Art and the outdoors have always gone hand in hand. The earliest known artworks decorate prehistoric cave walls and depict the animals important to man.
There’s a famous cave painting in Indonesia of a cow-like creature that’s more than 40,000 years old. The walls of the Cave of Beasts in Egypt are decorated with more than 5,000 drawings of animals such as elephants, ostriches, gazelles, and giraffes.
Those early works of art aren’t limited to crude paintings, either. Dozens of pillars in Turkey, more than 10,000 years old, are decorated with intricate reliefs of lions, cranes, snakes and crocodiles. During the Ice Age, one especially creative soul carved an amazing sculpture of two swimming reindeer out of a mammoth tusk. It’s now one of the oldest works housed in the British Museum.
Artists have long sought inspiration from the natural world. From ducks to bears to fish, contemporary artists compete every year to have their original artwork displayed on various hunting and fishing stamps across the nation.
Every year, top carvers convene in Ocean City for the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving and Art Festival. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this prestigious competition. Artists even have their own kind of painting that’s actually done outside. It’s called en plein air in French, and it literally translates to outdoors.
I’ve written in the past about some of my favorite local artists — Jeanne Norton Hammett, George F. McWilliams, Tommy Deagle — and how we needed a new house with plenty of wall space since we were running out of room to display our collection. We ended up with a house on the water, so the problem is more acute than ever because of all those windows. Still, you can add another artist to that list: Angela M. Wathen.
We have one of her paintings from her series “A Crab’s Life” that adorns the wall of our sun porch. It’s the perfect place to hang a picture of a crab because that’s the room where we consume the bounty of crustaceans that we pull from the Patuxent River. During the winter months, I like to gaze at the colorful crab painted on a wooden board, a nice reminder of what will be visiting our crab pots later this year.
While Wathen was born in Washington D.C., she’s now a St. Mary’s County resident. Wathen has shown her works in local galleries and her artwork will be featured at the St. Clements Island Museum.
The museum will be hosting the creations of four local artists for the next two months. From 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, the public is invited for a reception to meet local artists Harriet Gossett, Jeanne Huett, Trish Clark and Wathen.
Meet and mingle with the artists while enjoying live music, light fare and beverages and the art show at the museum. Admission is free for this special event.
This talented group of artists will have original artwork for sale at the event. Site supervisor Christina Barbour told me this is the first pop-up show of its kind for the museum.
“The artwork in this show features aspects of Southern Maryland that relate to our area’s culture and history. You’ll find landscapes, watersides, and different aspects of the area,” Barbour said.
The artists featured in the show use varied mediums to create their works, from paintings and collage, to photography and art made from books that were discarded and recycled into beautiful 3D creations.
The artwork will be on display and for sale through March 30 at the St. Clements Island Museum. For more information about Saturday’s reception or the pop-up art show, call the museum at 301-769-2222.
Tubman park is the place to be in February
Today is the last day of January, which means tomorrow kicks off the first day of Black History Month.
Maryland is home to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center. Located on the Eastern Shore, the park is about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Charles County. If you’ve never been, you might want to consider visiting on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday in February to take advantage of the special programs at the park to commemorate Black History Month.
On Fridays in February, enjoy a ranger-led introduction and learn about the hidden symbolism incorporated into the design concept of the park and visitor center. On Saturdays in February, convene in the classroom to see live animals native to Dorchester County that would have been part of the landscape during Tubman’s time and are still native inhabitants of that area today.
Professional handlers from Maryland Park Service’s Scales and Tales will have a black rat snake, terrapin, barred owl, American kestrel and other raptors on hand for visitors to observe and learn from.
A full listing of the special, family-friendly events at the park can be found at https://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Documents/2020_HTURRSP-BlackHistoryMonth.pdf.
More trout have arrived
Hutchins Pond in Calvert County received 450 golden and rainbow trout and Myrtle Grove Pond in Charles County received 650 of the same. If Prince George’s County is somewhere you’re willing to travel to fish, Lake Artemesia was also stocked this week.
Trout fishing is a welcome diversion during the winter months when other fishing opportunities are not as readily available.