Two Hours for the Arts

Artist Mark Salmin paints against the clock on June 22 during Easels in Frederick’s second Quick Draw.


The 90-plus artists lining the streets of downtown Frederick couldn’t have asked for better weather — June 22 dawned bright and breezy on the second annual Two-Hour Quick Draw, sponsored by Easels in Frederick, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the arts in Frederick City.

The Quick Draw required participating artists to complete a work in any two-dimensional medium — be it paint or pastels — between 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Event organizers stationed artists along North Market, East Patrick and North East streets.

“We picked the hours of 9 – 11 because it’s the best time for shadows,” said Quick Draw committee member Connie Schlee. Schlee is also the co-chair of Easels in Frederick, now in its third year. “Frederick is such a beautiful place to paint that it was time we had an event like this.”

The outdoors (plein air) event attracted more than 90 artists from across the United States. Two participants hailed from Kansas City, Mo., with others from New York and Illinois. Of the 90, approximately 30 were juried artists: Pittsburgh-based plein air painter Ron Donoughe judged juried entrants for admission into the event. The remaining 60 were comprised of artists ages 16 and up, all looking to enjoy two hours of fast-paced creativity and summertime sunshine.

Artist Mark Salmin, a teacher at the St. Francis Preparatory Academy on Long Island, N.Y., decided to participate in the Quick Draw after seeing a Facebook post about the event from fellow artist Kirk Larsen, also a participant.

“It’s part of my quest to become a recognized American artist,” said Salmin. “It’s my dream to travel and paint.”

As the event continued into mid-morning, groups of pedestrians stopped on the streets to watch the artists at work. Baltimore, Md.-based artist Stewart White attracted a small crowd of admirers as he put the finishing touches on a street scene.

“As soon as he sees an interesting color — from someone’s clothes, say — he paints them in,” said an awed bystander. “He’s very fast.”

The two hours ended as they began, with the sound of a whistle and a shuffle of paintbrushes and easels. Artists moved their works into Memorial Park, where the public could purchase products of the Quick Draw at prices (ranging from $40 to $850) determined by the artists.

Many masterpieces had yet to dry when judging began. Donoughe served as judge again, determining a single first-prize winner in the pool of 30 juried artists and awarding first, second and third places and two honorable mention awards to the non-juried artists. First prize for both categories was a $500 award; second and third prizes in the non-juried pool were $300 and $200.

First prize in the non-juried artists category was awarded to Paul Tooley, who’d created a vivid watercolor rendering of Acacia, a restaurant in downtown Frederick, in his two hours. Tooley, also a scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Fort Detrick, spoke of his painting career as a pleasant diversion from the everyday.

“Even Einstein wasn’t a scientist by trade,” said Tooley. “He was a patent examiner.”

First prize in the juried artists category was awarded to Richard Sneary, also a watercolorist. Sneary’s work depicted a rustic, brick-front row of shops in Downtown Frederick in earthen hues.

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