There is a pink house across from the Naval Academy Stadium at the intersection of Taylor Avenue and Annapolis Street. You could miss it if not for the Mona Lisa sign out front, but once you find it, you have stumbled upon one of Annapolis’s greatest artistic treasures.
Art Things, Inc. is headquarters, in a sense, for all the artists of Annapolis. The journey in the artistic process always begins here, whether it be a beginner’s first set of watercolors or a local master’s 100th canvas. The possibilities lie within the materials, and the overwhelming intrigue of the two jam-packed floors of art supplies will fill any creative’s heart with wonder. Whether you are a professional or first-timer, age 4 or 104, something is bound to jump out at your curiosities.
While the possibilities lie in the materials sold at Art Things, it’s the store’s people that really encompass its magic. Every employee is an artist, and together their combined experience adds up to something like a couple hundred years. Not only do they know the materials, they will have a creative brainstorm session with you about your project, even if you’re not exactly sure what your project is.
Art Things has been family-owned and -operated since its founding almost 50 years ago in 1966. Laurie Nolan, daughter of the store’s original founder Lydia Nolan, currently owns and operates Art Things, Inc. Any day of the week you will find Laurie and/or store manager/long-time “Art Thing” employee Kim Eshleman behind the counter with a smile, ready to bat any creative curve ball you might throw at them.
Any wall space not occupied with supplies displays a spoof of DaVinci’s most iconic image. This quirky collection, initiated and driven by the stores patrons, spans the course of decades and tallies in the thousands. There’s even a Pink Card discount that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten through college without. A gift certificate and four hefty art class supply lists first brought me through Art Things’ doors. I was beckoned inside by a colorful chalkboard and a porch full of beautiful brushes and drawing kits. I immediately fell in love with the warmth and character of this small store; the care given to its customers; the extensive selection of materials; and of course, the “Mona’s”.
Fast forward to my first summer out in the real world. The “kid” got offered a job to work at “the candy store”! The Art Things crew is a family with members across time and space that share a common undying loyalty to Laurie and Kim and everything that Art Things stands for within the community. There is so much support and mutual respect for one another, not to mention a lot of FUN!
My favorite part of being behind the counter at Art Things is that you never know what to expect. You never know who you will meet, what question you’ll be asked, or what project they’ll have in mind. It’s always the best feeling when customers you’ve assisted return with their finished pieces to showcase what they’ve done, beaming with pride. Even when I’m not behind the counter, l always say “I’m a ‘Thing’ for life.”
No matter age or skill level, Art Things is a must for anyone in search of an afternoon surrounded by beautifully fun things and beautifully fun people. Don’t forget to stop by their hilarious Department of Silly to stock up on finger tentacles and bacon band aids.
Illustration by Lindsay Bolin Lowery.
Photo courtesy of Art Things.