Fells Point Art Scene Keeps Getting Better!

By Fletcher Schwing

Fells Point has long been known to have interesting art hanging in bars, restaurants, and coffee houses but lately it appears that the range and quality level of exhibition is changing. As Fells Point is becoming more sophisticated (and need we say "upscale") the art being presented and the level of presentation is also stepping up, and judging from the response to the April shows it appears there is also a developing market. We took a walking tour of April offerings and were surprised and delighted with what we found.

     Patrick Hill, owner of Unicorn studios presents the etchings of Ruth Channing, "The Casanova" series. Playful and erotic, large scale but delicately drafted, the series of etchings tells a story of love, lust and longing in the real and imaginary past. Hill encouraged Channing to include a video of the etching process in the show. In our modern age many people, even serious art patrons, often are not aware of the processes involved in fine printmaking. This video adds to the appreciation of Channing's work. Unicorn has hosted several fine shows in the past two years and it appears it is slated for more exhibits of this quality in the future.

    Tom's Fork Liquid Earth Coffee House, 1626 Aliceanne Street has been showing local artwork "a cut above" for several years. Currently Tom Wells is presenting a collection of found object sculptures entitled "Primitive Post-Modern Artifacts: Souvenirs of the 20th Century". Ranging from flea market finds to organic elements (bones, feathers, etc.), the motivating theme in Well's work is beauty, or in his own words "a celebration of Form and Design". Tom's creative juxtaposition of objects achieves the desired dissolution of identity that marks a certain level of achievement in this kind of sculpture. A fork loses its meaning as a fork in context of its new environment. Tom calls them "little prisoners of reality set free". The viewer reads one's own meaning, rather than an assigned meaning, from these relationships. He is not caught in metaphor nor swayed by whimsy. The works are solid, real, and have a feeling of permanence as well as a spiritual quality. This is in part due to his high level of craftsmanship coupled with his innate respect for the materials.

Debbie Lynn Zwieback's Mandala Then we visited the Whistling Oyster on the Broadway Square. This well- known establishment has been hosting local art legends for many years and its clientele appear to be loyal patrons. The current show is "Coming Full Circle" by Debbie Lynn Zwieback encompasses a year's worth of work. The beautifully colored modern illuminated mandalas in pen, inks, and mixed media are masterfully done, as well as beautifully framed.

     Halcyon Gallery on Fell Street hosts D.K. Bakker "Under Glass: Recent Queries and Curiosities". These very sophisticated 3-d metaphors tell stories, make you laugh, touch the heart, and make you cringe. We visited the gallery early and were glad to be there before the crowds so we could feel free to openly react to these pieces. We highly recommend visiting these very bold small works. Halcyon features a carefully selected artist or group of artists every month.

     Off the beaten track, on Butcher's Hill is Simon's Pub (2031 E. Fairmount Avenue). Currently featured are drawings by sculptor William F. Duffy. Duffy is becoming nationally well known for his bronze sculptures of intertwining flying figures one of which can bee seen at the Benton Building across from City Hall. This exhibition reveals the studies, both academic and imaginative that preceed his sculpture. Duffy is quite an accomplished draughtsman. These studies are direct and competent, holding their own as finished works of art.

     One could easily take two days to cover all of the Fells Point area art exhibits. Other places to check out on your walk would be the old Daily Grind now called "Ground Floor", 1726 Thames, Zoe's Garden on Aliceanne, and the Elzeard Pottery Gallery at 602 South Ann Street. As you wander in and out of various establishments you may discover many that we missed.

2000 Fletcher/Schwing

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