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Baltimore city workers honored for their art Photos, masks, paintings included in exhibit


Theresa L. Hill, special assistant to Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, was watching "The Joy of Painting" on PBS when she thought, "I wish I could do that."

A year and a half later, one of her paintings hangs in City Hall.

The first Baltimore City Employee Visual Arts Exhibition is a chance for workers such as Hill to showcase a side of themselves that is never seen in the workplace and often is not known to their colleagues.

The 20 pieces in the exhibit, which opened Nov. 22 and runs until Jan. 17, include a giraffe mask, a clay and plaster sun and a photograph of Yellowstone Park. They were selected in a competition sponsored by the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture. They were judged by a committee member, a City Hall curator and an art dealer.

"City employees work hard, and the fact that they do these things in their spare time is very significant," said Jane Vallery-Davis, a committee member.

"This is good for our morale," said Hill, who does scheduling for Frazier.

"Every company should have something like this," agreed Brigitte V. Fessenden, a city planner with a photograph in the exhibit.

When Hill, 39, began painting, she followed the instructions and copied the sample paintings in the art kit produced by the Public Broadcasting Service television show. But for the contest, Hill wanted to paint an original.

In eight hours, she finished the oil-on-canvas painting of a mountain landscape that hangs in City Hall. She calls the picture of a log cabin with smoke rising from the chimney, framed by snowy mountain peaks, "Solitude."

"This is the first painting that actually came out of my own head, which I didn't paint by following directions in a book," said Hill.

For Corre L. Robinson, who until last month had a seasonal job trimming shrubbery and planting daffodils for the Department of Recreation and Parks, art has been a lifelong interest.

His first art course was in mask-making at the Baltimore Museum Art when he was 11. "It just stuck with me, and I never stopped doing it," he said.

Robinson, 24, majored in visual arts at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and holds private exhibitions in his home, where his paintings sell for as much as $1,500.

Sometimes he paints four to five hours a day. "When I'm working on something, I can't stop," said Robinson. "Sometimes I fall asleep in front of a painting."

His entry for the city exhibit, "Take Me Home," depicts a musician hugging a trumpet and pushing back a hot-pink curtain as spotlights glitter in the background. The piece is approximately 3 feet by 4 feet and took a monthto complete. "That one was a struggle because it was a fight with the issue of color and composition," he said.

He was studying jazz music and reading trumpeter Miles Davis' autobiography at the time. The painting is "a masculine piece, it displays a male's affection for his medium of activity," he said.

Robinson named his painting after hearing members of an audience yell, "Bring me home!" to musicians on stage. "It shows the symbiotic relationship with the artist and audience," he said.

Fessenden, a planner for the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, considers her art an extension of a deep interest in architecture.

She snapped her entry -- a photograph of a historic adobe house with bunches of chili peppers dangling from the roof -- while on vacation in the Old Town section of Albuquerque, N.M.

"I look for examples of local flavor coming out through architecture," said Fessenden, 52.

All 20 participants received citations from Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Pub Date: 12/02/96

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