Featured Artist: Janice Kirsh

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Photo: Best in Show – Janice Kirsh. Paint Annapolis “Charles Carroll Overlook” – 1st place awarded by the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association and the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts (2011)

My travels last week took me to Howard County, Maryland to see an exhibit at the Columbia Art Center. The artist lives just a hop, skip and a jump away over two county lines. I’ll refrain from using the term “local artist” because in some individual’s minds, the term connotes an amateur artist which is far from the truth when it comes to Janice Kirsh’s talent.

Janice’s art education started with the Maryland Institute of Art and then onto the Shuler School of Fine Arts where she studied the techniques and methodology of the Old World Masters. With time, she found her own style. Her strong foundational skills are evident. She’s continued studying with some of the best of the best and has been taught by master artists such as Quang Ho, Scott Christiansen, David Leffel, Sherrie McGraw and other top-notch painters who are also known for their top-notch teaching workshops.

Chasing the Hibiscus 14″ x 18″

Although she does some studio work, Janice’s love for plein air painting often finds her in gardens and outdoors settings. Her paintings are well-executed because she is skilled at bringing different light and atmospheric variables to the canvas. For collectors who have an appreciation of the difficulty that it takes to get it right, they will fully appreciate what they see. Particularly telling is her only coastal/seascape painting in her current exhibit. The horses with people riding on the beach is only one of many of her exceptional oils. To my eyes, in “Morning Ride” the artist brings a bit of an “old world quality” to the canvas.

“Morning Ride,” Cannon Beach, Oregon, Janice Kirsh

Janice’s self-assuredness as an artist is seen through her paintings, and her canvases are a testimony to her versatility as an artist. Her confidence, in part, comes from painting many locations – from Dublin, Ireland to Port Clyde, Maine to the coast of Oregon to the Adirondacks. Some landscapes were painted closer to her home such as at National Mall in, D.C. to locales in Virginia, Baltimore and Ellicott City. Every stroke of the brush seems deliberately placed for a specific reason yet, there is still a marvelous looseness to her work. I so enjoyed conversing with her about some of those purposely put dabs of paint and we discussed each and every painting in her Columbia Art Center exhibit.

Warm Winter Light 20″ X 16″, Janice Kirsh

“Landscapes Near and Far” at the Columbia Art Center will be on display until June 3, 2023, so there is still time to see the show. It’s always fun to discover high-quality artists whose work you are unfamiliar with. A few of the posted images are of canvases which are in her Columbia Art Center Exhibit.

Font Hills Habitat, 10″ x 16″ Janice Kirsh

Baltimore “Flower Mart” Janice Kirsh

Eastport Annapolis 12″ X 18″ Janice Kirsh

When you look at Janice Kirsh’s long list of invitational exhibits, awards and juried shows she’s been included in, she’s obviously valued as an artist. She has been featured in a book “100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid Atlantic.” If you are not close enough to see the show in Columbia, MD check out her website to learn more about the artist, Janice Kirsh, and to see many more images of her fabulous paintings.

This article was written by award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard. http://www.AllThingsFulfilling.com.

Janice Kirsh, artist at work

Part 2 – Yearning Fulfilled

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Welcome back to Part 2 of a post about the 2023 Artists in Residence at Ladew Topiary Gardens. If you missed part 1, I’d encourage you to visit the article.

Every year it’s’ interesting to see which artists have been chosen to be featured at Ladew. Along with Quang Ho and Adrienne Stein, Sam Christian Holmes is the third artist for this year. His medium of work  in this exhibition are large installations, which he calls “totems.” They are especially visible at this time of year in the wildflower field. As the growing season progresses, and as the closely cropped field begins to prosper with new greenery and blooms, the totems will be seen a little differently later in the season than how they now appear in the landscape.

The artist encourages all who see his sculptures made from metal accented with what looks like oversized-looking beads of assorted color and shapes, to stop and have a conversation with oneself. How do the shapes, colors, cylinders, ellipses seen in the meadow serve as beacons to the cosmos and the spiritual rhythms of ourselves and the Universe?

