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Artists' Gallery settling into new quarters in old building

The Artists' Gallery was just about to move from its longtime home in the American City Building in Columbia to a storefront location on Main Street in Ellicott City when last summer's devastating flood put the move on hold.

The gallery remained at its downtown lakefront site from late summer into the fall, but finally was able to make the delayed move on Nov. 18 into Taylor's Collective at the corner of Main Street and Old Columbia Pike.

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"I'm very happy about it," remarked Artists' Gallery member artist Marian Gliese as she recently walked around in the new space. She recalled visiting the gallery site two weeks after the flood and witnessing the widespread damage along historic Main Street. Gliese said that the gallery's intended home sustained flooding and structural damage in its basement.

Although some of the buildings at the lower end of Main Street still have a long road to recovery, the building now occupied by the Artists' Gallery is among those a bit further up the street that is open for business.

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Unlike the gallery's previous location in Columbia, which was a glass-walled "white cube"-type art gallery space in a modern office building lobby, the relocated gallery is contained within an historic structure. Its interior, however, is a soaring two-story space that combines elements of both antique and contemporary architectural design. Some of the sharply angled walls may present an installation challenge, but the trade off is that this is a distinctive-looking gallery space.

"It's much better here than the other place," said fellow Artists' Gallery member artist Ye Feng, who walked around the new space with a ready smile on his face. "We're hoping people will see us and come inside."

Despite being located in the heart of downtown Columbia, the American City Building is almost completely vacant and the gallery consequently noticed a drop in walk-in traffic in recent years. By contrast, as Ellicott City's Main Street bounces back as a destination for dining, shopping and tourism, both artists anticipate that the gallery will be seeing more visitors walking in off the street.

"There is so much more going on here," Gliese said while nodding toward the plate glass window fronting on Main Street.

Visitors stopping in to see the inaugural show in the new space will see a group exhibit that includes work by these two artists.

Ye Feng's watercolors, such as "Spring Pavilion" and "Living By Autumn Woods," are landscapes that reflect a calligraphic tradition in Asian art. The artist observed, however, that his works combine "traditional style and modern thinking for composition and detail."

Gliese's oil paintings also have natural subject matter, but her style is very different. The slightly abstracted "Ethereal Iris" emphasizes the shades of purple in the floral petals set against a pale yellow background, while "Whimsical Trees XXIX" has a schematically rendered tree serving as a perch for two birds.

A number of the other artists in this exhibit also look to nature for inspiration in mostly realistic works that sometimes have their share of expressive gestures.

In Kathleen Stumpfel's watercolor "Winter Barn," the all-over whiteness of a snow-covered field is broken by the occasional clump of brownish dead vegetation. The gray- and purple-hued barn in the background seems like it's on the verge of melding into the overcast sky.

The atmospheric effects spill over into near-complete abstraction in Deborah Hoeper's acrylic paintings "Evening Glow" and "Rosy Glow." The application of such colors as orange, yellow and pink give a palpable sense of those evening hours.

Besides having a healthy roster of painters, this gallery's members also include photographers of note.

Among them is John Stier, whose "Yellowstone in Winter" is a bracing reminder that Maryland in winter is nothing by comparison.

Taking photos much closer to home, Jerry Weinstein's "Wilde Lake Eagle" dramatically presents that bird soaring against a vivid blue sky. And Dave Roe visits tourist destinations with "Baltimore Aquarium at Night," "Annapolis Docks" and "Baltimore Sunset."

Member artists in other mediums include woodworker Ron Brown, whose "Maple Bowl" and "Walnut Bowl" rest on a handsomely polished wood shelf that is ideal for this purpose.

The reopened Artists' Gallery has its first exhibit at its new location. It runs through Jan. 27 at Taylor's Collective, 8197 Main Street in Ellicott City. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday. Call 443-325-5936 or go to www.artistsgalleryec.com

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