It’s 10:30 a.m. on a windy Saturday in October, and I’m across the street from a line of people that begins at a beautifully designed art gallery storefront in the Annapolis Arts District on West Street and snakes down the street and around the corner. The line started forming in the wee hours of the morning, and only shows signs of getting longer.
This is the type of cue one normally sees when a big name rock band comes to town, or at TKTS in Times Square for discounted Broadway tickets. But this group of patient consumers is in line for something different; something they will take home to display in their home and treasure every day.
They’re waiting in line in front of Nancy Hammond Editions (192 West Street) to receive the 2017 Annual Chesapeake Poster by fine artist Nancy Hammond, entitled “Crescent Moon”. This year’s poster is crisp, lovely, and another beautiful example of the accomplished work that Nancy Hammond has been creating for decades. There is great advantage to waiting in line for it: this sought-after, signed, limited-edition poster is just $75 (incredible!) today only, and the first 250 early birds also receive goodie bags—all of which are long gone well before I arrive.
Artist Nancy Hammond greets every person who comes into her gallery, and it’s clear she is genuinely interested in each one of them. Her staff, headed up by her daughter-in-law and right-hand business person Kate Hammond, has the process down to a science. People move through the gallery without being rushed, making their purchases and possibly adding a hat or t-shirt to their orders. Mixed in with the new are return customers and friends. Nancy is well known in the region.
This phenomenon of the Nancy Hammond poster collection and people camping out overnight to be first to obtain it began decades ago when Nancy lived in Eastport and opened a gallery on State Circle. What set this Rhode Island School of Design educated artist apart from other fine artists when she first started was the seamless marriage of fine art and commerce, which was the focus of our interview.
I “met” Nancy over the phone, as she now lives on the Eastern Shore, in a place that she says is the most beautiful and wonderful place on earth, surrounded by nature where she can take long walks to clear her head and gain inspiration for her work.