Art takes a rain check

The Baltimore Sun

A sprinkle of raindrops wasn't a problem. Not at first, anyway.

They certainly didn't bother Loring Cornish, a Baltimore artist who works in glass, assembled in colorful forms and panels.

"It's waterproof," he said cheerfully at his first appearance at yesterday's annual Studio 6001 art exhibition in Baltimore's Mount Washington neighborhood.

But as the sprinkles turned to a steadier rain, all around him artists were beginning to pack up their oil paintings, painted silks, craft jewelry and sculptures in hopes of better weather Sunday - the event's rain date.

"We're definitely rescheduling," said Morris Wolk, 66, whose home, gallery, studio and spacious backyard on Pimlico Road have been the setting for the post-Preakness exhibition since its founding in 1989.

An artist and former Baltimore City art teacher, Wolk shrugged off yesterday's rainout. "It is what it is," he said as he retrieved his own glistening stone sculptures from the rain and stowed them on wooden shelves in his art-filled home.

There have been other rainy interludes since he and five other Baltimore artists first launched the show, he said, but not a washout like this one.

Mostly, the eclectic mix of local artists has assembled in good weather, growing to more than 25 exhibitors over the years and attracting scores of neighbors, art fans and buyers to Wolk's lush backyard.

"The motivation is basically artists who want to show in a relaxed atmosphere, sort of commercial-free, without all the busy-ness of Artscape," he said. It's the intimacy of the show, they like, but also the complimentary food and wine, and the low fees for exhibit space.

Jerry Seaton, 63, is a landscape artist from Towson and one of the show's founders. "Artists are always looking for a place to show," he said as the rain picked up and he began gathering his canvases.

He had a display of oil paintings hanging on Wolk's fence, mostly landscapes of Mount Vernon and other Baltimore settings, rich in blues and greens.

"I'm intrigued by light," he said.

Other local artists praised the Studio 6001 show as one of the best small art shows they've participated in, but they lamented that the slowing economy had made it more difficult to sell their work.

Most said they keep at it because they love what they do, love being around other artists, and sharing their work with the community.

Wolk's friend Edda Budlow ("I'm not an artist") busied herself yesterday helping those who were getting their work out of the rain. She's been helping out for years and knows most of the repeat participants.

"A lot of the people who come here would love to be doing [art] full time, but they're not making enough money," she said. Being there "makes them feel good just to have people look at their work."

For Genna Gurvich, 51, who emigrated from Belarus in 1997, the Studio 6001 show is a chance to share his contemporary oils with other local artists and the community. Is it selling? "Not so often," he said. "But it's not for money."

"Artists need some conversation about art," Gurvich said. They talk about their latest work and where they're showing it. "We share information," he said. And he loves the leafy outdoor setting at Wolk's place. "It's very peaceful here."

Some, like Cornish, are well-established. He has a display at the American Visionary Art Museum and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore, and is working on a large commissioned piece for the new downtown Hilton hotel.

Others are new. Kim Gough, a 40-year-old Stevenson artist creates jewelry with gem stones and "precious metal clay" - a recycled byproduct of the photography industry that turns silvery when baked in a kiln. Only a year into her craft, this was her first Studio 6001 exhibit.

"I met Morris ... and it sounded like a wonderful event," she said as water soaked her display table. The day's rainout notwithstanding, she said, "I've done well. People seem to like my work."

Studio 6001 will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at 6001 Pimlico Road.

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