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Baltimore cafe recognizes Women's History Month with special exhibit

Baltimore's Station North Arts Cafe, 1816 N. Charles Street
provided by Jimi Fardan

The personality of Baltimore's developing arts district is coming to life with a special emphasis upon the visual arts. Station North Arts Cafe (SNAC) is a quaint little establishment located at 1816 N. Charles Street in Baltimore. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday until 3:00PM. Within the cafe, however, is a little known secret, which came to this writer's light Thursday, March 6, 2014.

March is noted to be Women's History Month and the cafe helped to tie that theme in with the ambiance of the room. Three women artists were featured, as their works hung prominently throughout the establishment for the Women of the World exhibit. Clare Elliott, Nura Fardan and Karen Buster were the artists, all local, whose work was on display as family and friends gathered for a reception from 5:30 - 7:30PM.

According to gallery manager, Portia Smith, the exhibits change monthly and there is usually a theme along with a solo or group showings. She said they look for new local artists and want the public to know that original art is affordable. According to Smith, every show has its own energy. She said she wants to encourage people to support local artists. "Bread and water are not enough; people feel richer when they can see extraordinary talent and the medium used," says Smith.

There were cohesive ties to the works of the artists featured.

Nura Fardan, is a pen and ink artist, born and raised in Baltimore. Her work is strong in story or cultural roots and sometimes even playful as she uses the human face and form with text. Nura, whose name means beautiful flower, has been involved in art since the age of 5 or 6, when she entered an art contest, but did not win. Her mother, Cynthia, however, encouraged her by giving the appearance that she had won so as not to discourage her from expressing her creativity. Fardan entered another contest and won.

Clare Elliott, taught art for a few years and is inspired by personal experiences, opinions and things she witnesses. She said her work often involves overcoming odds and being strong. She indicated that life is a struggle and tries to reflect in her work that there is hope. Elliott prefers mixed media. She uses photography and acryllic paint. She started six or seven years ago as a creative writer and then became an artist. Elliott uses images of students, along with text as she expresses her creativity. The use of photography was inevitable as she followed in the footsteps of her father, also a photographer.

Karen Buster, another Baltimore native, has been dabbling in art for forty years. Her work is unique in that she cuts stencils by hand with an X-acto knife, then proceeds to create the artwork, which requires a lot of patience. She has begun to broaden her craft by using a range of color, as she challenges herself to move to the next level. Buster is noted in the Baltimore area for her Bustertizing Designs T-shirts.

Each artist's work expresses her personality, no matter the medium used.

SNAC cafe has been in existence for eight years and also celebrates its own birthday in March. The website is

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