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410.544.5448 | 7 0 0 M i l l C r e e k R oa d A r n o l d , M a r y l a n d 2 1 0 1 2

CONTENTS 6 | Spring 2018

Volume 5




Issue 1

Just Keep Painting By Brenda Wintrode




True Expression


Etched in Print


By Leah Weiss

SNAP By David O’Higgins



Cultivating Community with The Commons By Leigh Glenn



Raised to Give Back


Man on a Mission


Old-School Culinary Success

By Theresa C. Sanchez




By Melissa Lauren

Trumpet Vine and Marshmallow (2014) by Nancy Hammond. Signed and numbered limited edition giclée print, 32" x 48".

SUP By Desiree Smith-Daughety




On His Shoulders


By Julia Gibb


Amplified Stone By Leigh Glenn



Weems’ Amazing Adventure By Gwen Manseau


Politics of Change By Zoë Nardo



The I.W.S.A.(Inner West Street Association) & the Annapolis Arts District Calendar

Editor’s Inkwell


Publisher’s Notebook

outed as the year of new beginnings by astrologists, 2018 is already delivering. We are gearing up for some exciting happenings at Up.St.ART that have us energized.

We invite you to participate in our first short video contest, called “New Beginnings.” Create a five-minute-or-less video following the theme of new beginnings. It can take any form, including but not limited to compilation, short movie, documentary, Vlog, or interview. This contest is open to everyone, so, pull out your phone or HD camera and get shooting! The winner will receive recognition in the fall 2018 issue of Up.St.ART Annapolis, and the video will be posted on our website and social media, and announced at our fall launch party in October. In addition, the winner will receive an Up.St.ART Annapolis T-shirt, and be treated to lunch with our publisher, Jimi Davies—okay, this last offer might be considered more of a booby prize, but it’s what we’re offering! The submission deadline is August 30, 2018. Videos will be judged by Christian Smooth of Smooth House Productions and JR Mitchell of Haymaker Media. Please send your video link, along with your full name, address, phone number, and email address, to Judging criteria and full submission guidelines are posted at In other news, you may have heard that we have come out the starting gate at a full gallop with the addition of Up.St.ART Bend, our sister publication, located in Bend, Oregon. It will launch on July 13, 2018. We have met many of Bend’s creative minds, innovators, educators, and movers and shakers who are building community through creativity much in the way that Annapolitans do, and we love it! Bend seems to be a sister city to Annapolis, holding up similar ideals, visions, and a belief in the spirit of community. See what we’re up to by following us* on Facebook @Up.St.ArtBend and Instagram @upstartbendmag. *Warning! Exposure to Up.St.ART Bend and its social media postings may cause an extreme urge to travel westward!

Jimi Davies | 7



Publisher & Creative Director Jimi Davies Editorial Director Andrea Stuart Copy Editor Leah Weiss Associate Editors Michele Callaghan MacDuff Perkins Contributing Editors Julia Gibb Leigh Glenn Melissa Lauren Gwen Manseau Zoë Nardo David O’Higgins Theresa C. Sanchez Desiree Smith-Daughety Leah Weiss Brenda Wintrode

Art Director Cory Deere Contributing Photographers Karen Davies Alison Harbaugh Sophie Macaluso Emily Schmidt Allison Zaucha Advertising Jimi Davies Kim O’Brien Melissa Lauren Chris Costello

SUBMISSIONS: For article submissions, email proposal to Up.St.Art Annapolis Magazine is published quarterly. Subscription rate: $40, payable in advance. Single copies $10. Back issues, if available, $15 (includes shipping and handling). For subscriptions and all other inquires, send an email to or call 410-212-4242. Entire contents © 2018 by Up.St.Art Annapolis MagazineTM unless otherwise noted on specific articles. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is strictly prohibited without Publisher permission.

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Leigh Glenn

Julia Gibb

David O’Higgins

ZoĂŤ Nardo

Gwen Manseau

Leah Weiss

Desiree Smith-Daughety

Theresa C. Sanchez

Brenda Wintrode

Melissa Lauren


Karen Davies

Sophie Macaluso

Allison Zaucha

Alison Harbaugh

Emily Schmidt | 11


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Just Keep Painting by BRENDA WINTRODE photography by ALISON HARBAUGH


ainter and cut-paper artist Nancy Hammond shares how she handles a creative drought: “Just keep painting.” The 76-year-old insists, with a glint of encouragement shining from her lively blue eyes, that even when it’s ugly, one must keep working until “there’s something that looks like there’s life in it.” Standing tall and thin , she explains that creatives can set themselves up for failure by deciding ahead of time that they are going to manifest an epic work before picking up a brush. She learned to silence her inner critic by deciding from the start of a project to investigate a subject and Windswept (2016), signed numbered limited edition, giclée, 32" x 48". | 13

just play in the medium. Long strips of paper splashed with Hammond’s signature bright pallet form a mosaic of her past investigations on the hardwood floor of her Eastern Shore studio. Says Hammond, “What’s great is that I never have to clean up.” When she was 48 and single, Hammond spent her savings and went into debt renovating her first gallery on State Circle. She laughs as she remembers the opening stopping traffic but not selling a single painting. “I used to scramble so hard just to stay in the world of art,” she says. “When it was time to take a real chance, it was totally normal to take another chance, open your own gallery, and blow every single dime you have on it.” Hammond studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design but left one year short of graduating because of family struggles. She married an architect at age 24, reared her son, Richard, and drove carpool, but never stopped painting. Watching her then-husband struggle to build an architecture business prepared her for her own entrepreneurial debut. “I knew, from watching him, if you gave it everything you had for a solid ten years, you would have a success,” she says. Once on her own, she committed to those ten years, never watched TV, and never went to a movie. She worked many nights until just before dawn. Her fondness for her own pieces sparked the idea to make her work more accessible to a broader clientele, and by doing so, she secured her longevity in the often fickle and distracted art market. After selling one of her

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“When it was time to take a real chance, it was totally normal to take another chance, open your own gallery, and blow every single dime you have on it.” favorite paintings, she realized she would never see it again. “If you’re a composer and you have a symphony, you get to hear it all the time on tape,” she says. “So I dreamed up this idea of having an unfancy art gallery.” She varied her price points by creating prints and further diversified the brand by designing ties with her nautical designs and T-shirts and note cards of her prints. “I love the psychology of what makes people want to buy something,” says Hammond. Hammond generated marketing buzz around her brand 21 years ago by creating spirited, exuberant annual posters of iconic Annapolis scenes. Her 2018 poster, “Racing Down the Bay,” features punches of color contrast on precision-cut paper with spinnakers flying full sail in front of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Each year, Hammond fans wait for hours on the sidewalk by her West Street gallery to buy the poster on its inaugural day (thereafter, the price more than doubles)—a phenomenon she still cannot seem to process. She recalls crying the first year, as soon as she saw the line going around the block. | 15

Sitting at her dining room table, she faces a wall of framed cut-paper tiger lilies and considers what she would say now if she were sitting across from her 48-year-old self. Says Hammond in an outburst, “I’d say, ‘Congratulations, girl, I can’t believe you did it!’” Her cottage sits deep in the countryside, surrounded by patches of woods and swaths of golden grasses. With the passing last June of her second husband, Robert R. Price Jr., after 23 years of marriage, Hammond has found herself exploring what it means to be alone. “I have turned loneliness into solitude, and solitude into peace,” she says. “I had a great marriage. I’ve had a nice life. I love my house in the country.” Just across the creek lives her son with his wife, Kate (who also serves as Nancy Hammond Editions gallery manager), and their children. Enveloped in scenic inspiration and family, Hammond has no reason to leave her cozy home but still visits the gallery on occasion. Judging from the various stages of work scattered on her tables and the fresh paint splotches in her paintthrowing room, the artist intends to remain prolific. Social invitations arrive, and she accepts some, but admits the pull of work can be stronger. Every year since 1997, Nancy Hammond Editions has released a limited edition poster; last year drew record crowds to her 197 West Street location as fans and collectors lined up around the block early in the morning in October.

