Here's a trivia question. What color evokes energy, power, courage and passion? If you said, "Red," you would be correct.
Red is a very strong color. It is a highly visible color which is why it's often used on caution and warning signs like stop lights and fire engines. It conjures up mouthwatering fruits like red strawberries, apples or cherries. Red is often used in flags for nations, as it is a symbol of pride and strength. It's also a sporty color that many car manufacturers choose to showcase their signature vehicles.
So, it's little wonder that the color "red" came to mind when La'Tasha Banks, a visual arts specialist at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), brainstormed for ways to bring attention to the arts in Prince George's County.
Banks did an "open call for artists 18 years of age or older who live, work or have a studio in Prince George's County to submit works of art that primarily use red for an exhibit at the Maryland House of Delegates," according to Alec Simpson, acting director of M-NCPPCs's arts and cultural heritage division." Submissions had to be two-dimensional works plus demonstrate a high level of artistic quality.
"A Case of the Reds: An Exploration of the use of the Color Red" opened February 12 with a reception for the artists at the Maryland House of Delegates on Maryland Arts Day, an annual event where the arts community impresses the case for legislative support of arts funding. The exhibit runs through April.
This year's event united artists with three like-minded, recognizable forces: Jolene Ivey, chairman of the Prince George’s delegation in the Maryland House of Delegates and a candidate for lieutenant governor of Maryland, the Prince George's Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC) and M-NCPPC.
"Art resembles languages that all people speak across racial, cultural, social, educational and economic barriers," says Ivey, pointing out the importance of the arts in an email response for this article. "It provides opportunities for self-expression, integrating one's mind, body and spirit."
Ivey says that she "frequents art exhibits and invests" in artists' works. "I am an advocate for and strongly support the changes made to Prince George's communities as we are evolving into a reputed artistic county," she said.
"The advocacy piece is critical," says Rhonda Dallas, executive director of the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council. "To hear the voice of not just the arts administrators, but the artists themselves" clearly illustrates, she says "that there is a collective voice, and the outcome is a collective impact for policies and decisions" about the arts and arts programs at the state, county and local levels.
"We combined the advocacy with the reception because that way the artists could be a part of the discussion and the workshops, and what was going on that day (Maryland Arts Day)," says Dallas.
"We had one of the largest contingencies this year," says Dallas. "We had well over 40 participants, which was really good. So it just shows you that we're becoming a unified force when it comes to advocating for the importance of the arts, when it comes to economic development, community revitalization, arts and education and innovation."
"Our goal," says Dallas, "always is to recognize the talent we have in Prince George's County. We have renowned artists, artists who're doing phenomenal work, not just locally but across the country."
Delegate Ivey agrees, citing returns on supporting the arts.
"Priceless creativity comes to mind, yet facts reveal that the arts sector in Maryland returns more than 300 percent on the state's investment," says Ivey," drives one-billion dollars in economic activity, sustains over 12,000 jobs and hundreds of small businesses, provides opportunities for employers to engage a creative workforce and delivers world-class arts programming in public schools."
According to Simpson, "Everybody who has seen the exhibition has said it's great and strong. And," he says, "really people who have a critical eye about the arts have said that as well."
The exhibit features contemporary and traditional works in a variety of mediums including prints, photography and mixed-media. The artists express themselves boldly and surprise their audiences while exploring diverse themes, some reflecting on life's moments of joy, struggle, loss, whimsy, femininity and quietude. All works are for sale and a 25-percent commission fee goes to M-NCPPC. Each artist in the exhibit receives an honorary stipend for participating.
The exhibit features works by 18 artists: Eloy Areu, Denise Marie Brown, Adjoa Burrowes, Paul R. Campbell, Laurence Chandler, Deborah Dixon, Jan Garland, Alyss Grear, Winston Harris, Belle Hinnefeld, Sonia Keiner, Susan Putnam Kleps, Cheryl MacLean, Stephanie O'Grady, Milena Spasic, Diane Tuckman, Richard Weiblinger and Curtis Woody.
"A Case of the Reds: An Exploration of the use of the Color Red" is bold, dramatic and energizing, reflecting the wealth of talent and those advocating for the arts in Prince George's County.
To show your support of the arts and get exhibit details, visit www.pgparks.com, www.pgahc.org or contact your delegate's office in Annapolis.