'Conversation' on canvas; 'passion' of painting

THIS MONTH'S show at Slayton House Gallery in Wilde Lake Village Center features realistic oil paintings by Fred Peacock and abstracts by Estela Rotondaro.

Peacock, a resident of Harper's Choice who also lives part-time near Garrett County's Deep Creek Lake, has 23 paintings in the show.


"Twenty-one are of the Youghiogheny River" in Western Maryland, he said. The other two are of the woods surrounding the river.

"The river is beautiful and wild," Peacock said in a phone interview from his home in Garrett County. "The woods are beautiful. It is a place that soothes my soul. I just love being here. I think that comes out in my paintings. ... When I'm painting and it's going well, I feel like this is what I was born to do."


Peacock, 60, said he has always enjoyed the process of making art. But he did not have the time to devote to it until after he retired in 2003. He was a research economist for the Montgomery County Department of Park & Planning.

He has not taken an art class since his first year in college, he said. Rather, he learned from books and by doing.

"I paint for about three to four hours most days," Peacock said. "I start off using a photograph to get all the shapes down on canvas. Then, in the second half of the process, the painting itself is telling you what it needs to move forward: whether it needs a light shape or dark shape; what colors it needs to balance. It's like a conversation between me and the painting. I make a few brush strokes, then stand back and look. I like the interactivity.

"I like seeing it, then interpreting what I see and reacting to that, then gradually taking it to completion," he said.

Peacock likes his paintings to make an impression from across a room.

"Very light lights and very dark darks -- that's what I'm drawn to when I'm going through a gallery," Peacock said. That's also why he enjoys painting the river and the woods.

"I like the white of the water and the dark trees and dark rocks. It's an exciting subject," he said.

In contrast to Peacock's realistic work, Rotondaro, a former Hickory Ridge resident who lives in Bethesda, creates abstract images. The 18 pieces she has submitted for the show express deeply personal emotions and memories, she said.


"One of my favorites is called, Trying to Forget," Rotondaro said. "It's a very small painting. It reflects a very sad moment in my life that I try to forget. It's a spot of color; then [it depicts] trying to erase the color -- trying to avoid the memory. You do something to try to erase what you are trying to forget, but it doesn't completely erase."

Another of her favorites is called, Devant L'Orage, or 'Before the Storm,' Rotondaro said. "It's a mix of very strong red with a little bit of black, [representing the feeling] just before a big storm starts," she said.

Rotondaro said she enjoys the freedom abstract painting gives her.

"I like the passion," Rotondaro said. "You can express yourself differently. I don't like to do things the way everyone else does."

Rotondaro takes art classes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, her native city, where she still has many friends. Before becoming an artist, she was a bilingual secretary and journalist. Creativity runs in her family. Her husband, Reuben, is a writer whose work has been published in Argentina; her son Pablo writes poetry.

"It's important that a painting says something to you," Rotondaro said. "Even if the person sees something completely different than I do, it's a connection with somebody else."


The exhibit runs through Feb. 5. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Information: Slayton House, 410-730-3987.

Drumming for children

Wilde Lake resident Jonathan Murray, a professional drum-circle facilitator and proprietor of FunDrum Rhythm Circles, has joined with the Wilde Lake Community Association and the Rumble Club to sponsor a community drum circle to raise money for tsunami victims, particularly children.

"I lived in Nepal for three years. I have friends in Sri Lanka and have been to many of the places that were affected," Murray said. "It made it personal for me. I wanted to help, and I was looking for a way to broaden it to the community."

The Wilde Lake Community Association donated space at Slayton House. Murray will bring most of the instruments. The Rumble Club, a drum circle that meets monthly in Baltimore, will bring some of its members.

"All the proceeds will go to UNICEF," Murray said. "We chose UNICEF because it focuses on children. In focusing on children, they are focusing on families and communities."


Anyone can participate. Many kinds of drums and other percussion instruments will be available.

"We will create spontaneous music. It's a lot of fun, and it's a great way to release the stress we have all been feeling by absorbing this tragedy," Murray said.

A donation of $5 or more is requested. Checks should be made payable to the US Fund for UNICEF. Write "Tsunami Relief Fund" in the memo portion of the check.

The drumming circle will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Information: 410-964-DRUM, or Slayton House, 410-730-3987.