Artist toting canvas to Mass.

May 05, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

The expression "those who can, do ... those who can't, teach" doesn't apply to Nancy Crossley Blank, who does both with distinction.

A recognized local artist, Blank, 61, is retiring in June after 30 years teaching art and music at St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown. She also spent more than half of those years on the faculty of the art department at Hagerstown Community College.

She will be joining her husband, Charles, in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where they have a home and studio. Charles Blank retired about five years ago from his position as director of Washington County Free Library.


A tribute to Nancy Blank was part of the April 26 opening reception for the HCC student art show.

"It was great. There was a cake and flowers, and they gave me a punch bowl," Blank said.

After attending Brown University, where she sang in the choir, Blank focused her attention on art at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned her bachelor's degree. She did her graduate work at the Maryland Institute School of Art.

Some of her artwork is on permanent display at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. Even with her busy teaching schedule, Blank has managed to keep turning out more art.

"I have enough stuff for a show, hopefully, in the near future on Martha's Vineyard," Blank said.

Once she relocates to Massachusetts, Blank said she'll be working in a gallery on the island, teaching a little and painting a lot.

"I've also got several lectures lined up," she said.

The house, which was built in 1865, has been in Blank's family for three generations.

"It's a house built for two," Blank said. "There is room for Charles' Steinway in his music studio, where he teaches piano. I have the basement."

In addition to that home art studio, Blank will be working with a friend in another studio on the island.

The house has hosted the couple's children on many vacations and will continue to serve that purpose. When the leaves are off the trees in fall and winter, the house has a view of the water.

Together, the Blanks have a son, Nick, a newlywed who works in China with an international security firm; and a daughter, Becky, a classically trained violinist. Nancy Blank's stepson, Martin Blank, is a playwright.

Nick and his new wife, Amy, were to be home May 1 for a family reception to welcome the new daughter-in-law into the family.

"She has never been to the U.S. before and speaks limited English," Blank said. "We are really looking forward to meeting her."

Blank's teaching career in Washington County began slowly.

"I started part time at Goretti with two art classes, and then to five art classes and later a half year of art and a half year of music," she said.

A class of art appreciation honors was added.

Winding down at Goretti has been bittersweet for Blank, who is anxious to begin her new life in Massachusetts but at the same time will miss her students in Washington County.

Tom McFarland, whom Blank knew at the Art Institute, will be teaching art at Goretti next year.

"My mom lives here and I also have lots of friends to keep in touch with," Blank said.

She has long kept track of her students and expects that to continue.

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