Spy Pic of the Day: Bald Cypress


Surprisingly, bald cypress may be found this far north. Photographers Dave Harp and Bill Thompson went paddle-boarding recently in Delaware’s Trap Pond State Park, the northernmost extensive stand of bald cypress on the Eastern seaboard of the US, according to Wikipedia. It is located near Laurel, Delaware, between Seaford and Salisbury.


Photo is by Spy contributor Bill Thompson.




“Viewpoints” at QAC Centre for the Arts

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 8.32.44 PM

Queen Anne’s County Centre for the Arts invites the public to “Viewpoints”, an exhibit featuring artists Robert Ciesielski, Ann Crane Harlan, Joan Hart, David Terrar and Judy Ward. There will be a public reception on Friday, September 12th from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Centre in Centreville, Maryland.

The diversity of their approaches leads to an interesting show. David Terrar has been painting for over 35 years. “My paintings come from observing rural Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. Many of my paintings have Bay work boats in them. They represent the struggle of life and of going out on the water day after day to get food on the table and support a family. My paintings memorialize that struggle.” Terrar and his family live in Gaithersburg.

Crabbers Time for Prayer, Oil Painting by David Terrar

Crabbers Time for Prayer, Oil Painting by David Terrar

Joan Hart says “My first love as a painter is to be outdoors in the weather and changing light, trying to capture some spirit of the land that has moved me. I am experimenting with pushing shape and color to a more abstract, elemental level while maintaining an emotional connection with my subject.” Her art has appeared in shows and won awards throughout the area.

Ann Crane Harlan has been an artist all her life. She taught and raised a family all while using art as a creative outlet. Now retired, Crane’s recent work includes whimsical collages using glued paper for color and design. Shows of her collages and watercolors in the area include Kent Island Federation of Art, and a one woman show at Quiet Water’s Park.

Judy Ward works mainly in oil, employing a style of disjointed shapes in a color-block style that lets the painting surface show through between blocks of color, similar to stained glass. “This affords me the opportunity to emphasize the essence of my subject – its minimal shape, its maximum color and its most basic attributes.” Says Ward. Her recent exhibits include the Oxford Art Fair and a show at Maryland Federation of Art.

Robert Ciesielski enjoys painting cityscapes, landscapes and water. He has spent considerable time in Ireland and loves the constantly changing weather and cloud formations there that provide variety for his landscapes. Whatever the subject in his paintings, he uses light and shadow and color contrast to catch the viewer’s interest and create the mood of a scene. Ciesielski lives and paints in Centreville.

The exhibition begins September 11th and will run through October 30th. Queen Anne’s County Centre for the Arts is located at 206 S. Commerce St., Centreville, MD. 410.758.2520 or slyle@queenannescountyarts.com.

The Queen Anne’s County Arts Council, Inc., is a non-profit organization committed to promoting, expanding and sustaining the arts. We connect artists to audiences and the community to the arts. Visit us on the web at www.queenannescountyarts.com

Earth Matters, Collages by Fran Skiles, on View through Sept. 26 at Adkins

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 12.50.02 PM

There’s so much to look at in Fran Skiles’s abstract landscapes that you’ll want to linger over each and every one. On view through Sept. 26 at the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center, her mixed media collages are bold and energetic and full of fascinating intricate details. There will be a reception on Sat., August 16 from 3 to 5 p.m. to meet the artist.

CUTLINE: “The Order of Nature” is among Fran Skiles’s works on view through Sept. 26 at Adkins Arboretum.

CUTLINE: “The Order of Nature” is among Fran Skiles’s works on view through Sept. 26 at Adkins Arboretum.

With a masterful eye for composition, Skiles focuses on earth tones with occasional flashes of bright red, blue or purple as she deftly layers photos, paint, paper and fabric. She is deeply influenced by nature, especially the lush landscapes of Shepherdstown, W. Va., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she lives. As she works, her images evolve, just as nature evolves. And just as landscapes are formed from a range of geological forces, seasonal changes and human activity, her collages incorporate many sources.

“It’s intuitive,” Skiles explained. “I don’t start with an idea. I follow my instincts as far as color and shape, but my work is landscape based.”

In the early 1990s, Skiles was creating art quilts. Intended to be hung on a wall, they were stitched together in a patchwork of different fabrics, some printed with photographs, some painted as one would paint a canvas.

