La Plata to feature local art at town hall
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.