Exhibit shines a light on the past to capture spirit of a bygone era Beacons: A colorful show at the State House reminds visitors of the days when lighthouses glowed along Maryland's shores.


Landlubbers and sailors alike have the opportunity this month to view likenesses of the two dozen lighthouses that dot the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River in a display on the first floor of the State House.

In a colorful show, 18 regional artists have captured the state's last standing lighthouses in watercolors, oil paints, sculptures and quilts.

The exhibit, "Maryland Lighthouses," is a huge hit, said Betsey Sanpere, director of special projects for the Department of General Services.

It will be on display until mid-November, when it will go to Baltimore's World Trade Center.

"It has really struck a chord in people," said Sanpere, who sets up displays in the State House that highlight Maryland.

"This combines a celebration of our working artists and one of the nicest historical aspects of our state," she said.

The artwork is accompanied by text outlining each lighthouse's history taken from the book "Bay Beacons" by Linda Turbyville.

The works were selected from pieces that won competitions or were created by artists who volunteered their services.

"From Concord Point to Turkey Point, and from Sandy Point Shoal to the Cedar Point Light ruins, the Maryland artists have captured the spirit of the state's lighthouses and their keepers," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

"It is an exhibit that makes you proud of the great maritime heritage these lighthouses represent," he added.

Robert W. Bevard's watercolor of the 1836 Piney Point Lighthouse, on the northeast side of the Potomac River in St. Mary's County, won a competition earlier this year by the local committee that maintains the structure.

"Some of these lighthouses are in disrepair or very run down," said Bevard, an artist from Huntingtown who works for Loews Corp. in Waldorf. "One of the only ways to keep them around is through art or photography."

The exhibit includes a sculpture of left-leaning Sharps Island Light on the Choptank River and a hand-painted tree ornament of the two-story Point Lookout Lighthouse, which is said to be haunted.

Barbara Gough Nuss used oils to paint Fort Washington Light, a small wooden light and fog bell tower that is the state's only lighthouse located in a national park on the Potomac.

"It's a beautiful show," said Nuss of Woodbine. "I don't think of Maryland as a place of lighthouses because I don't live by the bay, but it just shows how diverse this state is."

The 24 artworks include cast-iron caissons, skeletal steel towers, screw-piles and clapboard cottages with gingerbread trim. Some of the pieces depict surrounding landscapes, skipjacks or a Hooper Island waterman's boat.

"I have seen a lot of exhibits here, but this is the most impressive exhibit by far," said Tom Darden, a State House photographer.

"These pieces depict scenery that is indigenous to our state and is, unfortunately, of a bygone era," he said.

Pub Date: 10/21/96

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