Lone Heron (2012), signed and numbered limited edition, giclée, 26" x 37".

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“Someone told me a saying: ‘Create while the light is still there,’” says Hammond, who well understands the consequences of stepping away for too long. “It’s like going in a gold mine. You’ve got to get the axe, and you have to go back down into the mine, and then you have to dig for gold all over again,” she says. Her next painting is already taking shape in her imagination. She thinks it will include the elements of winter. Perhaps it will incorporate the view from her studio window of the stark, brown branches hovering over the still creek; there are so many gems. Says Hammond, “I know it’s going to have pink in it. That’s all I really know.” █


Nancy Hammond at home with her dogs. | 17

RISE TO NEW HEIGHTS with the Visual Arts department at Anne Arundel Community College

 Courses range from the traditional fine arts to digital design and time-based media.  Curriculum emphasizes the technical and conceptual aspects of visual inspiration.  Newest course additions include Screen Printing and Metal Art Fabrication.

AACC teaches courses in: • Art History. • Ceramics. • Graphic Design. • Painting and Drawing. • Photography. • Printmaking. • Sculpture. • Video Game Design. • Video and Media Production. • Web Design.

If you love art and want to see what AACC can offer you, visit and select Liberal Arts.

Photo courtesy of Tyler Mitchell

Nancy Hammond Editions

Osprey and Loblolly Pines

Trumpet Vine and Marshmallow

Nancy Hammond Editions features original art, prints and custom designed gifts by Nancy Hammond

Springtime Garden at the Marina

192 West Street, Annapolis MD 21401 Open Daily 410-295-6612


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TRUE Expression A


sk professional Annapolis guitar players what they think of Michael McHenry, and a pattern emerges. “This amazing guitar playing just shoots out of him like you and I breathe,” says Ruben “Swampcandy” Dobbs. “There’s no pretense. He’s just feeling it and enjoying himself. I think he tries to disappear into it and be present at the same time.” “He’s one my favorite musicians on the planet,” says studio musician and sideman extraordinaire Bryan Ewald. “His playing is so fluid and genuine, and his voice seems to have no limits. I’ve always admired how kind, humble, and supportive of other musicians he is, especially for someone so gifted.” “His guitar playing embodies all of the qualities that the rest of us work toward: effortless fluidity, technical prowess, raw and

emotional phrasing, deep groove,” says Black Rhinoceros and Pompeii Graffiti’s Ahren Buchheister. “He expresses with a heaviness of soul and a lightness of spirit.” Warm and affable, McHenry is a modest man with incredible talent and a rich musical career. He’s a doting father who raised his daughter on his own. He smiles and laughs a lot, though his road has been rocky. He’ll downplay that Motown Records signed him in the 1980s, intending to make him their version of Prince (he chose not to go down that path, given the compromising that would come with it). He’s reluctant to even mention icons he’s played with (The Jackson 5, Sheena Easton, and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, to name a few). He’ll speak humorously about his two-year sideman stint in Vegas for casino shows (“The pay was just astronomical, and it was my | 21

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dream of being heard and not seen!”). All McHenry wants to do is play soulful, sexy, psychedelic, funky rock music, explore and soar with his band, and make people feel great on the dance floor. McHenry was born in 1959 at the US Naval Academy hospital in Annapolis. Music constantly played in the household—recordings of Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and others. At an early age, McHenry became acutely aware of the power of music. “I remember a particular night, my dad was in the living room with all the lights out, playing Nina Simone’s ‘Four Women.’ I remember sitting there on the stairs, watching him listen to that song: ‘My skin is black . . . my manner is tough’ . . . that bass line . . . you [could] hear the years in her voice, that heavy tone. That stayed with me for a long time, I couldn’t wait to learn to play an instrument and have that effect. ” When he was in third grade, he saw a picture of Jimi Hendrix. “He was the craziest-looking dude you ever saw. I

was just fascinated. And then I heard the song ‘Purple Haze,’ and that was it.” He knew he wanted to play guitar, and listened to Hendrix obsessively, drawn primarily to the tonality. “[There were] all those noises and sounds I wanted to make. Not so much the songs,” he chuckles. One day, while in sixth grade, McHenry saw a man sitting on top of a car at the local basketball court, playing a guitar. The man noticed McHenry walking by, staring, and beckoned him over. He put the Stratocaster on McHenry and allowed him to strum a guitar for the first time, and later loaned McHenry the instrument. McHenry learned by listening to records and imitating and by playing with friends and sharing ideas. “A friend told me that ‘Purple Haze’ is in the key of E. I knew the top strong and bottom strings were E, so I would tune them to that song and just play up and down those strings. Eventually, I learned to cross on to other strings.” It all came naturally to him. “I had a guitar all the time, everywhere I went. It’s all I ever thought about.” In high school, he branched out into jazz, learning the challenging material on a recording by Chick Corea’s band, Return to Forever. “That brought me to John Coltrane and Miles Davis . . . that’s what I wanted to imitate with my guitar—the sound of their horns.” For McHenry, playing was, and still is, true expression—an outlet for emotion and creativity, therapeutic and cathartic. “Boys are not allowed to cry,” he says, “so I would play guitar.” Without understanding why or how it happened, he realized that when he

played and thought about feelings and ideas, he could achieve the sounds he wanted to make. He started writing music and recording his own songs, doing the other instrumental and vocal overdubs himself—an approach he’s continued with all of his recordings. During high school, his parents allowed him to tour with a visiting gospel choir that had played at their church. Because it was a faith-based group, his mother thought it would be wholesome. “I might as well have been playing with the Rolling Stones or the Sex Pistols, because it was really crazy,” McHenry says of the atmosphere on the tour bus. Adding to the intensity was how the choir director seemed to enjoy manipulating people with music. “We played in a really subdued church, and he said to us, ‘We’re gonna make these people go crazy,’ and he did,” says McHenry, recalling the buildup, starting with the director’s piano intro, then the beat of the bass drum. “It took off, like blasting off on a rocket. And these people in this church were in the aisles, rolling around. It was like that scene from The Blues Brothers. That was a really heavy education.” McHenry felt so uncomfortable that he left the band. He began playing out when he met Scott Hymes, Richard King, and Joe Glumsic at Mum’s—now Dock Street— downtown. When his gigging schedule became robust, King encouraged McHenry to quit his day job. Against his parents’ wishes, he took the leap. “I never looked back,” he says. “It’s been a struggle, here and there, but I have been really fortunate to be able to do that.”

