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“Nationals October 2019

Annapolis Arts Week starts this weekend

| May 30, 2019, 01:12 PM

In 2017, local art-based associations partnered together to create the Inaugural Annapolis Arts Week. The goal of this initiative was to present the arts community of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County throughout the region, focusing on a week-long celebration of the area’s artists and musicians.

In 2019, the ever-popular week moves into its third year featuring Paint Annapolis and First Sunday Arts Festivals, while also creating an opportunity to spotlight gallery exhibits, live music, performing arts, and block parties. Annapolis Arts Week is June 1-8, 2019!

Street art, murals, art installations and photography do more than beautify downtown Annapolis. In many instances, they add meaning and purpose to young lives. Individuals who scratch below the surface of the City’s vibrant public art’s scene soon discover that what goes on behind the scenes in the planning and execution stages is often as impressive as the finished product. Closer inspection reveals a host of individuals who are sharing their talents, vision and enthusiasm to help unlock doors for underserved populations and build cultural bridges around the world.

What follows is a brief introduction to some of the many Annapolis artists and art enthusiasts who are giving back to the community – not only by creating beautiful works of art and inspiration, but by enlisting the help of others and showing them how they can do the same.

Jeff Huntington

In summer 2016, Annapolis artist Jeff Huntington and his wife, Julia Gibb, created the nonprofit organization, “Future History Now,” that works with underserved youth to create street art in their communities. Former VisionWorkshops student, Newtowne 20 resident, and local community leader Deonte Ward has introduced Huntington to his neighbors so the artist can work with them to turn empty boarded up buildings into beautiful works of art. As he’s done with youth from other underserved neighborhoods, Huntington brings them into his Jahru Studio, using it as a satellite incubator for the arts projects.

Through Future History Now, Huntington has worked with Jovenes Artistas to create street art behind the Light House Bistro at 202 West Street in downtown Annapolis. He’s helped kids from Bates Middle and Annapolis High Schools to create an image of U.S. founding father Benjamin Franklin – a composite of twenty individual grids worked on independently by a host of students. The grids were then assembled to create Franklin’s portrait. According to Huntington, “The idea is to have many parts come together with the common goal of creating a single, finished piece – One Annapolis, One Love – literally.”

Huntington has shared his talents with the world. He traveled to a village in India with representatives of the Rivers of the World Foundation. There, he worked with children of the Himalayan English School to create a water-themed mural of the Ganges River in January 2018. In 2015, he created murals in Brazil. It was around this same time that he fell in love with street art all over again. “I like to problem solve in the elements, with the elements. I was searching to find art in a more meaningful way. I have found it in sharing art with these kids (through the Future History Now program).”

Huntington was a graffiti artist in the 1980s when street artists weren’t accepted by the traditional art world. He says things have changed. “Today, art institutes are trying to get street art into their galleries. Real soul, real talent is having to do things and figure things out – like how to create something that’s three stories tall in a single day.”

Roberta Pardo

Annapolis resident Roberta Pardo founded Urban Walls Brazil in 2014. Initially, she brought artists from her native country of Brazil to Annapolis to create public murals. Today’s expanded program includes artists from all over the world in an international cultural exchange. To date, Urban Walls Brazil artists have painted 12 murals in Annapolis’s Design District, and Pardo is plans to have two additional murals painted in summer 2018.

Pardo recently began moving into the area of education. She and two artists gave talks at area public schools last year. In March 2018, she visited area schools with two Brazilian artists who had painted a temporary school inside a refugee camp in Lebanon. The artists shared their experience at five Annapolis-area public schools. They also presented a workshop for kids from Annapolis high school. It demonstrated how art can be used as a communications tool – as a means for giving a voice to people who don’t have one. As Pardo sees it, “It’s so easy to get information about what’s happening around the world these days via the internet and social media. The biggest problem is that people don’t understand the culture behind the information. This can cause a lot of problems. Society can become judgmental.”

In 2017, Pardo launched Art Talks around town to highlight local artists. “Locals don’t know their artists. It’s important to get to know them and appreciate their art. The best way to do this is to learn the stories behind the works, why the artists paint what they paint.” Pardo has presented two Art Talks thus far. One was given by Annapolis artist Jeff Huntington. The other featured Baltimore artist Jaz Erenberg. She spoke about her “Bmore Homeless” project that’s designed to give a voice to the homeless living in Baltimore.

Pardo says she wants to bring street art and Art Talks to every high school in the area. “Our kids are the next generation. This is the age when they need the information. These are the kids who are getting ready to go out into the world. We want to help give them tools to cope with situations on all levels. We are all human. We all have our stories. There is nothing wrong with being different. All of this can be conveyed through the arts.”

David Diaz

With his involvement in, and relationships to, the Maryland Federation of Art, Paint Annapolis, and the McBride Gallery, David Diaz has created a name for himself, his work, and his dedication to the arts. He is a delight to talk with and is a great representation of our bubbling Annapolis arts scene!

David is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association (MAPAPA) with a focus on regional and international subjects. He actively participates in juried plein air painting events throughout the Mid-Atlantic area and Ireland and served as President of MAPAPA for two years. He is also active with the Maryland Federation of Art, serving as President & Co-Chair of the Exhibition Committee for the 50th Anniversary celebrations. David is the 2014 winner of the Visual Arts Award, the top award presented to artists in Anne Arundel County.

Cynthia McBride

A thriving art scene in any town doesn’t just happen. No matter where you go, you are bound to find good art, and excellent artists. It takes people that are both interested in community and recognize that art – in all forms – contributes to the cohesiveness and growth. Some are making history now, and some already have a place in history, having played a key role in igniting the spark of today’s amazing Annapolis art scene. Cynthia McBride is an Annapolis treasure who both jump-started the momentum of arts in Annapolis, and continues to make great contributions to putting the town on the art map nationwide.

Selected in 1997 as one of “Maryland’s Top 100 Women,” she has served in key roles on the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce, the Anne Arundel County Cultural Arts Foundation, the Rotary Club and numerous other organizations and commissions. The list is long and Cynthia’s dedication to community service is well known. As owner of McBride Gallery (215 Main St., Annapolis, MD), she has been featured in national publications such as Art Business News, Décor Magazine, American Art Collector, and more.

McBride Gallery represents some of the finest representational art by renowned regional artists and beyond. Currently on display is the Oil Paintings of American (OPA) 2018 Eastern Regional Exhibition, which is incredibly prestigious, bringing attention to Annapolis by some of the best artists and art patrons in the country. Cynthia has managed to work with a number of these national art organizations to have their premier events in Annapolis and her gallery, which puts our community on the preferred list for art places to visit.

James Houlcroft

“Australian in America. Adult impersonator. Ostrich Enthusiast. Educator & Occasional Artist. All funds from sold works go to procuring gourmet cheeses,” reads the Instagram profile description of James Houlcroft (a.k.a. Houl) – Australian artist currently residing in Annapolis, Maryland.  You can’t miss the humor in this profile description because it is so fitting for him and his personality.

James Houlcroft has been a name floating around Annapolis art circles for the past few months. The buzz around him and his work are well justified. Here,  James is at The Commons (209 West Street), a shared workshop in downtown Annapolis, where he is beginning of a mural inspired by the characters from ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. Drawing directly on the wall, each character was created with clean lines and details; the Commons logo on a laptop, green cross marks on a dress, the detail in the shoes. Viewing this piece is like reading a great book. The little details are just right and placed in the proper spots, making the story come to life.

The citywide Third Annual Annapolis Arts Week, June 1-8, will provide an introduction to the work and lives of some of the many individuals who contribute to Annapolis’s thriving arts and entertainment scene.


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