Elkton Maryland has historically been known as the place young lovers go to elope or for a quickie marriage. Even my great grandparents who resided in Baltimore were wed in Elkton in 1917. For that matter, there is little resemblance to how it was when I moved here six years ago.
Today the County Seat of Cecil County is trying to establish itself as an arts community. In 2006, the State of Maryland awarded the town the designation of an “Arts and Entertainment District.” In an effort to further distinguish itself as such, the town and local arts related enterprises began holding First Friday events.
Area businesses in conjunction with the Elkton Alliance, Cecil County Arts Council and Cecil College’s Fine Arts and Performing Arts have worked to develop what has come to be known as the Elkton Arts Loop. In the past few years this has really begun to take hold and grow. Part of the growth has been due to monthly First Friday events held throughout the “Loop”.
If you go, I recommend parking in the municipal lot off North Street. From here you can walk to most, if not all the locations. After 4:30 pm parking is free. Also, this involves the least amount of backtracking.
I suggest you start your tour at Art Space on Main a working pottery studio and gallery located at 138 East Main Street. On display are the works of over 30 members, each with their own style. Artwork is not restricted to pottery. All members are free to display their works regardless of medium. While there you will likely find a few members working on their craft whether throwing pots on one of the studio’s 12 potting wheels or hand building or sculpting. Additionally, on Friday nights (not only First Friday) they offer Kids Happy Hour from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. where kids work on a clay project and have pizza and soda. If you want to enjoy the First Friday happenings without the kids this is a great option.
After dropping the kids off for fun with clay, head toward East Main Street. You will come to TideWater Tattoo. Even if you are not looking for any ink, stop in. The walls are covered with many of the owner, Rob Massimiano’s drawings and non-tattoo related artworks. He is a fine artist in the more traditional sense.
Your next stop should be at Suz Quilt Studio, located at 114 East Main Street. This quilting studio opened earlier this year. It is a working studio. Owner Sue Whitaker takes the quilt tops, the decorative portion, that her clients bring her and finishes the quilt. Visitors can observe the quilt-making process in her studio.
Moving further east on Main Street to The Palette and the Page, an art and bookstore featuring the works of numerous local artists and authors. Typically, on First Friday they have their authors available to sign books and the featured artist onsite to talk about their work and answer questions. Additionally, they have live entertainment and refreshments.
Just next door you will find Gallery at 122 East Main. This gallery offers beautiful and unique wood-fired ceramics, as well as, paintings, jewelry and even artisanal olives and olive oil. On First Friday expect this tiny gallery to be crowded.
By this time you may be ready for a coffee break. Stop in at 126 East Main Street, The Coffee Place and rest your weary feet. Grab yourself a coffee, tea, cocoa and sweet treat and take a look at the artwork displayed here. The artist changes each month.When you are ready to move on, cross the street and continue up East Main Street to the Cecil County Arts Council located at 135 East Main Street. Each month the Arts Council has a different exhibit on display. This month (November) they have a photography exhibition featuring a number of area photography, both professional and amateur.
From here you have three options. All will send you west on Main St. headed toward North Street. Remember that’s where you parked. Once you get to North Street you can call it a nights and head home or stop in at Minihane’s Irish Pub and Restaurant for a drink or a hearty Irish-inspired meal.
If you feel you want to keep going, head up North Street to Railroad Avenue. Continue west to Cecil College, Elkton Station Gallery and Performing Arts Hall (107 Railroad Ave.). Here you will find student artwork in a variety of media including, pottery, graphic art, photography and more on display. I am always amazed at how honed the skills are of some students. Additionally, they have periodic performing arts presentations. Students and faculty are on hand to discuss their works and the programs offered at the college. Exhibitions run throughout the regular school year.
Are you tired yet? Next, you will head back to North Street then toward the lot where you parked. Before getting there, if you still have the energy stop in at Gracie’s Cafe for open mic night. Grab a coffee or soda and a slice of pizza then sit back and enjoy the live entertainment. Admission is $3 and you get 1 Gracie dollar to spend on food or drink. This is an all ages evening. If you are interested in performing you must sign up. Only the first 12 to register are guaranteed a spot. Open Mic Night is every Friday.
If you passed on the food and cocktail earlier you may want to stop in at Minihane’s. If you’re too tired, head back to the parking lot but if you left the kids at Happy Hour at Art Space on Main don’t forget to pick them up.First Friday provides an opportunity to support the arts and business in Cecil County. With the holidays almost upon us, come out enjoy a bite to eat, bring the kids and meet the local talent and proprietors who are working hard to build this budding Arts and Entertainment District.
Final notes: First Friday activities are from 5pm to 8pm. Elkton has many special events planned through December. For a listing visit http://www.elktonalliance.org/. Check back periodically, as there are sure to be activities added throughout the season.