“I had a guitar all the time, everywhere I went. It’s all I ever thought about.” | 23

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with the band for 10 years, admires McHenry’s ability to lead. “He never struts his skill set. He searches for that chemistry. Over time, new arrangements organically start happening. People adhere and follow his direction because it has no ego or no self-intent to it. It’s all about this musicality and where it’s going next.” “I love to play for people,” says McHenry. “You make people forget about their problems for a while.” A fan once told McHenry that his father, to whom he hadn’t spoken in years, would love the band. Father and son came to a gig together and later told McHenry that he’d improved the quality of their lives. Says McHenry, “That’s better than any money or a Grammy!” █


A prolific writer, McHenry’s songs emerge in different ways. Sometimes, while playing guitar, he’ll hear a chord progression. Other times, it starts with one sentence that comes to him. He enjoys allowing the song to unfold. Occasionally a complete song plays in his head. “I have to get to an instrument so I don’t forget it. I don’t know where that comes from.” His CDs are often thematic; one of his recent ones, Things You Thought Were Real, challenges commonly held beliefs, including ideas about religion and love. After years of touring, McHenry settled back in Annapolis and established Michael McHenry Tribe. The band performs originals and covers, with improvisation at its core. Ryan Cullen, drummer

For more information, visit | 25


Robert Indiana: Love and Hope

March 8 – April 22, 2018

New Dimensions: Works from the Anne Arundel Community College Visual Arts Faculty

May 23 – June 13, 2018

For information about all exhibition-related events including tours, lectures, and book club,

visit or call 410-626-2556.

Expect the Unexpected

St. John’s College | 60 College Avenue | Annapolis, MD 21401 Robert Indiana, LOVE - Red/Blue/Green, 1996. Silkscreen in colors.

Theodore Johnson, To Wash, 2018, Oil on Canvas.




ver the past decade, Peter Cane has—with blood, sweat, and tears—created a thriving photographic business. And the past 20 years have seen gargantuan upheavals in the photographic industry, which Cane has negotiated with tenacity and aplomb. The primary influence that shaped Cane’s life as a photographer was his father, a navy pilot and graduate of the US Naval School of Photography. Cane’s father had tours of duty around the globe. Consequently, young Cane experienced the world in a way most of us only dream of. All things photographic have been in Cane’s blood for as long as he can remember, and his fascination with photography evolved over time. At nine years old, he started taking his own snaps and began discovering his visual aesthetic, his appreciation for hands-on printing in a makeshift bathroom darkroom and ultimately the craft of photography.

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Corporate shoot for Clark Construction, Intercounty Connector (ICC).

by DAVID O’HIGGINS photography by PETER CANE | 29

Etched copper plate.

Peter Cane.

“ . . . and with my photography, I can be a vehicle to help people and promote positive change.” 30 | Spring 2018

After graduating in 1989 from Fordham University, where he pursued philosophy and communications, he found himself on Wall Street, working as an options trader—an exercise in systemic complexity, no less. After the 2008 financial crisis, Cane, along with others, was compelled to consider different ways to earn a living. He saw an opportunity, reawakened his sleeping passion, and went into business as a photographer with a lone camera.

Cane created a thriving photographic business over the course of ten years. But beyond commercial photography, his personal work focuses on melding digital technology with a hundredyear-old printing technique called photogravure, an intaglio printing process where a photo etching is created on a copper plate. During the process, the plate is inked by hand with traditional intaglio inks and printed on a classic, hand-turned printing press. The procedure is difficult to master,

Hay Adams Hotel, Washington, DC.

but the results can be sublime. It allows a photographer to marry the best of analog and digital worlds. Photogravure was developed by two original pioneers of photography: Nicéphore Niépce, in France in the 1820s, and later Henry Fox Talbot, in England. Niépce sought a way to create photographic images on plates that were then etched and used to make prints on paper with a traditional printing press.

His early images were among the first photographs, predating daguerreotypes (a photograph produced with an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapor). Talbot, inventor of the calotype paper negative process, wanted to make paper prints that would not fade. Photogravure in its mature form was developed in 1878, by Czech painter Karel Klíč, building on Talbot’s research. This process, still in use today, is called the Talbot-Klíč process.

Cane uses a coalescence of digital photographic technology and the photogravure technique to create stunning photography for his clients and for his own pleasure. “There is an inherent beauty, depth, texture, and ultimately a uniqueness that can only be achieved by employing the most ancient of photographic printing methods,” he says. In December 2017, Stockland Martel, once a leading New York City-based photography | 31

Pinkney St., Annapolis.

agency that was in business for more than 30 years and represented some of the world’s most trailblazing corporate photographers, closed its doors. It is a worrying industry-wide trend driven by the development of the digital realm. But when considering the overall climate of his industry, Cane believes that the economic landscape has improved for photographers. He also notes significant changes

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in roles: “Photographers used to take client assignments from advertising agencies directly,” he says. “Increasingly, they have to be prepared to work with clients on a one-to-one basis. This creates a challenge. Photographers now need to assume more duties such as creative director, mentor, and account manager, among others.” Cane’s main professional considerations are to not only shoot great photographs but also

ensure that his images reflect the best qualities and intentions of the project. Yet it seems he cannot deny that some superficiality has effused from the photography industry, especially with greater ability to generate, touch up, and access photographs via smartphones and social media. This had bred complacency regarding the appreciation of the work it takes to create photographic excellence.

In addition to remaining monetarily competitive, he allows his clients to use the photographs he creates for them in any way they wish, for as long as they like, without an additional fee. Perhaps most importantly, Cane is cognizant that clients often don’t have a full idea of what they want, so he collaborates with and guides them. Cane seems to consider himself an artisan, rather than an artist.

Perhaps he sees his artistry as the process of creating photographs, not necessarily in the product itself. By his own admission, he likes to be in control of his own destiny. His ultimate professional ambition is to attain mastery in both photography and printing. But there is one lingering question: As a professional, what is the thing he couldn’t do without? “My wife” he replies. █


Back Creek, Annapolis.

But Cane views this as an opportunity to endeavor to produce images that are useful for as long as possible. “I wanted to get back to creating something by hand, as it gives me complete control over the production process; one where I am in charge of every creative decision, thus ensuring a photographic quality that digital production systems cannot match,” he explains. | 33

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The Commons by LEIGH GLENN photography by KAREN DAVIES


ccording to astrology, as Earth moves from the Piscean to the Aquarian age, we’re shifting from a topdown, individualistic way of thinking to one where people collaborate in small groups and where each person benefits from the knowledge and experiences of the others. Small groups and community are what The Commons, at 209 West Street, is all about. The 3,600-square-foot second floor in the Livery Building is home to web designers, freelance writers and editors, a landscape architect, a financial advisor, and a photographer, among others. The Commons founders Ben Isenberg, who runs the Symmetry Agency, and Jeremy Olsen, who consults in the nonprofit health field and manages the space, work there, too.

Aesthetics at The Commons are spare yet warm, with exposed brick walls and art by local artists, wood floors and shelving, and communal spaces where local coffee is available. It was over beers at Galway Bay Irish Restaurant in autumn 2016 that Olsen, landscape designer Jordan Crabtree, and photographer Patrick McNamara had one of those “Wouldn’t it be great if . . .” conversations about developing a coworking space downtown. By serendipity, Olsen met Isenberg later that week. Symmetry was located down the road, at 203 West Street, but Isenberg, who had a suite at 209 West Street, noticed that two other suites opened up. They talked with the owner about designing it as a coworking space, and The Commons was born.

In June 2017, potential tenants lined up to snag spaces. A few private offices are for longerterm rental, as are desks that have lockers for tenants to use as needed. There are also “hot” desks that rent by the day, which, Olsen points out, may be ideal for someone who works at home and often goes to a coffee shop to get out of the house to do work. Conference rooms are available, as are other amenities, including fast, commercial Wi-Fi, office supplies and printers, ability to receive mail, and a kitchen. Like the serendipity in Olsen and Isenberg’s meeting, The Commons seems to foster spontaneous sharing and brainstorming. It could be a freelancer’s inquiry of a designer: What do you think of this logo? Or a startup business owner seeking information about insurance or best apps for bookkeeping.

