Helping a ‘field of dreams' come true

Friday, April 9, 2010

Five-and-a-half years ago I was granted the opportunity to create my own field of dreams.

It came in the form of a small art gallery to be located at the Lexington Park library. I met with both Kathleen Reif, director of St. Mary's County libraries, and Janice Hummel, branch manager for the Lexington Park library.

Armed with a hand-written proposal I expressed my basic concepts and the materials necessary for a professional gallery hanging system as well as the labor involved for its installation.

The library board agreed to this new partnership. They were pleased to provide the location and the in-kind support to install the gallery but there were no extra funds to purchase the necessary hardware and hanging fixtures.

You cannot put a price on a dream, however, so I invested my savings into the start-up expenses.

My basic concept was to educate, expose and entertain the general public (21,000 souls who enter the Lexington Park library monthly) to original art in its many mediums, styles, subject matter and disciplines.

It was daunting in the beginning to convince local artists of the absolute importance and obligation for gifted, talented individuals to share the encased energies existing in their artwork with the general public, the members of our community who might be intimidated by visiting a gallery or museum.

These same individuals look at the art and the changing exhibits, and just by doing so automatically engenders art appreciation.

To entice the local artists, I've needed to stress that art is not art until it is actually seen, that every venue need not be a sales venue, that this space offers immensely more exposure then a gallery space would.  Also, they would be unable to find any space within these three counties that would offer a one woman/man show, and charge no fees and demand no percentages should their artwork sell. In no way is the artist exploited by agencies or gallery overhead.

My five and a half years of nurturing this gallery as if it were my child has proved successful in helping add an additional 3,000 people entering the branch monthly.

Now the art exhibits are booked well into 2011.

A major part of the history of the continued success of this project comes not just from the partnership with the library board and Friends of the Library donations but also from the constant (when needed) financial contributions that Mr. Thomas Daugherty has made, helping to defray the gallery's costs.

Two separate $1,000 donations he has freely and enthusiastically donated to us in honor of his recently diseased, beloved mother, Kay Daugherty.

Kay Daugherty was very instrumental in building an appropriate space for the library that I remember as a child growing up.

And Mrs. Daugherty had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and appreciation of art. Mr. Daugherty reminisced that his mother participated in nearly every non-studio art course offered by St. Mary's College of Maryland.

She imbued in her son and daughter the intrinsic value and spiritualism inherent in the act of creating an object of beauty.

The artist's soul becomes embedded in the work of art for eternity and magnetically attracts the viewer to come for a closer look. The viewer actually begins to feel the soul and energy of the artist; and, thus begins the process of appreciation.

I would like to take this long overdue moment to express my deepest gratitude to Mr. Daugherty for his generosity and genuine appreciation and passion for art. I could not have continued with such success without his and his mother's unhesitating generosity.

I am personally deeply indebted as this "little gallery that could" was my own field of dreams.

As we travel our journey through life, we must do so with the feeling that we don't know what day will have no tomorrow. With that in mind we give our utmost to the miracle of our dreams coming true.

Thank you, Mr. Daugherty, for perpetuating the memory of your mother and for your generosity, from the bottom of my heart.

Candy Cummings, Lexington Park

The writer is director of the art gallery at the

Lexington Park library.