The Art Shaw school of thought is...


The Art Shaw school of thought is based on buses

When a Labor Day virus attacked a number of school bus drivers last year, Art Shaw, owner of Shaw Bus Service, drove a school bus route in Baltimore County for several months.

"Relay Elementary, Catonsville Senior High, Arbutus Middle School, Western Elementary School," he recites, joking, "I knew I was in trouble when I started knowing the kids' names."

Mr. Shaw, 42, has been in the business 30 years; he began by parking school buses on the lot for his late father and company founder, Arthur R. Shaw Jr.

In 1946, the company had one bus. Now the Catonsville business boasts 74 buses -- the oldest is a 1987 -- a new $1.1 million maintenance and safety building, and roughly 110 drivers. Shaw buses transport thousands of students to 65 public schools in Baltimore City and Baltimore and Howard counties as well as to many area private schools.

"I think going to school on a bus is kind of a unique thing -- you get to know people in the neighborhood," Mr. Shaw says. "It's almost like another classroom, but with all different ages."

He and his wife Barbara live in Ellicott City with three young bus riders, a 12-year-old and 10-year-old twins, and two soon-to-be bus riders, ages 4 and 2.

Truth to tell, the kids ride to school on someone else's buses.

OC "But I check 'em out before they get on," their father insists. Artist Robert Cox prefers to use a large canvas. Like a restaurant.

His latest work is World CafeXBar, which he co-owns with GregMason and Ken Saenz. Walls there are saturated with sumptuous colors and mirage-like images. Customers could spend more time gazing at the dreamy Mesopotamian scenes than looking at the reality on the other side of the restaurant's Lombard Street windows.

"Life is multidimensional. I move in different lines. This is one line," he says during an interview at the exotically styled restaurant in downtown Baltimore.

Mr. Cox's career map is full of lines, including stints as a paste-up artist, photographer, hypnotist, college teacher, and 12 years with advertising agencies.

His current life includes being a father to his 3-year-old daughter and also owning a faux and decorative painting business.

That business, he says, is often misunderstood.

"I probably do a lot less sponge painting than most people assume," Mr. Cox says. "Sponge painting is to faux painting as french toast is to gourmet cooking. It's a very elementary technique."

Mr. Cox's more advanced techniques were given free reign at CafeX.

Co-owner Mr. Mason says Mr. Cox's eye for designing a room was valued above their own design inclinations.

The owners invested eight months of sweat and paint creating the restaurant's look -- eight months in which Mr. Cox also was running his faux and decorative painting business and being a dad.

But Mr. Cox's calm, assured nature balances his hectic work pace.

"When Robert enters a room, he knows exactly where he's going," Mr. Mason says. "He's very direct, very precise."

Robyn L. Davis

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