Unlike Olsen’s parents’ and grandparents’ generations, who prized a private office, the most exciting thing about a space like The Commons is “collaborating, being involved in our community, sharing and sharing relationships,” says Olsen. “Each individual’s and business’s project benefits from the collaborative culture around it. This is sort of the secret to WeWork® becoming a $7 billion business in eight years. Our generation would gladly sacrifice a cushy, private office to have community.” This is also why Isenberg and Olsen appreciate the location of The Commons in the Annapolis Arts District— near FinArt, The Lighthouse Bistro, Sailor Oyster Bar and Nancy Hammond Editions— and intend to use the space for community arts events. The Commons partnered with

Jeremy Olsen and Ben Isenberg. | 37

Urban Walls Brazil to present a talk by artist Cindy Berry Sullivan in the fall of 2017 and intends to do more of those. Another partnership is with the Maryland Federation of Art (MFA),

“Our generation would gladly sacrif ice a cushy, private off ice to have community.”

Bill Schmidt, MFA member artist, Cindy McBride, McBride Gallery, and Matt Klos from AACC make up the panel for an artist workshop.

38 | Spring 2018

aimed to help artists deepen their work and develop their businesses. The first workshop, in mid-January, featured a panel that included artist Bill Schmidt, Friends of Quiet Waters Park Fine Arts Committee Sales Chair Jean Opilla, McBride Gallery’s Cynthia McBride, and artist, Anne Arundel Community College professor, and Baltimore-based Exeter Gallery co-owner Matt Klos. Before a packed room, they fielded questions by MFA Gallery Exhibitions Manager Thomas James about how to get work into juried shows and galleries. The opening reception at The Commons was planned to coincide with Annapolis Arts Week, which Isenberg, via Symmetry Agency’s work for Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, helped to streamline into a weeklong event that included Paint Annapolis and events at local arts venues, and was


capped off by the Arts and Wine Festival. That way, all of the individual events were promoted together. “The art community is superfragmented,” says Isenberg, in terms of locations, communities, and styles. So the thinking was, why not create something everyone can get behind, brand it Annapolis Arts Week, and market it that way? Symmetry, including principal, artist, and graphic designer Darin Gilliam, handled the website branding pro bono. The site garnered 11,000 hits that month, Isenberg says, and the week was a success. Isenberg, Gilliam, and others are establishing a nonprofit to spearhead Annapolis Arts Week. This year, it will run 10 days, with highlights including the First Sunday Arts Festival and Dinner Under the Stars along lower West Street, the Arts and Wine Festival, and Paint Annapolis. “A destination like Annapolis, that’s got this quaint feel, a historical element, that’s a walkable town . . . when I bring friends in, they love walking around and looking,” says Isenberg. “The art community should be a huge part of that.” Given the diversity of that community—from music and performing arts to fine art, and Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, where someone can take a class—“we really have everything you want, but it’s not necessarily known.” Isenberg’s own family benefited from Annapolis Arts Week, he says. Daughter Sloan, 7, and son Jackson, 5, got to work on a mural with artist Jeff Huntington at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. “To be able to touch art at that age—that feeling of appreciation, ‘I can be an artist,’—that’s the idea,” he says, encouraged by the possibilities that opened up through collaboration. █ Learn more about The Commons at | 39


t n i a P APOLIS

A N N E 3-10 JUN

Art On Paper Mar 29 - Apr 28 Reception: Apr 8 Spring Member Show May 3 - May 26 Reception: May 6

Bu s

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18 State Circle, Annapolis MD 21401 | 410.268.4566 

IN THE BAG Our Mystery, Brown-bag Art Sale





C AT E R I N G | C A F E | B A K E R Y







t’s the end of yet another busy workday. You head home, pick up the mail, and the minute you slide into your favorite chair and put your feet up, you realize that you’re about to miss yet another appointment. Facing exhaustion, you have a decision to make: do you head back out or just skip it? For Annapolis-based private business owner, community advocate, and recent Fannie Lou Hamer Award recipient Yvette Jackson-Morrow, there is only one answer, especially when it comes to volunteering. “You just do it. You just find the time. You have to set your priorities and make it part of your routine,” says Jackson-Morrow. “Volunteering is just a part of me. When I have a love for something, I just do it. There are tradeoffs, but everything in life is.” The 50-year-old wife, mother, and part-time student with an additional full-time job, has been assisting others in a variety of

capacities since her parochial school days in Brooklyn, New York. That’s where her late grandmother Evelyn—whom Jackson-Morrow referred to as “the neighborhood grandma and living history book”— instilled the importance of service to all 13 of her grandchildren and led by example. Whether it was visiting with the elderly at senior centers, offering people temporary shelter, or cooking food for the hungry, time was valuable and not meant to be squandered. “I was raised to give back. [She] set the foundation that you’re always supposed to give back and that we were born to serve. It’s my passion,” Jackson-Morrow says. To this day, she emulates the late matriarch and champions her motto: “I may not be able to save the world, but if I can make a difference in one person’s life, I have done more than many.” Her drive to help the underserved and marginalized didn’t stop

Since 2008, Yvette Jackson-Morrow has been volunteering once a month at So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.), a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC that serves food and offers resources to the homeless and less fortunate.

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photograp | 43

October 1, 2017: Jackson-Morrow is recipient of the 2017 Fannie Lou Hamer Award, which recognizes women in Anne Arundel County for their work on behalf of civil and human rights.

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when school ended; it only became stronger, evolving into a broader mission of fighting for justice, and leading her to pursue work as a legal secretary/paralegal. In 1995, she moved to Annapolis to make a better life for herself and her family and became engaged within her community almost immediately, starting at her children’s school. “I was very involved in making sure that they received fair treatment and the education they were entitled to,” she says. “I always told [them] knowledge was power, [and that you can be] stripped of everything [but not of ] what’s in your head.” In 1997, Jackson-Morrow joined the Anne Arundel County Branch of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations. There, she focused on mobilizing citizens to vote through registration and education. One of her best memories was bringing the spirit of unity and diversity to life in August 2013, when she participated with the nonprofit and its myriad chapters in the March on Washington’s fiftieth anniversary. A year later, she won the NAACP President’s Award for going above and beyond her peers as a leader and community organizer. Jackson-Morrow also donates her time and energy across numerous area organizations. She was elected second vice president of the childfocused Anne Arundel County chapter of Continental Societies, Inc., after serving two years as its historian and chair of recreation and earning its President’s Award in 2009. She operates as Conductress of the Miriam Chapter 24, Order of the Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliated, Severna Park, and is an auxiliary member of the American Legion Cook-Pinkney Post 141.

Young to donate 75 toiletry-filled backpacks across the border. “She’s a workaholic who doesn’t know when to say no. She’s a leader who takes on anything and everything we ask her to do,” says Christine Davenport, retired Anne Arundel County teacher and founding member of the local Continental Societies chapter. “She doesn’t mind overextending herself so that the kids have what they need to thrive.” Humans at all ends of life’s spectrum interest JacksonMorrow. One of the reasons she stepped down as NAACP branch secretary in January 2017 was so that she could focus on her current studies in mortuary science. She anticipates completing school in 2019 to become a licensed funeral director. To her, the career shift is a natural progression of service. “I look at it as being the last caregiver to your loved one,” she says. Now a grandmother, JacksonMorrow is not shy about imparting advice to ensure there is a future generation of volunteers. “I think we need to teach our children to do more community service work, and I think we could implement that in the school system,” she says. “If you start instilling that at home, even in the midst of what goes on outside the world, it’s already their foundation. So when you instill love and not hatred, and you instill being kind to others and not turning away when you see someone in distress, when you learn that at home, it’s just like your sixth sense. It’s something that you will do automatically. You won’t think about it. You don’t think about it. You just do it.” █

Jackson-Morrow joined the Anne Arundel County Branch of the NAACP in 1997, and in 2014 won the NAACP President's Award for going above and beyond as a community organizer.


