La Plata to fea­ture lo­cal art at town hall

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JESSI STICKEL Spe­cial to The Mary­land In­de­pen­dent

In­side the La Plata Town Hall on the sand col­ored walls hang black-framed pops of color and cre­ativ­ity within sur­re­al­is­tic oil and acrylic paint­ings, which forms its new art gallery.

La Plata Mayor Jean­nine James said there is beau­ti­ful art in the town hall, “but no one sees it.” She said this new gallery could add to the art com­mu­nity that al­ready ex­ists in La Plata such as “the mu­sic con­certs on Fri­days at town hall, Shan­non [Wang’s] stu­dio [Shop 53], and the Port To­bacco Play­ers.”

“Town hall is the peo­ple’s, not mine,” James said.

She said she out­sourced to Shan­non Wang, an artist and a co-owner of the La Plata tat­too and art stu­dio, Shop 53, to find the art to show­case in the gallery. “I’ll give you the space and you find the artists,” James said she told Wang.

“I think hav­ing a space that’s ded­i­cated just for that brings a lot of aware­ness and opens up op­por­tu­ni­ties for dif­fer­ent peo­ple, who may not have known that there was any place to show around here,” Wang said.

“Be­ing a newer small busi­ness co-owner… we have a strong goal to be the des­ti­na­tion spot for lo­cal artists and to cre­ate more of an art com­mu­nity in South­ern Mary­land,” Wang said.

The gallery’s first fea­tured artist is Ben­jamin Butler, 18, who re­cently grad­u­ated from La Plata High School.

“I al­ready knew about the gallery and was in­ter­ested about hav­ing a piece in there, and I was to­tally ex­cited when I heard that they were go­ing to take over the town hall gallery and that they wanted me to have a solo show,” Butler said.

Wang said she found Butler by look­ing through the La Plata High School art In­sta­gram page, as well as know­ing one of his art teach­ers.

Butler said many of the pieces that are show­cased in the gallery were painted in his Ad­vanced Place­ment art class. He said sev­eral pop­u­lar artists have in­spired him, such as Shep­ard Fairey, who created the pop­u­lar Barack Obama “Hope” poster dur­ing his cam­paign in 2008.

The ma­jor­ity of Butler’s pieces in the gallery fea­ture peo­ple with a twist of other un­pre­dictable ob­jects. “Sev­eral of the sub­jects are peo­ple I know from school; some of the other paint­ings are re­made clas­si­cal paint­ings,” Butler said.

Butler plans to at­tend Sa­van­nah Col­lege of Art De­sign in Ge­or­gia, ma­jor­ing in il­lus­tra­tion and mi­nor­ing in paint­ing. He said he hopes to be­come an “il­lus­tra­tor at a ma­jor com­pany or a prac­tic­ing pro­fes­sional fine artist” one day.

“I have never had a solo [show] be­fore, so this is sort of a new ex­pe­ri­ence, but I’m pretty ex­cited about it,” Butler said.

A meet and greet with the gallery artist was held Fri­day, June 9, which Butler said “went well,” as two of his paint­ings were pur­chased.

Wang said that the gallery will fea­ture new art about ev­ery two months. She is look­ing for artists with “big­ger bod­ies of work” that could fill the wall space of town hall.

“We have land­scape painters, pho­tog­ra­phers and many more artists lined up to show off their tal­ents at the town hall gallery,” Wang said.

“It’s awe­some to have an­other venue to show­case art work … I know that the mayor is very ex­cited about show­ing off all dif­fer­ent types of art and [to host more in­door] town hall pub­lic events,” Wang said.

James said the new gallery “plays into the charm of La Plata.”


La Plata artist Ben Butler was joined by his teach­ers Josh Het­tel and Eva Baker at an event where his work is be­ing show­cased in­side La Plata Town Hall.


One of Butler’s works, “Juno 1,” dis­played at La Plata Town Hall.

La Plata Town Hall will be show­cas­ing work by lo­cal artists as an ef­fort to be spread the mes­sage that the build­ing be­longs to the peo­ple of La Plata.

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