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Frederick To Host Artomatic Exhibit In Fall

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FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Steven Dobbin had a vision.

Like a number of Frederick artists, Dobbin noticed the vacant 27,000-square-foot Frederick County Public Schools building downtown and thought it’d make a good location for an Artomatic in Frederick.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t get any attention from D.C. and Baltimore,” Dobbin said to a committee of volunteers recently. “They don’t come up to look at what we’re doing.”

He’s hoping that will change this fall with a smaller, Frederick version of the Washington-area mega-exhibit Artomatic, an arts event that combines visual art, music, film, poetry and theater. The Frederick Artomatic will be modeled on the Washington event.

Dobbin stood recently in the former FCPS headquarters on East Church Street, organizing people into committees and giving them what details he knew before leading a tour of the four-story building, pointing out possible rooms to screen films, a large gym and stage for performances and spaces for artists to exhibit — room after room of exhibit space.

“It was a unanimous vote (by the Board of Education) that we got the building,” said Jennifer Finley, another chief organizer working alongside Dobbin.

The event will include visual artists, performing artists, musicians, actors, filmmakers, poets — the list goes on. “We’re going to have whatever it is we can get up here,” Dobbin said.

He thinks the event will draw participating artists and visitors from the Baltimore-Washington area.

Artomatic originated in the Washington area, where it’s been held nearly every year since 1999. It began as an impromptu art happening to gain buzz for a vacant building, to stir up interest for potential buyers.

The five-week event is open to the public free of charge and is funded mostly by donations. Artomatic buildings have grown in size each year, attracting more artists and spectators. The most recent Artomatic was held in a 115,000-square-foot building.

When Dobbin got his Artomatic vision, he contacted Artomatic founder George Koch, who wasn’t interested in creating another Artomatic himself but said he’d guide Dobbin and others in Frederick should they choose to try it.

“They (Artomatic) are our overseer,” Dobbin said. “We have to follow their guidelines. This is an experiment on their part to see if they can get an Artomatic event to fly somewhere else.”

There is only one other satellite Artomatic, in Toledo, Ohio. It took place in April.

Dobbin said his group plans to become an independently organized Artomatic event once licensing details are completed.

Artomatiic’s Development committee sees this event as an opportunity to build the framework for expanding Artomatic to other cities around the U.S. and potentially in other nations.

The Frederick Artomatic is slated for Sept. 28 to Nov. 6 at 115 E. Church St. Though the schedule is tentative, it will likely run Wednesday through Sunday each week, with various educational programs on Mondays and Tuesdays for the duration.

The Frederick Arts Council is a fiscal agent for Artomatic, which operates as a nonprofit through them. The event will be funded through donations and sponsorships, artist registration fees, and merchandise and concessions. The group hopes to get at least 350 exhibiting artists, but estimates about 450 can be accommodated.

A lot remains to be determined. But they got a building, Dobbin said.

A website for the Frederick Artomatic will be developed throughout the summer.

Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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