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Hagerstown event features art of all sorts

May 18, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

HAGERSTOWN -- Given the option of lake house or studio, Smithsburg resident Janie Moltrup faced no dilemma.

"My friends have lake houses," she whispered.

Janie, 55, and her husband, David, 60, instead built an art studio. But it was for much deeper reasons -- it provided a sanctuary for their artistic creations.

A sample of that work was on display Saturday, as well as art from dozens of other artists at the fourth annual Art on the Avenue hosted by Benjamin Art Gallery.

"We're here to advance the arts and to encourage artists to sell their art," said Kimberly Jensen, head of design, layout and art sales at the gallery. "There's some different reasons why Art on the Avenue started. I'm here because I believe in art."

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Artists from the Tri-State area filled 27 units along Pennsylvania Avenue, exhibiting photography, paintings, pottery, jewelry and drawings. One unit even showcased purses made out of recycled sweaters.

"That's a craft, but at the same time the color choices and the balance make it art," said Jensen, who organized the event.

On display under the Moltrups' tent were photographs, drawings and paintings by Janie, including samples of the Acorn Baby, her registered trademark. Some of her other subjects in various media included Sumo Babies, a fantasy gallery, flamingos and landscapes.

"Drawing shows more of my introverted side, while the photography is a little more extroverted," Janie said. "David shoots with me. He does a lot of what we call 'man photographs,' like tractors and such."

The Moltrups finished their art studio in 2006 -- five years after moving to Smithsburg from Beltsville, Md. Janie retired as a photographer for the U.S. Senate about 16 years ago, yet returned to Washington, D.C., to work the White House Correspondents' Dinner last month for Newsweek.

Gloria Keller, 60, returned to Hagerstown last November after spending 15 years in California, near Newport Beach. Sydney Sprankle, her 7-year-old granddaughter, joined her as she displayed some of her collection of acrylic paintings.

Her subjects mainly are landscapes and pet portraits against landscapes -- many customer-requested. In her own paintings, Keller incorporates some fiction, including a small girl swinging in front of a large house.

"I wanted to do that to remind me of my granddaughter," Keller said. "That's why I moved back from California. I missed my family."

Art on the Avenue is Keller's first exhibit since returning to Hagerstown, but she hopes to find more venues to showcase her art.

"I was born with a love for art," she said. "It's just one of those things that I love to do."

Hagerstown resident Eric Carter, 52, was more of a late bloomer. He said his starting point was about 10 years ago.

"I always knew I could draw. I just worked at it," said Carter, a native of Martinsburg, W.Va. "I'd do one, then another, and another, and I kept at it."

Carter eventually developed into a painter, and he works primarily with acrylic art. Last year, he installed an art studio at his home, where he has begun using water-soluble oils.

"I wish I knew about (oil painting) sooner," he said.

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