Meat the Maurers

Flesh & blood

Father and daughter depict life in the butcher shop on canvas in Carroll Arts Center’s community gallery

by Priscilla Loebenberg, published Dec. 19, 2013 in the Carroll County Times

The family that draws and paints together … also chops, trims and wraps slabs of beef together.

Father and daughter butchers George and Amber Harte Maurer offer a prime display of their artwork in “Meat the Maurers” in the community gallery at Carroll Arts Center in Westminster today through Jan. 19.

Amber’s colored pencil wall art and sculptures and George’s acrylic paintings depict life in the butcher shop as well as the landscapes and wildlife of Carroll County.

Amber said she and her father began taking drawing lessons together when she was in fifth grade. The experience stuck with both of them and they continued to develop as artists while she was in high school and college.

She said she worked at the family business, M&M Meats in Manchester, until she graduated from McDaniel College a few years ago.

Now, she brings home the bacon primarily as a graphic designer, but she still spends most Saturdays in the butcher shop.

Amber said she incorporates her beef against urban sprawl and the destruction of small agricultural businesses into her work. She said she was recently inspired to add wildlife to her repertoire.

“After driving through a recent housing development, I kept seeing dead animals on the road,” she said. “Farmers and animals are losing their habitats.”

There is a connection with the farms and animals that comes from working with the meat, Amber said. She knows every cut of meat by its size and shape and feel, she said. That familiarity creates a sort of intimacy with the way of life that created the food that she then packages and presents to people for their sustenance, she said.

Some of her illustrations of meat look almost abstract.

“I don’t label those,” said Amber. “I want people to guess what parts they are.”

She also created sculptures of meat that are almost “squishy,” like the real thing. On a soft sculpture of crown ribs, she pointed out the stitches that she left visible on purpose.

She said there is a great deal of effort that goes into a cut like that so that it is almost a work of art on its own.

“People don’t know how much work goes into their food,” Amber Mauer said.

On the playful side, she created “Meat Balls.” These are Christmas tree ornaments painted as bacon and other cuts of meat.

George paints scenes from the butcher shop as well as landscapes and farms. Interspersed among his daughter’s works are more than a dozen of his paintings.

“I like the idea of the barns representing the whole industry,” he said.

George said he paints for enjoyment and relaxation and was surprised when his work received positive attention at a Carroll County Arts Council member show.

“It’s just something I do every week, like going bowling,” he said. “I just feel really lucky.”