We laughed, we cried, we bought cryptocurrency.
We watched riots break out at the Capitol, then watched Bernie’s mittens go viral two weeks later.
We protested #FreeBritney.
We tried TikTok.
We watched eight hours of Beatles footage from 1969, trickled into theaters to watch “Dune,” and some of us turned on Wes Anderson after seeing “The French Dispatch.”
We lost Norm Macdonald, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Sondheim, DMX, Larry King, Phil Spector, Gift of Gab, Oympia Dukakis, Willie Garson and so many others who made their unique marks on pop culture.
We wore masks, abandoned masks, then strapped them back on.
2021 was a year to remember — or forget.
Despite 2021 being quieter and, in many ways, a continuation of 2020 pandemic closures and restrictions, a lot transpired during the past year in our corner of the world.
Here’s the mostly good, some bad and a little ugly of our local arts and entertainment scene this year.
Claire McCardell monument is unveiled along Carroll Creek LINEAR PARK
A team made up nearly entirely of women, including Frederick sculptor Sarah Hempel Irani and the Frederick Art Club, worked tirelessly for two years to bring a life-size Claire McCardell statue to downtown Frederick.
It was unveiled to the public on Oct. 17 at its permanent location along Carroll Creek Linear Park. Commissioned by the art club, the bronze statue weighs in at 680 pounds and stands 7 1/2 feet tall. Landscape elements were included in the project, including a nearby bench.
The iconic fashion designer, who was born and buried in Frederick, created women’s clothing that was far ahead of its time. In the mid-1900s, McCardell gave women an alternative to stiff dresses with her comfortable leisurewear, sportswear, matching separates, pockets in skirts and dresses, ballet flats and side zippers.
Hempel Irani based the statue’s dress on a photo she found in the archives at Hood College, where McCardell studied home economics.
“Sarah has been so sensitive and sculpted her with so much integrity — from her detail to her sense of design to her sense of being elegant yet practical,” Linda Moran, chairwoman of the project steering committee, told the News-Post.
The Frederick Art Club envisions the statue being a destination — whether a stopping point for visitors to sit and sketch, art classes or grade schoolers to learn about McCardell, and the occasional art or history talk or stop on a walking tour.
Catherine Moreland hands over the baton to Duane Doxzen as CEO of the Delaplaine Center
In the spring, Delaplaine Arts Center CEO Catherine Moreland announced her retirement after 26 years in what she calls “the best job in the world.”
Over her tenure, she helped guide the Delaplaine into what it is today. The 100-year-old mill building housed one gallery and one classroom when she began there in 1995 and has become a museum and arts education destination in the heart of a thriving downtown Frederick art scene.
The Delaplaine now hosts more than 50 exhibits each year in its seven gallery spaces, as well as satellite galleries around the county, showing work of local and national artists. It offers more than 270 classes for all ages and skill levels, and a variety of special programs and artist talks.
Moreland has stayed on in an emeritus role through December, working with the new CEO, Duane Doxzen, formerly director of development and communications at the Delaplaine, to ensure a smooth transition.
Doxzen worked at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore and the Historical Society of Frederick County before joining the Delaplaine staff seven years ago.
“Growth and change is what we do, and [Doxzen’s] got his own ideas and his own directions, and I’m fully confident he’s going to serve the mission incredibly well,” Moreland told the News-Post earlier this year.
Maryland School for the Deaf is featured in Netflix documentary short
Director Matt Ogens’ latest documentary short, “Audible,” zooms in on the lives of high schoolers at the Maryland School for the Deaf as they grapple with relationships, loss and adversity in the midst of senior year.
The 38-minute documentary short that released on Netflix on July 1 features MSD, located in downtown Frederick, and the school’s championship football team and cheerleaders, while closely following the story of senior athlete Amaree McKenstry, who has since graduated.
Ogens grew up near Frederick and had wanted to create a film on the school for many years.
Nyle DiMarco, former Frederick resident, MSD student, and winner of “America’s Next Top Model,” is an executive producer on the film and worked closely with the film team and brought invaluable insight to its creation.
The film shows how a group of teens deal with the same hardships as any teens but with the added element of being deaf, which brings both community connection and hardships all its own — adversity, isolation and stereotypes amid family and the wider community.
The intimate, coming-of-age story is a must-see.
