Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Resident transforms trash to treasure

E-mail this article \ Print this article

Chris Rossi⁄The Gazette
Potomac artists Abbey Alpern poses with her sculpture ‘‘The Dancer.” Her art will be on display this month at the Potomac Library.
Potomac resident Abbey Alpern takes what some might consider trash and transforms it into treasure – works of art, that is. Alpern collects recycled material and makes unique pieces of art that include sculptures and masks. Favorite materials for the artist include mesh vegetable bags – such as green mesh avocado bags and red mesh cherry tomato bags – and colorful telephone wire.

Alpern says she first started making the pieces after taking a class for women geared to unleash creativity.

‘‘I discovered wire is my medium,” Alpern said. The artist, who includes cartooning among her hobbies, describes her sculpture work as ‘‘three dimensional cartooning.”

Some of the artist’s work is on display at Strathmore Mansion through Saturday. Potomac residents will get a chance to view more of the artist’s eco-friendly pieces when it is displayed at the Potomac Library throughout the month. The library is located at 10101 Glenolden Drive in Potomac.

Collecting materials is an ongoing process for Alpern, and she had enlisted members of her congregation, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, for help. ‘‘I asked the congregation, ‘‘Don’t throw away all your mesh when you buy vegetables – I’ll take it!” Alpern placed a collection box with her name on it in the synagogue’s coat room, and soon got more than she bargained for.

One congregant donated her sizable button collection to Alpern’s cause. Some of the buttons were more than 100 years old after having been passed on for several generations. ‘‘I had never thought of using buttons before,” Alpern said.

Alpern ended up finding creative ways to use the buttons in her work, including two masks entitled ‘‘Thing One” and ‘‘Thing Two” that will be displayed at the Strathmore Mansion until Saturday. Much of her work is inspired by children’s books, including Dr. Seuss, making the library an appropriate venue for her pieces.

Pitch in for MS

Volunteers are needed to help out at the MS Walk this weekend presented by Booz Allen Hamilton. The company is holding five walks throughout the Washington metropolitan region this weekend to raise funds for the fight against multiple sclerosis – one of which will be held Saturday in Potomac. Other walks will be held on Saturday in Washington and Manassas, Va., and on Sunday in Bowie and Reston, Va.

Residents are needed to lend a helping hand in the office, to support walkers on the day of the event, and to help wrap up afterwards. The eight-mile Potomac walk will follow the C&O Canal from Great Falls Park to Glen Echo Park. Bus transportation will be provided to and from the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal from the Montgomery Mall, located at 7101 Democracy Blvd. in Bethesda. The walks will start at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday. To learn more about volunteering, to donate or to register for the walk, visit

American Idol to appearat White Flint

Former American Idol contestant Ace Young, known to many fans of season five as the dreamy Idol, will be at the Borders Books location at White Flint Mall at 2 p.m. Saturday to sign copies of the book, ‘‘Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul: Stories from the Idols and their Fans that Open Your Heart and Make Your Soul Sing.”

The book is a collection of inspirational stories by Idols and their fans about overcoming obstacles and living your dreams and includes a foreword by Idol judge Paula Abdul.

White Flint is located at 11301 Rockville Pike.

Searching for the nextCitizen of the Year

The Rotary Club of Potomac is looking for nominations for Community Service Citizen of the Year. Residents may nominate friends, family, co-workers or any other Montgomery County resident who has lived in the county for two or more years and has volunteered their time to lend a hand in the community. The nominees will be judged on a set of criteria, which include:

*The resident demonstrates ‘‘service above self”

*The resident sets and example for moral and ethical behavior

*The resident believes in the inalienable rights of all people

*The resident contributes to the community and the country in a personal way

*The resident shows respect and earns respect from competitors and colleagues.

Nominees may not be a member of the Rotary Club. Those who wish to nominate a resident should write a letter than includes a description of the nominees’ community service efforts and specific reasons why the resident should be considered. Letters can be sent via mail to Citizen of the Year, P.O. Box 59619, Potomac, MD 20859-9619. They can also be e-mailed to Letters must be received by April 15 for the nominee to be considered.

Spring Ahead

The Darnestown Civic Association will hold its Annual Spring Social for Darnestown residents from 6-9 p.m. on April 23 at Smokey Glen Farm, located at 16407 Riffleford Road in Gaithersburg. For more information, contact Lisa Patterson-Troike at or 301-548-0999.

Clean and green

Environmentalists, students, and volunteers of all types are gearing up for the 20th annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup on Saturday. The effort, geared at keeping the Potomac River clean and healthy, is organized by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, an environmental group focused on the river. Volunteers are needed to pick up trash from hundreds of designated clean-up points. The group coordinates thousands of volunteers each year who have removed more than three million pounds of trash from the river. The group, founded in 1954, also conducts environmental outreach and education with students. For more information about the cleanup day or to locate a cleanup site, visit or call 301-292-5665.

This column is for you. Send press releases, news tips and other information to Erin Donaghue by phone to 301-280-3007, by e-mail, by fax to 301-670-7183 or by mail to 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.