Hoping for brighter skies after a hard rain essentially washed out last year's festivities, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is getting into the Annapolis Artworks 2005 act and inviting the public to an open house Saturday.
Artworks, in its second year, begins today. The five-day cultural celebration will have up to 100 sites for visual and performing arts. Numerous gallery openings showing crafts, folk art and jewelery, along with a City Hall multimedia exhibit called Splash! have been timed to coincide with the festival.
Artworks, which extends to outdoor venues including city parks and the William Paca Garden, is run by an artists' coalition, the Annapolis Arts Alliance.
"This is kind of a first, and there's something for everybody," said Linnell Bowen, president of the alliance and executive director of Maryland Hall. "It gets artists together with the public and businesses to celebrate art and its role in economic development."
Maryland Hall officials are expecting visitors from far and near to attend their Artworks offering. For the first time, free concerts will be performed on the hall's outdoor labyrinth garden.
Exuberance is the common denominator that ties together Saturday's events - concerts, visual art exhibitions including one showcasing forms of light, dance, a poetry reading and a grand finale featuring the U.S. Navy Band playing a free concert in Maryland Hall's auditorium at 8 p.m.
Leah Weiss and Gary Wright of Annapolis are part of a four-person band that combines acoustic guitar with fiddle and bass. They, along with fellow band members Tom Fridrich and Al Tharp, are excited about performing in Maryland Hall's recently installed labyrinth.
"We rearrange traditional old-time music in a new setting," Weiss said. "We do square- and contredancing music, which we call 'Roots Americana.' Lots of duets, and maybe a waltz or two."
Some of the songs the band has sung over the years are "Shuckin the Brush," "Since I Lost Your Love" and "Wild Bill Jones."
"It's tight harmony with an Appalachian feel," Weiss said.
The labyrinth and surrounding garden is a replica of the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France, which was created about 1220. It is meant as a metaphor of life for those who walk through it. Some say it can open a way for reflection and inner peace.
In another artistic direction, Bonny Barry Sanders, who attended Annapolis High School when it was in the building that is now Maryland Hall, will read her poetry at 4 p.m.
Several well-known local artists who work at the Hall, including Phyllis Avedon and Bonnie Roth Anderson, will open their studios and put their works on display.
Both women concentrate on portraits, but there are exceptions.
"That's a Monet, but it's mine," Avedon said, gesturing toward a small landscape that resembles the Impressionist painter's style.
Anderson, who will teach a class on drawing in pastels from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, said there was a reason why she has painted so many girls.
"I've done everyone's granddaughter in town," she said.
Many young ballerinas, such as Natalie Drum, 7, of Annapolis, have been practicing hard for Ballet Theater of Maryland's recital at noon in the auditorium. This year's theme is "A Cultural Journey Through Classical Dance." Unlike most of the day's events, which are free, tickets to the dance recital are $15 for adults and $12 for children.
A free modern dance concert by artist-in-residence Eileen Rivers and her company, MSDC, will take place at 3 p.m. at the labyrinth.
Maryland Hall is located at 801 Chase St. Information: 410- 263-5544. For more information on the festival, visit on www.artsannapolis.com.