Ask people who have seen an exhibit there, and you’ll be told: Cade Gallery, at the Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), is a special place. Speak to gallery director Teddy Johnson, and you’ll easily get caught up in the excitement he feels about selecting the new and unique artwork that will be part of the museum. Lucky for him and Cade Gallery fans, he gets to do that seven times a year. The key to the success, says Johnson, is the gallery’s mission to making sure the exhibits are a part of a broader dialogue. “It is really satisfying to bring great art from the region and all over the country into the gallery and then to host a class there or to allow it to be the catalyst for new conversations.”
Encouraging dialogue was clearly planned when this past February Cade presented, “Grey Matter: A Response to Blackness,” curated by Thomas James from the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. The exhibit studied how blackness is perceived by America’s society throughout history, including the educational and law enforcement systems, as well as public policies. The artworks explored how these responses have affected those who identify or are classified as black.
Johnson hopes to continue having conversations with this month’s showcase, which centers around music, “Call Back: Artists Inspired by American Musical Traditions.” Each of the award-winning featured artist in this exhibit has been motivated by a variety of musical muses, including popular music, ballads, blues, jazz, and gospel. They were chosen because they offer a unique interpretation of converting music into their medium, and as their press release says: “Through their own particular vision, each artist pulls us into a conversation with American song.”
Art and Margo Rosenbaum live and work in Athens, Georgia. Art is a painter, muralist, and illustrator, as well as a collector and performer of traditional American folk music. Margo has collaborated with her husband in documenting American traditional music through her painting and photography. Says Johnson, “The couple has been working in a similar field for a long time, but they’re capturing very different elements. One is translating music into the Southern kind of grand vision, and the other portrays intimate photographs of actual people in the moment of music creation.”
Michael Ananian is a portraiture artist and self-identified old-time music enthusiast and banjo player from North Carolina. “He’s been doing these large-scale paintings of people in a communal activity of playing music,” says Johnson. “We’ve got one very large painting of his, and then several small drawings of people just jamming to traditional music.”
Larry Winston Collins from Ohio will be showcasing his memorable woodcuts of jazz musicians from the immortal Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday to the more contemporary John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and Miles Davis.
Florida artist, Dean Mitchell, is known for his figurative watercolors. “Mitchell is a very successful and high selling artist. We’re lucky to have gotten his work here into the gallery because they’re exquisite as far as the craftsmanship,” says Johnson.
Baltimorean Katherine Fahey uses ‘storytelling machines,’ known as crankies. Being displayed almost as a sculpture element, her work features a large paper scroll on which there are shadow paper cutouts. As the scroll is unwound, Fahey either sings or tells you the story.
David Driskell, the legendary artist and distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, recently passed away from COVID. “He’s got a really beautiful painting in the show of a bass player that’s colorful and vibrant,” says Johnson. “We felt very fortunate to have the Driskell center lend us one of his pieces for the exhibit.”
Besides the accomplished artists, this show is also somewhat unique. It has been a curated and gallery collaboration between Johnson and Matt Klos, both of whom teach at AACC. Klos also owns Exeter Gallery in Baltimore and, until last week, featured the same artist with different works. “The idea,” says Johnson, “was to give more play to the artists by having them represented in two places and also to build some buzz around the exhibit by having it in two locations.”
According to Johnson, it ended up being a great partnership, with each bringing in artists they admired. “I had studied with Art Rosenbaum as a grad student and found his connection to music memorable,” says Johnson. “And Margo is a great painter as well, but the for this particular exhibit, I was super excited to have photographs that have been published in so many different, great books and also represented in different collections around the country.”
Klos brought in Michael Ananian and Larry Winston Collins with whom he had worked with for a short time. “From there,” says Johnson, “we started saying ‘how about this artist or that one?’ We were trying to represent a variety of different musical and visual mediums. So, we’ve got paintings, photography, the crankies (which have this tremendous three-dimensional form to it), printmaking, drawings, etc. And then also we were trying to think about how some of the artists might represent folk musicians or blues musicians, while others are representing jazz musicians and gospel musicians. We wanted to pay homage to the musical traditions out there.”
“Call Back: Artists Inspired by American Musical Traditions” is open by appointment. Masks are required, and thorough cleaning of all exposed areas that could become contaminated will be done between visits. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
If you miss this exhibit (and we hope you don’t), Cade features seven exhibits a year, with each exhibit focused by theme or medium. Recent shows included:
- “AACC Sabbatical Exhibit: Dawn Bond and Lindsay McCulloch”
- “Newsprint: The Medium that Launched Comics” – Curated by Warren Bernard
- “New Works: A Showcase of AACC Visual Arts Faculty”
- National Juried Show – ” Visualizing the Word” – Juried by Jon West-Bey
- “Summer Online Showcase: Works by AACC Adjunct Faculty”
- Regional Curated Show – “Grey Matter: A Response to Blackness” – Curated by Thomas James
October 2020: “A Showcase of AACC Visual Arts Faculty”
November 2020: “National Juried Art Exhibition”
The Cade Center for Fine Arts Gallery is on the western side of AACC’s Arnold campus, 101 College Parkway. Follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/aaccvisualarts/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/cadegalleryaacc/ to receive up-to-date information.
Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.