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From 'sticker' cars to music, Artscape entertains all


Conrad Bladey had been coming to Artscape in Baltimore for several years, never thinking he would be one of its featured artists. But when he read that this year's festival would include a car exhibit, he said he decided his "sticker" car deserved a chance.

"This is the car that I drive," Mr. Bladey said. "It's sort of a living art work."

The yellow paint on Mr. Bladey's 1978 Dodge Omni barely shows through the scores of bumper stickers he has covered it with for fTC the past 10 years. The North Linthicum resident said the car consistently brings chuckles from motorists.

"They look at me, and you see one person poke the other, and they all end up laughing," Mr. Bladey said. "The whole car goes from dreariness to happiness."

Other cars on display included a Renault Alliance painted silver and decorated with sequins, twigs and berries; and a grass-covered car with a display of seashells and other objects under the hood.

Car Show, along Mount Royal Avenue near the Lyric Opera House, is one of 10 visual arts exhibitions featured at Artscape 1994, which ends its three-day run today. The festival also includes readings and musical and theatrical performances.

The gospel harmony of the St. James Singers, the western swing sound of Asleep at the Wheel and the tunes of a traveling mariachi band could be heard throughout the 12-block Artscape area yesterday afternoon. The Flying Tongues, an improvisational humor group, drew a crowd as they acted out scenarios based on audience suggestions.

As the sun burned through a ceiling of clouds, the streets thickened with people visiting the food vendors or sizing up the works of artists and craftspeople.

Artscape spokeswoman Jane Vallery-Davis said this year's event includes 48 crafts vendors, 35 fine arts vendors, and 25 food vendors, mainly along Cathedral Street and Mount Royal Avenue.

Friday's crowd was estimated at 120,000. Ms. Vallery-Davis said police would not estimate the size of yesterday's crowd, but she expects attendance for the three days to exceed last year's 1.2 million.

For Carol Kalwaitis of Hanover, enjoying a cool drink in the shade of a tent, observing the people gathered for Artscape rivals the shows and exhibits.

"It's even better than the Inner Harbor for people-watching," Ms. Kalwaitis said. "You see the artsy types."

Along with performers on stages throughout the festival area, bands, dance companies and theater groups moved through the streets performing.

Monica Cavell of Owings Mills is with Olufunmilayo and Company, a Baltimore-based African drumming and dance group.

"The most fun was watching the audience and seeing them get into it, seeing people clap and shake their heads," Ms. Cavell said after a performance yesterday.

Chris Armstrong of Northeast Baltimore and her sister, Jennifer Bartleson of New York City, were among the thousands who came to Artscape to see what is happening in the arts.

"I always like to come and see what is considered cutting edge," said Ms. Armstrong while viewing the "Beauty" visual arts exhibit in the Meyerhoff Gallery in the Maryland Institute's Fox Building.

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