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Inmate artwork is displayed

April 18, 2002|BY ANDREA ROWLAND

andreabh@herald-mail.com

Artist Brian A. Tate depicts a "Fisherman's Paradise" on canvas, a weathered brown shack inviting above apricot-hued waters under a tangerine sky.

Tate might have pulled the image from his memory or imagination, from a photograph or magazine. He painted it behind bars.

Tate's work and about 40 other paintings, drawings and paper sculptures created by members of the weekly art group at the Maryland Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown are on display in the lobby at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater through May 10.

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The show "gives them an opportunity to display their work to the public, who otherwise might never see it," said exhibit organizer Victor Wachs, a case manager at MCI.

The inmates involved in the art program are serving sentences at the medium-security prison. They use income from prison jobs and money from families to pay for their art supplies, Wachs said.

Their artwork - which is not for sale - has been displayed each year in the community for more than a decade, he said.

Using such media as oil and acrylic paints, pastels, pencil and paper, the prisoners have created a diverse body of work with subjects ranging from faith and family to wilderness and wildlife.

Mark E. Jones captured the ripple of muscle under flesh in his haunting pencil drawing, "Man." Michael E. Nelson froze the deep feelings of family in his pencil drawing of a man, woman and child entwined.

Phillip G. Johnson used pastels to produce the fiery orange of a tiger's fur against an inky black sky.

Shawn Lender's detailed colored pencil drawings honor patriotism and popular pastimes, paying tribute to the courage of New York firefighters and the legend of deceased NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt.

Christ, angels, cityscapes, animals and children grace other canvases on walls and easels. A display case holds such paper sculptures as Neil F. Cohen's Ferris wheel and Robert Stickel's vintage automobile and tractor.

The Kepler Theater is open daily from about 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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