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Posts Tagged ‘art’

Amazing riff on Monopoly about Speculation in Central Baltimore by a student called Cary at MICA

Artscape was the usual blur of thousands of sweaty strangers moving like a sticky stream of molasses up and down sun-baked streets. People drank giant strawberry daiquiris out of foot-long plastic cups a la Senior Frogs, expensive iced lemonade, or milk from sippy cups, in the case of the babies (babies love Artscape). Oozing rather than easing down the road were fashion-forward teens, “art cars” freaks, adorable independent artists hawking irresistibly cool knick knacks, and fearless mohawked boys biking against all odds through this mess of humanity.

We have posted photos below of the crowd which was eclectic and peace-loving. It was a great weekend for Baltimore.

One neat addition to the festival this year was a kind of trade fair in the garage opposite the Charles Theatre, featuring community projects like a Center for a Livable Future-affiliated food dessert study and a mural project inspired by the history of Baltimore.  Also in the garage was a table of artwork exploring current events.

“Baltimore is still a frontier,” said a MICA graduate showing off her contribution to Artscape, a jigsaw puzzle depicting Baltimore, its pieces composed of neighborhoods and parks. She described what it was like to spend four years in a city changing rapidly. The “Central Baltimore Game of Speculation”, created by another MICA grad named Cary, was inspired by the wildly fluxuating rent and real estate climate around Baltimore, specifically near MICA.

“We were told to never set foot on North Avenue when I arrived as a freshman even at midday” she said behind thick black-rimmed glasses. “This year at orientation, they told them that’s where they should go at night to hang out.” The speculators have pounced on local real estate, raising rents, but buildings still loom abandoned and gutted along the Avenue.

Parasols were essential companions to ward off the torrid summer sun

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In a city with some 30,000 vacant rowhouses and lots one sometimes get the feeling that we’re scuttling around an empty shell of a city that was once great. It can be a thrilling feeling, like when you’re up in Floristree with musicians making a lot of noise in an industrial building that was abandoned to the rats and termites –and now has been reclaimed by young, energetic artists with a passion to carve out a vibrant arts culture. Mostly it’s depressing and creepy to wander a block away from home and find rows of unwanted houses and tarred lots with weeds poking up through the cracks. Because usually, you only have to walk a couple blocks before you find one that looks like this.

The city looks ready to tackle the vacants with some new legislation slapping fines on negligent landlords. In the meantime, creative Charm City citizens like the H&H building artists become inspired by the richness of Baltimore history. Using urban life as a muse, they have taken to empty walls, lots, buildings and trails to tell stories. Here are several neat projects we’ve noted in the past couple of days.

Baltimore Love ProjectDuring the 25th annual Sowebo Arts Festival this past Sunday, MICA graduate and longtime Baltimore resident Michael Owen was busy on a ladder painting four silhouetted hands that spell LOVE onto a wall opposite Hollins Market. The mural is to be one of 20–two are up elsewhere in Baltimore–in Charm City to inspire acts of kindness and love between residents. Some say it’s cheesy, but we loved the mural’s simple, graphic appeal, which is markedly different than the colorful back-to-Africa motifs on most city murals. In fact, we bought a t-shirt to support future mural-paintings (you could say, “I put in for the right pinky tip”). (more…)

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Artist Mash up at the Hexagon

Baltidelphia at the HexagonLast decade, Diplo met Baltimore Club. Fresh-faced 2010 presents the east coast with a visual arts mashup. Baltidelphia may be a harbinger of creative collaborations to come between Baltimore and Philadelphia in the next decade.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Hexagon director Phuong Pham teamed up with pal Alex Gartelmann, curator of My House Gallery, to initiate a mixed-media show featuring forced friendships between artists living in the two cities. We don’t mean they chained them to a drawing table but they were picked arbitrarily using a spreadsheet which outlined their stylistic approach. They introduced themselves over email, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, and communicated through voice mail and even snail mail, when a Philadelphia artist left to work in Rwanda. Sometimes they talked but much of the collaborative attempts appear to have been stymied, lost in translation between cities a few minutes apart on I-95. (more…)

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Transfixed with Transmodern

Human Foosball, documented by Ada from the block

Human Foosball, documented by Ada from the block

We are still wrapping our minds around what we saw during our odyssey through the H&H building, tricked out for the Transmodern festival. From the outre–giant teeth-like installations jutting up from the ground–to terrifically engaging exhibits like human Foosball, foot baths, and a DIY tamale stand, the festival pretty much had us at hello.

