Less is More

Lately I’ve been using the phrase “less is more” . It applies to so many things from why I put less sugar in my apple pie to why too many chairs in a room make the space look cluttered.

It’s the phrase I use to explain why it’s better to leave open space on a dinner plate if I want to make what’s on the plate important. It’s why it’s better to wear less make-up and less aftershave.

Yes, less is more applies to many situations including size. Does a piece of artwork have to be large to be important? I say no. Many of my favorite paintings are very small oils, little paintings I could put inside a suitcase and take with me when I moved from Maryland to California. Easily they made the cross-country journey more than once.

“Less is More “ is the title of a national juried art exhibit opening next week at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College in Annapolis.  The work was selected by distinguished juror Domenic Iacono, director of Syracuse University Art Galleries You can see all the items in the exhibit, which will be hanging until June 15th online. The profits from exhibit sales will help fund educational programs.

On Wednesday May 28th there will be an opening reception from 6:30- 9:30. Sip wine, beer or an artini. Listen to the music of the Rob Levitt Duo. Sample gourmet food provided by leading caterers in Greater Annapolis. Be one of the first visitors to the exhibit to make an art purchase. Tickets are $100. https://community.stjohnscollege.edu/lessismore-2014

or call 410-626-2536 to purchase a ticket.

I hope to see you there at the Mitchell Gallery on the evening of May 28th so you can decide for yourself if Less is More.

Coneflower Summer Relief print, collage Size: 8"W x 10"H   By Beth A. Bynum
Coneflower Summer
Relief print, collage
Size: 8″W x 10″H
By Beth A. Bynum
The Big Move oil on canvas Size: 4"W x 6"H  The Big Move oil on canvas Size: 4"W x 6"H  By Ned Axthelm
The Big Move
oil on canvas
Size: 4″W x 6″H
The Big Move
oil on canvas
Size: 4″W x 6″H
By Ned Axthelm


Party for a Good Cause and Beat the Heat

Talk about the dog days of summer, they seem to have arrived here in Annapolis, complete with dreary gray skies and steamy temperatures which make you want to head for a cold shower or maybe an exciting event in an air conditioned setting to put your mind in a better place.
Tonight is the annual Tribute to Leadership at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts where this year’s graduates of the Anne Arundel leadership (LAA) program will be congratulated, and leaders and volunteers from previous classes will be honored for outstanding service to the community. If you have not reserved your tickets yet, there may not be space for you to attend, but never fear because tomorrow night there is the One Incredible Party being thrown by the Anne Arundel County Community Foundation at Bembe Beach. This year’s party intends to bring together everyone in Anne Arundel County who cares about strengthening our community through giving, grant making, and building the capacity of our local nonprofits. Instead of the typical silent auction, bidders will be able to grant a wish for a
non-profit ranging from kitchen supplies for a new home being built for six homeless veterans to a providing a dream vacation for two individuals with disabilities who have never been able to take a trip. Wish List Items range from a low of $90 to a high of $2,500 – you can pick the item from the list that suits your interests and your budget, and help make a nonprofit organization’s wishes & dreams come true!Saturday spend your evening at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College. I’ve already seen the wonderful exhibit of artwork inspired by books hanging in the gallery along with some interesting old books, including 1st editions, available for sale. Photography, watercolors, mixed media, and handmade books all await your bids. The money raised goes to fund outreach programs. Authors, critics, poetry readings, food, and wine are included in the admission price.

