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Toasting Artscape


FOR A COUPLE HUNdred folks, Artscape began with a trip to the top of the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall garage -- for the opening night VIP party. There, they got a bird's-eye view of the festivities as they sipped on cool drinks and caught up with friends.

"I like this party," said Maryland Film Festival founder Jed Dietz. "Because it's hot and feels like summer and Artscape. Just the way it should be," said his wife, Dr. Julia McMillan, a Johns Hopkins University pediatrics professor.

Soon-to-be restaurant owner Kevin Brown had his own way of beating that heat. He arrived in a blue-and-white sarong. "You girls have got it figured out," he said, pointing out the airiness of a skirt.

Public relations consultant Joan Davidson and hubby dentist Dr. Bill Davidson battled the high temperatures by providing some breezes of their own. "We came on the motorcycle," Joan said.

Meanwhile, one guest mingled on such a low-key level, many fellow guests failed to recognize his high-profile status. Could that be a bearded former president of the United States? No? How about the actor who portrayed him in the 1996 movie Independence Day? Bill Pullman was in town overseeing a Theatre Project production of a work-in-progress that he is writing and directing, called Expedition 6. He moved easily among the crowd, browsing the dinner buffet and chatting with other guests about how impressed he was with Baltimore and its arts festival. Pullman said it had been almost 20 years since he'd last been here.

"I did Accidental Tourist here. And my daughter was born here. Now she just graduated high school."

Pullman and his producer and co-director, Jennifer McCray Rincon, were particularly blown away by the warmth and openness of Baltimoreans.

"There's all this sophisticated artistry," Rincon said, gesturing to the festival goings-on below. "But in at least 20 years, I have never had the experience of interest and generosity of people that I've had here."


Takes it fast ... and slow

Ed Hale, 59, is a prime example of the "self-made man." He was born in Highlandtown and graduated from Sparrows Point High School and what was then Essex Community College. His business career began with a job as a clerk with Atco Trailer Rentals in 1968. He eventually started his own trucking business and expanded into other territories, including shipping, banking and real estate.

Hale is founder, chairman and chief executive of 1st Mariner Bank, and president and chief executive of Hale Properties, a commercial real estate development company. Hale Properties is involved in building the Canton Crossing project, where 1st Mariner Bank was scheduled this week to move its headquarters into the first completed building, a 17-floor tower.

He is twice divorced and has three children, ages 39, 22 and 19, and three grandchildren. He has a home in Canton and a farm on the Eastern Shore.

What's your favorite mode of transportation these days?

The one du jour is my new Agusta helicopter. I used to have a floatplane, but we crashed at my farm and ripped off the right wing. It was a brand-new airplane. And that was my second crash. So I decided to try a different mode. ... It's so cool-looking. It's dark blue with a gold stripe. It takes me 12 minutes to go [from Canton] to my farm. That's a great commute. It's very fast. You can go as fast as 110 miles per hour. It also appears to be safe.

Time is of the essence for you. So, also, is speed?

Yeah. I kind of like it. Even at my advanced age. When I go to New York City, it takes me 54 minutes. So I can leave Canton and one hour later be there for a meeting. It's not for the faint of heart.

Have things that provide a rush always appealed to you?

Yeah. But so does a nice nap. People think because of my frenetic lifestyle [I might not like to slow down]. But, I'll go down to the beach, or my farm, and read a few books. I'll go from a spy mystery novel to a [book about] history. I just finished a book about the colonization of Jamestown.

What else surprises people about you?

I like to design and decorate. I designed my building. On the way over, I was getting calls about the window treatments in my boardroom and office. I really love that.

How do you think others perceive you?

It's funny. [CareFirst chief executive] Bill Jews and I get together occasionally. He's renting space for CareFirst in my building. And he said, "How come people don't like you? You seem like a nice, normal guy." I don't go to all the cocktail parties and social events in Baltimore because I've already done that. I'm finished with that. So, maybe I appear standoffish. And that's OK. I'm going to be 60 years old in a few months. I like leaving work and going to my farm. I like hanging out with my dog and sitting out on my deck. That's what I like to do.

Speaking of your social life, you're renowned as a single guy in these parts.

I'm not dating anybody.

Are you looking?

I'm very private about that. I will say this: I'm not a good boyfriend because of my work schedule and because I like to go down to my farm.

Any guilty pleasures?

When I go, I want to go face down in a hot fudge sundae.

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