Exhibit displays 50 years of memorabilia

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Robert Friedman

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Columbia, an exhibit at the Horowitz Center for the Performing Arts includes dozens of artifacts that illustrate Columbia’s last half century, including theater memorabilia, paintings and pottery.
Photo Courtesy of the Rouse Company Gallery

What do a vinyl recording of Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” a five-foot model for a towering fiberglass and gold leaf tree, and a photo showing then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey with heiress-businesswoman-philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post and real estate developer Jim Rouse have in common?

That’s right: They are among artifacts related to the many-months-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the June 21, 1967 founding of Columbia. They, and many other items. are on exhibit through July 17 at the Rouse Company Gallery at the Horowitz Center for the Performing Arts.

Part of Browne’s recording, one of the best-selling records of the 1970s, was made during a performance at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, the opening of which in 1967 is marked in the Humphrey-Merriweather Post-Rouse photo. The People Tree sculpture stands 35 feet tall in downtown Columbia, a “tree of life” symbol for the residents.


Focus on the arts

The exhibit of some 60 artifacts is meant to show how one of Rouse’s principal goals for Columbia has come to fruition through the community’s many organizations dedicated to the arts and culture.

The Columbia Foundation, created by the Rouse Company, kicked off the arts and culture component, said Barbara Kellner, the community’s chief archivist. She and Thomas Engleman, director of Howard Community College’s galleries, co-curated the exhibit.

Rouse “really put a lot of attention in making the arts and culture available to all of Columbia’s residents,” said Kellner, who has been managing the community’s archival history for the past 34 years.

When the Merriweather pavilion was opened, it became the summer home of the National Symphony Orchestra until the orchestra moved its summer performances to Wolf Trap, in Vienna, Va. Rouse was presented with a lifetime ticket to all National Symphony performances, noted Kellner. The silver ticket can be seen in the exhibit.

Also on display is the first quilt made by the original 15 members of the Faithful Circle Quilters. That Columbia group, dedicated to quilting, has grown to some 100 members.

The eight-foot by seven-foot quilt, which features a representation of the People Tree surrounded by symbols of Columbia’s 10 villages, was displayed in Rouse’s Wilde Lake home, and has not been seen in public since 1971, said Kellner.

There are also photos, ceramics, carvings, tapestries, scenery, documents and more from other Columbia creators and arts venues, including the African-American Museum of Maryland, the Pro-Cantare vocal group, the Columbia Arts Center, the Columbia Orchestra, the Hocopolitso (Howard County Poetry and Literature Society), Toby’s Dinner Theatre, the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, and The Young Columbians.

The exhibit can be visited between 10 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. daily in the gallery at the Horowitz Center for the Performing Arts, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. For more information, call (443) 518-3202 or see www.howardcc.edu/discover/arts-culture/horowitz-center.

More anniversary events

Other 50th anniversary events in the last weeks of June and in July include:  

•     An exhibit by realist painter Mary Jo Messenger of Columbia’s past and present through her portraits of the community’s residents.
Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., 410-730-3987. June 19-July 29.

•     A free outdoor concert by the Columbia Orchestra at the new Chrysalis Stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Concert-goers can pack a picnic dinner, spread out a blanket, and enjoy highlights from My Fair Lady, familiar hits by The Beatles, the iconic “1812 Overture,” and an epic “Happy Birthday” singalong. 
Chrysalis at Symphony Woods, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, 7 p.m., 410-465-8777. June 21.

•     A story-telling event by seven non-professional speakers who will share true tales about movies that have significantly impacted their lives. 
Smith Theatre at the Horowitz Performing Arts Center, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, 8-10 p.m., $18, 410-997-2324. June 23.

•     The showing of seven short films presented by the Howard County Autism Society and Arc of Howard County — a nonprofit that provides services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities — that feature the stories of individuals with disabilities, with post-screening Q&A sessions. 
Monteabaro Hall at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, 4 to 8 p.m., $15, 443-518-1000. June 24.

•     The annual Independence Day dance and fireworks display. 
Downtown Columbia Lakefront, 5 to 10 p.m., Free, 410-313-4700. July 4.

•     The aforementioned Jackson Bowne appears with Willie Nelson at Merriweather Post Pavilion, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. Also on the bill is Father John Misty and special guest host Grace Potter.
Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy; 6 p.m., Tickets start at $65. 1-877-435-9849. July 15.