One of these quilts, “Blue Fish,” is included in the Adkins Arboretum show. A large fabric panel of glowing blue and shadowy black, it brims with activity. There are veils of color, scribbly marks and sweeping gestures of creamy paint along with a wonderfully mismatched variety of textures. Some are visual—a photo of a fish with delicate scales, patterns of stenciled paint— while others are physical—neatly stitched seams, unfinished fringed edges of fabric stiffened with paint, and a section of coarse netting with metallic glints showing here and there.

The process of piecing quilts together naturally led Skiles to work with collage on paper, fabric or board. Although these multilayered works are abstract, they’re full of animated movement. It’s as if you had just caught a glimpse of the graceful slope of a hill, a bristling tangle of weeds, or an animal darting for cover. And they are full of mystery. Deep dark blacks give way suddenly to surprising patches of vibrant color or unidentifiable fragments of photographs. Semi-transparent Japanese rice paper half hides the washy stains and brushwork underneath. Everywhere, there’s a feeling of solidity but also a sense of change that seems to speak of seasons and time passing.

When she works, Skiles has paint and drawing materials at the ready, but she also relies on a collection of what she calls “parts,” different kinds of paper that she has already painted, printed or sketched on, along with photographs and pages from old books.

“I could spend a month or more strictly making parts,” she said. “A really basic part of the work is to have this collection.”

Pointing to a collage with a piece of semi-transparent Japanese rice paper spattered with ink marks, she continued, “I didn’t create that for it. I went into my box of parts and found it and put it there. It’s part no plan, part plan, but mostly no plan. I wait and hope the piece develops its voice so it will direct me what to do with it. I really depend on that, the piece itself asking for what it needs.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 26 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

717 Gallery Hosts Plein Air-Easton Events


717 Gallery will host the following events during the Plein Air–Easton! Competition & Arts Festival, which takes place July 12-20.

  • Monday, July 14 through Wednesday, July 16, daily from 10:30am-4pm

“Y’Art Sale” featuring used picture frames, artist gator board panels, art catalogs/books, oil paints, and various art items.

  • Friday, July 18, 2-3pm and Saturday July 19, 2-3pm

Interactive Panel Discussions with D. Eleinne Basa, John Michael Carter and Louis Escobedo. The panelists will conduct an interactive discussion about their art careers and influences, along with a question and answer session. Reservations recommended, please contact 717 Gallery to reserve a seat.

Through July 25, 717 Gallery continues the National Artists Invitational Exhibition featuring nationally-known artists from across the country. The artists in this exceptional exhibition are: Carolyn Anderson from Montana, Garin Baker from New York, D. Eleinne Basa from New Jersey, Marcia Burtt from California, John Michael Carter from Kentucky, Romel de la Torre from Illinois, Louis Escobedo from Maryland, Max Ginsburg from New York, Peggi Kroll-Roberts from California, Robert Lemler from Arizona, Jennifer McChristian from California, Ned Mueller from Washington, Ray Roberts from California, and William Wray from California.

The gallery will host a reception on July 11 from 5-8pm during Easton’s July Gallery Walk.

Located at 717 Goldsborough Street (across the street from the Country School), 717 Gallery is the gateway to the arts in Easton from Route 50—stop here first! Additional parking is available at the Country School. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10:30am to 5:00pm, or by appointment.

: “Portrait of Amy” by Garin Baker from New York. Baker, a Gallery 717 artist, won the 2013 Plein Air–Easton! Grand Prize, and returns this year to compete against 57 other artists from across the country.

: “Portrait of Amy” by Garin Baker from New York. Baker, a Gallery 717 artist, won the 2013 Plein Air–Easton! Grand Prize, and returns this year to compete against 57 other artists from across the country.

More information is online at www.717gallery.com and on Facebook. Or contact Yolanda Escobedo by email, info@717gallery.com, or phone 410.241.7020.


Arts Snapshot: Vicco von Voss Out of the Box at the Academy


Emerson noted that one should “admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass.” And this is certainly the case with artist and wood craftsman Vicco von Voss in his solo exhibition at the Academy Art Museum this month.

Moving outside of his comfort zone, or his “box” as he calls it, von Voss decided to create a body of work that not only included his primary material of wood, but for the first time started to experiment with other materials like stone and plexiglass, as well as work collaboratively with other artisans to create the dozens of new pieces now on display.

