A Rare Ethereal Moment in Md. Politics

Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan poses with a well-wisher in front of one of her works at the opening reception of her new exhibit Wednesday night. Photo by Josh Kurtz

A jam-packed cocktail reception at the University of Maryland University College in Adelphi. A bright, airy room. An A-List crowd. A Hogan as the center of attention.

The Hogan was not, however, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) – though he was there.

Instead, Wednesday night belonged to first lady Yumi Hogan. It was the opening reception for “Yumi Hogan: Cultural Traditions Unbounded,” an exhibit of 28 of her paint and ink works.

“I am standing tonight not as first lady of Maryland,” she told the crowd. “I am standing here as Yumi Hogan.”

The remark drew lusty cheers from the crowd, which included a smattering of Hogan administration officials, university administrators and State House lobbyists.

Yumi Hogan is a Korean-born artist and adjunct professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Many of her works are inspired by childhood memories of rural South Korea, where she grew up on a chicken farm and walked through forests to get to school every morning.

“I never forget who I am or where I came from,” Hogan said.

She often combines those memories with what she sees and absorbs today.

“I go traveling a lot with a sketchbook,” Hogan said, adding that she finds many similarities between the climate and topography in Maryland and her homeland.

Nature is a recurring theme in Hogan’s work – and the exhibit displays many landscapes and abstracts of the natural world. The exhibit program divides the work into three themes: Spontaneity, Spirituality and Sensibility.

Yumi Hogan poses with portraits of herself and her husband, sketched in 2008. University of Maryland University College photo

Two pictures stand out from the rest: A black and white charcoal sketch of Larry Hogan from 2008, and a self-portrait from the same year.

“He was young,” she said of the pieces. “And a young Yumi.”

Hogan said the governor has always encouraged her work. In fact, they met at an art exhibit in 2001.

“My husband used to be with me, helping me, in my art shows,” she said. “He used to be dropping off the art, loading and unloading. He was very supportive. Now, he’s very busy.”

The exhibit runs through June 30 in the Dorothy L. and Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. Painting Gallery at the Leroy Merritt Center for the Art of Joseph Sheppard. The gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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