County Offices Get Creative: Prince George's Halls Become a Showplace for Works by Local Artists

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Grand images of Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King greet visitors on one wall of the narrow hallway, while the framed close-ups of despondent children watch from the other side.

Just down the corridor, a metallic sculpture adorns a glass-top table and is framed by two African figurines.

This is not the inner sanctum of a museum or exhibit hall, but the once off-limits hallways of the Prince George's County government in Upper Marlboro.

In a partnership between politics and art, County Executive Wayne K. Curry has turned his offices into a temporary gallery, where more than 50 works from 16 county artists are on public display.

"An Artistic Expression of Life, Culture and Heritage" opened May 13 with a reception for artists and local officials. The free exhibit runs through July 15, but visitors are asked to call ahead to make an appointment to view it.

"What a marvelous idea to have an exhibition, an exposition, a place where people can see all of the wonderful creativity that is harbored and nurtured in Prince George's County," Mr. Curry said.

Works range from a stained-glass reproduction of New York City to a painting of the van Gogh brothers, done with a flair reminiscent of a Vincent van Gogh. There is a scene from a Civil War re-enactment in Manassas and a painting of a worker gathering tobacco in the fields of Upper Marlboro.

"I think it's phenomenal," said Audrey Scott of the County Council, shortly after leaving budget meetings. "This is soothing. So therapeutic."

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In one corner, the pastel, oil and acrylic creations of Greenbelt resident Gwendolyn Aqui depict the Afro-Caribbean experience, mostly through warm, tropical stills of women and family.

Across the room, the pen and ink stylings of Curtis Woody capture the candid sensitivity of the human subject through his use of light.

The artists themselves are as interesting as their works.

Miss Aqui, a painter for more than a quarter century, has worked as an educator in the United States and Africa. Before sitting down to paint, she meditates. Her images, she said, just come to her, without the need for preliminary drawings.

Mr. Woody, 49, of Upper Marlboro, has known Mr. Curry for years. The county executive bought nine of Mr. …