Editor's Letter

November 13, 2007

Local artists and craftspersons dominate Elegant Living's pages this time out, but first some unfinished business.

In our previous travel issue our English correspondent, Alan White, detailed some of the hoops he and a band of colleagues had to jump through on their way to an education study in, of all places, Siberia. Last time, Alan described the group's adventures with Moscow officialdom and some of the sights they observed during an unexpected stopover in the Russian capital.

As we promised, this issue includes Alan's description of what his group observed in Siberian schools. His take on what's going on there offers food for thought, especially since Russian President Putin's rhetoric seems to be turning as cold as the Siberian winter these days.

With an acclaimed art museum, a quality symphony orchestra and a growing colony of artists and artisans, the Washington County area has an unusually vibrant cultural presence for a community of its size.


Richard Belisle, one of our regular contributors, will give you a short introduction to Kevin Moriarity, executive director of the Washington County Arts Council and one of the driving forces on the local art scene. Richard also takes a look at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, scheduled to open in Hagerstown's expanding Arts and Entertainment District in 2009.

Luthier Michael Hauver builds "old style" blues guitars at his shop in Shepherdstown, W.Va. According to writer Harry Nogle, hand craftsmanship goes into every "Charley Patton" or "Barbecue Bob" guitar that Hauver builds.

Need some Christmas gift ideas that are off the beaten track? You might want to try the Hagerstown City Farmers Market. Teri Johnson talked with several of the vendors at the venerable market, and some of what she found there might surprise you.

For that matter, there are a lot of items produced by area artists and craftspersons that would make great gifts.

Some time ago, I talked to Don Wood, a retired software salesman who makes beautiful custom pens in the basement of his Chambersburg, Pa., home. The pens, made of various woods, acrylic and Corian, are of superb quality. Wood sold about half his stock during his first appearance at the juried Mountain Heritage show in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Allison Coles Severance produces handsome pottery in her wood-fired kiln near Boonsboro. Her traditional salt and ash glazing methods produce earth-toned wares that are as useful as well as decorative.

I also took time to visit Marjorie Tressler, a fellow Waynesboro, Pa., resident whom I've known since watching her son, David, play high school football in the 1970s. Marjorie is the current president of the Hagerstown-based Valley Art Association and is an accomplished painter of portraits, religious works and scenes from everyday life.

Another artist who brightens the local scene is Marie McCafferty. Marie is a talented painter both in the decorative (one of her handpainted ornaments was featured on the 2004 White House Christmas tree) and fine arts styles. Check out some of Marie's work inside.

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts continues to offer fascinating exhibitions on a regular basis. I went over to see a recently concluded showing of tramp art and also a wonderful collection of paintings called Visions of the Susquehanna. The Susquehanna show, featuring various depictions of the river that snakes through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, runs into December. If you haven't seen it, it's worth taking the time to do so.

For the house junkies among our readers, Cathy Van Gilder provides a description of the elegant Clagett House, built in 1770 and remodeled to perfection.

Joseph Berger, a Washington County Free Library reference librarian, usually writes book reviews for us, but this time has written a story on the quality craftsmanship of the Statton Furniture Manufacturing Company, a family-owned enterprise in Hagerstown. I took the liberty of filling Joseph's spot as a book reviewer for this issue.

Our regular food columnist, Barrett Brown, provides some practical holiday tips and quick recipes for shellfish appetizers. With winter approaching, Jeff Yingling has some ideas on what to get your favorite golfer for next year's season. For more ideas, our Small Pleasures gift guide has some suggestions available at area businesses.

Making his Elegant Living debut with this issue is Jim Wolfensberger, who'll write a column on technical issues. Jim is co-owner of Innovative, Inc., a Hagerstown computer solutions firm. In his first column, Jim discusses some of the things to consider when you're purchasing a computer.

Well, there you have it - a sleighful of art and other goodies for the holiday season. Since Elegant Living only makes quarterly appearances, please forgive me if I'm a little early in offering my best wishes for you and yours during the holidays and in the coming New Year.

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