In his Spy interview, Vicco talks passionately the challenges and excitement that come with working with new materials and new collaborators. He also highlights the impact of an entirely new funding tool called SEED, created by his friend and Chestertown art gallery owner Carla Massoni, that allowed the artist to have the freedom and support to experiment at an unprecedented level with entirely new forms.

The video is approximately five minutes in length

Academy Art Museum
MAY 10 – JULY 13, 2014

Members’ reception: Friday, May 9, 5:30-7:30pm
Curator-led tours: Wednesday, May 28, 12 noon & Friday, June 20, 12 noon

Queen Anne’s County Arts Council Offering a Variety of Classes in Visual Arts

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 2.38.23 PM

The Queen Anne’s County Arts Council has a variety of Visual Arts Classes available in our Summer Class schedule. Our skilled instructors are offering classes designed to renew existing artistic interests and develop new skills. Classes are limited in size to ensure quality individual instruction.

Learn to paint birds. The journey begins with information on avian anatomy as an aide to understanding their characteristics. Instructor Ric Conn will teach a variety of painting techniques with an emphasis on “Painting Birds in Gouache”. Classes will be held Tuesdays May 6 – June 3 from 10-noon.

Enjoy the fun of learning the basics of “One-Stroke” painting, loved by beginners and experienced artists as well! Ann Pyper will provide step-by-step instruction in the painting techniques of using One-Stroke to create beautiful designs…to decorate your home, paint a gift for a friend, or even start your own business. One-Stroke blends, shades and highlights all in one stroke. Painting with acrylics allows you to paint on almost any surface including mirrors, glassware and ceramics, mailboxes, slates, wood, walls, fabric, and canvas. You can find examples of Ann’s work on display at The Creamery. Classes will be held Wednesdays from 1-3 pm May 7-21.

Wye River Designs, Candice Liccione, will offer several classes including her popular “Clay Mosaics”. Take mosaics to a different level by creating your own mosaic pieces and combining them with other elements to create a 12”x 12”mixed media mosaic. Making clay mosaics allows you to personalize a mosaic with names, favorite words or symbols. Join Candace Liccione for an afternoon of rolling out clay, stamping it, painting and embellishing your clay creations for your project. The workshop is June 8 from 1-3 pm.

Make a work of art to wear and learn” Epoxy Clay Jewelry Making”. For those who didn’t win this much sought after piece during Small Works, come and create your own amethyst jewelry with Instructor Janice Colvin. Using two-part epoxy clay and crystals you will design your own incredible necklace and earrings. Class will be held June 14 from 1-3 pm.

Learn to weave a beautiful woven vase with a glass liner in a matter of hours. This is a great project for a group of friends! Award winning local fiber artist and basket weaver, Instructor Heidi Wetzel welcomes all skill levels. Spend an afternoon learning this timeless technique. Class will be held July 26 from 10-2 pm.

Receive discounts on events and classes by signing up for a yearly membership now – $25 individual/$35 family. Visit queenancescountyarts.com for our full listing of classes and events. You can register on our website or call the Arts Council at 410-758-2520. Classes are held at the Queen Anne’s County Centre for the Arts, 206 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD 21617 unless otherwise noted.

The Queen Anne’s County Arts Council, Inc., is a non-profit organization committed to promoting, expanding and sustaining the arts.

Arts Snapshot: The Lines of Linn Meyers


The love of lines for Linn Meyers started, at least at the subconscious level, when she would watch her father, an architect working in the days before CAD software, draw thousands of them when she was growing up. In later life, she has skillfully used her own mix of thousands of painstakingly drawn lines to create striking images on both the micro and macro points of contact with her art.

The Spy spoke to Linn last week about her approach to her work, now on display at the AAM, and how she always needs to navigate carefully between beauty and preciousness.

The video is approximately two minutes in length.


The Troika Features Lou Messa in “A Wall of Small”

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 8.41.13 AM

Troika Gallery in downtown Easton presents “A Wall of Small” during its March show, which runs March 1-April 1. The exhibit features a collection of small paintings by Lou Messa, one of the gallery’s most popular artists. The gallery will host an opening reception on March 1 from 5-8:30pm during Easton’s First Saturday Gallery Walk.

