Green Giants-The Fruit & Vegetable Sculptures of Jan Kirsh by Jennifer Martella


One of the best ways to escape the winter doldrums is to feast your eyes on Jan Kirsh’s delightful fruits and vegetable sculptures. When I turned onto her studio driveway recently, two sentinels greeted me. One was a tall curvaceous eggplant resplendent in her aubergine gown.

Her admiring companion on the opposite pedestal reminded me at first of one of Henry Moore’s reclining nudes glistening in the sun. The green stalk gave it away as a sunburned chili pepper, without its white blanket of winter snow that was the cover image for Jan’s winter newsletter.

Jan Kirsh with Carrots

Further delights awaited me as I strolled through her garden. Maybe I’ve seem way too many Masterpiece Theater ballroom scenes but as I passed a trio of asparagus they seemed to bow to each other as a prelude to a minuet. Another trio of robust habaneros in different colors and on ascending pedestals spiraled upward to the sky.

Architects have a natural affinity with sculpture since both art forms deal with three dimensional space and light. After my tour of Jan’s garden of earthly delights, I loved visiting her studio and seeing her study models, mock-ups and projects in various stages of completion.

Jan’s interest in making garden sculpture “stemmed” from a childhood interest in hand building three-dimensional objects from clay and she never outgrew her childhood fascination with three-dimensional form.

During my studio visit, Jan also showed me her portfolio of commissioned pieces in their new settings. My favorite photograph was of Jan standing next to two intertwined giant carrots. Another amusing picture that caught my eye was of a giant pear preening over her image reflected in the swimming pool below.

Jan moved to the Eastern Shore in 1978 and quickly made a name for herself as a talented landscape designer. As her garden design practice flourished and evolved, she found that her clients often requested that she help them site existing sculpture and/or art objects in their gardens as part of her landscape design effort.

That facet of her work was fun and challenging and inspired her to begin anew to create her own pieces that could be incorporated into the gardens she designed. The best of both worlds for Jan is to design and then build a garden that includes a custom piece of her sculpture especially suited for the location.

After I reluctantly took one last look at Jan’s garden, I reflected upon my belief that one must have a touch of whimsy in one’s life to make you smile and laugh each day. One of these days I hope to commission Jan to sculpt my favorite vegetable, the artichoke, to enliven my garden.

Known for functional, artful four-season gardens, Jan Kirsh has worked collaboratively with clients for over 30 years to bring her unique hardscape and planting style to homes on the Eastern Shore and beyond. Ever conscious of the existing architecture and surrounding site, Kirsh’s successful garden making experience allows for dramatic results, whether she is providing a quick on site consultation, staging a home for sale or drawing a master plan. She delights in turning her clients dreams into reality.

A portfolio of her landscape work can be seen at her website or contact her at 410-745-5252 (o),410-310-1198 (c) or email

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

The Artists’ Gallery Features Nancy R. Thomas in “Views from the Lighthouse”


On First Friday, the Artists’ Gallery will present the newest body of work by Nancy R.Thomas in “Views from the Lighthouse.” Each year, Nancy and four other artists, including the owners of Easton’s Troika Gallery, meet in Delaware for two weeks of painting and camaraderie. This annual trip has taken place each October for the past twenty years.

“Lighthouse View Sunset” oil by NRT, 24″ x 18″

The artists have been privileged to stay in a lighthouse replica for the past five years, complete with panoramic views of waterways and marsh grasses. Because of this, the artists no longer have to wander in search of inspiration for painting; they merely step outside and behold breathtaking views in every direction. Thomas and her colleagues are very grateful to their benefactor, the late Sam Burke, and to his sons who continue to allow them this cherished opportunity. “Views from the Lighthouse” will feature Nancy’s oil paintings from the past two years at the lighthouse and will open on First Friday, March 2nd, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Everyone is invited to come and meet the artist.

Thomas has been a partner with The Artists’ Gallery since 2010. She is a member, and past president of the Working Artists Forum, a former member of the Washington Watercolor Association and a signature member of the Baltimore Watercolor Society. Nancy previously opened The White Squirrel Gallery in Queenstown with her sister, the late Linda Regenhardt. She has been a resident artist on the Eastern Shore since 1994 and has a home gallery, Meadow Wood Studio & Gallery in Ridgely, Maryland.