Truthfully, our greeting was delayed over three hours because we had not purchased advanced tickets. We would approach to find skinny jean-outfitted girls and boys retreating east (H&H is at the brave western frontier of Central Baltimore) and shaking their heads mournfully. We nearly gave up to see MSTRKRFT at Sonar. But upon the third try, we were permitted entry. Scurrying up the wide, graffitied stairways, we received “My Name Is” tags and heartfelt greetings from ambassadors of transmodernity. More photos after the jump and in Flickr group.

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Art Marts of Baltimore

Desperate to attempt to avoid Towson Town Center for the holidays (piped in elevator cheer, greasy teryiaki food court samples, chock-a-block scrunchie carts) I have been scouring the City Paper for alternative gift markets.

Last week, we hit the Lyric Opera for the Winter Art Mart , a one-stop gift source if everyone on your Christmas list is a recycled cotton-lunchbag toting, Squidfire tee manequin in a checkered newsboy cap. So yes, I spent every dime I walked in with on DIY Christmas cards and mechanical sketch- covered sketchbooks, and frosted dog biscuits from Love of Dog Bakery. Unfortunately my 8- and 10 year-old cousins that love Polly Pockets won’t appreciate the retro-cool cameras and bicycles the design team Girls Can Tells screenprints onto oven mits and napkins.

So today we headed up to Mount Royal a couple blocks further to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)’s holiday Art Market. In the striking Brown Center lobby and lowerlevel were tables carefully arrayed with an eclectic mix of styles and mediums: ceremic pots and hand-spun yarn shared space with graffiti-style, stencil-sprayed vinyl records and Tupac-inspired graphic posters by Robert Ferrell. Scrabble letter necklaces by Natalie Jacob were a highlight. Downstairs I discovered LaToya Peoples’ haunting silkscreen print of a boy in front of red brick Baltimore block. Best of all, the market’s ingenius system of tag tickets meant you paid once for everything at the end and then went back to collect your loot, so you didn’t ruffle paintings or bother vendors with making change.

Pre-New Year’s Resolution: to fete friends and family without spending money outside my neighborhood?

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The venerable Baltimore Museum of Art

The venerable Baltimore Museum of Art

The November 3 issue of The New Yorker features a two-page review on a Baltimore art event remarkable for the omissions of adjectives that, in critics’ vocabulary, sit predictably, cloyingly close in paragraphs to “Baltimore”: gritty, murderous, and quirky–the latter, loathsome for its ubiquity in paragraphs by sneering travel writers.*

New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl writes about Franz West’s first retrospective, now on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) on Charles Street. Not only is the exhibit “timely… energetic and affable”, it features what he calls West’s strongest painted-aluminum sculpture, “The Ego and the Id.” The stroke of genius? Each candy colored piece of the alien-like structure features stools. Because isn’t the absolute worst thing about museum art the aching arch and chafing heel that make standing silently in front of paintings unbearable after 15 minutes?

The article is called “Just for Fun.” Yeah, take that, cheesy Baltimore Area Convention and Visitor Association (panned affectionately as “boosterism” in the New Yorker’s April 28 Talk of the Town) busy promoting John Waters’ gross-out watering holes.

My idea of fun? Walking up Charles to sit a spell with the BMA this weekend. Then I’ll visit my own gross-out watering holes.

[*Full disclosure, I wrote of Baltimore’s “quirky charm” in a 2003 profile on Hampden for the now-defunct lifestyle magazine Budget Living. Seriously, how much lazier can you get than to describe a block where fem-mullets are both sported on diner waitresses and spoofed on indie rockers… as quirky?]

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