A group launches the Carroll Street Creative District
An initiative formed to designate the Carroll Street Creative District as an official arts destination site in downtown Frederick along Carroll Street, which includes the Delaplaine Arts Center, the new Claire McCardell statue along Carroll Creek and, soon, the Frederick Book Arts Center, slated to relocate to Carroll Street in 2022 from its current location on West Patrick Street.
The group’s goal is to keep creatives in town and not pushed out by corporate companies, and those involved are working to foster the arts and see that affordable studio space and possibly artist housing is available.
Eight years in the making, “Leda” hits festival circuit — and is streaming at a computer near you
The long-awaited silent, black-and-white, 3D film “Leda” finally hit festival circuits after essentially being a work-in-progress for eight years, through crowdfunding, casting, more fundraising, production, some more fundraising, and then setbacks due to the pandemic.
The process began in 2013 in Frederick with filmmaker Samuel Tressler IV’s vision. He wrote the script with Wesley Pastorfield, while cofounder of the 72 Film Fest Clark Kline came on as producer. Much of the 76-minute film was shot in Frederick County and most of its actors and production team members are also local.
A modern retelling of the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan starring Adeline Thery, the film premiered at the Festival of Cinema in New York in October, where it won the Audience Choice award, and is continuing to make its way through the festival circuit.
Plans are in the works for an in-person screening closer to home in the spring. Check back at ledathemovie.com for updates.
Gravel & Grind reopened on Sixth Street
It seemed as though all of Frederick let out a bit of a collective sigh when Gravel & Grind closed its doors in 2018, three years after it had opened on South Carroll Street. The beloved coffee and bike shop served as a go-to bicycle repair shop — that also built custom, anachronistic mountain bikes and hosted rides into the wilderness — as well as a cultural hub for artists, writers, musicians, makers and other creatives.
But fast-forward to 2021, when co-owner Tracy Hathaway, after some time away in upstate New York, reopened Gravel & Grind at a new location on Sixth Street in Frederick, which has the same array of bikes for sale, rentals, drive-in service and repair, and that rich and wonderful pourover coffee — and, if all goes as planned, music concerts and biking outings to come.
They hosted their grand reopening in October.
Frederick got some more art galleries
In September, Shungu Gallery opened at 125 S. Carroll St. in Frederick and began showing contemporary art. Owner Freddy Shungu Katana was born in Kenya and now lives in the Washington, D.C., area. He told the News-Post, “Frederick is a unique opportunity for me. This location is in itself an experiment on the traditional gallery model. I appreciate the growth of this area and I would like to bring another socio-cultural aspect to it.”
Cynthia Scott opened Gaslight Gallery in November at 118 E. Church St., Frederick, the name giving a nod to the building’s history. The space will show contemporary art, with exhibits rotating every one to two months.
Scott also serves as the CEO and executive producer of Frederick-based 3 Roads Communications.
Artist Angle, while primarily a framing shop on Carroll Street owned by Jennifer Finley, reopened its gallery space to exclusively show the equestrian drawings and paintings of Thurmont artist Rebecca Pearl from fall of 2021 to fall of 2022.
Gallery 115, inside the Y Arts Center, launched its artist in residence program, or AIR, in September, bringing on Frederick County artists Karin Birch and Lisa Sheirer as its inaugural resident artists.
TAG/The Artists Gallery, meanwhile, got a new (and great) space in April. For an artist co-op that started 30 years ago in the back of a furniture store — and then had no permanent home during the pandemic — this year marked a major milestone.
The new location is at 501 N. Market St. in downtown Frederick, and the building itself has seen many iterations. Former tenants have included an ice cream parlor, an IT company and, coincidentally, an art co-op shop called Dragonfly.
TAG member artists and associate members will undoubtedly infuse the growing North Market art scene with even more life and creativity, with shows and events running alongside the nearby Griffin Art Center, NOMA Gallery, and Bravura Art and Framing.
TAG hosted indoor and outdoor workshops, meet-the-artist demonstrations and other events throughout the year that span literary arts, fine arts, craft and live music. Its large patio space is an added bonus for hosting live events, which can be socially distanced.
Ed Herendeen stepped down from CATF
Ed Herendeen is to the Contemporary American Theater Festival what Steve Jobs is to Apple.
In 1991, Herendeen founded what would become a renowned theater festival that pulls talent from across the country to perform a set of plays each summer on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. A scrappy, grassroots festival in its first years, CATF grew acclaim as Herendeen passionately pursued his vision, year after year, to bring the best, most relevant stories to the stage, reading stacks of scripts and choosing the ones he wanted to produce — often the edgiest, most gut wrenchingly honest and challenging for audiences to take in.