The Artists’ Gallery is located at 239 High Street in Chestertown and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5 and on Sundays from 12:30-4:30 p.m. For more information about Nancy and The Artists’ Gallery, please see their website at

The Little Prince: A Review


The Aviator (Paul Cambberdella, left) and the Little Prince (Alden Swanson) in the Garfield Center’s production of Antoine de St. Exubery’s beloved tale, The Little Prince     Photo credit: Bryan Betley

The Little Prince, a classic children’s book beloved by both children and adults, has been transformed into “a performance art piece” for the Garfield Theater’s current production.

Directed by theater manager Bryan Betley, The Little Prince is based on the illustrated book by Antoine de St. Exupery, a French aviator, writer and illustrator who wrote the book in 1943 after escaping from Europe during the German occupation of World War II. A pioneering commercial pilot, he had survived a 1935 crash in the Sahara Desert while trying to set a long-distance speed record. Though a pacifist, he joined the French Air Force in the early stages of the fight against the Nazis.  He flew unarmed reconnaissance missions. After France was defeated and occupied by Nazi Germany, the French Air Force was dissolved, leaving St. Exubery without a plane to fly.  He then spent time in America trying to build support for the liberation of Europe. Afterwards, he joined the Free French Air Force based in North Africa, despite being over the maximum age for service. Flying a Lockheed P-38 out of North Africa, he disappeared over the Mediterranean in July 1944 and is believed to have died at that time. The wreckage of a plane later identified as the one he was flying was recovered in 2004.

The book, one of several written during his stay in America, features the author’s own quirky watercolor illustrations. It has been translated into some 300 languages. Selling nearly two million copies annually, it has been adapted many times into stage plays, film and TV scripts,  audio recordings, even ballet and opera. Betley lists it, in his director’s note, as “a household story that’s always been present in my life.”

Famous quotes from the book include the little prince exclaiming that “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” and “now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

The Little Prince (Alden Swanson, right) shares a tender moment with, the Rose (Zuzu Kusmider).     Photo credit: Bryan Betley

The plot is presented as the recollections of an aviator who, like St. Exupery himself – as told in one of his earlier books — crashes in the Sahara desert. While trying to repair his plane, he encounters a strange young boy who asks him to draw a sheep. After a few attempts, he draws a box and tells the boy there is a sheep in it – which the boy accepts. This begins a relationship that lasts several days during which the boy – the prince, as the aviator thinks of him – tells the story of his life. It turns out he comes from a tiny planet, which is threatened by an overgrowth of baobab trees, which he wants the sheep to eat – while at the same time not eating a sentient rose the prince has come to love.  In further conversation, he tells of his visits to other planets and the people he meets there, all of whom are in some way closed-minded and self-centered. In further adventures on Earth, the prince meets a poisonous snake, several talking roses, and a fox with whom he carries on discussions.

Alden Swanson plays the title character of The Little Prince, playing at the Garfield Center for the Arts     Photo credit: Jeff Weber

The story runs through a surprising range of emotions, and touches on several deep philosophical issues in the course of its telling. The stage version at the Garfield Center is more an impressionistic recreation of the story than a literal landscape for the plot. It has a whimsical, almost fairy-tale feeling at times, with talking animals and flowers. At the same time, it has a degree of social satire one doesn’t usually encounter in a children’s story. The production is visually very striking, with lots of movement and bright costuming and a good use of different levels on the stage.

Betley has recruited a cast that includes many young actors, though this is not in any way just a children’s play. The two main parts, the aviator and the prince, are filled by Paul Camberdella and Alden Swanson, who is a fourth grader at Garnet Elementary School.

Camberdella, who has appeared in several Garfield productions including Mr. Roberts, does a good job as the aviator, projecting a serious and sympathetic persona as he tries to understand the little prince’s fantastic adventures while tending to the practical task of getting his plane to work so he can escape the desert. He adeptly portrays the character’s transition from an initial annoyance and dismissal of the strange young child to a growing appreciation, friendship, and finally love for the little prince.

