New Thurmont art studio displays 1930s artwork

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For her entire life, Catherine Barnstone Szafran has been surrounded by the paintings her father created.

“All of his art was on the walls of the houses that we lived. And people would say “oh my god it’s so terrifying,’ and it really wasn’t. It was just what I was used to,” explained Szafran.

Myron Barnstone was born in the 1930’s in Maine. He grew up through the Great Depression, the Holocaust, and the Korean War. Szafran says her father lost family during the Great Depression and the Holocaust.

These events strongly influenced the art he would go on to show in exhibits in Paris and London.

“He found himself drawn to things that yes, while they were sad, they couldn’t be forgotten. Yes, that voice had to be out there so people wouldn’t repeat it again,” Szafran said.

Barnstone moved to Pennsylvania when Szafran was about 13-years-old to begin teaching art, and settle down.

By then, much of his work would go unseen, stored away in boxes to prevent influencing his students, but Szafran said he also had another motive.

“He wanted to be able to get back into the world and be able to show these pieces, he just didn’t want to see people’s reactions. I find it very important to get the information out there. And this is his voice, so I want to get his voice out.” Szafran said. 

Barnstone Studios opened its doors during the first week of November and houses about 500 of Barnstone’s pieces, including those from his Holocaust series, and self-portraits.

It becomes the third studio in Thurmont as the town aims to expand its art scene.

“We hope we are building a portfolio to eventually apply for our state designation for our arts and entertainment designation in 2019,” explained economic development manager for the Town of Thurmont, Vickie Grinder.

“The more art we bring in, and the more creativity, the bigger the town will become. So we have to break the ice,” Szafran says.

Myron Barnstone passed away in 2016, and Szafran says it’s her duty to continue his legacy through the new studio.

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