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Artists aim to create 'Sensations' at exhibit

GEORGE SAKKAL, 62, creates an unusual form of collage. Rather than pasting photographs and other images together to form a design, Sakkal goes a step further. He cuts magazine photographs into tiny pieces, so small they are unrecognizable; then he adds the pieces to a white acrylic-coated board using a gel as an adhesive, he said.

The tiny images blend together to form landscapes that range from surrealist to serene, almost as if they had been painted.

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Sakkal started developing the technique in 1962, when he was a student at Texas A&M; University, and perfected it during the course of 42 years, he said.

"People who see my work stand back and say, 'What a beautiful painting,'" Sakkal said. "It's only when you look closely that you can see how it is actually made."

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Sakkal's work has been exhibited in many venues, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Gallery K in Washington, and in Baltimore at the Hoffberger Gallery and the Morris A. Mechanic Theater Gallery. He teaches his collage technique at the Columbia Art Center and at Howard Community College.

Sakkal is one of several Ellicott City artists showing work at the Columbia Art Center's sixth annual Singular Sensations exhibit next month. He will show Giclee (archival quality) prints of his work - a seascape, an "urbanscape," and a "spacescape," he said. Each piece contains multiple perspectives.

"In the seascape, you see four parts of the ship at four different times," he said. "You see the imagery of a ship that's going under. You see the interior of the ship, and you see the exterior where it's crashed into a rock reef. ... Off to the right, you see calm water with a seagull flying across the sky."

Everything in the show will be sold for $150 or less.

"It's a great way for everyone to buy some art either as a gift or for their own home," said Rebecca Bafford, the art center's director. "What's exciting about this show is there is such a variety of work. There are so many different media. ... We are amazed every year."

The show is not juried. Anyone who is interested can participate. Some exhibitors have been working on their art their entire lives, and some are just beginning.

David Bagwell, a retired chemistry teacher, began painting furniture two years ago.

"I always enjoyed looking at art and going to museums, so I thought I would try it," Bagwell said. He began with classes in furniture painting taught through the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks. Now he goes to auctions and buys small pieces of furniture on which to work.

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"I like to get these old pieces and spruce them up," Bagwell said. "It's a nice feeling."

Bagwell will be showing a tray table that is painted with black legs and a checkerboard pattern on the top and a white chest of drawers that is sponge-painted with bright colors on the front, he said.

Jann Tamburello, will be showing five pieces of pottery. She began working in pottery eight years ago, while her three children were small. Her youngest is now a senior in high school.

"I majored in psychology in college, but pottery was always in the back of my mind," Tamburello said. "When I started, it was a lot harder than I expected. Your hands have to do two different things at the same time. It's almost like patting your head and rubbing your stomach."

Tamburello said she almost quit after six months of taking classes. But she's glad she didn't.

"You get to the point where you start to get it," she said. "Once that happens you are essentially hooked."

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Tamburello's work has been exhibited in a juried show at Howard County Center for the Arts, the Artfully Wilde annual art and crafts show at Slayton House and the Potters Guild of Baltimore. This is her sixth year as an exhibitor in Singular Sensations.

Martha Gilbert works in fiber. She will be showing three handmade evening purses: two are blue silk and one is silver cotton, she said.

Gilbert has been sewing since the fourth grade.

"My mom sewed," Gilbert said. "Every time [my sister and I] saw something in a store, my mom basically said, 'If you want it, you can make it.' So we did."

These days, Gilbert's focus is spiritual: she makes altar hangings and ecclesiastical garments. Her work is not ordinarily seen by the general public.

"It's nice that I can show my work at a show like the art center and expose my creativity to a wider audience," she said.

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Marie Sugar also works in fiber, but in another form: she makes hooked rugs in a style that dates to Colonial times. They are different from latch-hook rugs that look like shag rugs, she said. Sugar uses strips of wool hooked through a linen backing to make an image. As the wool is pulled through each hole, it creates small loops that stand up higher than needlepoint, she said.

Sugar will show three small rugs in the show - a star with flowers, cypress trees on the beach, and haystacks on a hill. The rugs are made from original designs that Sugar draws onto the linen. She even dyes her own wool from dyes that she makes herself.

Author of a book titled The Complete Natural Dyeing Guide, Sugar warns, "You can't go out and buy blueberries from the store for a dye. It will fade." She makes her dyes by boiling the leaves of Indigo plants and the skins of onions, among many other plant sources.

Sugar, 53, has been drawing and painting all her life. She began taking formal classes 20 years ago. She said some of her paintings are in the permanent collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington.

"Rugs take so long to make, they become a part of me," Sugar said. "It's very hard for me to sell them."

About 70 artists from the region are participating in Singular Sensations, Bafford said. "This is probably our favorite show of the year," she said. "It gives us a chance to meet a lot of artists we don't always see. We don't take any commission. It's our 'thank you' to the artists in the area."

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Singular Sensations will run Thursday through Dec. 19. A public reception is planned from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday. The Columbia Art Center Gallery is at 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia. Information: 410-730-0075.


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