Swanson, who says she might become an actress when she grows up, is excellent in the play’s central role. She is delightful as the curious young alien, combining a youthful enthusiasm and a sense of philosophical depth that are part of the reason St. Exupery’s book has held its appeal in a way that others of the era have not. A very nice performance.

Aaron Sensening, a fifth grader from Sudlersville, has a substantial role as the fox. With previous stage appearances at the Garfield’s Musicamp and A Christmas Carroll and in Church Hill Theater’s Orlando Rising, he effectively conveys the fox’s character – at first wild and suspicious of humans, later willing to become closer with his new friend, the prince. The scenes in which he appears are some of the best in the play, as he tells the little prince how to “tame” him.  He brought a definitely foxy energy to the role, his red coverall and realistic, bushy tail adding just the right visual touch.

Ben Anthony plays the role of the snake. A veteran of Garfield Playmakers camps, he has also appeared in Miracle on 34th Street. He gives the character the mixture of danger and attraction that is essential to his appeal.

Zuzu Kusmider and Kaya Rickets are cast as flowers – the prince’s beloved rose and a desert flower, respectively. Additional speaking roles are played by Chris Williams as the King, Ray Candella as the conceited lady, Tilly Pelczar as the business woman, Joe Diggs as the lamplighter and Brendan Cooper as the geographer. While their parts are brief, each brings a certain personality to the usually humorous scene they appear in.  And each of those scenes has a lesson, a moral, an insight , something about the soul of that person. The king was kingly, calling out orders to be obeyed by his royal command; the conceited lady was very conceited; the business woman was very efficient and business-like.  The lamplighter noted how the days went faster and faster, evening following morning with seemingly less and less time in between to enjoy the day.

Members of the cast of The Little Prince show a “frightening” drawing by the Aviator of a” elephant being eaten by a boa constrictor.”     Photo credit: Bryan Betley

Filling out the cast and taking multiple roles as flowers, stars, echoes, and “visual narrators” are Alex Raimond, Bella Williams, Ben Rickets, Severin Schut, Haley Pemberton, Delaney McCreary and Aiden Dunlap.  They do a wonderful job of portraying various animals and elements in the desert.  They are especially effective as the birds who carry the little prince away and,  in the very first scene, as the tail and wings of the airplane as it flies, then shakes, plunges, and crashes into the desert.

Joe Diggs as the Lamplighter and alden Swanson as the Little Prince

At times, some of the younger actors were hard to hear; especially when they were not facing directly forward  or when they delivered their lines too quickly. This became less evident in the second act, perhaps after some reminders that they needed to project to the full house or perhaps after  was adjusting to the individual vocal styles. This is the kind of problem that usually gets worked out after the first couple of performances.

The set is a visual delight, with a background of fanciful constellations and a large crashed airplane to one side of the stage. Piano music by Seth Betley adds to the atmosphere.

Play-goers unfamiliar with St. Exupery’s original story may find the plot a bit slow at first, but the pace picks up soon after the beginning and the energy is palpable in the later scenes. Don’t expect a traditional story line. The play is more about various philosophies of life and conflicting emotions. Written during wartime, it asks what are the really important issues in life. So what if you are the most beautiful lady of fashion or the most successful business owner when everything around you is in danger?  Young audiences are likely to unquestioningly immerse themselves in the delightful fantasy aspects of talking animals and flowers while adults are more likely to enjoy and ponder the philosophical aspects.

This is Bryan Betley’s first time as a director and he did an excellent job, especially in the choreography of the plane crash and the flowers as well as the staging of the scenes with the little prince and the fox.  What could have been chaotic scenes with too many young actors running around or static with just two actors talking instead flowed naturally.  We look forward to more from Betley.

The Little Prince will continue through Feb. 25, with performances Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and military personnel, and $10 for students of all ages.  To purchase tickets visit the theater website or call the box office at 410-810-2060.


















Spy Minute: For the Love of Pippin with WC’s Ernie Green


For anyone who fondly remembers the Broadway musical Pippin as they were growing up in the 1970s, it is tough to imagine a bad version of that classic. Filled with memorable songs, a relatively simple plot, and lyrics that seemed universal, Pippin was, and is, the kind of theater production that any would succeed anywhere if given the opportunity.

