Tuesday, June 15, 2021

My picks for Paint It! Ellicott City 2021

 As June arrives, I’m beginning to think that perhaps the Covidian monster has been tamed, art fairs are desperately seeking galleries to apply to show, the DMV’s outdoor art festivals are returning, and brushes, pens and pencils continued to be applied to paper or canvas. Notice that I did not mention cicadas or Brood X or none of that 17-year nonsense that feeds other papers’ pages these day.

Restaurants, museums, bars, and libraries are allegedly open, except in Montgomery County, where Kommissar Marc Elrich curiously has kept his iron boot on the throat of the county’s attempts to come back to life… and most libraries remain closed

Plein Air painting has always been a refreshing genre of art production, and our area boasts some of the best plein air painting events, perhaps none better than the one held in Easton, but one a bit closer to the DMV and just as good is and a lot closer is the one in Ellicot City.

In that annual event, artists from around the region gather in Ellicott City – this year the weekend of June 10-13 -- for Paint It! Ellicott City 2021.

This year, the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) and Visit Howard County have partnered to host this paint-out weekend culminating in an exhibit of 30 juried artists at the Howard County Center for the Arts.

The guest juror for Paint It! Ellicott City 2021 is award-winning landscape artist Lynn Mehta, who selected the following artists for the juried exhibit: Lissa Abrams, Bruno Baran, Pamela Betts, Julia Bowden, Cathy Cole, Shawn Costello, Ann Crostic, David Drown, Vlad Duchev, Kathleen Gray Farthing, Kathleen Ryan Gardiner, Erin Gill, Marita Hines, Nishita Jain, Rajendra KC, Jane Knighton, Kathleen Kotarba, Michael Kotarba, Laura Martinez-Bianco, Michael McSorley, Amanda Milliner, Christine Rapa, Tom Ritchie, J. Stacy Rogers, Duane Sabiston, Maggii Sarfaty, Stacey Sass, Lida Stifel, Nancy Thomas, and Nancy Van Meter.

The event begins with a virtual Welcome Reception & Event Kick-Off via Zoom on Wednesday, June 9 at 4pm. Then, all day on June 10-13, artists will set up their easels throughout Ellicott City’s historic district to capture the picturesque charm of the beloved mill town. Members of the public are invited to watch the artists at work from a safe distance while strolling Main Street. Artists and art students from the community can also be part of the fun by participating in the Open Paint-Out, which takes place concurrently. Artwork created during the Open Paint-Out will be featured in a temporary exhibit at the Visit Howard County Welcome Center on Main Street.

A virtual reception on Friday, June 18 from 6-7pm will include an award ceremony for the exhibit of juried artists’ work. More than $7,000 in awards will be presented, including the coveted Gino Awards, two $1,000 cash prizes named in honor of artist Gino Manelli and presented by the Manelli Famil

Other awards include a $500 award sponsored by Patapsco Heritage Greenway, a $500 award by Blossoms of Hope, and a $150 Open Paint award sponsored by the Family of Carole Zink.

Registration is required for those wishing to be included in the Open Paint-Out exhibit. Registration is available at the Arts Council and online at hocoarts.org/paint-it before and during the event.

Awright… you didn’t think that was all… did you? Here what I’m gonna do now: even though this event hasn’t happened as my talented hand type this column, I’m gonna take the extraordinary risk of looking at some of these artists’ online footprint and pick out a few faves.

Kathleen Kotarba’s online presence shows me an artist who really understands the powerful effect which light can deliver at the hands of a talented artist. Her paintings are infused with the ever fluid colors of light at different times of the day, as it touches grass, wood, flowers, trees, people.

Laura Martinez-Bianco is also formidably armed with those same skills as well as a very advanced ability to capture the nuances of light on water and the living nature of water itself. This talented artist also knows her composition, and is one of my favorites to win the top prize at Ellicot City.

Duane Sabiston also stood apart. I like the manner in which his brush takes chances with bold statements in seriously contrasted painting areas within the canvas.

J. Stacy Rogers is another artist who will win an award; enviable technical skill, an eye for the unusual in the landscape and a limitless ability to interpret what most of us “see” when we look at color.

Who else did I like online? Rajendra KC can paint weather variations in the atmosphere with astonishing loose detail! Do not be fooled… only a master can do that.

Nancy Van Meter will also win a prize, maybe the top prize; she’s a professional with almost supernatural talent.

I admire the way in which Maggii Sarfaty goes on trying different things and ways and manners to deliver her art! That is a courageous (and enviable) sign of artistic courage that most artists lack. Sarfaty will not fall into the trap of getting comfortable with any success – she will then knock on another artistic barrier and knock it down. Of all the artists in this event, her work is the one that I am looking the most to discover.