In 2008, Jackson-Morrow switched careers and began working at Edison Electric Institute in Washington, DC. Her boss knew of her interest in giving back—which also included annual charity walks with The United Way, Walk MS, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure—and entrusted her with coordinating the department’s volunteer initiative. She and her colleagues have been serving food to the homeless and less fortunate at So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.) on the fourth Tuesday of each month since 2014. “Her service is an example of how women and people in general can improve their community,” says Carl Snowden, Capital Gazette columnist and chairman of the Martin Luther King Committee, Inc., which works in partnership with St. John’s College to honor the work of Fannie Lou Hamer, a feminist and original foot soldier of the civil rights movement. “There are some things people must do for themselves, and I think she does a lot of things. It’s important for people to get involved, look at the problems affecting their community, roll up their sleeves, and get busy changing society, and Mrs. Jackson-Morrow is an example of someone who excels at that.” Jackson-Morrow emphasizes that she does not pursue volunteer work to win awards or be put in the spotlight. The work is just as necessary to her existence as is oxygen. When it comes to her altruism, she thinks locally and globally. Her concern for Mexico’s September 2017 earthquake victims prompted her and her high school friend Dr. Debbie

Jackson-Morrow points to some of the people who gave her the NAACP President's Award in 2014. | 45


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wenty-one-year-old Jason Cherry may be young, but his accomplishments surpass his years. As owner of Mission Escape Rooms— with locations in Annapolis and Waugh Chapel—Cherry has cultivated real-life escape experiences that encourage teamwork to solve puzzles and clues to escape the rooms. More than that, Cherry is a man on a mission. An entrepreneur, philanthropist, and cancer survivor, as well as a former professional race car driver, his motto is, “Slow and steady may win the race, but fast and steady gets you there faster!” He grew up with an adopted older brother, Matthew—who

was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum at age four, the year before Cherry was born— and a younger sister. Although their household was filled with love, daily life was fraught with challenges due to Matthew’s needs. Cherry’s experiences with his brother taught him resilience and determination at an early age. He watched as his brother attended Benedictine School on the Eastern Shore, learning tools to better manage his behavioral issues among his teenage peers. Now 26, Matthew lives in a group home and has a full life. Cars have always been one of Cherry’s passions. At age 13, he started racing motocross dirt bikes despite his parents’ opposition. They eventually

Jason Cherry stands in his lobby against the backdrop of a pop-art canvas of Albert Einstein. "Some of the puzzles [in the rooms] are intellectually challenging," Cherry says, "And what better individual to represent that than Einstein?" | 49

agreed to let him race cars. In high school, he considered pursuing automotive engineering in college to combine his love of cars with his aptitude for math. While visiting Charlotte, North Carolina, he shadowed an engineer with a NASCAR team, spent time learning from the engineer at Hendrick Motor Sports, and looked at the Motor Sports Program at University of North Carolina. As he saw the steadfast workers on the engine assembly line, everything clicked—he was determined to drive race cars. He attended Bertil Roos Racing School in Pennsylvania, at age 16. He not only passed the program’s test but also passed his driving instructor on the racetrack. The school’s president urged Cherry to pursue professional racing, introducing him to Eric Langbein, a Formula 1® car racing engineer in Annapolis. Cherry raced at the regional level, setting track records, winning races, and completing five amateur regional races before moving to national races. Cherry placed well his first weekend at a national race in Florida. By his second national race, he had worked with Langbein to fine-tune his car, customizing its mechanics and functions to suit his specific driving needs; he set track records and won both races. As a licensed professional race car driver, Cherry raced for Mazda and Nissan in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, and garnered major sponsors in races televised on NBC and CBS in 2014 and 2015. Eventually Cherry shifted gears, working as a data analyst for a marketing company in Columbia. While he enjoyed the work, sitting in a cubicle was much different Mission Escape Rooms, 40 West Street, in downtown Annapolis. Photo by Alison Harbaugh

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than sitting behind the wheel of a race car—he was ready for a change. A family outing celebrating his sister’s birthday guided him towards the next turn on his career path. They went to an escape room in Washington, D.C. and had a fantastic time. Expanding on the model’s concepts, Cherry built the Mission Escape Rooms business himself—it is not franchised. He focused on making the experience more engaging, challenging, and fun. Its doors opened in May 2016. But just a few months after the grand opening, Cherry was diagnosed with cancer when a

large mass was found around his heart. He worked 16-hour days, with the help of family and staff members, in between five rounds of chemotherapy treatments and later during radiotherapy. Now in remission, Cherry is planning for a new Mission Escape Rooms at Arundel Mills to open soon. He was recently recognized by the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County with the 2017 Young Volunteer Award, acknowledging the work of his new nonprofit, Siblings of Autism. His inspiration to start the organization came during his racing days, when he partnered

with National Autism Society of America, hosting children on the autism spectrum on race days, and later attending national conferences, hosting sibling seminars, and volunteering on committees. Siblings of Autism’s mission is to supplement the education of those who have siblings with autism. The financial burden that a family takes on while caring for a child on the autism spectrum is substantial, given the need for occupational therapy, one-on-one tutoring sessions, group facilities, medication, and other treatments. Funds are thus

typically fewer or unavailable for siblings’ higher education and extracurricular activities. Cherry’s nonprofit provides college scholarships, respite options, and outreach programs. He personally contributes $20,000 each year to the organization, and seven well-deserving siblings are awarded scholarships. It’s clear that Cherry has no intention of slowing down. From the racetrack to escape rooms, he’s going fast and steady, accomplishing much, and just starting to find his stride. █


The Submarine Room in Cherry's Annapolis location—a nod to its seafaring locale—was built entirely in-house. Full of electronics and immersive clues, it maintains an escape difficulty rating of 5/10. | 51




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School Culinary Success C


hef and restauranteur Anthony Grasso can’t recall a pivotal moment that sparked his interest in food. Growing up in an Italian household, “I don’t remember a time when the kitchen wasn’t the first place you went when you came home,” he says. The eldest son of older parents, Grasso’s upbringing was more old school, with an expectation of involvement, from working on outside projects to interior upkeep—including assisting with meals. Grasso got hooked on the restaurant business before cooking. At age 13, he started bussing tables at a little neighborhood trattoria in Silver Spring before moving to another restaurant with later hours and more shifts. Grasso was also an athlete, and when he broke his arm playing football and couldn’t bus tables, he

caught a different type of break—the manager decided he could mix drinks with one arm. His next move was back to the trattoria, but as kitchen manager, his high school Spanish giving him an advantage over others in communicating with the El Salvadorian kitchen staff. “I didn’t know about food except cooking at home, but it turned out I knew more than I thought I did.” College came, with summers spent in Ocean City, working such jobs as short-order cook on the boardwalk, making cheesesteaks and burgers along with a fellow athlete friend. “We were responsible young men, not into partying, and the owners recognized that, cutting a deal to stay open later to capture late-night revenues—50% of the till. That was my first shot at running a restaurant,” says Grasso. The gig worked out, but he met other

Anthony Grasso stokes the fire in Dolce Vita's signature brick oven. | 55

Grasso, assisted by his daughter Scarlett, shops for ingredients in his local Annapolis grocery.

