Collecting the blues

Blues Fest poster collection on display in downtown Hagerstown

May 29, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Kurt and Peggy Cushwa's collection of posters from the Western Maryland Blues Fest are on display at Washington County Arts Council's gallery in downtown Hagerstown.
Tiffany Arnold,

Kurt and Margaret "Peggy" Cushwa and have never missed a Blues Fest and they've got the posters to prove it.

The Cushwas' collection of posters from the annual Western Maryland Blues Fest are part of an exhibit on view at the Washington County Arts Council's gallery downtown. Fourteen posters are on display, for Blues Fests from 1996 to 2009. The only poster missing is this year's.

The exhibit's opening reception is from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 3. The exhibit continues through Saturday, June 19.

Peggy Cushwa said she and Kurt planned to attend the reception. The original art for this year's Blues Fest poster is on view at the gallery. This year's Blues Fest artist is Nathanael Roney, a Williamsport native who works as an illustrator in Asheville, N.C.

Roney's work will also be exhibited during the show.

Blues Fest is a string of concerts that begins Thursday, June 3, and continues through Sunday, June 6, drawing blues artists to venues in and around downtown Hagerstown.


The Cushwas haven't missed a Blues Fest.

Peggy Cushwa, 59, of Hagerstown, used to own custom frame shop Maggie's Hangups, which sold Blues Fest posters and framed them for others.

"We always framed one extra for ourselves," said Kurt Cushwa, founder of Cushwa & Stouffer Architects in downtown Hagerstown.

But then posters started to accumulate. Peggy Cushwa said they didn't really match the architecture of their home at the time, on Hagerstown's North End. "Which is important if you're married to an architect," said Peggy Cushwa, who is now retired.

So after she displayed the posters in her storefront window, they ended up lining the stairwell of Kurt Cushwa's office.

"I used to collect buildings and now I collect posters," said Kurt Cushwa, 60, joking.

When asked if they had a favorite, Peggy Cushwa said the newest one was always her favorite and that her friends at Howard's Art Supplies & Frames were framing her poster this year.

Kurt Cushwa said he couldn't choose, though the first year's poster stood out because it's narrower than most normal-sized posters.

"From my standpoint, they've always been pieces of art," he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Opening reception for Kurt Cushwa's Blues Fest poster collection. Work by this year's Blues Fest artist, Nathanael Roney, will also be on display.

WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 3

WHERE: Washington County Arts Council, 14 W. Washington St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: Free admission

MORE: Call the Washington County Arts Council, 301-791-3132 or go to

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