And one such opportunity comes to Chestertown fast and furious this week. As a project of the music department at Washington College, a very limited production of the such will be performed next Thursday and Friday in the Gibson Center for the Arts on campus.

This bit of news made the Spy curious about a few things about this “pop up” production and we tracked down the director and Washington College faculty member Ernie Green about this short-lived student effort.

While Ernie, a Peabody-trained conductor, lecturer in music, and director of Live Arts Maryland, is comfortable in the academic canon of classical music and other diverse, and sometimes very challenging, forms of music, he admits in the Spy interview of his lifelong love for Pippin. The project also connects him back to a former career when he often was a frequent collaborator with the late Marvin Hamlisch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, and Broadway talent.

As his cast of students prepares for their free performance on Thursday and Friday night at the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts we talked to Ernie about the role of student productions, the magic of musical theater, and the endearing and enduring impression it can make on all ages.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Pippin please go here


RiverArts Launches Film Society with Screening of The Butler


RiverArts, a dynamic, regional arts center whose mission is to be the place where the arts meet the community, has launched a Film Society that focuses on film as a visual art form and forum for social commentary.  A screening of The Butler will kick off the 2018 season with a talkback by Wil Haygood at Sumner Hall on Saturday, March 3 at 5:00.  Register on the RiverArts website or call 410 778 6300.

The Butler tells the story of Cecil Gaines, the African American son of a sharecropper who serves as a White House butler to eight different presidents from Truman to Reagan. The film is based on a 2008 Washington Post story by Wil Haygood who served as an associate producer to the movie Haygood’s article, entitled A Butler Well Served by This Election, described Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House for more than 30 years, under eight different administrations, as “a black man unknown to the headlines.”

Filmmaking is a complex and powerful art form in our world.  The RiverArts Film Society mission is to provide transformative cinematic experiences by screening films with diverse perspectives followed by thought provoking discussions.  RiverArts will partner with Sumner Hall and the Mainstay to show monthly films with talkbacks at their venues which offer large screens and an intimate, coffee-house ambiance.

The RiverArts Film Society is a membership club with an annual fee of $30 for one person or $50 for two. Membership includes free admission to up to ten films per year that include talkbacks and Q&A by engaging, knowledgeable presenters.  You can join the 2018 Film Society on the RiverArts website,, click on film society, or call 410 778 6300.

The 2018 screenings are curated by Robert Earl Price and Pam Whyte.

They have chosen three films in each of four themes.  Screening dates will be posted as soon as confirmed.

The Butler

Films about African Americans
Curated by Robert Earl Price
Nothing But a Man

Do the Right Thing

Bergman Films
Curated by Robert Earl Price
The Seventh Seal
Cries and Whispers

1960’s Cultural Phenoms
Curated by Pam Whyte
The Graduate
To Kill a Mockingbird
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid

Curated by Pam Whyte
Anne Frank’s Holocaust
JFK:  The Lost Bullet
9/11:  Stories in Fragments

More information about the film society, the film screenings, and filmmaking classes can be found on the website,, click on film society.  Louise Miller and Lani Seikaly chair the RiverArts Film Advisory Board and welcome any ideas you have for future film screenings, classes or workshops.

Chestertown RiverArts is located at 315 High Street, Suite 106, Chestertown, MD  21620 – (in the breezeway).  Winter Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday, 11 AM to 5:30 PM, Saturday 10 AM to 5:30PM, and open on First Fridays until 8 PM.

Church Hill Theatre Announces Audition Dates for Pippin


Auditions for Pippin, the Tony Award-winning musical, will be held at Church Hill Theatre on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm and Monday and Wednesday, March 5 & 7, 2018 at 6:30 pm. Sylvia Maloney will direct this production with Ray Remesch as music director and choreography by Cavin Moore.

This remarkable musical, which is a fictional account of the life of Pippin, son of King Charlemagne, opened on Broadway in October, 1972 with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Roger O. Hirson.  It was recently revived on Broadway in 2013.

