Galleries showcase new season of eclectic art


FROM BUGS to beads, cars to corn shellers, folks are creating whimsy, humor and elegantly functional pieces out of metal and glass.

The Howard County Center for the Arts sponsored a tour of 15 local galleries this month, "Road to the Arts," to kick off the exhibition season.

The brochure for the event -- shaped like a Maryland license plate -- sported "RD2ARTS" on its front cover.

"People think of art in Baltimore or Washington," said show coordinator Christina Manucy. "We wanted to do something to highlight art in Howard County." This is the event's 10th year.

The arts center on High Ridge Road is presenting a show in Gallery I, "Contemporary Sculpture: Functional or Not," curated by Coleen West, the center's executive director. Many of the thoughtful pieces make use of "found objects" -- castoffs or just plain trash.

Ellicott City artist Bill Knapp has created a table, titled "On the Cutting Edge," the surface of which is a large circular saw blade. "The Torch He Carried for Her," combining parts from oil lamps and a toilet-bowl float (spray-painted gold), is an electric lamp with a shape reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty.

Seven six-legged bugs by Catonsville artist Jim Opasik crawl up the gallery wall. They're made from bits of silverware and other household items, with such titles as "Footloose," "Time Flies," "Fly by Night" and "Lean, Green and Mean." Four of them sport dinner bells as stingers.

Shows in Ellicott City, Columbia and Savage are still open. Information: 410-313-2787.

Many flavors of art

The Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department presented its first annual Custom & Classic Car Show on Sept. 19. It was a day for those who love old and custom cars.

The show, held on the Super Fresh parking lot on U.S. 1 and Montgomery Road, attracted almost 130 cars, said department chief Joe Slavotinek. Many had decorated their cars with humor and flair.

Elkridge resident Vernon Johnson had placed a stuffed toy ape wearing a shirt with the legend "Let's dance" on the radiator of his 1980 Chevy El Camino.

Two cars sat next to the Ellicott City Fire Department's classic 1939 LaFrance Pumper engine. One, labeled "Good Guys," was a 1939 Buick Special -- a black-and-white police car.

Next to it, a 1940 black Buick in excellent condition was labeled "Bad Guys."

Linda and Bill Pirtle of Halethorpe own both cars. Bill Pirtle bought his neighbor's wife a picnic table in return for the police car.

"All boys play with police cars," he said. "I just got a late start."

Ellicott City resident Garvin Maffett and his son, Justin, 5, walked by the two cars. Garvin pushed the pedal on the floor and sounded the simple air siren.

"I'm not interested in cars. I like trucks and vans," Justin said as he walked by.

The Maffetts were among those who strolled around the show looking at the cars and trucks. Many who displayed cars sat in lawn chairs behind their cars and chatted with neighbors.

Bobby Wall, of Boulevard Auto Body Inc. on Dorsey Road, and assistant chief Russell Pryor organized the event. The department plans to repeat it.

Information: 410-379-0315.

Tiny treasures

For those who enjoy intricate artistic work, the Baltimore Bead Society is offering five classes Saturday at the Howard County Center for the Arts.

Ellicott City resident Johanna Stange will teach bead-workers as young as 10 to make "tin cup" necklaces and bracelets. The style of jewelry, she says, was popular in Victorian times.

It features pearls spaced an inch apart with chains or silk thread. The pattern is back in style now, using microfilament thread. Such necklaces were popularized by actress Rene Russo, who wore one in the movie "Tin Cup."

Classes include "Fused Glass," in which participants will make a pendant and earrings with colored glass, and "Circular Peyote," which will teach a beading stitch used for earrings and vessels.

The cost is $50 per class. The Bead Society moved its facilities to the Howard County Center for the Arts earlier this year. Call 410-256-3048.

Beautiful tools

Members of the Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club showed off their antique farm equipment and demonstrated how it was once used at the group's Farm Heritage Days last weekend at Mount Pleasant Farm.

The show included a tractor race with a twist: The goal was to travel as slowly as possible without braking or stalling -- a real challenge on a tractor.

Club members also demonstrated cider pressing, corn shelling, fodder chopping, rope making and rock crushing.

The event was organized by husband and wife Virginia and John Frank of Ellicott City. For information about the club, call 410-531-2569.

Farewell, Father Mike

The Rev. Mike Russell, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Elkridge, has accepted a call to lead a church in Point Loma, Calif.

Father Mike, as he is known to his parishioners, and his wife, Kathleen, have served the church for 10 years. Longtime parishioner Cathy Hudson says that Mike Russell listened to his flock and energized them to take action.

A former union organizer, the burly Chicago native could hold the attention of 100 children in vacation Bible school.

During his tenure, church members created the Elkridge Teen Center, which has organized monthly dances at the church for eight years.

Others helped form the nonprofit board of directors, Elkridge Senior Services Inc., to build low-income apartments for Elkridge residents who wish to remain in their community. Colonial Landing Apartments, near the Elkridge Library, was built at the instigation of the board.

Russell spoke out for the needs and wants of the Elkridge community.

"We knew what we had was good," Hudson said. "He helped us believe in ourselves."

Bishop of the Diocese of Maryland Robert Ihloff will attend a farewell luncheon for Father Mike on Sunday at Grace Church.

Information: 410-796-3270.

Pub Date: 9/27/99

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