I encourage you to visit Sam Christian Holmes website where you can learn more about his vision for his art, the various mediums he works with and where he has taught in the community and at institutions of higher learning.


In the Art Barn of Ladew Gardens, there are more paintings from Quang Ho and Adrienne Stein, along with some works of other artists such as Michael Bare, Palden Hamilton, Sam Robinson and Joanne Bare. Do check them out when you visit the gardens of Harvey S Ladew which are said to be one of the “10 incredible topiary gardens around the world.”

Yearnings Fulfilled

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Not only was it Coronation Day for the King of England and the winner of the Kentucky Derby, it was a splendid day all around. The annual crowning event which Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland is known for, was as wonderful as ever. Not only was I interested in browsing the vendor booths which had all the makings for “proper” English gardens such as statuary, wrought iron garden accents, herb topiaries, planters and pots and birdhouses and more, I was excited to meet with the 2023 Artists in Residence. A husband and wife highly thought of in the world of elite artists who work primarily in oils.

About thirteen years ago, I’d met Quang Ho and saw his painting demonstration in Colorado, thanks to Richard Galusha and Shirley Stocks of Wild Horse Gallery. But I’d yet to meet Quang’s wife, Adrienne Stein, and had always yearned to do so.

Quang tweaks the floral arrangement to make it a bit more picture-worthy from the angle he was painting from.

Adrienne chose a colorful border garden close to where Quang was painting so on-lookers could easily walk back and forth between the two demonstrations.

For several hours, I watched the two paint. It was interesting to see the very different processes and artistic styles the two had, starting with the blank canvases until nearly the end. Each amply and equally as talented. Quang’s florals are painted with a softer, spare touch, leaning toward a more classical style. Where as Adrienne’s style is more heavy handed, as seen in her large- scale paintings which are often floral paired with bold femininity figurative. They are densely saturated with color, often described as mystical in nature. Their paintings will be exhibited throughout the year at Ladew’s Barn Gallery.

Artists in Residence, Adrienne Stein and Quang Ho will be returning many times as there is never a shortage of things the two will enjoy painting. Evergreen topiaries, twigs, bushes and berries, abandoned birds nests, seed pods, or dried withered leaves and drooped flowers coated with hoarfrost are paint-worthy too. The two, well-tuned into painting outside the studio walls, will find lots of interesting things for their canvases at Ladew during the non-gardening months also.

A third artist in resident at Ladew Topiary Gardens for 2023 whose large installations are located in the wildflower field, will be featured on AllThingsFulfilling.com on May 12th.. Do return!

But, before you go, enjoy a few photos from the Ladew Topiary Gardens signature event which happens early in May every year.

Natural Energy

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A family home, built in 1898 by Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly, was the venue of a special evening last week. I, and perhaps others, would consider the man who owned and built the home to be a “pioneering medical intuitive.” The gathering was all about art and connection bringing the energy of creatives, of all mediums together. Visual artists, literary artists, floral artists as well as performing artists were present and were among those who believe in the power of art to inspire, motivate, heal and illuminate our lives. People who understand and embrace the concept are especially well-tuned into improving the wellness of communities.

Medical practitioners are beginning to fully understand some of the ideas Dr. Kelly presented in his writings, published more than 100 years ago, about the connection between nature and health and happiness of the mind, body, spirit. Our own creativity, given to everyone by a “higher being” is another holistic, life-affirming force. If we are open to this concept we can improve our moods, lift our spirits and help ourselves by alleviating stressors detrimental to our health by being one with nature and using our creative energy.

Today, I’d simply like to thank the Bel Art Arts and Entertainment District as well as other sponsoring organizations such as the Maryland State Arts Council and the Harford Artists Association and the Town of Bel Air and Harford County Cultural Arts Board for providing the opportunity for creatives to come together for the common purpose of “art and heart.” It was a wonderful evening at the Liriodendron Mansion.