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people banking more money working as bar backs and bussers at larger places. With a summer savings goal to support his next year of college, he started moving into better-paying positions before landing at Tutti Gusti, a fine-dining restaurant. He graduated from college but was unsure what to do next, so he extended his summer season job to year’s end. When Tutti Gusti was sold, he returned to the trattoria as full-time manager, applying all he’d learned to reinvigorate the store’s systems and services. Then a call came in from Brian Shaw, the chef from Tutti Gusti. The new owners wanted Shaw, Grasso, and some of Grasso’s other former coworkers. Grasso had appreciated the chef ’s creating a teaching environment where he’d learned a lot via observation and assistance, so he returned, working there throughout law school. Hence his culinary education began in earnest. He was told by Shaw—“still probably the most talented chef I know”—that he’d also be learning at home. He received books and assignments, and had to give oral reports and demonstrate techniques daily. A book titled On Food and Cooking opened Grasso’s eyes to seeing food in a different light. “It was a tough read, very technical writing, but it made me realize that everything in cooking could be broken down to the molecular, and to look at food like an alchemist and not an artist—then there’s never any guesswork,” he says.

commutes from his home in the Annapolis area) continues the fresh tradition, baking breads, making pasta, even harvesting from Dolce Vita’s own garden. Grasso’s philosophy is if he can satisfy himself first in terms of quality and service, then his customers will also be satisfied. Both he and business partner, Cyrus Coleman, work to instill this in their staff. Zagat ratings and local magazine write-ups reflect their commitment, and Open Table’s diner-driven ratings have garnered awards, including Top 10 in Fairfax Restaurants, Diner’s Choice Award for Italian in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. The restaurant also earned Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Tradition, commitment, and a success philosophy prove to be a perfect blend for the modern age. █

Dolce Vita's bread and pizza dough is made fresh daily .


For example, all pastries have basically the same six ingredients, but the order you put them in and techniques you apply can result in thousands of different pastries. Such knowledge gave Grasso confidence with food, “It was like someone gave me the Rosetta Stone. After that, it was fast forward and head first.” They cooked old school, making pastas and breads, butchering whole fish, using local farms long before it became popular over using freezer-to-fryer products. “Those guys never stopped learning—that’s how I got formed. The fun was to never stop learning, achieving, experiencing, creating. I did that all through law school. I had two master professors all to myself and no classmates.” After finishing law school, Grasso wasn’t sure being a lawyer was for him. He was drawn into cooking and the restaurant world full-time. The owner sold him the restaurant, and suddenly he was a 27-year-old restaurateur, running the place with his brother for the next five years. When the economy tanked, he chose not to renew the lease and became a competitor’s executive chef, taking a break from the restaurant business. Chef Lisa DiFebo helped give him perspective on holding himself accountable and reignited his drive for the continued pursuit of perfection. “I think we lose that motivation and gusto on a day-today basis—it fades or gets ground out of you. [DiFebo] showed if you want to be great, you have to be motivated, every day.” As part-owner of Dolce Vita in Fairfax, Virginia, Grasso (who | 57

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he term retired applies only loosely in describing Tony J. Spencer’s current status in life. There is certainly nothing retiring about his personality. The artist is animated as he speaks about his family legacy, his life, and his art. He pops out of his chair to retrieve a portfolio and point out the details of one of his paintings, or to give a tour of the many spots in and outside of his home that serve as his creative spaces. Despite his outgoing demeanor, he needs time to recharge amid the many activities that keep him busy and engaged in his community. But he doesn’t have any plans of slowing down, saying, “The day you stop learning is the day you die.”

Spencer’s drive to learn sheds light on his lifetime of fascinating careers and artistic pursuits. He is an accomplished musician, having learned to play at least five instruments and performing as a vocalist with groups such as the Jimmy Smith Trio, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and War, to name a few. He served in the US Marine Corps, was an Honor Guard to President Nixon, a firefighter, medic, and an arson investigator, worked for several Annapolis mayoral administrations— the list goes on. With a master’s degree from Sojourner-Douglass College, he is an adjunct professor at Anne Arundel Community College and president of Nomads of Annapolis, Inc., an

organization dedicated to sending minority youths to historically black colleges. Also a poet and writer, he has contributed articles to the Anne Arundel County Historical Society. Born and raised in Marley, a neighborhood in Glen Burnie, Spencer’s passion for art was sparked by a beloved high school art teacher, Louis Schatt. He warmly recalls Schatt’s special way of pushing him out of his artistic comfort zone. “If he didn’t agree with something [on a student’s canvas], he’d just say, ‘Uhhh . . .’ and walk away.” Spencer received the “Uhhh . . .” treatment once, while working on a painting with raspberry hues. “I was frustrated, so I took spray paint and just did a light coat of black over it.

Angry Anxiety by Tony J. Spencer. Giclée on canvas, 36”x 48”.

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[Mr. Schatt] came back over and said, ‘Yes!’” he laughs. Spencer was surprised and delighted when his former teacher showed up for the opening of his 2016 exhibit at 49 West Coffeehouse, Winebar & Gallery, and the two picked up as if decades had not passed. Spencer’s home displays works by locally and internationally known artists. Several pieces by Alonzo Davis, including a painted bamboo wall sculpture, adorn the living room. A print by prominent Washington Color School painter Sam Gilliam hangs near the stairwell. Spencer’s admiration for these artists comes through in his bold use of color and shape. He also extolls the creations of Salvador Dali for exemplifying ultimate creative freedom. In 2003, Spencer and his wife, Vivian Gist Spencer, visited the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain. There, the sculpture garden, the collection of works by artists that inspired Dali, and the sheer range of Dali’s own work reinforced Spencer’s quest for unfettered expression in his own art. “[Dali] didn’t limit himself, and he understood that if it took just one dot to make a message, that’s what he did,” says Spencer. An even more profound influence on Spencer’s worldview and work is his remarkable family legacy. His great-greatgrandfather, Captain James William Spencer, was born a free African American in Maryland around the year 1817. In an unprecedented undertaking for his times, he started purchasing land. One of those parcels, located in the area now known as Marley, would become Freetown, one of the largest communities of free blacks outside of Annapolis. 62 | Spring 2018

Captain Spencer, who had to carry a certificate proving his freedom at all times at the risk of being sent into slavery, found a way to pursue freedom within a slavery-driven society, as owning land created personal and community agency. He went on to fight for the Union in the Civil War. “James William Spencer Documentary Quilt” is an important work of Spencer’s that honors his family legacy. It

uses images to tell the story of Freetown and the descendants of Captain Spencer, up to the present day. With the help of Dr. Joan M. E. Gaither, an artist, educator, and master quilter who specializes in storytelling quilts, Spencer worked on the piece with a team that included his wife, Vivian, several other family members, and Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson for three to four months. Recalling the immersive experience he says, “You

Spencer works on his painting, Trybe-All Celebration. Giclée on canvas, 31" x 54". Photo by Julia Gibb.

