On the 'Road to the Arts'; Tour: Fifteen area galleries will take part in the annual event showcasing the work of painters, sculptors and other artists.


Looking for an alternative to a weekend when Friday nights mean another happy hour in a crowded bar, Saturday nights promise more naked shelves at Blockbuster Video, and Sunday is spent dreading the new workweek?

The 10th "Road to the Arts" might cure your suburban malaise.

Sponsored by the Howard County Arts Council, the "Road to the Arts" art gallery tour begins Sept. 17, helps raise the visibility of the arts in Howard County and marks the official opening of the county's fall-winter gallery season.

Fifteen area galleries will hold the premieres of exhibits Sept. 17-19, and art lovers are encouraged to gallery-hop to meet the artists and feast their eyes on a diverse selection of artwork.

Best of all, the events are free and open to the public.

The exhibits -- which include photography, sculpture, painting, mixed-media installation pieces and quilting -- will be available for viewing well after the opening receptions.

Debbie Meyer, deputy director of the Howard County Arts Council, says the "Road to the Arts" is about one thing: fun.

"We try to set the weekend up so that the galleries can stagger their openings, and everyone can go from one place to another to another," she says. "You really can make a whole weekend of it, and it's a great opportunity to meet local artists."

Encouraged to participate

All Howard County galleries are encouraged to take part in the weekend tours, Meyer says.

Over the years, larger and more established galleries such as the Mill River Gallery in historic Oella Mill and two galleries at Howard County Center for the Arts could be counted on to participate.

Smaller venues such as the Margaret Smith Gallery in historic Ellicott City are participating in this year's event after bypassing it for two years.

Margaret Smith Gallery owner Margaret Spurlock acknowledges that the expense of mailing out scores of invitations to potential customers can outweigh the return on such an investment.

"I love the idea, and I never felt right about not doing it," Spurlock says. "It was just economics. The cost usually offsets the attendance that we get."

The restaurant crowd

But Spurlock decided to try again this year, in part because the evening reception Sept. 17 will "encourage us to be open on a Friday night a little later."

"This will probably grab the Friday night restaurant crowd, and those people will be somewhat new to the gallery," adds Spurlock, who invited artist Yvonne Hartmann Smith to exhibit paintings at her gallery.

Artist Rhona L. K. Schonwald is also hopeful that participating in the "Road to the Arts" will attract people who might not have heard about her work and the studios in historic Savage Mill in North Laurel.

"Having a whole weekend like this just dedicated to art is, if you look at it like a consumer or an art lover, a good thing," she says. "If you've never been to some of these places, it's a good time to go. Or if you have been there, it's a good time to go back."

Off the beaten track

Art tours such as this one are particularly helpful for artists and galleries that are off the beaten track, says Schonwald, who's showing with two other artists, Camellia A. Blackwell and Sharon Bartel Clements.

Their exhibit is called "Three Women -- Three Perspectives, Part II." Last year's showing was "Part I."

Pat Roberie of the Artists' Gallery, in an office building on Wincopin Circle in Columbia's Town Center, agrees.

"A lot of people don't even know we're here," Roberie says. "I think it's sort of nice that Howard County is doing this every year. Hopefully, people will get to all the galleries eventually."

Spurlock says gallery owners should try to take advantage of this migrating audience, adding, "I really hope there'll be some really 'out there' shows, because that's what makes this really interesting."

Openings for "Road to the Arts"

Sept. 17

Margaret Smith Gallery, 8090 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-461-0870

Exhibit: Artist Yvonne Hartmann Smith's "Small Hall Show"

Hours: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Department of Education Exhibition Hall, 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City, 410-313-6634

Exhibit: "Teaching and Talking Through the Clay"

Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Artists' Gallery, 10277 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, 410-740-8249

Exhibit: Paul Marycz's "The Haptic Traveler"

Hours: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The National Quilting Association Inc., 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City, 410-461-5733

Exhibit: Quilts by Mona Clark

Hours: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sheppard Art Gallery, 8173 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-461-1616

Exhibit: Photographs from the collection of Carl Moon, "Images of Native Americans"

Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City, 410-313-2787.

Gallery I: "Contemporary Sculpture: Functional or Not"

Gallery II: "Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore Fall Exhibition"

Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sept. 18

Spring House Design, 8111 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-461-6818

Exhibit: "Limited Edition Prints" by Robert Duncan and Bill Sacks

Hours: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Ten Oaks Gallery, 6375 Ten Oaks Road, Clarksville, 301-596-9324

Exhibit: "Hand-Colored Etchings" by Dan Mitra

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Historic Savage Mill, Studios Down Under, 8600 Foundary St., Carding Building, Savage, 301-604-4484

Exhibit: "Three Women -- Three Perspectives, Part II"

Hours: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Mill River Gallery, 840 Oella Ave., Ellicott City, 410-465-6434

Gallery I: Cheryl Stratmann Bubier

Gallery II: Trudi Y. Ludwig, "Monumental Drawings"

Gallery III: Photographs by John Stier

Hours: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sept. 19

African Art Museum of Maryland, 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, 410-730-7105

Gallery I: "The American-Liberian Connection"

Gallery II: Gold weights from the Harold Courlander Collection

Hours: 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Slayton House Gallery, Wilde Lake Village Green, 10451 Twin Rivers Road, Columbia, 410-730-3987

Exhibit: "Then and Now"

Hours: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Other openings

Howard Community College Gallery, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, 410-772-4941

When: Sept. 4

Exhibit: Photographs by Kathy Brower

Hours: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, 410-730-0075

When: Sept. 11

Gallery I: "Panorama: Landscape Invitational"

Gallery II: "Columbia Arts Center Faculty Exhibit"

Hours: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Howard County Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, 410-313-7700

When: Sept. 6 through Sept. 30

Exhibit: Photographs by Donald W. Reichle

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