Mid-Shore Art Notes: Notes from Venice

The Spy is always interested in knowing what Barbara Paca is up to.  The Oxford-based scholar, designer, and curator of the recent and highly successful art exhibition celebrating the life and work of the Talbot County artist Ruth Starr Rose has now turned up at the Venice Biennale for a few months to bring a well-deserved spotlight on another underappreciated artist from the early 1920s. In this case, it’s the Antiguan artist, Frank Walter.

Known by some as the 7th Prince of the West Indies and Lord of Follies, Walter born in Antigua in 1926. Tracing his lineage back to the slaves of sugar plantation owners, he produced remarkable portraits of island life as he worked his way into being the first black man there to manage a sugarcane plantation.

Paca’s interest of Walter’s work led to the installation of Frank Walter, The Last Universal Man (1926-2009) in the Biennale this year. Pulling together his paintings, sculpture, audio recordings, and writing, it marks Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural representation at the legendary Venice event.

The Spy got a few postcards from her to share the other day.

For more information about Frank Walter, The Last Universal Man (1926-2009) and the Venice Biennale please go here

Baltimore’s Sylvia and Eddie Brown attend opening of Antigua & Barbuda’s inaugural National Pavilion at Venice Biennale Left to Right:
His Excellency, Sir Rodney Williams, Governor General Antigua & Barbuda, Bikem de Montebello, Barbara Paca,Eddie Brown and Sylvia Brown

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Easton Sidewalks: Marc|Randall on Dover Street

For Marc Randall, the owner of Marc|Randall, a women’s apparel store on Dover Street, the bet has always been that will be a select group of women on the Mid-Shore who care enough about fashion and quality, and who also have the means to spend $250 for a sweater.

In fact, this business plan has been in effect for twenty-five years now. Starting in 1993, Marc, and three fellow investors, felt the time was right for a high-quality women’s clothes store in Easton. And on many levels, this calculation has turned out to be a significant success story. The store has attracted many patrons who are indeed willing to seek out exceptional quality and pay the relatively higher costs that go with its quality, as an extension of their sense of fashion and timeless appeal.

And this customer base has also been very devoted to Marc as well. Year after year, this unique band of loyalists, make it a habit to build seasonal wardrobes are built around Randall’s distinct sense of style. It is also not uncommon for Marc to experience the joy of seeing those sweaters and dresses passed down to daughters and granddaughters.

All of this should add up to a certain sense of security that the Marc|Randall store should be sustainable during this rapid change in the retail sector, but that doesn’t stop Marc from worrying that younger women will not carry on this tradition.  With consumers forgoing quality and seeking lower prices, he can only hope that this great history of fashion on Dover Street will continue.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Marc/Randall please go here

Spy Eye: Checking in on the Oxford Races

It’s hard to imagine that Oxford has seen more races and sailors this year than over the past last weekend. Starting with the Race to Oxford – PHRF competition, followed by Robert K. Robson Memorial Race, Log Canoe Regatta, and the One Design – Junior and Adult challenge,  Talbot County’s small waterside town has been packed with enthusiastic sailors and their mates for these annual events.

The Talbot Spy’s reconnaissance photographer captured some of the fun over the last a few days:


Easton Sidewalks: Downtown’s Safeway Comes to a Sad Ending

Hundreds of downtown Easton residents found out some unfortunate news yesterday. According to the Star-Democrat, Safeway has decided to close its food store on Washington Avenue this September.

Considered to be one of Easton’s best-kept secrets, which is perhaps one of the reasons Safeway decided to close it, with short lines, friendly service and long hours, the Washington Avenue store was accessible by foot for many lacking cars or other transportation means to do their food shopping.

Even with its unique charms, the Safeway never really caught up with the changing times.  The store was small, and there was never a real investment by the parent corporation to upgrade its deli, improve its bread selection, or get on board will high quality prepared foods.

Perhaps there will be the silver lining in all this bad news. The current store and location would make an ideal spot for a Trader Joe’s or a small Whole Foods. We’ll need to wait and see, but given its location and the important role of providing downtown residents with access to a food store without needing a car, we hope this is only a temporary setback.

Inside the Sprout Kitchen: Talking Turkey

When a good percentage of your total food purchases is dedicated to buying the best turkey, which Sprout’s Kitchen does, it’s a big deal.

And like everything else the Sprout Kitchen owners, Emily and Ryan Groll, do, they spent a lot of time figuring out who was the right producer, what kind of bird they would use, and where it came from.  While there might have been more convenient options, the Grolls make a 100 mile trip to Maple Lawn Farm in Howard County when they need turkey.