Swaying and Sultry on Palm Sunday Afternoon

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A band whose privilege has been to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. came to perform at the last concert of the winter/spring series at “Music at the Mansion” in Bel Air, Maryland. Seth Kibel, an accomplished woodwind musician and his band have won 28 Washington Area Music awards and deservedly so! Vocalist Flo Anito’s voice is beautifully suited to the genre of music – swing and jazz. Several 1920’s era tunes were played with instrumentals by Kibel on the clarinet, saxophone and flute. Michael Raitcyk accompanied on the guitar, Bob Abbott on double bass and Wes Crawford on the drums.

Here are just some of the recognizable favorites – I Take You with Anything But Love, Blue Skies, Bye-Bye Blackbird and Dance with Me. The artists drew selections from The Great American Songbook such as Dream a Little Dream. A song made famous in the Big Band era by Ann Renelle called Willow Weep for Me were in the mix.

An element of the unexpected were in a few Yiddish classics, one which was sung long ago by the Andrews Sisters. Seth Kibel and his band also included fast-paced European Folk Music often played at weddings, as well as a Brazilian bossa nova.

Of course, Billie Holiday an American jazz and swing music singer, raised in Baltimore, was not left out. Her slow, dreamy composition “God Bless the Child” came at the end of the concert.

What an enjoyable Palm Sunday afternoon it was at the Liriodendron Mansion. Keep your eye on the Liriodendron website for a great line up of performers coming this summer. “Music at the Mansion is made possible in part by a grant from Maryland State Arts Council through Harford County Cultural Arts Board, by Harford County, by Music Land, and by supporters like you!

Spiritual Immersion

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For a brief few hours, I was immersed into a musical culture quite foreign to me. I attended a concert by a Indian sitar star, Alif Laila. Alif born in Dahka, Bangladesh came to the United States in 1981. Her career has taken her to prestigious venues including UNESCO World Heritage sites. Accompanied by Suryahshah Deshpande playing the tabla, which is something like a two-headed bongo drum, and Meem Haque who played a drone instrument called the tanpura. Each beautifully complemented the resonating sounds of the sitar. The tabla musician is a grade A artist, who has been well-endorsed by the Department of Culture in the Indian Government. Meem Haque is one of Alif’s leading students.

The Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air, Maryland where the concert was held is proving to be an arts venue attracting very high quality musicians both of national and international acclaim.

Quickly I learned in the first opening composition why sitar music is very spiritual. The sixteen beat rhythmic pattern was trance-like but the beat matched the mood as it was peaceful and pensive.The second Alaap was mixed tempo going from medium to fast to a very quick, almost urgent to my way of thinking, finale. It was energetic and celebratory-like the arrival of a long-awaited spring (or basant.)

“Pahadi,” meaning from the mountains, came the third composition. This light classical composition originated in the Himalayas. Although light, it was complex mix of sounds, which Alif compared to different colored pigments mixing with water. A visual artist as well, her medium of choice is watercolors.

As the musicians wrapped up the concert, Alif stated she was saturated with devotion to those who enjoy her music and attend her concerts and she was going to “dance with that. Why not?” she asked.

Just as interesting as the music was, I was struck by Alif’s expressions while playing and there was no doubt in my mind, she was deeply engaged, heart and soul, with the music. At times she appeared to be in a trance-like state, at other times, you could see the joyfulness and playfulness on her facial countenance.

Do visit Alif Laila’s website. Her musical accomplishments and venues where she has performed is impressive. Her mission is to keep this ancient form of music alive by teaching her students at a music school she founded in Washington, DC.

It was another enjoyable musical evening at The Liriodendron Mansion. The sponsors – the Maryland State Arts Council, Harford County Cultural Arts Board, a grant from Harford County and contributions from Music Land made the evening possible.

Cultural diversity in all art forms is good and art enriches our inner world in so many ways. Do return to our next post, which will be brought to you from the same venue. Music from the Mansion on the Sunday afternoon of Palm Sunday was as invigorating in nature as the surroundings of the venue.

Progress with Integrity

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Last week I returned to a place where there has been a progression of restoration changes over the past few years. The family who settled in the historic village of Jerusalem Mill in 1771, the Lee’s, would see that the preservation has been done with utmost integrity while upholding all the other Quaker principles and inner convictions they lived by. I am sure for the Friends of Jerusalem Village, who govern the living history museum, there is a lot of grappling with change while staying faithful to values of simplicity and stewardship. To keep the doors open as a living history museum, some change is necessary in order to provide it’s visitors a great experience.