The Art Form of The Book

In one of my alternate fantasies of a parallel career, I see myself owning a large but cozy bookstore, filled with old, beautiful, and unusual books. I sit at the front desk with my fragrant cup of hot tea (of course we give away free cups of coffee, tea, and hot cocoa to our customers) typing away at my latest novel and every so often being interrupted by a serious customer who has questions, or is ready to make a purchase of a fine and valuable book.
On occasion, when I owned an antiques shop, I’d set up a section for old and collectible books. The most popular were the children’s picture books, but old books are fragile. Quickly I noticed the paper starting to crumble and break as too many people quickly leafed through the pages of yellowing volumes illustrated with woodblock prints, and delicate engravings. I stopped selling old books but collected a few for myself when the prices were “right.”
As a member of the St. John’s College, Mitchell Gallery Advisory Board, I enthusiastically suggested we sell a few fine books as a component of the upcoming “Art of the Book” event, which commences with an art exhibition inspired by books and concludes with a reception that features author readings, food, cocktails, and music.
A St. John’s College education is grounded in the chronological study of seminal works of Western civilization, referred to as the “Great Books”. So it is only fitting that the theme of the art exhibit and the activities associated with the exhibit have to do with writing and books.
We’ve received some very nice books: including a first edition of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking with the dustcover and a lovely Facsimile Edition of the 1855 Text of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, published in 1919 by Thomas Bird Mosher.
I thought the books by W. Somerset Maugham ( some first editions) and Robert Harding Davis would be worth some big bucks, but its turns out they are fairly commonplace. I also learned in my recent research that many of these older books are available online for FREE. The copyrights have expired and they are available for download to be read on computers and e-readers.
My worries about the fragility of old books, has no basis in the virtual world, but what about the feeling of turning the pages of fine embossed paper and marveling at the beauty of fine leather binding? Old books, in some cases, may be turning up to lead second lives as a part of a collage in the exhibition ‘Art of the Book” which will open on June 17th. Monies collected from the silent auction of artwork and the book sale will go to support The Mitchell Gallery’s education programs. Come to the VIP Preview gathering at 6:00 p.m. on June 25th and meet the artists and the featured speakers, Alan Cheuse and Lisa Simeone–both from National Public Radio, along with Kerry McAleer-Keele from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Or arrive at 7:00 to the general reception. Authors Temple Cone, Debra Garner, Barbara Klein Moss, Laura Oliver, and Hank Pugh will be giving readings through the evening. If you can’t make it over to the Mitchell Gallery, you can visit online at www.stjohnscollege.edu/events. The events will be taking place at the Mitchell Gallery and Francis Scott Key Lobby.

Enjoy Flowers & Art All Month Long

If you get over to City Dock in Annapolis this morning, you can treat yourself to some lovely flowers and herbs to plant in your garden at the annual Four Rivers Garden Club Plant sale today. I took a few photos of the British taxi parked outside Reynold’s Tavern. Fans of the British monarchy were watching the Royal wedding at the tavern this morning over breakfast. Most likely they were munching on scones and sipping tea.

Tomorrow, I’ve already alerted folks to the croquet match over at the St. John’s campus but also in Annapolis is the first ever International Food, Wine and Hops Festival on West Street being held “circle to circle”. The circles, if you are not familiar with downtown, are West Gate Circle where Rowe Boulevard feeds into West Street and Church Circle, site of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and the start of Main Street and Duke of Gloucester. The tastings begins at noon and lasts until 6:00 p.m. You’ll be able to pay for various food samples as you visit with a variety of chefs and vendors.
Sunday afternoon, the Community Art Exhibit is opening between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College. The show, which features the work of local artist will be on display through May 15th. In previous years this has been a wonderful exhibit with a great variety of work that includes photography, pottery, sculpture, oils, watercolors, and collages. If you are an artist who lives on Kent Island, the Kent Island Federation of Arts is calling for artists & vendors for several upcoming shows:
• 2nd Annual June Artists Garden Show – Artist Entry deadline May 30, 2011
• Gardens by the Sea Plein-Air painters – to paint in gardens during the Garden Tour on June 11-12, 2011
• 15th Annual Photography Show – Artist Entry Deadline June 28, 2011.
Each show has certain guidelines, so go to the KIFA’s website for more details and entry forms: http://www.KIFA.US.
Mark your calendars now for the annual Kent Island Days Art Celebration on Saturday May 2lst. (KIFA is also looking for “Artist Vendors” for that event as well.)
Don’t forget, while you are out and about on Sunday, check out all the May Baskets around Annapolis and in various communities throughout the Chesapeake Region. Please send me your May Basket pictures. Particularly if your photos are from a different community I may not know about. Send them to: editor@whatsupmag.com, Thanks!

