Located just east of Olney on Route 108, the Sandy Spring Museum is known for its permanent exhibits on Maryland history and research library. A volunteer-run Art Committee also programs art exhibits drawing artists from all over the region year-round.
This past weekend, the museum held its First Annual Valentine's Day Fundraiser - "Love Notes," a two-day art show and sale that drew 58 individual submissions from over 25 professional and amateur artists. Featured among them were two Gaithersburg Arts Barn art instructors, Jaree Donnelly and Natalya B. Parris, as well as one of Parris's students, four-year-old Kentlands resident Luca DeVito.
DeVito won an Honorable Mention in the People's Choice award competition held during the opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Her marker drawing, "Fifi in Paris," depicts a pink poodle in DeVito's dream destination, Paris. According to her instructor Natalya Parris, DeVito is saving funds earned from her sales in the show toward a trip to the French capital.
The exhibit prospectus invited artists of all ages and backgrounds to submit up to two 2D or 3D pieces no larger that 12"x12"x12".
"We asked people to submit their interpretation of 'Love Notes,' said Roberta Staat, Sandy Spring Museum Art Committee Member. "It didn't have to be romantic. Our goal was to support and engage the art community and our local community in the museum."
Staat also stated that the museum plans on repeating what turned out to be a successful fundraiser next year with the potential for a longer exhibitition period preceeding the final art sale.
Photographers, painters, woodworkers, glass artists, digital artists, quilters and other textile artists from Gaithersburg, Rockville, Columbia, Silver Spring, Ijamsville, Olney and Sandy Spring all submitted work.
Donnelly who teaches children's art classes and summer camps at the Arts Barn and offers digital photography mentorships to adults presented two photographs - "Pure" and "Two Hearts."
While others used recycled materials, such as cut-up soda cans to communicate their message of love, several of the exhibited pieces incorporated writing and mementos.
Jaree Donnelly finds that the impulse to narrate is deeply embedded in the artistic mind.
"The Story Makers class is brand new this year and has been a real joy. I created it based on my experiences with kids," said Donnelly of her newest class at the Arts Barn.
Often, she has students in her classes who create drawings or paintings with an elaborate story behind them.
"I wanted to create a program especially for these kids, where we would be able to focus on combining their love of illustration and storytelling. We are going step-by-step through the creation of a 'book,' developing characters, writing the story, and creating the accompanying illustrations."
Donnelly emphasizes creative exploration through different media.
Parris who also teaches children's art classes and summer camps at the Arts Barn presented two acrylic paintings "Love is the Flower" and "Love is the only gold." She found inspiration in John Lennon's quote "Love is the flower you've got to let grow," and Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Love is the only gold."
Parris exhibits widely in Montgomery County and has a current solo show at Glenview Mansion in Rockville through Feb. 28. She has been a member of the Sandy Spring Museum Art Committee since 2005.
Her classes at the Arts Barn introduce young students to classic and contemporary works of art and Russian Folk Art through hands-on activities.
Winners in the People's Choice award competition include: Bill Autry (First Place) with "Love Spoon;" Albert Feldman (Second Place) with "Valentine MiniQuilt 2;" Tara S. Holl (Third Place) with "Frail is the Heart Song;" Nancy Lammie (Third Place) with "Secret Message;" Barbara Sweeney (Third Place) with "Coca Cola Butterfly;" and Luca DeVito with "Fifi in Paris."
Autry's "Love Spoon" perhaps most directly references the romantic tradition of Valentine's Day. Carved out of basswood or limewood (as it is known in Europe), the love spoon is a traditional wedding present in many parts of Europe, said the artist. Autry has a studio in Ijamsville, Maryland and is Montgomery County Woodturners membership chair. Like many of the other artists, he designed the piece specifically for the show.
The Sandy Spring Museum is actively seeking individual artists or groups of artists to exhibit in their galleries. Contact the museum for additional information.