By Larry Perl
The Baltimore Sun.
Lynn Macon’s dining room table in Timonium doubles as her art studio.
Sitting at the head of the table, with a plastic container of water on one side and brushes on the other side, the retired nurse, paints water color pictures, mostly of birds, flowers, holiday wreaths and the occasional house, like the stone abode that caught her eye at the corner of Falls and Old Court roads.
Then, Macon has them professionally printed as notecards, which she sells at the Wild Bird Center of Timonium and stores like Glarus Chocolatier, The Framer’s Vise and Rutland Beard Florist in Ruxton, and at events, most recently at a holiday bazaar at the Blakehurst retirement community Dec. 2.
She charges $10 for a packet of four note cards.
“People tell me I should raise my prices,” Macon said. But she hasn’t.
“I do it because I really enjoy it,” said the former longtime Roland Park resident.
This week, Macon is donating her cards to one of the Baltimore area’s most unusual and altruistic holiday bazaars, the Alternative Gift Market at Second Presbyterian Church in Guilford, a longtime annual fundraiser for various local groups ranging from the House of Ruth and Habitat for Humanity to Guilford Elementary School and area soup kitchens. She is one of the eclectic mix of vendors participating in the market, which organizers say has been held every holiday season for at least the past 20 years, in conjunction with the church’s annual Christmas pageant.
“It’s a way to generate some incremental dollars for our mission activities,” and for vendors, mostly charitable organizations, to fund their own missions, said Second Presbyterian’s mission committee chairman, Ray Herman, a former Stoneleigh resident, who now lives in Locust Point in Baltimore.
Herman said the vendors typically keep 90 percent of what they earn and the church keeps 10 percent, though in Macon’s case, the church will keep all of the sales of her donated cards.
This year, the money that the church earns will be spread among groups that provide affordable housing, transition services for people dealing with addictions, and counseling for at-risk youths. Herman said. He said the market raises $4,000 to $7,000 a year for Second Presbyterian, which has an annual budget of about $88,000 for mission outreach.
Other participants in the market include:
–Govans Ecumenical Development Corp.(www.gedco.org), an affordable housing provider for seniors, Herman said. GEDCO sells its own handmade greeting cards at the market to raise money for CARES, the Govans-based food pantry at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on York Road.
–Afghan Women’s Fund (www.afghanwomensfund.org), which sells Persian and Oriental rugs, as well as purses, scarves and jewelry. Proceeds go to support and build schools for girls, build irrigation wellsfor farmers, provide medical supplies and supply children with school uniforms, computers and educational materials.
–Asylee Women Enterprises (www.asyleewomen.org), a Towson-based collaboration of Catholic Sisters from eight Catholic women’s religious communities in Baltimore. AWE helps women who have fled their homelands and are seeking asylum in the U.S. It exhibits handmade crafts by asylum-seekers, including tote bags, scarves, aprons and purses.
–Heifer International (www.heifer.org), based in Little Rock, Ark., where a donation can buy a part of a cow or goatto help provide milk or farm goodstopoor children in villages in third-world countries.
–Kenyan Zawadi beads (www.facebook.com/Zawadibeads), sold by Rachel Mutinda, a member of Second Presbyterian Church, and made by women in Kenya. Mutinda’s husband was born in Kenya. Church members are excited about using the market to help those in need, locally and in other countries. “Our church has always been very mission-oriented,” said 12-year church member Anne Perry, who is helping do publicity for the market. “We’ve always done stuff like this to help at Christmastime.” Selling rugs is a good for example of why the market is important, Perry said. “It helps the people in Afghanistan. It helps the church and it helps the people who buy them,” she said. For Herman, who works in alumni relations at Johns Hopkins University, the Alternative Gift Market is a win-win for all concerned, helping vendors and the church raise money and providing the public with unique gift ideas. “It’s a rather popular thing, in the sense that it’s giving people an opportunity to buy something you might not see that often and that’s for a good cause,” he said.
It’s also special for Herman as chairman of the mission committee, because he has been attending the church for 25 years and his children were baptized there.
“This is an opportunity for me to focus in an area that’s really personal to me,” he said. “One of my goals is to make this a bigger event over time and expand our presence in doing mission work. It’s all part of a bigger picture.”
For Macon, who lives with her husband, Bill, a retired surgeon, it starts with the small picture — the pictures she paints on heavy stock watercolorpaper.
Her three boys also were baptized at Second Presbyterian, grew up on St. George’s Road in Roland Park and walked to Gilman School. She never went to art school and began painting 15 to 20 years ago as a hobby.
“One day, I did one of the flower paintings, and a friend said, ‘That would make a wonderful note card.'”
Macon went on to study with the late artist Emily Taliaferro, a Roland Park Place resident and former Friends School tennis coach, who died in 2012. Now, many of Macon’s paintings are framed and hanging on walls around her house in The Meadows, a Timonium subdivision.
Macon said painting has been a creative outlet for her, even more so since several back surgeries have forced her to sit most of the time. She uses a walker and hopes to be back on her feet by early next year.
“I’ve had a lot of sit-down time to recover — and paint,” she said. “I can sit for hours. I get very involved if I’m totally into it. I relax. I’m not sure what I would do if I didn’t paint.”
She focuses on nature paintings, all in vivid colors, such as black-eyed Susans, the Maryland state flower, and birds, including a different one for each holiday season. This year, it’s a chickadee.
She is relatively new to the market as a vendor, getting involved last year.
“I’m really happy to be able to donate all my cards,” she said. “It’s personally important to me. I used to do a lot of volunteering before I was not able to get around.”
She realizes that her notecards alone won’t generate a lot of income for the church.
“It may be a drop in the bucket,” she said, “but drops add up.
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