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Fireside artists share talents at Charlestown

On-site art studio perfect for painting, drawing, and pottery

Created date

November 8th, 2017
Joni Guhne works on her watercolor portrait of a birdwatcher she met in Cape May, N.J.

Joni Guhne works on her watercolor portrait of a birdwatcher she met in Cape May, N.J.


When Jody Primoff moved to Charlestown five years ago, she hoped to connect with others who shared her love of art and passion for painting. It turns out she didn’t have to look far. Before she even settled into her new home, Jody was welcomed into the Fireside Artists, a group of Charlestown neighbors who gather every Friday to paint, draw, and sculpt. 

“The group is made up of all levels of proficiency, and any resident who is interested in art is welcome to join us. We have a beautifully renovated studio with plenty of room for whatever interests you—painting, drawing, stained glass, pottery,” says Jody.  

Creative oasis

Charlestown’s art studio is a creative oasis for people who live at the Catonsville, Md., Erickson Living community. Each artist has his or her own storage cabinet and drawer. The studio is equipped with a kiln for firing pottery, spacious work tables, and lots of natural light. It is located across the hall from a music studio, where musicians often play as the artists work.

Much of the artwork produced by the Fireside Artists is featured throughout the state of Maryland in art galleries, public libraries, college art departments, and business venues. Their work is featured year-round in the community’s own gallery located in the Charlestown Square Clubhouse near the community’s Fireside restaurant and lounge, for which they are named. 

Jody specializes in landscapes inspired from her time spent on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She paints in various mediums, including watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, and pastels. Her work has been featured in galleries from New York to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

She currently serves as secretary of the Fireside Arts Committee, the group that maintains the gallery. 

“We rotate the displays throughout the year,” says Jody. “Each month we feature an ‘artist of the month,’ and twice a year we have an all-member exhibit in the gallery. We call it a living gallery because the artists can change out their paintings when they complete a new piece or when one of their pieces is sold.”

Artists of all skill levels can find a home in the Fireside Artists gallery. 

This August, the display featured teenage artists from Jubilee Arts Baltimore as the artist of the month. Jubilee Arts is a community program providing students of the Sandtown-Winchester and surrounding neighborhoods classes in fine art, creative writing, and dance. The program helps aspiring artists improve their fine art skills with the goal of assembling a professional portfolio. 

“We want to encourage beginners and help them along as well as professionals who sell their work,” says Fireside Artist Joni Guhne. “Each of us strives for the next great painting—whether it’s our first or our one-hundredth—that we know is just a brush stroke away.”

Fresh perspective 

Since moving to Charlestown roughly two years ago, Joni, a former journalist for the Baltimore Sun, now has plenty of time to pursue her passion for painting portraits. 

“[News] writing sucked all my creativity out of me,” says Joni. “After I retired, I started taking classes at Anne Arundel Community College. At first I studied pastels, but I loved the look of watercolor paintings, so I switched to watercolor. I love painting animals, landscapes, and still life, but my true love is portraitures.” 

Because the watercolor process requires multiple glazes that need to dry in between applications, Joni paints all of her subjects from photographs. She paints in her apartment home, which doubles as her art studio. 

“I have very nice light in my apartment. I’m in the Harbor View residence building, and I look out toward the skyline of Baltimore atop the tree canopies. Three are sliding glass doors that lead to my balcony, and I have a table with my paints and brushes set up there,” says Joni.

Joni belongs to the Annapolis Watercolor Club, the Baltimore Watercolor Society, and is represented in Benfield Gallery in Severna Park. Last year, she painted portraits of each of the women who work in Charlestown’s sales office.

“When an artist is involved in painting, he or she is removed from the stress of daily life and immersed in a world of creation,” says Joni. “Time passes unnoticed. The resulting picture or object brings utter satisfaction to the soul of the artist. The popular saying is that ‘artwork is work,’ but don’t let that fool you. The artist wouldn’t wish to be doing anything else.”

Note: Mel Tansill contributed to this article.