Ellicott City's 12th May Arts Festival is tomorrow, with a few new twists


Bangles, banjos and bovines are just some of the exhibits and activities slated for tomorrow's Ellicott City May Arts Festival that promises Windows of Art and an art tent of entertainment.

The free event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. along Main Street in the historic district.

So visitors will know they're in the right place, a line on Main Street, extending from the log cabin at Ellicott Mills Drive to the bridge near the railroad, will be painted an understated shade of magenta.

Although this is the festival's 12th year, it is the first time it will be sponsored by the Ellicott City Business Association, Howard County Arts Council, Howard County Tourism Council and New Arts Alliance.

"The purpose of the festival is to showcase art in historic Ellicott City," said festival chairwoman Margaret Smith, owner of the Margaret Smith Gallery.

"Ellicott City is a creative town. I would love it if it was known for art."

The three-part festival will include Windows of Art, a crafts show and a poster awards ceremony.

Windows of Art will feature juried artwork displayed in 23 storefront windows, including four restaurants.

Each work was selected by Tatiana, owner of Tatiana in Glenelg, who labored over 120 slides submitted by artists from the Baltimore-Washington area.

"I like the idea of promoting local artists," she said. "I like it promoted to the local community and collected by the local community. I think it's important that the community supports its artists.

"My credibility is that I do exhibit, to a large degree, local artists and I do champion their work. I'm also highly selective."

Her standards are evident in her selection.

Only 32 works of watercolors, oil and three-dimensional sculpture pieces, ranging from representational to abstract, were chosen.

The idea of displaying art in shop windows was conceived by festival arts coordinator Julie Van Hemert, the shows and exhibits chairwoman for the New Arts Alliance.

Because artists are reluctant to exhibit their works outdoors, "Julie came up with the idea of windows," Ms. Smith said.

"One side of Main Street gets less sun. Watercolors and pastels will go there. Oil is the heartiest piece of artwork you can get, so oil paintings will go on the street with more sun."

Ms. Van Hemert, a sculptor, took slides of the artworks to participating merchants allowing them to choose an exhibit to display. The shop window's size also determined what kind of art, if any, would be exhibited.

"I'm very familiar now with all the windows in Ellicott City," the curator said.

"Wessel Florist has big windows, so it will display two large paintings, while Yates Hardware will display a small photograph," she said.

The stores had to remove much of their own merchandise displays to make room for the artwork, which will remain on exhibit through May 24.

Some even requested a statement from the artist about the work.

"There was incredible cooperation from the merchants because it brings the festival into the shops," Ms. Smith said. "It's a big thing for them to give up their window displays."

In fact, stores such as "Forget Me Not, Annie's Crafts and Rags to Riches made specific windows for the festival," Ms. Van Hemert said.

Demonstrations by local artisans will be housed in the Upper Art Tent in front of PJ's Restaurant.

Entertainment will be provided by Downtown Rhythm Express performing classic rock and roll. Baltimore Brassworks will perform a series of American Pop tunes while teaching children about musical instruments through the old hose-a-phone method.

"Using a plastic horn, the company will show them how long a French horn, tuba or trombone would be unrolled," Ms. Smith said.

"They unravel it and and then play it with a funnel at the end. I think that will be a real hoot."

The May Arts Festival Craft Show, with an emphasis on jewelry, will be held in Tiber Alley.

"Tatiana juried them, too," Ms. Smith said. "She was real tough on them, she rejected a lot. She wanted good quality crafts."

Woodstock Nursery will also set up its wares in Tiber Alley, selling plants and flowers for Mother's Day.

Entertainment for children will be held in another tent at the B&O; Railroad Station Plaza.

Future Kids, a computer company, will show youngsters how to make art on a computer, while the Olive Garden Restaurant in Columbia will teach them how to create nouveau art out of dry pasta.

Musician Bruce Hutton will play folk music on antique and hand-made instruments, including the banjo, while sophisticated music lovers can accompany him on a washboard and jug.

Using over-sized animal masks, performance artist Alden Phelps and his troupe, Open Space Arts, will present the perennially poignant "Bovine Romance" and the beloved "Bogus Beast That Ate Baltimore."

Troupe members also will roam the district in costume, while the Paradise Club Minstrels hit the streets performing traditional and contemporary bluegrass.

County Executive Charles Ecker will be the host of the final segment of the festival: an awards ceremony for the Railroad Station Poster Contest targeted for third-graders at Worthington, Thunderhill and Northfield elementary schools.

The three winning posters will be on display in Oh My Word; several entries will be displayed in other shops.

Reciting the long list of planned events for children, Ms. Smith reiterated the festival's simple goal.

"I feel art in the community and reaching out to children will enhance their lives," she said. "The festival is for kids as much as for adults."


Here is the schedule for the Ellicott City May Arts Festival. The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow on Main Street in historic Ellicott City:

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Windows of Art of juried artwork will be displayed in shop windows:

Crafts Show will be displayed in Tiber Alley:

Demonstrations by local artisans in the Upper Art Tent in front of PJ's Restaurant

Dry Pasta Creations by the Olive Garden at B&O; Railroad Station Plaza

Future Kids computer art at B&O; Railroad Station Plaza.

11 a.m. to noon

Bruce Hutton at B&O; Railroad Station Plaza.

Noon to 3 p.m.

Paradise Club Minstrels will rove from the Art Upper Tent at PJ's to the B&O; Plaza and back.

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Baltimore Brassworks in the Upper Art Tent at PJ's.

2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Entertainer Alden Phelps and his Open Space Arts at B&O; Railroad Station Plaza.

2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Open Space Arts characters will perform from the B&O; Plaza up Main St. to PJ's.

3 p.m.

Poster Awards Contest with County Executive Charles Ecker at B&O; Railroad Station Plaza, followed by the Merchants Flower Basket Contest that will be judged by County Executive Ecker and Miss Howard County.

3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Downtown Rhythm Express at Upper Art Tent at PJ's.

FOOD will be sold outdoors by PJ's and Tersiguel's Restaurant.

CONTINUOUS TROLLEYS will run approximately every 15 minutes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the George Howard Building on Court House Drive to Main Street.

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