This allegory requires 24 actors to bring it to life. The principal and supporting roles are as follows:
Leading Player: (male or female, age 20’s through 40’s) acts as narrator, leader of the players’ troupe, strong singer, dancer and actor.
Pippin: (male 20’s to 30”s tenor/baritone) strong singer and actor, son of Charlemagne, longing for a purpose in life, naïve and discontent.
Charlemagne (Charles): (male 40’s to 60’s, baritone) King of Holy Roman Empire, warrior, strong, prideful ruler.
Lewis: (male, 20’s to 30’s, baritone) stepbrother to Pippin, proud, egotistical, great physique.
Fastrada: (female, 40’s to late 50’s, soprano) Pippin’s conniving stepmother, mother of Lewis, sexy, smart and deceitful.
Berthe: (female, age 50’s to 70’s, alto) Pippin’s saucy grandmother; brassy, wise, energetic and comedic.
Catherine: (female, age 20’s to 30’s, mezzo soprano) Widow, mother of Theo, lovely, romantic, graceful, Pippin’s love interest.
Theo: (male, age 10 to 15, tenor) young son of Catherine, playful, innocent.
Ensemble: (8 male, 8 female, all ages, all voice ranges) must be able to sing, dance and play a variety of roles throughout the play.

For the vocal audition, please prepare 45 second to 1 minute long excerpts of two (2) contrasting songs to be sung a cappella to demonstrate the range of your voice and the variety of your singing style. Auditioners should be prepared to read from the script and to learn a brief dance routine.  Technicians are also needed and are encouraged to attend auditions.

Pippin performance dates run from Friday, June 8th through Sunday, June 24th, 2018. For more information, call Sylvia Maloney at 410-778-3783 or email

“Heroin & Healing” Exhibition by Kent County Arts Council


The Kent County Arts Council Presents a new Exhibition: “Heroin & Healing: How the Opioid Epidemic and Hurting Go Together.” The exhibit will be on view March 2-31, 2018 at the Vincent & Leslie Prince Raimond Arts Building, 101 Spring Avenue, Chestertown.

Join us on Friday, March 2, 2018 – during Downtown Chestertown First Friday – for the opening of the Kent County Arts Council’s (KCAC) next exhibition: “Heroin & Healing”, a New Day Campaign program curated by Peter Bruun of Bruun Studios.

Across the country stories of heroin and other opioid overdoses are leading the evening news.  Young and old, black and white, rich and poor, the disease is an equal-opportunity killer.  Peter Bruun created the New Day Campaign =around the concept of using the arts to help erase the stigma of addiction and helping families and communities begin to heal.

Prior to founding the New Day Campaign in 2015, Bruun served as founding Exhibitions Educator for The Park School of Baltimore from  2000-2005, pioneering a gallery program that put side-by-side works by local and national artists with art and objects from and by Park student and faculty. In 2005, seeking to expand his artistic,  curatorial and social engagement reach to all of Baltimore, Bruun founded the non-profit organization Art on Purpose, dedicated to using art to bring people together around issues and ideas. In June 2010, Bruun stepped down as founding director of Art on Purpose to pursue full time his own social engagement studio practice under the aegis of Bruun Studios. Bruun founded the New Day Campaign in early 2015, following the death of his daughter Elisif from heroin addiction in 2014.

KCAC Director John Schratwieser met Bruun in Baltimore and attended a few New Day Campaign shows in 2015.  He invited Bruun to come to Kent County and work with local practitioners, nonprofit and government service agencies, and Washington College to create an exhibition and program of related events to engage the community in a broader, more open conversation about addiction and healing through art.

The exhibition brings to Kent County works of art by seven artists whose art illuminate  themes of the exhibition related to heroin and healing:

Elisif Bruun, daughter of Peter Bruun, died of a heroin overdose on February 11, 2014, leaving behind a precociously strong body of diverse artwork. The exhibition includes her last drawing: a self-portrait completed just 20 days before her passing.

Peter Bruun, exhibition curator and father of Elisif Bruun, is a long-time artist whose figurative abstract art carries layered narratives. The exhibition features a watercolor drawing inspired by his daughter’s journey that invokes the tension between desiring grounded wellness and an unsteady mind’s impulse toward self-destructive behaviors.

Phylicia Ghee is a photographer and healing artist who presents and documents ritualistic performances rich in spiritual expression and sensory experience. Phylicia, who was the Resident Healing Artist in the New Day Campaign’s 2015 inaugural season, will exhibit a video in the exhibition.

