Leonardtown, MD – As the only Arts & Entertainment District in Southern Maryland, Leonardtown offers a rich experience in culture. Visitors can explore art galleries, see shows, take group or one-on-one art classes, and enjoy outdoor concerts and special events.

Leonardtown invites you to join us in recognizing three of our local art-related businesses who are all celebrating major milestones this year: New View FiberWorks opened its doors in Leonardtown 10 years ago, North End Gallery has reached its 35th year and the Craft Guild of St. Mary’s has been in existence for 45 years this month! Each of these wonderful businesses adds something special and unique to the dynamic artistic landscape that Leonardtown offers.

The Craft Guild of St. Mary’s: The Craft Guild was formed by a small group of artisans and initially started inside Cecil’s Country Store off Indian Bridge Rd. as a Christmas store and then briefly through a Hollywood location before coming to Leonardtown where it’s operated ever since. The shop has had some challenges over the years – most notably having to relocate from its long-time home off Rte. 5 next to the Antiques Center last year due to record-breaking floods that nearly devastated the shop, but through the perseverance of its members and especially it’s a head crafter and Director for 45 years, Judy Dillon, they opened shop in their newest location at 22760 Washington St. right off Leonardtown Square where its fourteen members continue to offer handcrafted fabric art, jewelry, woodworking, floral artistry, photography, glasswork, culinary specialties and more. The Craft Guild’s current location is only temporary and they are searching for their forever home in Leonardtown. As Judy notes, “…We appreciate what everyone does for us [and continue to] put one step forward to whatever is in our next future home, for the Craft Guild must go on”.

Craft Guild

New View FiberWorks: Once part of the Craft Guild, New View FiberWorks (originally known as Fuzzy Farmers Market) was created by a group of seven women (made up of members from the Chesapeake Spinners and Weavers Guild) in 2008 who had a plan to offer their high-quality fiber and soap products to the Southern Maryland area. First, operating through the Guild, and then opened their own dedicated shop right in historic Leonardtown Square at 22696 Washington St. in 2011. The items carried by their shop are all handmade or up-cycled in some way by their now 21 members who are all from the Tri-County area. The shop, which also offers classes in spinning, weaving, tatting, and knitting (temporarily halted due to the pandemic, but soon to be resumed), has expanded to include pottery, woodworking, bath, and body items, and jewelry. The shop owner, Misti Dayton shares, “We are constantly trying new projects and stretching our horizons”.

North End Gallery: North End Gallery was started in September of 1986 by two women – Sally Carter and Pat Lewis – who had the vision of bringing together local artists to showcase their art in a true gallery setting. Through their efforts, they managed to recruit 20 local artist friends and create an art cooperative that gives every member equal say and equal responsibility in running their art gallery business. The Gallery was first to run in a small building Sally owned just north of Leonardtown on Rte. 5, but as the gallery grew to include 35 artists, it became clear they needed more exhibit space. In their 10th year of operating as a full gallery, they took the step to relocate to the heart of historic Leonardtown to their current location, a former dress shop, at 41652 Fenwick Street. After a few years, one of the gallery members, Judith Corville Conrad, purchased the building and her family donated it to the St. Mary’s County Arts Council in 2019 to ensure that North End Gallery always had a home in Leonardtown.

The now well-established Gallery features the diverse work created by member artists including oil and acrylic paintings, watercolors, photography, pottery and clay tiles, jewelry, fused glass objects, woodwork, mixed media sculptures, and more. The original group consisted of 20 artists. Some artists have moved away and others have passed away. Of that original group, only one artist remains, Jeanne Norton Hammett. Jeanne notes: “The North End Gallery has taught me how to become and grow as a professional artist. The camaraderie and knowledge I have gained from my fellow artists has been invaluable to me through the years. I am now in a position to be able to pass on some of the things I’ve learned over the years. The gallery provided me with a launching pad to grow and become a professional artist. It is my hope that the gallery will always remain [open to up and coming] artists.”

These three art-related businesses along with a collection of eclectic shops, workshops, studios, and galleries helped build the foundation for Leonardtown to become Southern Maryland’s first (and only) Arts & Entertainment District and continue to help preserve local heritage through the arts and provide a diverse representation of local Southern Maryland artists and crafters.

“The A&E designation assures residents and visitors that Leonardtown’s artistic offerings are among the best that Maryland has to offer. We invite the community to support your local artists and shop small businesses this holiday season to invest in the businesses that are so crucial to our local economy”, shares Leonardtown’s Town Administrator, Laschelle McKay.

Learn more about Leonardtown’s Arts & Entertainment District through its new virtual series: Leonardtown A&E at: VisitLeonardtownMD.com/LeonardtownAE. In this exciting new show, brought to you by the Commissioners of Leonardtown, the St. Mary’s County Arts Council and the Leonardtown Business Association, you will get to see a rare, personal glimpse into an artists’ world featuring: Special art exhibits and events, spotlights on talented local artists, viewings and stories about artists’ work, virtual tours of artists’ studios, art shares (learn about the inspiration and experiences that color their work), and more!

For more information on the Craft Guild of St. Mary’s, visit CraftGuildShop.net; to learn more about New View FiberWorks, visit NewViewFiberworks.com; and for information on North End Gallery visit: NorthEndGallery.com.

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