Customers' blues keep Sabina Waldman in the...


Customers' blues keep Sabina Waldman in the black

The blue neon sign in the shop window tells you what you need to know. "Sabina & Daughter," it glows. "Merchant to the Melancholy."

Inside is the Dour Miss M herself.

A black turban around her head, a black dress clinging to her curves, Sabina Waldman smokes a cigarette and turns her misty eyes toward you.

"I do fall into a great sadness," she explains. "But I always climb back out."

When she opened her Fells Point antiques store five years ago, she and her four daughters (only 26-year-old Samantha is in the business now) mulled over catchy names. They tried others, including Merchant to the Mad, before settling on the more wistful alternative.

"The title says the proprietress wants to help people out of their doom and gloom while putting money in the bank for herself," she says.

Spread across 25 rooms of a renovated convent that doubles as Ms. Waldman's home are Victorian, art deco and arts and crafts finds -- some of which have attracted celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Whoopi Goldberg and Johnny Depp.

Antiques aside, she says animals are her real passion. Her three dogs -- including 160-pound Uncle Louie -- roam around the house, and she dreams of opening an animal sanctuary one day.

But right now she has other pursuits.

"I just bought a camcorder and I am going to do the ultimate Fells Point movie," she says with a laugh. "John Waters, watch out."

Ever felt like visiting a local artist's studio? Daunted by the notion of browsing in a gallery along Charles Street? Like to know more about the rich variety of artists working in Baltimore?

Artist Nancy Scheinman offers an arts education course for those who have always wondered what, exactly, School 33 Art Center is -- but felt too embarrassed to ask. She introduces the art-curious to the artists and galleries right down the street.

Her non-credit course, "Baltimore's Art Scene: Lectures and Gallery Visits," has become one of the most popular offerings in the continuing education department of the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Students -- who range from doctors and computer types to struggling artists -- visit commercial galleries such as the Nye Gomez Gallery, peek into the studios of such artists as Tom Everhart and Diane Kuthy, and learn about such non-profit organizations as School 33.

Ms. Scheinman, 35, works primarily as a painter and muralist. Her paintings contain narrative imagery mostly based on her own life. The Baltimore Museum of Art recently bought one of her paintings for its collection. Her playful murals captivate youngsters at the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital and various area day-care centers. This season, she will have one-woman shows at the Nye Gomez Gallery and the USAir Arena (formerly the Capital Centre).

She lives with her husband, architect Jim Wheeler, and their daughters, Kerstin, 8, and Elena, 4, in Rodgers Forge.

Her thoughts on the local art scene?

"There are a lot of really wonderful artists working in Baltimore, partly because the studio space is so affordable and also because there are a lot of other artists to connect with."

Linell Smith

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