With a name like Harmony Hall, you'd expect the art displayed here to be a soothing salve for the soul, to comfort rather than shock, to educate rather than intimidate.
At Harmony Hall, you won't be disappointed. Visiting is pure therapy.
The Gallery-Harmony Hall Regional Center, located less than a mile from the broad banks of the Potomac River in Fort Washington, is a key link in the chain of public art spaces provided by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the Prince George's County Arts and Cultural Heritage Division. The Gallery opened at Harmony Hall in 1989.
The center presents six to 10 contemporary visual arts exhibitions each year, usually focusing on crafts, design or photography. In fall 1997, for example, the Gallery presented "Breaking Patterns, Contemporary Hand Knitting in the United States." With this show, the curators invited visitors to view knitted objects as art, much in the same way as sculptures and paintings are seen. Earlier that year, the Gallery presented quilts by artist Patricia Autenrieth, who combines craft and art materials, commercial printing and fine-art techniques in her work. There are plans (fall 1998) for an exhibit of bird photographs taken by a prominent field biologist.
Once a year, the Gallery presents a juried show for Prince George's artists. And in February each year, it commemorates Black History Month with an exhibit of historical artifacts.
Although the Gallery does not see itself as a commercial space, the artists' work is often for sale. "If we sell something, that's nice," says director Jeanene Hunter. Its mission is to "present different things going on in contemporary art to the community," she says, adding that many visitors stumble upon the Gallery while attending Harmony Hall concerts or using its recreation facilities.
-- Retha Hill