When Lynne Oakes moved from Bethesda to Germantown in 1983, she missed the company of other artists. Instead of remaining mired in her loneliness, the painter and teacher opted to change that situation.
Oakes proceeded to put a notice in the Gazette newspaper inviting interested parties to meet to discuss starting an artists group. Thirteen people attended that first gathering in her new neighborhood’s community room, she recalled. Thus, the Art League of Germantown, AKA ALOG, was born.
The benefits of an artists group became evident to Oakes during her childhood in Manhasset, New York, where both her artist parents were charter members of an art association. “I was 10 when it started and so I saw the life-expanding results of such a group — the shows, the lectures and demonstrations, the wonderful friendships. It truly did inspire me to start such a group myself “
During ALOG’s first year, Oakes said, “we defined our goals and purposes, and we have been fulfilling them ever since.” She defined those tenets as: “providing members with the stimulation to thrive in their personal art goals and fostering creativity; encouraging enthusiastic support and appreciation for art and for other artists’ work and contributing to the surrounding community in furthering art awareness and education.”
ALOG moved its meetings from the original community center to the Upcounty Regional Services Center in 1993 and then, in 2003, to the brand-new BlackRock Center for the Arts. Oakes facilitated ALOG’s relocation with her involvement in getting Germantown’s new arts center underway; she served as secretary to BlackRock’s first director and contributed advice on choosing the facility’s art-related equipment and furniture.
In celebration of ALOG’s 35th anniversary, which Oakes described as “35 years of ‘loving work’ in the arts for our membership,” the group’s fall exhibit, “Colors and Composition,” will fill BlackRock’s Kay and Terrace galleries with painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics and fine jewelry created by more than 40 of its current roster of nearly 100 members.
ALOG admits both professional and amateur painters, sculptors, fiber artists, photographers, jewelers, glass artists, collage artists, mosaic artists and ceramicists from around the county. Although “members are not juried into the group because I wanted it to be an encouraging place for anyone interested in art to come and participate,” explained Oakes, noting that they do curate the exhibits “so that the work looks cohesive.” Erin Bliss, ALOG’s publicity chairperson., observed that “Not many art groups admit everyone the way we do, and it makes for an interesting mix of experience, talent and interests.”
The “everyone can join” policy has multiple benefits. Fused glass artist and show chairperson Laurie Hartman, who has been in ALOG for about 10 years, said she has “made some truly great friends … and (I) have learned a lot from my fellow artists (and) the monthly meetings with speakers.” Members of this “diverse group of people of all ages and backgrounds” are compassionate, she said. “I have a physical disability (MS) and everyone is there to support me.” ALOG members have attended and donated art to raffle off for National Multiple Sclerosis Society fundraisers she has held. “I feel like we are a big family and we all work together so well.”
Self-taught fine art photographer Marge Wasson, the group’s president since 2016, emphasized the “enriching opportunities” ALOG has offered her. “ALOG brings me countless gifts of learning, inspiration, encouragement and affirmation. I learn from everyone — the painters and sculptors and glass artists and all — as much as from the other photographers in the group.”
The camaraderie and interaction are key, she said. “Talking with other ALOG artists helps me find ways to grow and develop my work; comments about something in my work shows me other perspectives – very important. I’ve gotten so many great tips — for example, a new source for printing my images, equipment rental websites, great photo locations, strategies for making sure I devote enough time to my art, exhibit opportunities, camera clubs, new technologies.
“I’ve learned the importance of showing my ‘voice’ in my work, and about how to look at the experience of being accepted (or not) into a juried show. When I’m asked about how I created a piece, I’m sometimes reminded about a successful technique I’ve since forgotten about and will try again. I’ve joined with other artists on ‘art’ outings and on big joint projects.”
In some eight years of membership, added the Chevy Chase resident, “I’ve gotten to know I-270 very well, Being part of ALOG is definitely worth slogging through that traffic.”
The Art League of Germantown (ALOG) will present “Colors and Composition,” its 35th anniversary exhibition, from Oct. 18 to Nov. 3 in the Kay and Terrace Galleries of BlackRock Center for the Arts 12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. A Weekend Gift Gallery will have additional works in all mediums available for sale, and a Meet the Artists Wine Reception is set for 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28. Call 301-528-2260 or www.blackrockcenter.org; for information on ALOG, visit www.ALOG.org.