Creativity leads to decoys; Andrea Shreiner: Sushi...


Creativity leads to decoys; Andrea Shreiner: Sushi chef and 0) waterfowl artist says she has 'a decorative, interpretive style,' as opposed to realistic.

Andrea Shreiner slices sushi at night and carves duck during the day.

Sushi chef at John Stevens Ltd., the quintessential Fells Point bar-restaurant, for more than a decade, Ms. Shreiner is also one of the small but growing number of women who carve professional-quality waterfowl decoys.

She's just placed second with a blue-tipped drake in the decoy painting category in a timed on-stage competition at the Eastern Sportman's Show in Harrisburg, Pa.

Her strength has always been in painting the ducks and geese and swans the decoys are supposed to represent.

"I got into it because I can paint," she says.

The 44-year-old Ms. Shreiner, who lives in Hamilton, graduated from Maryland Institute, College of Art, with her bachelor's degree in 1973.

She started painting ducks with the late Art "Hutch" Hutchins, a well-known Glen Burnie carver, about five years later while she was working on her master's degree at Antioch College.

"I didn't have a clue," she says. "I had no idea why anybody would want to paint a duck. I was amazed at the world it opened up."

She would later study with Jan Calvert, a champion woman carver. Women make up about 5 percent of the 1,000 or so entrants each year in the World Wildfowl Carving Championship held each April in Ocean City.

Ms. Shreiner plans to be one of them soon. She shows her stuff now at the Warehouse at 1300, across Key Highway from Harborview.

She thinks her art-school background helped her achieve a strength in detail that gives her birds a distinctive look.

"I like a decorative, interpretive style," she says. "I don't have a need to carve each duck as realistically as some get."

Every feather is painted and perhaps carved on "decorative" jTC birds, unlike the plainer but perhaps not less sculptural decoys hunters actually shoot over.

Ms. Shreiner likes to carve Mergansers, a colorful duck with an unusual shape.

And it's a lot more fun to carve a wooden Merganser than slice fresh yellowfin tuna into sashimi -- but a lot harder to chew.

@ It's no laughing matter what Andre Trevon Browne is doing for kids.

There's a serious side to the Baltimore comedian and actor, who has appeared as a stand-up in clubs and on television as well as on the series "Homicide." He conducts theater-skills workshops for students with behavior problems.

"Just the discipline of taking a script and memorizing lines and then seeing the payoff of the audience's response shows them that you only get out of something what you put in," the 33-year-old native Baltimorean says. "They see how you have to work for long-term benefits."

Mr. Browne currently conducts workshops at the Woodbourne Academy, an alternative facility for students who have been removed from their regular middle schools for disciplinary reasons. He can relate a bit to the students, noting that he went into comedy because he felt unloved as a child. "I felt nobody loved or cared for me, and becoming a clown was a way to get mass acceptance," Mr. Browne says.

In his two-hour, twice-a-week workshop, Mr. Browne helps the students turn their life experiences into art. They write pieces, improvise and engage in role-playing exercises, putting together theatrical production of their own. And perhaps a step toward a new life.

He points to one student, who had admitted becoming involved in drugs, who blossomed in the workshops and discovered that writing and performing a rap about the loss of her parents helped her cope with her sense of abandonment.

"She now has a goal," Mr. Browne says. "She wants to get her academic life in order so that she can apply to go to the School for the Arts."

Jean Marbella

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