In the latest edition of Inside the Spout Kitchen, Emily and Ryan recap why Maple Lawn fits the bill for their unique food business, and why consumers should know the difference between real turkey and “a real turkey.”

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For information about the Sprout’s Kitchen and their meal plans please go here

Spy Food: A New Breakfast Place Opens in Easton

When Stephen Mangasarian closed Restaurant Columbia of Easton several years ago, he said that one day he’d like to try something more casual, “…maybe even a sandwich shop or diner.”

Well, less than a month ago Stephen opened Breakfast In Easton. It’s kind of a diner, and for sure it provides a darn good breakfast!

While remaining involved in Banning’s Tavern as executive chef, Stephen prepares an excellent breakfast for his guests at his new hideaway location at the back of 28 South Washington Street…right behind the Talbot Historical Society. And, Jen takes the orders, makes the coffee and serves the meals.

Nice place to stop in the morning. They only take cash, but the pancakes and sausage were less than $8.


Easton Sidewalks: Surrealism on Goldsborough

While the Spy has just begun taking inventory of Easton’s outdoor sculpture and statues, we can say with great confidence that we have located the only surrealism sculpture on Goldsborough Street; at least so far.

For about two months now, a two-colored donkey, with a distraught child on its back, has taken up residence in downtown Easton to the delight and bewilderment of the neighborhood. Proudly running parallel with one of the primary roads coming into town, the donkey is also seen from the sidewalk contributing golden feces to the streetscape.

The Spy discovered that the artist’s title for the piece doesn’t really help make sense of it all. It is entitled Adesso è più normale, adesso è meglio, adesso è giusto (Now is more normal, now is better, now is right); so good luck with that.

But all this fun confusion is, of course, quite intentional on the part of the artist and, by extension, the sculpture owners. With each pedestrian crossing or motorist driving by, there is no quick resolution to what the viewer is looking at, providing just enough of a minor disruption in one’s day to be both humorous and provoking all at the same time.

But it is only after you the see Willy Verginer’s other work that one begins to see how brilliant the Italian artist’s art is, and how lucky we are to live in a town that has found a home for one of them.


Other examples of Willy Verginer’s work. 






Spy Report: Easton’s Craig Fuller Joins CNN News Panel

Say what you will about cable news “talking heads,”  but the Spy is always excited when we find out that one of those commentators is from Talbot County. And that is the case with Easton’s Craig Fuller, who lives in Easton full-time after a long career in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.

The former chief of staff for Vice President George W.H. Bush, who also headed up the Bush presidential transition team, and later became C.E.O. of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Craig now calls Easton his home but periodically drives into the District to appear on CNN to provide commentary on current events.

The Spy pulled out Craig’s segments from his most recent appearance from earlier this week.

Piazza Food Bites: After That Big Meal Comes Amaretti di Saronno

Leave it to the Italians for finding the perfect solution for ending a grand meal with just the right amount of sweetness and lightness.

While famous for such show stoppers as Tiramisu, Panna Cotta, and Cannoli, the Italians also found the need to offer guests something a less filling, particularly during the summer months, that works well with that after-dinner espresso or dessert wine.

What they discovered is the remarkable use of dried apricot kernels to create an exceptionally light cookie, festively wrapped in colorful paper, to help end those special meals.

Emily Chandler, the owner of Piazza Italian Market, talks to the Spy about the role Amaretti di Saronno plays in the culinary world of Italy, but also the surprising news that cooked apricot kernels can also be used to fight certain cancers.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Piazza please go here.

Spy Report: Academy Art Museum Members Take Over the Galleries

About this time every year, the members of the Academy Art Museum stage a very polite coup d’etat on South Street and take over the walls in every gallery to share their artwork with the community. From oil paintings to sculpture, and photography to watercolors, over two hundred objects fill the Museum from July 29th through September 4th.

This tradition has been a part of the AAM since it first opened its doors in 1958, and also one of the most popular programs as friends and family members see these artists work in a museum setting. It was has become an important exhibition for Museum staff to see new talent, some of whom are invited to show their art in a one person show.

The Spy spoke for a few minutes with Ben Simons, the director of the AAM, as well as its curator, Anke Van Wagenberg, on the 59th year of the and sampled some of the art on display at the Annual Members’ Exhibition.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information on the AAM Annual Members’ Exhibition please go here