The purpose of my most recent visit was to catch-up on the Lee Mansion, and the extensive work being done on the structure which houses the Lee Gallery. Rebecca Weber, the Director, met me at the door with her corgi. Rebecca, an artist, is ever mindful of preserving the past as she looks out the gallery windows every day and sees the eighteenth-century village structures. Her personal art studio has in it collections of artifacts of vestige – ephemeral things collected in her travels which are unique, rare or disappearing. Rebecca Weber explained how she curated the current exhibition and the placement of the art. In her explanation, it was clear that she cares deeply about the art she will be seeking for future shows and how it important it is to chose just the right art for this historical village’s mission “to keep alive the heritage and traditions that form common bonds and deepest roots.”

The exhibit currently hanging in the Lee Gallery is the art of Ephraim Rubenstein. Words about his illustrious career are so many it is best read on his website to get a full-picture of who he is as an artist and his impressive accomplishments. So today, I’d like to share a bit of his art through images. These paintings are exhibited at the Lee Gallery.

Ephraim Rubenstein’s “Bread” collection, which are pastel paintings on sanded board, are perfect fits for this living history museum because the grist mill fed all the village people back in the 1700s. These paintings are only a few of the exhibit, and the art is best appreciated first hand. As you will see from the text below the pictures, there is a brand new reason to visit.

Ephraim Rubenstein from his “Bread” Collection

Artist – Ephraim Rubenstein from his “Bread” Collection

Artist: Ephraim Rubenstein from his “Bread” Collection

If you would like to know more about Jerusalem Mill, you can go to a past post Time Well Spent here. Information about the museum’s history and events is also available on the Museum website. Jerusalem Mill was recently awarded a Best of Harford County Museum designation. It is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Thank you to Rebecca Weber for your graciousness in allowing me sit and absorb the art around me and leaf through the wealth of magazine articles and other media information about the artist, Ephraim Rubenstein. His work stylistically resembles many of the old world masters paintings which I favor.

Featured Artists: Beijing Guitar Duo

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In a limited seating venue, we were a fortunate group of people who were able to enjoy The Beijing Guitar Duo last night at Liriodendron Mansion.

These high caliper artists usually play at venues around the world that seat many, many people. In fact beginning in May 2023 the duo will be traveling to entertain in Germany and hold a residency and and concert in Spain. They’ve played at The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the National Theatre in Beijing.

So, about the instrumental music last evening of these two Grammy-nominated musicians. Some of the compositions were so delicately played their musical artistry seemed more fitting to be played in a small, intimate setting, such as Liriodendron Mansion rather than in big venues which seat hundreds of people.

As with any instrumentals only music, it is up to the listener to find their own interpretation of what they are hearing. To pull off the range of stories I heard being told in the music, it takes very accomplished strumming guitar skills. In the course of one evening, I saw in my mind two people leisurely strolling along des Champs-Elysees in Paris, at times slowing and stopping briefly to discuss what they were seeing. I envisioned a young girl idling the afternoon away in a hammock, perhaps reading a book and I heard a playfulness in some of the compositions.

There were two surprising compositions which were a bit discordant with the others, one you could hear the “giddy-up” of horses hooves through their strumming and well-controlled accoustic slaps on the wood of the instrument. And in another, I heard perhaps a bit of heartbreak through some sharp, commanding chords.

Some of the music played was their own writing and others, the artists said, were changed more to their liking just a little bit. The entire evening was delightful and thanks to the Harford County Cultural Arts Board, Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), Harford County and Music Land, for bringing this and other high quality entertainment to Liriodendron in their Music at the Mansion series.

Sunday at the Opera House

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Sunday, January 29, 2023 – 3pm

No, I wasn’t at the Sydney Opera House, it was much closer to home where I spent last Sunday at an event which was headlined as “Two Boys! Two Pianos! And a show that will knock your socks off!” It was my first visit to the Havre de Grace Opera House in the arts and entertainment district of a town in Harford County, Maryland.