“Meadow” by Lou Messa, featured artist during Troika Gallery’s March exhibit, “A Wall of Small.”

“Meadow” by Lou Messa, featured artist during Troika Gallery’s March exhibit, “A Wall of Small.”

Lou Messa is a master painter whose works can be found in collections throughout the United States. Messa discovered his artistic talents at an early age, growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. “It was the late 1950s,” he recalls, “and I was one of countless artistically-inclined teenage boys who honed their skills by drawing pictures Rat Fink [an anti-hero to Mickey Mouse], the risqué, hot-rod driving rodent.”

Messa’s art teachers encouraged him to pursue his artistic talents, and he went on to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Messa was drafted into the service during the Vietnam War, and trained as an illustrator for the Army. Following his discharge, he continued as a government illustrator creating training aids at Cameron Station in Virginia. Three years later, he started his career as a professional artist.

Messa and his wife made their home in central Virginia. “I am constantly reminded of the beauty of nature around me,” he says. Messa is primarily a landscape artist, but he also paints vintage aircraft, old cars, and motorcycles. “I paint what people would like to see in their homes,” he adds. “My objective is to portray something that strikes a pleasant memory, something my clients will never grow tired of seeing.”

Troika Gallery is located at 9 S. Harrison Street in downtown Easton. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5:30pm and Sunday by appointment. Artist portfolios and gallery information are available online at www.troikagallery.com. For more information, email art@troikagallery.com or phone at 410.770.9190.

Review: artNOW Philadelphia at the Kohl Gallery by Mary McCoy


On the same day that “The Monuments Men” started playing at the Chester 5 Theatre, a new exhibit called “artNOW Philadelphia” opened at Washington College’s Kohl Gallery. The two could hardly be more different in their approach to art but they both make you think a lot about its nature and value.

The movie is an entertaining story that would warm the heart of any art lover. It’s a film based on the true story of the rescue of thousands of masterpieces of art stolen by the Nazis in World War II. Over and over again, you gasp as the actors discover a Michelangelo, Van Eyck or Rodin hastily stashed in a mine or a castle, and more than once the question is asked, “Is art worth dying for?” Of course, the answer is yes.

In the Kohl exhibit, the questions are very different and the answers far more elusive. On view through March 7, artNOW Philadelphia is the third of the College’s series of exhibits featuring work by prominent young artists from nearby cities. It’s a show that asks a lot from the viewer, probably more than most will want to bother with.

Assistant Professor Benjamin Bellas makes his aim in curating artNOW abundantly clear in his accompanying essay. Set in the form of a detailed definition of the words “challenging” and “challenge,” it’s a provocation to do your best to comprehend the assembled work by these seven artists from Philadelphia, work that is by turns discomforting, humorous, irritating, inspiring, opaque, and highly thought provoking.


Amze Emmons’ “Modern Popular Movement,” graphite, gouache, acrylic on panel, 20 x 24”, 2011.

“The Monuments Men” presents art that’s breathtakingly beautiful (as well as familiar to anyone who’s taken an art history class) but in this exhibit, even when it’s present, beauty isn’t the issue. Julianna Foster’s photography-based images are eerily lovely, and Amze Emmons’s illustrative drawing style is exquisite in its clarity and simplicity. On the other hand, Leslie Friedman’s neo-Pop Art installation is purposefully crass and annoying. As if Andy Warhol was still alive and well, its row of silkscreened green nudes line up across from a pile of oversized multi-colored Coke cans and sugar substitute wrappers where an endlessly repeating video loop shows a masturbating woman.

Like the other artists in this show, Friedman is less concerned with the aesthetics of art than with the ways we communicate and build our belief systems. Her in-your-face look at consumer culture’s passion for overstimulation and vacuous pleasure is fairly predictable, but it offers a cursory nod to the fact that in a world of titillating underwear ads, graphic news videos and online pornography, art long ago lost its power to shock.

