Maryland Traditions Folklife Area
Anna Pasqualucci & Lisa Marie Penn
Linthicum, Maryland, and Glen Rock, Pennsylvania
Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Program Team
photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs
When painted window screens emerged in East Baltimore in the early 20th century, they took hold through the dedication of a small group of artists in such neighborhoods as Little Bohemia, Highlandtown, Canton, and Fells Point. Often depicting bucolic scenes featuring small, red-roofed cottages, a winding path, and a pond, these pieces of urban folk art splashed colorful life into the hard, brick-red blocks of rowhouses that characterize the city. They also offered their owners a practical advantage: those inside could easily see out, while passersby could not see in, allowing for the soothing effect of a cool breeze and maintaining privacy.
As a girl, Anna Pasqualucci marveled at the painted screens adorning rowhouse windows in Baltimore when she and her family traveled there from the southern suburbs. The colorful decorations captured her imagination then, and they define a large part of her life now. Over the past decade, she has grown in skill and recognition to attain the status of a master of the tradition.
Anna is now passing the screen painting tradition forward to Lisa Marie Penn. Though Lisa lives just over the Maryland border in southern Pennsylvania, she grew up in the Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden, at one time a hotbed of painted screens. She says that developing her skill is a way of honoring her home city and sharing that love with others. “It’s a really important part of Baltimore,” Lisa says. “It’s such a unique city; there’s so many different cultures here.”