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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 11:26 PM

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First Cultural Arts Expo showcases diverse arts groups


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Photo by Wanda Jackson. At the Cultural Arts Expo, Delegate Melony G. Griffith visited exhibitors, such as Lanham-based artist Laurence Chandler. His exhibit featured small mixed-media and acrylic originals, and a framed limited edition offset lithograph titled “Branches of Hope.”

Photo by Wanda Jackson. At the Cultural Arts Expo, Delegate Melony G. Griffith visited exhibitors, such as Lanham-based artist Laurence Chandler. His exhibit featured small mixed-media and acrylic originals, and a framed limited edition offset lithograph titled “Branches of Hope.”

Published on: Thursday, May 16, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

Nearly halfway through the Cultural Arts Expo, held Saturday at the Largo Student Center at Prince George’s Community College, the event’s organizer and co-host, Delegate Melony G. Griffith, chose to hand off her cordless microphone to each exhibitor and business.

At the Reginald F. Lewis Museum’s exhibit, its executive director A. “Skipp” Sanders talked about the Baltimore museum not only as an exhibition center, but also as a vital community resource.

For example, the museum is featuring an exhibit through May 26 titled “Defining Moments,” which showcases the works of award-winning illustrator and Eastern Shore native Bryan Collier. His unique artistic style infuses both watercolors and collage.

On June 15, the museum is celebrating the Harriet Tubman Centennial, offering a daylong adventure to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. On “Third Thursdays,” the museum features an evening program with jazz, hip-hop, spoken-word or entertainment like Grammy-nominated artist Carolyn Malachi, dubbed “sweet songstress” by BET.

The museum also features an African-American history reference collection, including areas devoted to Maryland history and a Genealogy Resource Center, which offers free family history sessions; Maryland ancestry is not required to participate.

At the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council’s exhibit, visitors took part in creative exercises, using faux gems, colored pencils and glitter. PGAHC Executive Director Rhonda Dallas, in a prepared statement, said that she views the “arts as an integral part for strengthening learning environments in our schools, preparing our students to compete in today’s 21st century global economy.”

Known for his abstract expressionistic art, Laurence Chandler, a longtime Prince George’s resident who graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, seized the opportunity to promote his work and invited visitors to tour his exhibit.

All art incorporates depth and meaning, according to Chandler.

“Artists of all styles, movements and time periods express their emotions and beliefs differently. Abstract art, in particular,” said Chandler, “contains an endless amount of vitality and spirit, which defines it as one of the most important artistic movements.”

Chandler markets his acrylic and mixed-media originals and commissioned works through his self-titled website “Laurence Chandler Fine Art” and small business, Graphiti Gems Art Gallery in Lanham.

Some of the other exhibitors in the Cultural Arts Expo included Baby Bundle Nursery lifelike baby dolls, Angie’s Treasures cloth dolls, the Maryland Science Center, Bjewelled Accessories for U, Maryland Choral Society, National Great Black Wax Museum, National Children’s Museum, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC)/Arts and Cultural Heritage Division.

Local entertainment included the Ebony Sonshine Puppets, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Panama Dance Group and Latin Dance Entertainment, which provided Salsa dance instructions.

Griffith touted her first-of-its-kind Cultural Arts Expo as an opportunity “to promote the availability of arts opportunities throughout the state of Maryland.”

“Residents are fortunate to have vibrant artists and arts organizations that have a lot to share,” she said.

Complimentary booklets handed out at the expo listed arts and cultural organizations across the state.

In the booklet , a letter from PGCC President Charlene Dukes affirmed her support for the expo.

“As an institution committed to student success, investment in human capital, communications, community service and organizational vitality,” stated Dukes, “this activity represents one of many opportunities for the college to support the greater community in its endeavors to provide valuable programming to the residents.”

In opening remarks at the expo, Dr. Alonia Sharps, representing PGCC, echoed Dukes’ message. As an institution committed to the community, the college’s “mission includes every aspect of education including the arts,” said Sharps.

The expo was supported through collaboration with the PGCC Foundation, the Parks and Recreation division of the MNCPPC, the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council, and the Maryland State Arts Council.

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