A group of Westminster students -- from kindergarten to 12th grade -- has its own art gallery, of sorts.
Gilligan Homes, a Glen Burnie contractor, has decorated one of its model homes in Diamond Hills with original artworks from students at Friendship Elementary, East Middle and Westminster High schools.
"We're promoting the quality of living in Carroll County," said Taffy Karagjozi, of Gilligan Homes' sales and marketing department. "We worked with the three schools because they feed into this community."
Diamond Hills, off Hook Road, is Gilligan's first building project in Westminster.
Every room in the three-level carriage house -- a semidetached home, connected by a garage -- is decorated with framed paintings, sculptures, three-dimensional masks, ceramics, and pictures and drawings in a variety of media.
A series of small athletic sculptures graces the living room and basement staircase. A bedroom that has a medieval theme boasts a group of colorful masks and pictures of dragons, knights, castles and unicorns.
A child's bedroom is decorated with splashes of paint and handprints on the walls, planned by Gilligan's interior designer. Younger elementary-age students provided pictures for the walls.
Portraits and paintings of people are the focus of the family room in the basement, and the kitchen and bathrooms are decorated with brightly executed art.
Interior designer Jackie Weigel added thematic touches to the window hangings to enhance the rooms. The house has no furniture, but the art is so prolific nothing else is needed.
"I'm just amazed at what the students are doing -- they're studying all kinds of art," Ms. Karagjozi said during a tour of the house. "They're studying impressionism in elementary school. I never had any of that when I was growing up."
The quality and type of the selected art "takes talented students," she said.
The idea to decorate a model home with student art came about through a brainstorming session of Gilligan marketing personnel, Karagjozi said.
"Usually we furnish model homes, but this time we decided to do something to promote the area and to show people what they have up here," she said.
The schools were only too happy to oblige with the project.
Thommie DePinto, vice principal at Friendship Valley Elementary, said the school "wanted to establish a business partnership with the Realtor because these homes are such a part of the community."
The school asked only that the students' art be displayed properly, so Gilligan agreed to buy wooden frames for the pictures.
Gilligan's construction superintendent made floor stands for the high school sculptures, as well, Ms. Karagjozi added.
"It makes the children feel really special when their art is chosen," Ms. DePinto said. "Our art teacher Mary Ann Ferner is terrific -- she has the students just loving art."
This first effort at creating an art gallery of local work has turned into a pleasant surprise for Gilligan Homes.
"I was real pleased because I didn't really know what we were going for," Ms. Karagjozi said.
The exhibit will be changed seasonally and new art will hang from the walls. Only when all the Gilligan homes are built and this model sold, will the art displayed at that time be returned to the students, the Gilligan agent said.
"It's important to look for the positive aspects of growth," Ms. DePinto said. "It's easy to be discouraged with all the growth around us, but this focused on a part of the community."