Michelle Labonte is a Baltimore-based artist whose work documents her feelings, observations, and perspectives from living with debilitating depression and other related disorders. The artist’s works in the exhibition offer an illuminating look inside the heart of someone hurting.

Mark V. Lord is a photographer whose 2016 photographs of individuals who saved lives by administering Naloxone to opioid overdose victims where featured in a 2017 Maryland statewide public awareness campaign. A selection of photographs from that project will be included in the exhibition.

Anthony Ness, who lives near Washington DC, is a person in recovery whose colorful hyper-realist art expresses his emotional journey through using and sobriety. Several of his works will be included in the exhibition.

Sharon Strouse is an artist and art therapist. Since the passing of her daughter, Kristin Rita Strouse, from suicide in 2001, Sharon has immersed herself in healing from grief. The author of Artful Grief and a nationally known presenter in art therapy and recovery from grief, Sharon will share some of her own collages created in her own therapeutic journey after Kristin’s death.

The Month-long show will feature five special events:

OPENING – First Friday, March 2, from 4 – 7 p.m. Raimond Arts Building

GALLERY TALK – Saturday, March 3, from 2 – 4 p.m. Join Peter Bruun and other artists featured in the show for a conversation about their works.  Raimond Arts Building.

TRAUMA, ART & HEALING – Sunday, March 4, from 2 – 4:30 p.m. Led by healing artists Phylicia Ghee and Peter Bruun, a community conversation followed by a healing experience workshop.  Hynson Lounge, Washington College

Healing Workshop is FREE, but space is limited.

FILM & DISCUSSION – Friday, March 30, 7 p.m.,A screening of a 36-minute long video version of an art installation created by Peter Bruun about the life and passing of his daughter, followed by a public discussion with the artist and curator about his piece and the founding of the New Day Campaign. Norman James Theater, Washington College

OPEN MIC & CLOSING RECEPTION – Saturday, March 31. Open Mic – 3 – 5 p.m.  Sharing/Informing/Healing: An Open-Mic Experience is a community-oriented event sharing a wide ranging spectrum of experiences and feelings related to the opioid epidemic specifically and addiction generally. Rich in fellowship and hope, the event features music, stories, open mic opportunities, resource information, and a special slideshow highlighting remembrances of those we have lost, expressions of gratitude for those who have been there for us, well-wishes for those who are hurting, and art of all kinds related to recovery, wellness, and hurting. Featuring Sombarkin’.  Garfield Center for the Arts.

CLOSING RECEPTION Saturday, March 31. 5 – 7 p.m. Raimond Building.

The Kent County Arts Council and the New Day Campaign are proud to be working with multiple local partners/sponsors.  They include: REACH: Prevention, Education, Advocacy Center at Washington College; Maryland Coalition of Families; Kent County Behavioral Health & the Opioid Intervention Team; Eastern Shore Psychological Services; Chester River Wellness Alliance; and Herbal Alchemy.

New Day Campaign

Kent County Arts Council

Call for Artists: “Birds and Bees, and Their Houses”


Although we are amid this cold wintery season, it is not too early to be thinking about Spring. To usher in this delightful season, The RiverArts Galleries will be hosting an eclectic and unique show, Birds and Bees, and their Houses in March.

We invite you to exhibit your creative works that exemplify the birds, bees, and their houses.  Two and three-dimensional bird themed art, functional or non-functional bird houses, wild and whimsical, mixed media, will all be welcomed. Let your creativity run wild!

Artists are encouraged to submit works made from, but not limited to, wood, metal, natural materials, glass, tile, clay, or fiber. Combinations of materials are encouraged.

Bird –  themed two-dimensional paintings, drawings, etchings, fiber art, etc., are also welcomed.  This show will not include photography or water fowl, however.

The Birds and Bees, and Their Houses will be curated by RiverArts members Rob Glebe, accomplished Chestertown metal artist, and Laura Ventura, active potter at the RiverArts Clay Studio.

Exhibition Dates: March 1 – 31
Drop Off: Sunday, February 25, 2- 4 pm
Monday, February 26. 10 am – 5 pm
Opening Reception: March 2, 5 – 8 pm
Curator & Artists’ Talk: March 8, 5:30

Although online submission is not required for this show, we highly encourage artists to pre-register.

