $125. The latter, a simple coat-hanger sculpture of a reclining man and woman, has a single moving part that, with a flick of a finger, sets the whole sculpture in motion.

Hours of the sale at Maryland Art Place, 218 W. Saratoga St., are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Call (410) 962-8565 for more information.

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