By Katie V. Jones
On a rainy Monday afternoon, artists from around the DMV, as well as from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, arrived at the Montpelier Arts Center, where they were greeted by members of the Laurel Art Guild (LAG). Each artist brought artwork that had been accepted for display in the guild’s 54th annual juried exhibit. By the afternoon’s end, various images, including of a butcher cutting meat, a squirrel and a sewing machine, along with a number of portraits, were propped against the walls of the gallery, waiting to be hung.
“It can’t help being an interesting show,” said Sally Davies, a guild member, whose work “Fractured Truth” captured first prize last year. “It’s a mix of different mediums and styles.”
Davies’ entry this year, “Would You Like to Swing on a Star,” is a departure from her usual style, the Greenbelt resident said, adding that she is venturing into abstract painting. Featuring three musicians, the colorful painting reflects her feelings for a ukulele band she performed with outdoors during the pandemic.
“It’s playful and fun,” Davies said. “I hope people who look at it see that joy.”
Because of the gallery’s small size, the show typically showcases between 45 and 50 pieces of art, according to Teresa Ficaretta, who coordinated the exhibit. Pieces for the show were selected by Lindsay McCulloch, who served as this year’s juror. McColloch is an art professor at Anne Arundel Community College.
Mary Ellen Simon, president of LAG, spoke to the juror’s role. “Deadline for entries was in March. That allows plenty of time for the juror to look over all of the entries to choose which ones merit inclusion in the show,” she said.
Simon added that one of her pastels, “Snow Shadows,” was accepted for this year’s show. Ficaretta also had one of her works selected, an oil painting titled “Alterations.” She noted that the piece took her six months to complete and that she benefited from a critique session the guild held at one of its meetings.
“I got stuck on it,” Ficaretta said. “That’s what’s great about this group. Every meeting we have something of value for everyone.”
LAG holds 10 monthly educational art programs a year, Simon said. Topics range from linocut printing demonstrations and learning different painting techniques to to critiques offered by guild members or guest speakers. The guild also displays members’ artwork at local venues, including at Wheaton’s Brookside Gardens and at Patuxent Research Refuge.
“It is really a nice group of artists,” said Simon, of the guild’s 46 members. “They are very supportive.”
From the start, LAG has been holding its monthly meetings and hosting its juried show at Montpelier Arts Center.
“We have a long history and a great partnership,” said Beth Crisman, the gallery director at Montpelier. “The juried exhibit tends to exhibit not just members, but nonmembers from out of state. It brings a lot of people together.”
It is the group’s camaraderie that Davies likes. A professional illustrator and graphic designer by trade, Davies enjoys meeting with the other artists and attending LAG’s meetings as she branches out into new mediums and styles for her art.
“For so many years, I was doing my own thing,” Davies said. “They have great programs and wonderful guest speakers. There are lots of opportunities to paint with other people. It’s been very nice.”
The Laurel Art Guild 54th Annual Open Juried Exhibition runs through June 4 at the Montpelier Arts Center, 9652 Muirkirk Road. For more information, call 301.377.7800.