Have You Been to Artomatic Frederick?
First of all, what is Artomatic? At first I confused it with Art-o-mat, which are really cool looking retro vending machines that sell original works of art, small enough to fit inside the vending machine. These machines are located all over the country. Artomatic is the same philosophy, selling original works of art. However, the venue is totally different.
Here is a little history of Artomatic from their website: ‘Artomatic began in 1999 in the historic Manhattan Laundry building in Washington, D.C. A dozen or so artists originally toured the empty building and within a month, 350 artists had cleaned, lit, painted and presented artwork in its 100,000 square feet. Over 20,000 visitors attended the first Artomatic over six weeks.’
Artomatic started in Washington, DC, but has now expanded to our very own town of Frederick, Maryland. This is Frederick’s 2nd year hosting Artomatic. The philosophy behind Artomatic is to ‘create community, build an audience and expand economic development by transforming available space into a playground for artistic expression. Unjuried events showcase creative work in visual art, performing art, music, dance and film. Artomatic@Frederick events are socially organic and completely open-entry; there are no juries or curators. We work to provide open access to the arts for all participants and visitors.’ And the best part is that it’s free to visitors!
This year’s 5 week Artomatic event (9/4/13 through 10/5/13) is being held in the old Frederick County Public Schools building at 115 and 117 Church Street in downtown Frederick – 40,000 square feet chock full of original art. 300 professional and amateur artists, from Frederick, as well as surrounding towns, are participating in this year’s Artomatic Frederick. This show also includes artists from local high schools, colleges, and community organizations. In addition to the art exhibits, there are also live musical performances, theatrical performances, film screenings, poetry readings, student art performances, dance, and interactive workshops. See their website HERE for their hours of operation and their schedule of events.
This is Artomatic Frederick’s first year offering alcoholic beverages – beer and wine.
Artists who display their pieces at Artomatic pay a fee of $100 to participate. They are also asked to volunteer 15 hours sometime within the 5 weeks that the event is going on, in order to act as greeters, floor walkers, run the store and concessions, provide demonstrations, and just be there to answer visitors’ questions. However, anybody can volunteer their time with Artomatic. You don’t have to be a participant in the show.
My main reason for attending Artomatic Frederick was because I have a good friend who has an installation (display) at this event. I have heard from her over the last several months how much time she has taken preparing for her installation. All I knew was that it involved tea bags. Yes, that’s right, I said tea bags. I thought to myself, what on earth do you do with tea bags that can be transformed into a work of art? Knowing my friend, I knew she had something really good up her sleeve, or in this case, in her mug! Pardon the pun. I’m so steeped in humor!
We arrived at the old Frederick County Public Schools building on a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon and were greeted by one of the participating artists, Doug Moulden, who happily gave me the rundown on Artomatic’s history and what Artomatic is all about. He explained that, because of this event, hundreds of artists can have a venue to display their works of art, in hopes of expanding their customer base and sharing their wares. It really is a win-win situation because this building is vacant and up for sale. However, it isn’t in good shape and does not at the present time have any potential buyers. What better thing to do but to use this vacant building to transform it into such a positive experience, not only for the artists involved, but also for the public to enjoy.
The 2 buildings have several floors, rooms, hallways, and even stairways with art galore all throughout. It’s an art lovers’ paradise. Whether it’s photography, paintings, drawings, sculpture, pottery, or mixed media, there is truly something there for everybody. There is even a closed room with nude, ‘adult’ art.
The above picture is actually a picture I took of the view from one of the Artomatic buildings showing one of the churches on Church Street. What I didn’t get a good picture of and wished I had, was a painting sitting close by, of this exact scene that the artist had beautifully recreated.
As we explored both buildings, I couldn’t wait to see what my friend had created with all of the tea bags she had collected over the months. Finally the wait was over and we entered the room where her installation was located. As I expected, what she created was absolutely gorgeous.
My friend’s name is Deborah Winram (just in case you would like to comission her to make your own tea bag work of art). The above creation was made using tea bag stained poetry pages folded up and stacked within this wooden stand. On top is a glass jar that says ‘SHHHH’ and a large egg inside the jar. Debbie, as I call her, framed the area in which this stand was located, with a large tea stained cheese cloth, draped elegantly. It really is a beautiful, serene, vintage-esque site to see.
This next creation (pictured above) is a set of numbered jars, with each jar housing a different use for the tea bags. One jar has loose tea, one jar has round tea bags that Debbie steeped, dried and sewed together into little blossom-like shapes, one is more tea stained poetry pages rolled up within the jar.
The above picture is my favorite of all. And if you notice, on the bottom right of the picture is a little red round sticker. This means that this piece is spoken for. And you can see why. It’s so very unique. It is made from an old cigar box, turned into a frame. The right side of the frame has steeped, rolled tea bags, tied with their strings. The left side has a tea stained vintage picture from the same poetry book, along with a real dried cicada shell (at the top) and other tea bags folded in a fan shape at the bottom. I mean, who has this kind of imagination? I would have never thought to put something like this together. But it is beautiful.
The above wall art was made using tea bags sewn together to create the lines and color. They were then embedded in encaustic.
The above picture is her guest book table with a little basket full of tea bags and another large egg.
More wall art in the above photo. The large piece was made on canvas.
Pictured above is the artist herself taking photos of her creations.
The above photo is a close-up of the encaustic surface of one of her wall hangings. If you go to Artomatic, please stop by Debbie’s installation. She’s located in building 2, room # 30. And tell her the Housewives of Frederick County sent you.
The rest of my photos are some of my personal favorites that I enjoyed throughout our tour.
This is just a small sampling of what you’ll find at Artomatic Frederick. There is so much talent here that you will be in awe of it.
So if you get a chance, take a little trip to downtown Frederick and check out Artomatic for yourself. I plan to go again before the 5 weeks is up. There is so much to see that it is difficult to absorb it all. You will leave there wanting more.