Glamorous Hats, Croquet, and May Baskets

It’s a weekend for wearing a hat. If you are a fan of William and Kate, you’ll be awake and seated in front of your TV at 6:00 a.m. in time to watch the royal wedding and if you don’t want to miss any of the festivities, you’ll have turned on your TV at 3:30 a.m., or at the very least set the recording button to watch it all later. A number of folks around town are planning pajama parties complete with hats, to feel at one with the royal family.
The Four Rivers Garden Club is picking up on the theme by having a contest judging the “Best Head Attire” during their Friday annual Plant Sale on April 29th, 8:30am – 2:00pm, next to Market House at City Dock in Annapolis. They’ll be selling native plants and perennials (many from members’ private gardens) as well as cut flowers, herbs, and May Day Baskets. There will also be available, Master Gardener consultations, fresh baked sweets and breads plus tag sale items for the home and garden.
Judging of the Best Head Attire will take place at 12:30 p.m.
All proceeds from the sale support Four Rivers Garden Club community projects.
Saturday, if you’ve already created a hat you’ll be ready to attend the 29th annual croquet match between St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy held on the grounds of the St. John’s campus. Dress in your spring finery, pack a picnic basket, and bring a blanket or folding chairs. In addition to the entertainment of watching the croquet match itself, there will be entertainment provided by the St. John’s Freshman Chorus and the U.S. Naval Academy Trident Brass Band. The match begins at 1:00 p.m, but of course you’ll want to arrive earlier to grab a good spot.
Perhaps you purchased some flowers at the Friday garden sale or you have some beautiful flowers growing in your own garden, but Saturday evening is the time to start constructing your May Basket. The May Basket contest is judged Sunday morning in the Annapolis historic district by the Garden Club of Old Annapolis Towne between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and noon. I don’t live within the historic district boundaries but I still enjoy making and hanging up a May Basket to celebrate the season. (Look back to previous blog entries for more about May Baskets.) All day long, it is excellent fun to stroll the streets and admire May Baskets. I particularly like seeing the baskets that children create as well as the clever baskets made by some of the local merchants promoting their businesses. The weather should be great, so start planning your weekend.

Annapolis Mitchell Gallery Inspires Authors and Artists

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)
Number 51: Mannen Bridge and the Fukagawa District (1857)
Series: Meisho Yedo Hyakkei (One Hundred Famous Views of Edo)
Ink on paper

Tucked away in the far corner of the St. John’s College campus in Annapolis, sits The Mitchell Gallery. This handsome modern building, built in 1989 provides exhibition space for visiting shows from art museums from around the United States as well exhibitions vetted by local curators and art historians that highlight artists and craftsmen residing locally. Although visited by thousands of art lovers each year, the gallery is still a hidden treasure. Many local residents have no idea of its existence despite its 20 plus year presence.
This June, to honor its 20th Anniversary an event is being planned enittled “The Art of the Book” that will highlight art and literature. Save the date, June 25th, when authors and artists will be on hand to celebrate the Mitchell Gallery and provide an exhibition of art work inspired by books along with workshops and panel discussions and a silent auction to raise monies for the Mitchell Gallery.
Next week the March exhibit “The Floating World: Ukiyo-e Prints from the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art” will be opening on March 3rd and will hang until mid April. This exhibition of 50 Edo period (1603-1868) prints reveals an intimate history of Japanese print collecting in the South in the early 20th century. Internationally know ukiyo-e print expert Frederick Gookin, Lauren Rogers Museum of Art founder Wallace B. Rogers created a superb collection in the 1920’s. The prints encompass all of the ukiyo-e subjects: beautiful women, actors and the theater, landscapes, narrative scenes, and decorative themes.
The Gallery is open from noon to five, Tuesday through Sunday and Friday evenings from seven to eight. Admission is free. For more information call 410-626-2556.
If you are inspired to donate a collectible book to the Art of the Book silent auction in June, please contact me via this blog. Thank you!

Annapolis Opera Starts Their New Season

Opera is alive and well, here in the Chesapeake Bay Region. Annapolis Opera kicked off their 2010-2011 season with an impressively well attended gathering, entitled “Celebrate Opera”. Held at Wine Cellars of Annapolis on Forest Drive in Clocktower Place, I could describe the scene as “standing room only” but then again, this was a standing kind of event, which is my only criticism of what was a lovely evening. Designed to raise money for this worthy organization, at $125 a head, guests tasted a variety of wines provided by Wine Cellars and dined on gourmet cheeses, pate, and subsequent courses of poached salmon served with a corn and blueberry relish and tenderloin with whipped sweet potatoes. For dessert there was of course, Opera cake. Everything was delicious, although it was definitely a challenge to balance a plate of food, glass of wine, eat, drink, and chat. The highlight of the evening was the entertainment–arias and a duet song by baritone Jason Stearns and soprano Colleen Daly. Of Metropolitan Opera fame, Jason Stearns makes his home in Annapolis with his lovely wife and soprano Suzanne. On October 23, he will be the featured performer headlining what is billed as “Concert of Stars” at St. John’s College Key Auditorium. Also scheduled this season is a performance “Gifts from Grand Opera” at the First Presbyterian Church in Anapolis on December 5th and in 2011 four more events that include the two day run of one of my favorite operas, “Marriage of FIgaro,” performed at Maryland Hall in March. Visit their website at www,annapolisopera.org and