Ronnie Carrasquillo and Kain Felix’s concert began on a few recognizable arrangements – Pachelbel’s Canon in D and The Prayer. Along with that, the pair put on their very best professional airs these two middle school boys could have. The varied mix of music – duets, classical and then contemporary allowed a them to drop their professional facade just a little bit toward the end and just have a little fun, like youth do. Concert piano may not be every 11 and 12 year old’s idea of having a great afternoon but these two were enjoying themselves, despite Ronnie’s admission of how nervous he was, which seemed to disappear once he began playing. From where I was sitting I could see a little into the wings. After each one’s individual performance, I could see the boys giving each other the thumbs up and high fives, encouraging one another. As their teacher Miss Julie said, the two have “great synergy” between them.

Not a page of sheet music was at the baby grand. Kain played all from memorization, which was impressive given the fact that his talent has already lead him into some complex compositions. Kain who has begun studying at the Maryland Conservatory of Music has started writing some of his own music such as two tunes he played, Lost and Found and Ripples. Some of the other pieces each boy played had unique elements, some improvisation, added in.

Ronnie has been Miss Julie’s student for four years and their great rapport was evident, yet he is preparing to advance his skills at the Maryland Conservatory of Music. Their teacher Julie Shaker has been very instrumental in her mentoring and their development, and all three seem to enjoy one another too.

One wonders where their futures in music will lead them but already their young talent did knock my socks off and in the process all I could think is how challenging it sometimes is to get my own emotions down on a piece of paper, so I ponder how can two boys with so few years of living on this earth turn their thoughts into writing a rather complex composition of musical notes or take music already written, then add to it and play it with such pleasing results? Innate, God-given gifts they have been given.

I’d like to thank Kain’s mom, Claudia Felix for giving me the the opportunity to see these two middle school boys first public appearance and display their hard work and young, admirable talent.

Kain’s Mom Claudia showing her support and congratulations at intermission. The two boys parents have much to be proud of.

Life’s Blessings

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Life is good! Last Saturday afternoon I and others were blessed by the generosity of an artist who gave a three hour painting demonstration and blessed by the gallery hosting the event – Manor Mill Gallery in Monkton, MD. Although I am not a painter, I welcome opportunities to learn more about painting because I love writing about art and the artists who create it. Over the past twenty years, I have had the good fortune to learn about the work of many master artists which has left me eager for more.

In the first twenty-minute segment the artist, Palden Hamilton, roughed out a sketch of the setting and subject (his live model) – a lady at the window. After each twenty minute painting block, the model had a ten minute break to stretch, relax and refocus.

Palden talked with the visitors to the gallery and other artists who were there to learn, about much of his process and how important it is to getting the measurements (the proportions) right initially, otherwise he said, “the whole thing is out of whack.” He also talked about his painting surface and preparation of it as well as a useful art tool for assessing color values. Then in the next twenty minutes, he got what he termed as “more specific, analytical and mechanical” with his drawing.

Then he started filling in the facial color values moving on to the garb the model was wearing and the area around the figure, then Palden applied color to other areas.

He also talked about the colors on his palette. In the final twenty minutes he fine-tuned the profile of the face to make his rough sketch look closer to the model’s features. Here the painting is at not quite the three hour limit.

Palden Hamilton, the artist, was so giving of his knowledge and fielded many, many good technical questions from the audience as well as questions about his studies with other artists and his other schooling.

Although there are many artists in this world there is a vast difference between those that “dabble” and those that have a deep understanding and deep thought process behind what and why they are doing it and can well explain it. With each master artist I watch, I better appreciate what it takes to become a high-quality fine artist. I’ve posted a few photos of Hamilton’s other figurative work, which is magnificent and on display at Manor Mill Gallery as are his paintings of landscapes, still life along with some of his pastel work.

For more information on Palden Hamilton’s art, please visit his website or call Lynn at Manor Mill Gallery in Monkton, MD.

Thank you for your generosity, Palden, and also to Angelo and staff at the Manor Mill Gallery in historic Monkton, MD. It was a great outing on a cold, damp wintery day but a drive through My Ladies Manor, MD from Bel Air is a pleasure always.