paintings onto archival paper or canvas so he can add paint back into the new compositions. A sketch done on a paper towel might end up printed onto canvas so that it can be further developed. He has a nomadic approach to his creative space— his easel might start in his living room and then travel to the sunroom near the bar or out to the back deck, depending on the light. Underlying the freedom in Spencer’s work is a foundation built on the bedrock of his faith and his respect for his ancestral legacy. Referring to his greatgreat grandfather, a visionary of his time, Spencer says, “I stand on his shoulders today.” Spencer also wants to help children realize the power of their cultural foundation, saying, “[Africans] didn’t come here [only] as slaves. They came here with a society in their heart, in their DNA.” He emphasizes the importance of educating current and future generations of their rich history, giving them a sense of place in the world. “Until they understand that,” he says, “they think, ‘I’m nothing.’” Spencer recounts the story behind “African Warrior,” a portrait of a warrior with a fierce and fiery-looking Mohawk, surrounded by bright, swirling colors, textures, and shapes. He notes that most people assume the subject is male. “The only ones that got it were two elementary school kids and one adult, who saw a woman right away.” The warrior has a peaceful expression with a hint of a smile. “In the middle of chaos, she’s sturdy,” says Spencer. “She knows what she has to do, and she remains calm.” █ Look, listen, and learn more at

Poe's Raven by Tony J. Spencer. Giclée on watercolor, 15”x 30”.


sit down for one hour to work on the quilt, you look up, and believe it or not, three hours have gone by!” The quilt has been part of exhibits at the Benson-Hammond house in Linthicum, Annapolis City Hall, and the Whiley H. Bates Legacy Center, and was recently at Anne Arundel Community College as part of Spencer’s solo exhibit, TRYBE-ALL CELEBRATION, in recognition of Black History Month. Spencer’s paintings, prints, and drawings are filled with references to his heritage. One painting, “Trybe-all,” is populated by warriors in traditional garb against a rich aqua background, with a large serpent sprawling across the diagonal of the canvas. “Forest of my Ancestors” depicts a stand of woods that now grow on the land that once belonged to his great-great grandfather. Hidden in the woods are faces and figures, including one figure hanging from a tree. Encouraged by Gaither to find “paintings within paintings,” Spencer meditates on details within larger compositions, and with them he creates new pieces. One such piece, “Bush Church in the Wilderness,” was created from a detail of “Trybe-all” and pays homage to enslaved African Americans who were forced to find ways to worship in private, in “bush churches.” For Spencer, the art-making process is flexible, forever evolving, and takes him in new directions. Nothing is set in stone, and the best-laid plans might be cheerfully forgotten as inspiration takes over. For him, art means surrendering to a power greater than himself. “Can you understand being a channel,” he asks, “and allowing things to flow?” This approach fuels the constant evolution of his work. He may print paintings or sections of

James William Spencer Documentary Quilt by Tony J. Spencer. Mixed Media: cloth, iron-on copy paper, ceramic (farm animals), 6’x 8’. | 63



66 | Spring 2018 | 67


n 1950, World War II hero (and local Annapolitan) George "Bee" Thackery Weems spent 23 days flying a small plywood and canvas plane with no radio from England to the Australian outback. Weems was a US Navy test pilot, and his only crew was his father, Philip Van Horn Weems, the developer of modern navigation and tutor to Charles Lindbergh, and copilot Willie Eddins. The trio took off from England in February, stopping every 500 miles for fuel. Each airport they landed in was a window into history, and everywhere officials demanded stamps, visas, and papers in triplicate. They refueled in Libya with help from Bedouin Arabs, followed pipelines across Iraq, witnessed the airlifts during the partition of India and Pakistan, danced with a maharajah’s daughter in Calcutta, beheld the golden temples of Rangoon, and eagerly looked forward to rest in Bali. Finally, they flew across the fearsome Timor Sea to Australia. Once home in Annapolis, Weems wrote down his adventures to publish in the Saturday Evening Post. This plan and his life were cut short when an aircraft he was testing plunged into the icy Delaware River on January 16, 1951, during a classified Navy exercise. He was 30 years old. The only photograph he had in his wallet when he died was of the little English plane and its crew. █

The crew reaches Daly Waters, Australia.

Philip Van Horn Weem s (PVH) and Bee We ems.

Box Kite to Bali: The Last Great Adventure of a U. S. Navy Pilot, by George Thackray Weems, is available at local Annapolis bookstores. Follow Box Kite to Bali at

68 | Spring 2018

amid of Giza, Egypt. View of the Great Pyr

PVH, Bee, and Willie retur ning home via Adelaide, with the crew of a Trans-Australia Airlines Douglas DC-3.


Refueling the plane, Pakistan.

The crew with US State Dep artment


The Marble Arch, Libya, 1950. This structure was erected by Italian dictator Benito Mu ssolini in 1937 and destro yed by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 1970. | 69


72 | Spring 2018



he first time Russell Stone heard The Jimi Hendrix Experience, he couldn’t stop laughing. Perhaps he could not believe his ears. Stone’s fellow musicians attribute a quality similar to Hendrix to his playing, though clearly he is not Hendrix and would never claim to be. “Unique,” his friends say, “unusual,” “his solos are ridiculous,” and “no one else like him.” With the palate of a oenophile and a day job helping people pair wine and food, one might only guess at Stone’s abilities, unless you happened to hear a band he plays with— OC/DC, the Jello Boys, or the Monuments. His long fingers aren’t necessarily a clue, nor is

his mind, which moves easily between Russian history, music trivia, reincarnation, and myriad other subjects. During his covers of Steely Dan or Beatles songs, you might pick up a thread of sitarist Ravi Shankar or keyboardist Bernie Worrell, both late, greats of their genres. Stone seems to channel—in his own way—the lineage of folkblues-rock-funk and everything they grew out of and evolved into. Stone is the oldest in a foursibling family that includes painter Matthew, guitarist Jonathan, and actress Megan. Jonathan says that they all got the “unconventional gene” from their father, a US Marine who taught himself carpentry. Their mother, a commercial graphic

Russell Stone was born in Connecticut and moved to Annapolis in 1968. He began playing guitar when he was 12 years old. | 73

artist, moved the family in 1968 from the Berkshire foothills of Connecticut to Annapolis and worked for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. His first instrument was a Gibson guitar, which his paternal grandfather bought because he enjoyed his daughter-in-law’s playing and singing. Over time, every child in the family played the instrument. Stone, who says he grew up in the parentally permissive “Dr. Spock” era, went to the movies and watched A Hard Days Night and Help again and again to understand what the Beatles were doing and began teasing those things out. He spent hours a day with the guitar, teaching himself. Despite all of his rock chops, Stone can’t be that guy who draws the crowds and plays loudly. “It’s just how I’m constituted,” he explains. But friend and Jello Boys guitarist Steve Badger says that, with one note, Stone can make a person laugh or cry. On stage with OC/DC on a cold January night at Stan & Joe’s South in

“I’ve never seen Russell be hoodwinked by any piece of music.” Edgewater, Stone occasionally turns his back to the audience to play. He jokes to the crowd that it’s “British invasion sports night,” as the band is competing with the Eagles-Falcons football game as well as college basketball and football. But everyone is supportive and enthusiastic as Stone, A.J. Eckert (keyboard, guitar, and vocals), longtime friend Shep Tullier (bass and vocals), and Mickey Eckman (drums) dance back and forth across the Atlantic, starting stateside with Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” then moving to the Beatle’s

Stone plays his 12-string guitar in front of some paintings by his brother Matt Stone.

