NEW CARROLLTON – Local residents who are lovers and supporters of the arts can now discover unique and exciting art exhibits at Artomatic 2015 for free. The brand new Artomatic exhibit opened in Prince George’s County on Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. for residents to see all genres of visual, creative and […]
NEW CARROLLTON – Local residents who are lovers and supporters of the arts can now discover unique and exciting art exhibits at Artomatic 2015 for free.
The brand new Artomatic exhibit opened in Prince George’s County on Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. for residents to see all genres of visual, creative and performing art. The exhibit draws hundreds of artists and performers throughout the D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas to showcase their talents for a six-week exhibition in a 90,000-square-foot facility provided by the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) and Department of Parks and Recreation.
Many who were in attendance were not quite sure what Artomatic was, but came to show support and were pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
“In all honesty and fairness, I have no clue what this is, but if you know me you know I have two artists in my family so I am for people buying art and promoting art,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III said. “This is important to us because it not only promotes the arts in Prince George’s County and exposes local artists, but it combines economical development.
“I’ve learned that it’s really about STEAM, not just science and math, its art. It is not just bringing the buildings here. It’s about bringing the artists and the culture here. We want as many people to come here to see this great county and to know we have combined all of them altogether.”
M-NCPPC visited Artomatic in 2012 when it was held in Crystal City, Va. and started lobbying to have the arts project brought to this county. It is Artomatic’s first time being held in Maryland and there are over 500 artists and performing artists from around the metropolitan area on display. They range from novice artists to more professional artists.
“Having Artomatic here is a huge plus. This event is important because we need to expose our residents to the arts. We make a big investment into the arts with several arts center like Harmony Hall, Public Playhouse and the Bowie Performing Arts Center. The arts are apart of the creative class and it typically brings economic activity to a community,” said Ronnie Gathers, director of Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation Department. “We bought this building as park police headquarters, but we are undergoing plans to renovate it to accommodate the police. So we figured we would make use of it in the meantime by bringing in Artomatic. Most of the municipalities are elated that we can bring an event such as this.”
Artomatic is a non-profit organization headed by a volunteer Board of Directors and is funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Artomatic is well known for transforming empty spaces into arts communities that create events for tens of thousands of visitors for free. Anyone can show art at Artomatic and artists are selected on a first come, first serve basis. Professional development workshops, tours seminars and themed events are also held throughout the exhibition.
“Artomatic started in 1999 in a vacant building that happened to be a laundromat and some artists said it would be cool if we had some art in here. Several artists got together and brought their work and that’s how the name evolved,” said Micheline Kirsch, president of the Artomatic board of directors. “It’s a mix of the word ‘art’ and the word ‘laundromat.’”
The last few Artomatic events had about 75,000 visitors and more than 1,000 artists. Artomatic uses the targeted areas as an opportunity to reach a new audience and learn more about the rich, vibrant art scene there.
Kirsch was thrilled to be at the event and is still looking for artists to be apart of the event.
“We really like building a community of artists and each place is different because its dependent on the artists that show up and the community. It’s everything from new artists to people who are well established. Some have been here from the beginning and others, it is their first Artomatic experience,” Kirsch said. “We have received a very warm welcome here in Prince George’s County. It is different being with the park service, but they’ve done a great job doing landscaping and our partners brought great things to the table.”
Those who were in attendance at the grand opening included Prince George’s County councilmembers Danielle Glaros and Andrea Harrison, New Carrollton Mayor Andrew Hanko, Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation, members of the business community, and of course all the artists were present at the event. All were anxious to go inside and see what the excitement is all about.
The showcase enhances visibility of all types of local artists, such as Curtis G. Woody, who is an expert in creating mixed media collage paintings.
“I use all different kinds of paint photographs and words and mix them together to tell a story about history. I try to make history come alive,” Woody said.
Woody has been an artist all of his life. He studied commercial art and began his career as an illustrator.
“I was afraid of color, but after 20 years of doing black and white, I started using little types of color and buttons and other things,” Woody said. “People love my work and are amazed. Even the pieces about slavery are positive. I have music themes, themes about baseball, themes about the history of Prince George’s County, literature, dance and women. I love creating work with aged photographs or I will take a photograph and turn it into an aged photograph.”
Woody represented the county when he participated at the Artomatic showcase in Crystal City three years ago.
“I sold a couple of pieces too there,” Woody said. “I also met hundreds of artists in different genres and I can learn a lot form looking at other artists work. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet a lot of people who are lovers of the art and just to get my name out there. The public should meet and talk to the artist and learn why they do what they do.”