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Feast for the eyes

Fireside Restaurant caters to an appetite for art

Created date

April 24th, 2012

Delicious, mouth-watering dishes aren t the only items on the menu this spring at Charlestown s Fireside Restaurant. The dining room at the Catonsville Erickson Living community is also serving up a collection of impressive original artwork as part of a new exhibit, Spring Into Art. The show, which runs through June 13, features works in oil, watercolor, acrylic, pencil, pastel, ink, and collage by a dozen or so Charlestown artists. One of the interesting aspects to our shows is that the experience of the artists varies greatly, says Phyllis Yingling, a painter and member of the Fireside Art Committee, the group that hosts the quarterly art shows. We have some people who are lifelong artists and some who never picked up a brush or a pencil until they moved to Charlestown.

Appetite for art

Spring Into Art is the Fireside Art Committee s seventh exhibit since the group formed in 2010. The brainchild of artist Don Griswold, the idea for the shows originated from a simple observation. I was eating lunch in the Fireside and I thought, What a shame to not use the space to display artwork from the talented people who live here, says Don, who began painting in his mid-50s as a hobby. After all, most restaurants have some sort of art on the walls to create an ambience and enhance the dining experience. Don, committee chairman, along with eight founding members, procured a grant from the Treasure Chest (Charlestown s on-site flea market) to have a permanent display system installed in the Fireside. Their goal: to create a unique, aesthetic dining experience while extending knowledge and appreciation of the visual arts within the Charlestown community. To me it made perfect sense, says Vinson Bankoski, Charlestown s associate executive director. Bankoski was serving as director of dining services in 2010 and met with Don about his idea. Our mission here at Charlestown is to share our gifts to create a community that celebrates life. This was a literal manifestation of that mission, says Bankoski.

Down to a fine art

Each show has an opening reception complete with entertainment and refreshments. In preparation for the show, the Fireside Art Committee assists artists with every aspect of exhibiting, including helping the artist develop a statement for each piece, completing the exhibition application, taking sample photographs, framing, and delivering the artwork to the site. A native of Wilmington, Del., Don began painting while employed at DuPont. Art is a lot like reading a book, he says. You enjoy it and submerge yourself in it, and it becomes your interpretation of the subject. It s a conversation, actually. The colors talk to you, and when you re finished you either approve or disapprove of what you ve created and hope that others like what you ve done. Phyllis, a retired teacher for the hearing impaired, began actively pursuing painting after retirement. My husband began taking ceramics classes at Catonsville Community College, so I decided to take some courses on oil and watercolor, says Phyllis. Upon moving to the community six years ago, Phyllis joined an informal art group that meets weekly. I like to work in oils, says Phyllis. I have an easel down in one of the art studios where a group of us meet and work. I mostly paint landscapes and still life from photographs; however, I ve recently started doing portraits. Now that we live at Charlestown, I have the opportunity to pursue things like painting and other interests that were merely just hobbies before. Most of the works featured in the Spring Into Art show are for sale. Prices range from $25 to $385, and 15% of all sales go to Charlestown s fund dedicated to assisting eligible residents who experience unexpected financial difficulty. It s been a learning process for everyone involved, says Don. There s a lot of work that goes into putting together the shows, from creating the brochures to cataloging the artwork, advertising, entertainment, and refreshments. But once you sell a piece of your artwork, it really is encouraging and makes you feel like you re on the right track, and it makes you want to do more.