Knives, Torn Dresses and Train Wrecks

by Karen Peacock. 0 Comments


Artomatic@Frederick ends tonight at 11 p.m. It’s been a wonderful experience, but I’m sure other artists join me in feeling a little melancholy. Soon we’ll be saying goodbye to our spaces.

I’ve loved my time in Room 35. Many thanks go to “roommates” Julie Maynard and Shannon Beatty.

We first met at Artomatic@Frederick 2011 when we chose room 37. It was near the entrance and had great light and decent hanging space, at least on two of the walls. (Because there was only one building, things were more compact then.)

Shannon and I arrived first and nabbed the two better walls. Julie was stuck with the area with a large window looking into the adjacent gallery. There was little hanging space until she covered it, making it into something useable. Though I’d never met her, I’d seen Julie’s work before and was delighted she was joining us.

As our art was being hung we marveled at how it all went together. Though we worked in different media and styles, there was an unplanned cohesiveness. My mixed-media paintings featuring vintage dresses played well with Shannon’s dress she had made for a recycled-fashion event. Shannon’s fruit and flower photographs were a counterpoint to Julie’s nature-inspired collages and assemblages.

Susie Remmers donated plants for the whole building. The flowering plants she provided, some wrought-iron patio chairs, the quality of light and our work all added up to a tranquil and inviting garden atmosphere.

Fast forward two years later.

We enjoyed the first Artomatic so much, me decided to show together again at the new one. I was out of town when it came time to select the spaces so I trusted Shannon and Julie to find the perfect one. I couldn’t have been happier. It was convenient and with good light. And it was much bigger than our previous room.

 You can’t step in the same river twice

Our first thought was to recreate the atmosphere of our first space but  quickly realized that wasn’t going to work. First of all, the room is different. There is yellowy-beige grasscloth wallpaper and  brown chair rail on most of the walls. The white garden chairs would have been out of place in this context so we added wooden ones, along with a wooden table for our promo pieces. The only garden element that remained was the wind chime. It sounds like church bells and you can see the church from our window so that had to stay.

Then there was the matter of our art. While our previous work was heavy on the yin, some yang has been creeping in.

My dress paintings have been going more raw and abstract, with the women disappearing in some. If a dress is torn in an interesting way, I’ll leave it.

Many of Shannon’s still-life photos have had sexual connotations. Now a sense of menace has entered some of them. There are doll parts and knives and juicy peaches bearing an unsettling resemblance to blood.

While Julie is still inspired by nature, she has lately added the aftermath of an unseen human element. There are some representatives from Train Wrecks, a previous solo show. Incredible stuff. You can also check out her new show, Trespass. It opened yesterday at the Artists’ Gallery at 4 E. Church Street in Frederick. There’s a reception tonight from 5-9 and it runs through October 27.

Different, but still cohesive

So though our art has changed, it still works together. We even decided to mix it up instead of having separate areas for each of us. I think the variation in size and materials gives the walls a nice rhythm. I don’t believe anyone else at Artomatic@Frederick has used this approach. Let me know if I’m mistaken.

Would you like to reminisce about your Artomatic space, or tell us about any new shows coming up?  If so, email Karen Peacock at


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