The kinds of plays that change how people view theater as an art form. The kind of plays that spark conversation for hours, if not days or weeks, after curtain call. Plays, scenes, lines that are difficult to forget.
Through his dedicated work, he was also instrumental in putting Shepherdstown on the map as an arts destination, often drawing audiences from Washington, D.C., and Virginia each year for the festival.
In September, the CATF founder and producing director announced his retirement.
“This gives the festival an incredible opportunity to investigate a new leadership model and to look at what will really improve the theater festival,” he told The (Martinsburg) Journal in September.
Longtime CATF staff member Peggy McKowen stepped in as acting producing director, then officially became producing artistic director shortly thereafter. She’s not, however, exactly replacing Herendeen’s role as producing director. Instead, CATF leadership will be split into three roles: producing artistic director, managing director and artistic leader role. The remaining two roles will be filled through a nationwide search.
Free Range Humans produced its first show at FSK Mall
Free Range Kids, an offshoot of Free Range Humans, began operating in the Francis Scott Key Mall in September 2020, hosting performing arts classes for kids and teens in a range of disciplines. While much of the planned events have been put on hold due to COVID-19, they produced their first show, “Circus! Bubble! Magic!,” in front of a live audience in December of this year, which was performed by the program’s advanced circus students.
A second space at FSK Mall, The Field, is still in the works.
Free Range Humans producing artistic director Elizabeth Lucas says The Field will host productions and events throughout the year by Free Range Humans and other resident companies. She also envisions it as being a low-cost resource for community members to try their own creative projects in the space.
Frederick native Kerrynton Jones starred in the feature-length film “The J-Team”
Kerrynton Jones was born to dance. Donna Grim, owner of Frederick’s Dance Unlimited in Frederick, remembers how she stood out from the others in her dance classes early on and was destined for something big.
She went on to win national dance competitions and then began making her way into movies. She landed a role as a featured dancer in the 2014 remake of “Annie,” when she was only 15 and still living in Frederick. Since then, she’s been in the films “CODA” (2019) and “High Strung Free Dance” (2018).
As a teen, Jones landed a role as a featured dancer in the 2014 remake of the movie “Annie” and, more recently, stars as Ruby M in the feature-length film “The J-Team,” which began streaming on Paramount+ in September.
Best suited for a tween or teen audience, “The J-Team” showcases Jones’ exceptional talent in dance and acting while conveying the importance of being yourself and letting your light shine.
Since Jones moved from Frederick to L.A. in 2016, she has been working constantly, getting booked for dance and acting gigs. She has danced for networks including Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Showtime, FreeForm and Nickelodeon and has appeared in commercials for Skechers, Target, JBL and Neutrogena. She also performed at the Los Angeles Clippers halftime show and the NFL Pro Bowl half-time show with Jordan Fisher.
Rest in Peace, Margaret Kennedy and Benita Keller
Frederick said goodbye to longtime artist and arts educator Margaret Kennedy in September.
Kennedy lived in Burkittsville for nearly 40 years, and worked in her studio and gallery there in a wide variety of media, from printmaking and drawing to stained glass and painting. Her stained-glass windows are in churches throughout the Midwest, New York and elsewhere.
She also taught art at Frederick Community College.
A collection of her work can be seen in a memorial exhibition at Resthaven Memorial Gardens in Frederick through Jan. 31, 2022.
Just over the river in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, the arts community lost artist, educator and activist Benita Keller, who died in October due to COVID-19.
Keller traveled all over the world taking photographs and, always with a camera slung around her neck, could often be seen shooting photos around town and the surrounding areas of friends and strangers alike, as she was always one for meeting someone new and striking up a conversation. She was also a landscape designer and avid gardener, able to find art and beauty everywhere.
She was an adjunct art professor at Shepherd University for 20 years, and it was through her work there that she came to be associated with pink flamingos. When her classroom was moved to a trailer on campus, she created an art installation outside, littering the grass with dozens of pink flamingos and painting the mobile classroom bright pink. She called it “Trailer and Trash.”
In more recent years, she became a strong voice in the fight against the Rockwool facility.
“She was just one of those bright spirits, and she had this tireless energy for her art,” said Antietam metal sculptor Scott Cawood, a longtime friend of Keller’s. “Her enthusiasm for her work never dulled an inch.”