74 | Spring 2018

“You Can’t Do That.” On the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon,” Stone sings and plays loosely yet is controlled before they transition to something bluesy and then to Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough,” before taking a break. What comes across is someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Stone says the guitar is a great spiritual barometer of whatever energies and influences are on the player’s side at any given moment, so the player approaches the instrument differently every time. That sensibility would probably conflict with a life on the road, having to play constantly and consistently, so Stone is glad he doesn’t make a living at music—though he has great respect for those who do. “I’ve never played with [Stone] where he’s repeated the same thing twice,” says blues guitarist Dean Rosenthal, who was maybe in junior high school when he first heard Stone play with Dirty Jane. “He’s very experimental in the way he comes at it—sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but it’s never stopped him.” For example, they could be playing a simple Willie Nelson song, and Stone will throw in a complex lick that reminds Rosenthal of Jeff Beck. Stone says he’ll play any note any time, even if it means traversing an Arabian scale in a Muddy Waters tune. Occasionally, that approach has provided in-the-moment annoyance. Rosenthal recalls a gig during which Stone’s playing bothered him. When they listened to a recording of the gig on the ride home, Rosenthal shifted his view: “Goddamn, that’s good,” he said, “I had to go back and apologize—‘That’s brilliant. Sorry I was so much on your case.’”

may be that, to someone’s ears, it resembles another instrument. Elusive in nature, Stone doesn’t like digital anything but doesn’t want to be seen as a Luddite. He also didn’t want Rosenthal and others to organize the concert that took place in August 2017 to celebrate his own musicianship. Luthier and musician Paul Reed Smith says he was amazed, during a rehearsal, to see Stone grab paper and a marker and begin writing down the chords for the complex Steely Dan tune, “Haitian Divorce” without reaching for his guitar. “He is fundamentally a musician, which is different than a guitar player,” says Smith. “I’ve never seen Russell be hoodwinked by any piece of music.” After overcoming some health issues, Stone is playing out more and working on his own

compositions. He’s gearing up for studio time, and is considering writing a memoir whose working title is Garage Band, if he can find an Olivetti to type it on. He likens his reflective compositions to “the funny stepchild you don’t want the neighbors to see.” But it’s unlikely that Stone’s fans would care how funny that stepchild is. They, too, want to hear what Stone hears, and see what Stone sees. █


Rosenthal also hears in Stone Adrian Belew and other guitarists who have their own way of doing things. “I don’t know how he hears what he hears. You realize that, when you take him in the band, he’ll push things further than you thought they were going to go,” says Rosenthal. Badger agrees: “[Stone] raises everybody up with his playing, encourages you to do more, find more, make the music happen.” He notes that Stone is always learning more about the art, science, and magic of music. Badger says that Stone has an ability to make the guitar sound like other instruments—flute, oboe, cello, keyboards, marimba, or clavinet. “He has got it tuned to the key of Russell,” he says. But Stone doesn’t want his friend’s comment taken too literally. “By accident or by intent,” he explains, “different tonality happens,” and it

Funny, contemplative, and a showman, Stone has a presence on stage with multiple guitar solos and jokes between sets. | 75


78 | Spring 2018




mid the din of the crowd and background blues music, DaJuan Gay takes a seat next to a set of gleaming bay windows at 49 West Coffeehouse Wine Bar & Gallery. He adjusts his crisp collar, featured prominently in the V-neck of a heather gray sweater, as he watches various passersby move up and down West Street. “I’m hungry,” he starts before breaking his gaze for the approaching waiter. He orders a single black tea and continues, choosing each word carefully, “I’m hungry for success. I’m starving for opportunity.” In many ways, Gay embodies the blues music that plays softly as he tells his story; there is a palpable sense of hardship, of tragedy, always

tempered with the desire to cry out and be heard as a means of catharsis and, ultimately, growth. When he was 11 years old, Gay moved to Annapolis with his 29-year-old single mother and four younger siblings. Although his mother was battling thyroid cancer and the family was homeless for the first two years, Gay maintains, “I will forever be grateful for her decision to move to Annapolis.” For Gay, Bates Middle School was the first place that made knowledge seem attainable, the Boys and Girls Club was the first place that gave him a sense of community, and Annapolis was the first place that felt like home. It was that feeling of home that imbued Gay with a sense of higher purpose: service to the community.

DaJuan Gay at Lawyer's Mall, a prime gathering location where voices are heard and stories are shared about pressing issues in the greater Annapolis community. | 79

overwhelming feeling of failure that he became depressed, with suicidal thoughts. The summer of 2016 put things back into perspective for Gay. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile had just been killed by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively, and racial divisions were wreaking havoc on communities nationwide. Gay forced himself to step outside of his personal struggles and figure out a way to bring healing to his beloved Annapolis community. Under the banner of the Black

Gay welcoming guests at a campaign sign in table for Sarah Elfreth for State Senate, District 30.

Gay got his first taste of politics when he ran for class president of Annapolis Senior High—an election that he won, as a junior, by a landslide. Friends started jokingly referring to him as Barack Obama, a nickname that became less and less superficial as they realized how serious he really was. During his term, Gay brought together a group of students in an extraordinarily diverse high school environment (30 percent Caucasian, 30 percent African American, 30 percent Hispanic, 10 percent Asian) that ultimately went out into the community and raised $20,000 to help the school get out of debt. “We were a good team,” says Gay,“we made things happen.”

While fundraising for Annapolis High School, Gay was also fundraising for his future. Through GoFundMe, scholarships, grants, hard work, and personal merit, Gay was accepted to Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and became a first-generation college student—a fact he can’t help but relate with a smile. Just three months into his first semester, however, Gay was the subject of a racially motivated threat on campus. The incident had such an immediate and profound impact on Gay that he was unable to focus on academics and was back in Annapolis before year’s end. He transferred to Anne Arundel Community College, but the ordeal left Gay with such an Gay talks policy, vision, and strategy during his Ward 6 alderman campaign.

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Lives Matter movement, Gay organized a mile-long march with over 300 participants that began at his alma mater, Bates Middle School, and ended at the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial at City Dock. Gay couldn’t ignore the tangible impact he was able to have on his community and his own sense of self. “I wanted to shift that momentum into politics,” says Gay. “I wanted to do things the right way. I wanted to invest in my community. I wanted to get the community involved and engaged.” In 2017, at age 19, Gay announced his candidacy for alderman for Ward 6 on the Annapolis City Council. While campaigning, Gay moved back in with his mother and now five siblings in Eastport Terrace. Upon returning, Gay found the tight living situation exacerbated by the lack of air-conditioning. Gay sprang to action, employing his fundraising and community organizing skills, and raised $14,000 in just two days, supplying 85 families, including his own, with air conditioning units. Gay ultimately lost the race for city council, despite his best efforts and the unwavering support of his family. His day will come, because until that victory confetti rains down, you will find him at 3 a.m. with his face bathed in the blue glow of a computer screen, the electronic hum of that airconditioning unit ever present, working towards his degree, studying politics, the judicial system, and the rest of it, at that lonely hour when great leaders are made. █ Gay on the Maryland State House lawn, preparing for the 2017 Annapolis primary election. | 81




The Inner West Street Association is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization The Annapolis Arts & Entertainment District is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization

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19fiftythree & ArtFarm 45 West Street 49 West Coffeehouse & Gallery 49 West Street Annapolis Collection Gallery 55 West Street Cindy Loo Hoo’s Boutique 124 West Street Finart 214 West Street


Hudson and Fouquet Salon 181 West Street Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts Third Floor Artist Studios 801 Chase Street Nancy Hammond Editions 192 West Street Naptown Furniture 220 West Street Nap-town-furniture-and-more


Ruby Salon 3 Monticello Avenue Sadona Salon and Spa 15 West Street Sparrow 198 West Street

UMI studio Yoomi Yoon 35 West Street Varuna Salon Spa 1 park place, number eleven Whitehall Gallery 57 West Street


St Patricks Day Parade March 11 Annapolis Film Festival March 22-25 Maryland Day April 6-8 First Sunday Arts Festival May 6 | 83

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