Tim Portlock’s work also considers consumer culture but in a more penetrating way. His urban landscape sprawls into the distance under windswept clouds bathed in the kind of transcendent light you’d find in a 19th century painting by Albert Bierstadt or Thomas Cole, artists who celebrated the scale and rugged beauty of the American landscape. At six feet wide Portlock’s archival inkjet print, “Clone,” shares the expansive quality of their inspiring vistas, but under its heaven-lit sky is a flat, gray landscape of empty buildings. Houses, restaurant and big box stores are all up for sale as new construction waits unfinished. Reacting to the thousands of buildings standing abandoned in Philadelphia, Portlock reconsiders the American dream, suggesting that in the postindustrial age, capitalism’s faith in unlimited growth is no longer viable.

Ryan Wilson Kelly and Marc Blumthal also play with how our perceptions of America’s history and values have been shaped. Blumthal impishly cuts and pastes a speech by George Bush into a rousing jumble of nonsensical phrases that retain a very American-sounding flow of political rhetoric, while Kelly has great fun turning our nation’s history into myth. His video, “The Wizard Franklin,” is an engaging little story that retells the American Revolution in condensed form, turning three of the founding fathers into beings of mythological stature.


Leslie Friedman, “Tastier”, 2013

In many ways, there’s a wide gap between “The Monuments Men” and “artNOW,” but both make you ponder art’s raison d’état. Many of the paintings and sculptures in “The Monuments Men” were commissioned by patrons of the church with the purpose of educating and inspiring by illustrating stories from the Bible for an illiterate congregation. Some might also call it propaganda or even brainwashing.

The artists in this show all use art as a method of investigating the impact of how information is presented. Living as we do in the Information Age, we see images of disaster constantly. Amze Emmons borrows such images from the media, honing, editing and splicing them to suit his purposes. His work distills instantly recognizable signs of poverty, environmental degradation and refugee displacement into engaging, beautifully drawn and cheerfully colored scenes. Disaster is commonplace, they seem to say, but it’s okay, life goes on. We’re constantly bombarded with this message, so why should we not believe it? Why worry?

Whether in terms of politics, culture or human nature, artNOW is intended to raise questions. If you want to get something out of this exhibit, you need to spend time with it. If you don’t, you won’t begin to understand the layers of meaning and intercultural discourse that went into Ruben Ghenov’s work. His paintings are consummate exercises in spatial gymnastics, abstractions that promise glimpses into complicated realities without offering specifics. You can simply appreciate his prodigious skill, or you can take the sparse clues he and Bellas offer in the catalogue and do some research. The internet is the perfect place to start. For Ghenov, as for all artNOW’s artists, you’ll find websites and links to articles and interviews, as well as to related work by other artists, poets and writers, and you’ll be launched into a process of reading, investigation, consideration and synthesis.

This show is all about being willing to explore and go beyond the boundaries of convention to open to new ideas. Julianna Foster has a magical way of questioning conventional thinking. She “documents” what she terms a “fantastic event that allegedly occurred” with images of patterns of lights suspended in the night air, strangely shaped clouds over water or low hills, and a house apparently floating in the sea. Obviously, whatever this mysterious occurrence was, it can’t have been real, yet allegedly there were witnesses.

Foster is asking a series of questions. How do we take in something that we can’t conceive of being true? Why is it so difficult to admit the existence of something outside the bounds of accepted knowledge? And if it’s a challenge to an individual’s belief system, how much more so for the established institutions of government, science and religion?

In assembling the work of these artists, Bellas dares students, viewers and citizens in general to take the initiative in searching out greater knowledge and widening our perspectives. The rescue efforts of “The Monuments Men” were aimed at not just at recovering beautiful objects but also the ideas and ideals spawned during a thousand years of culture. ArtNOW challenges us to practice learning and thinking creatively, for these are the most necessary skills we humans can possess in these times of unprecedented global change.

SpyShots: The Academy’s Anke Van Wagenberg on Chul Hyun Ahn’s Infinity

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 7.43.17 AM

While it might not be a certified blockbuster for the Academy Art Museum, the exhibition of South Korean-born Chul Hyun Ahn’s work has become one of the museum’s most popular shows in recent memory. So much so that the AAM has extended the exhibition until February 23.

The Spy talks to Academy Art Museum curator Anke Van Wagenberg about why Ahn’s work is so unique and how he uses several tricks of illusion to successfully, as the title of the exhibition suggests, allow viewers to perceive infinity.

The video is approximately two minutes in length

Chul Hyun Ahn: Perceiving Infinity
November 16, 2013 – February 23, 2014
Academy Art Museum
106 South Street
Easton MD, 21601