Please visit and click on Exhibits for more information. You may also call the gallery at 410.778.6300 or email

Chestertown RiverArts is located at 315 High Street, Suite 106, Chestertown, MD  21620 – (in the breezeway).  Winter Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday, 11 AM to 5:30 PM, Saturday 10 AM to 5:30PM, and open on First Fridays until 8 PM.

Art Review: Joanne S. Scott at RiverArts by Mary McCoy


Visiting Joanne Scott’s show, Elements, at RiverArts is almost like visiting her studio. On view through February 25, it’s a chance to see what this accomplished Chestertown artist is working on currently, but you also get a fascinating taste of her work over the past five decades.

Half the show presents recent work, intriguingly mixed with an equal number of works dating back as far as 1965. It’s a teasing glimpse, kind of a half retrospective, of Scott’s fresh and engaging work, and it makes you wish you could see more.

Deeply influenced by her many years of living near the water, both in the Chesapeake region and on Maine’s Monhegan Island, Scott is primarily a landscape painter. She explores both open vistas and intimate views of the living world, always experimenting with color, composition and ways of capturing the mood of each moment. Throughout her work, there’s a sense of awe at the beauty and pure aliveness of the natural world.

“Orme’s Buy Boat,” watercolor 1972

The broad marsh flooded with light in “River Marsh,” an acrylic painting from 2017, hums with vitality as the billowing, heat-hazed trees beyond lean inward as if in conversation with two luminous white clouds. In her close-up paintings of flowers, such as “Eight Poppies” from 1985, each blossom is an individual, full of energy and character. The effect is even more so in her three new poppy watercolors painted in 2017 where each flower is animated with sketchy pencil lines and crisp washes in delicate shades of pink casually but succinctly defining their papery petals.

In work that is all about close observation, Scott explores how shadow sculpts the deck of a buy boat, how leaves spread out to catch sunlight, and how the weightlessness of a luminous moon underscores the quietude of the nocturnal earth below. Her work has always hovered between realism and abstraction. Sheets of ice around a boat dissolve into washy fields of textured color, while the clouds towering over a flat Eastern Shore landscape become a study of color and radiant energy.

Part of the pleasure of Scott’s work is that she celebrates the things we love so much about the outdoors. There’s a warm, familiar feeling about her water-rounded pebbles, graceful boats and rippling water. Without pretension or romanticizing, she paints them in a clear, forthright way.

But while her work may seem effortless, there’s a great deal of skill and planning behind it, and it’s fun to scout out her methods in the underlying sketches and the layers of brushstrokes describing shimmering light and water. Through decades as a working artist and teacher of drawing and painting, Scott has honed her process, and there’s a sense throughout this show that she revels in finding both bold and nuanced ways to convey her experience of each scene. Perhaps that’s why she included “Belfast Series #3 Study and Print” from 1986. It offers a fascinating look at how the study, a confident pencil sketch of light and shadow falling across a gabled house, served as a planning tool for the print, an inviting aquatint etching.

“Heron Point Look Out,” a watercolor from 2011, says a lot about her skill in conveying her deep affection for our watery landscapes. In this snow scene, she captured a grove of slim trees glimpsed in a slow, graceful dance as if mimicking the marshy creek below as it winds out to the river. Masterfully simplifying her forms, a few strokes of gray wash convey a distant riverside house and the merest suggestion of Chestertown bridge beyond.

“Heron Point Look Out,” watercolor, 2011

There’s something about the work of an elder artist that is spare and radiant—look at de Kooning’s late paintings or Matisse’s cut-outs. Scott, too, has found this uncomplicated simplicity, and it’s a pleasure to share in her appreciation as she reveals our familiar world in pencil and paint.

Mary McCoy is an artist and writer who has the good fortune to live beside an old steamboat wharf on the Chester River. She is a former art critic for the Washington Post and several art publications. She enjoys kayaking the river and walking her family farm where she collects ideas and materials for the environmental art she creates, often in collaboration with her husband Howard. They have exhibited their work in the U.S., Ireland, Wales and New Zealand.