Free “Brown” Studio in Bromo Selzer Building!

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I got an email, advertising a competition for a free studio in the new Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, sponsored by C. Sylvia and Eddie C. Brown. Sounds like a great deal, right? A free studio in a new building rennovated for artists? Sweet.

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Over the past few months, I have heard a lot about these studios being available. The Urbanite even did a feature on it this month, but I’ve never taken it seriously, as a real possibility for a studio space. The studios cost between $400 and $1500 per month and aren’t particularly roomy. What artist can afford this? Seriously. It’s almost an insult.

The application reads: “The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, due to open in the fall of 2007, has undergone a renovation and will host 30+ artist work spaces. Tenants in the historic building, an icon on the Baltimore skyline, must be practicing artists in a recognized visual or literary medium. With the support of Baltimore philanthropists Eddie and Sylvia Brown, one studio in the building will be offered free of charge to an emerging visual artist for a period of two years. The studio, located on the building(I¡Ç(Bs second floor, features large windows and 360 sq. feet of work space. The building amenities include a coffee shop on the ground floor, high speed internet access, 24-hour secure access, and year round climate control. “

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So, when I got this email, advertising a FREE studio, I thought WOW – this is great. What an opportunity!

However, then I read the application. First, there’s a fee: 25 to apply. Ouch. Then, I read further. I’m supposed to submit a cd of 20 images made in the last two years. That’s standard. Then I see I’m supposed to submit six pieces of ORIGINAL artwork. And leave it there, with NO INSURANCE. Let me get this right: I’m supposed to leave my works, valued at anywhere between several thousand dollars and several hundered dollars, in a large pile of other people’s valueable works. Just leave it there?

And there’s a waiver statement I have to sign or I will be disqualified: “I understand that the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower LLC will make every effort to store and protect my art work during the time of the jury review. If anything happens to the work, I will not hold the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower LLC or the staff responsible. I also understand that not adhering to the guidelines outlined above may disqualify my application. Application to the jurying process constitutes acceptance of these conditions.”

After I pay 25 bucks to be considered by a panel of unnamed “highly qualified artists, curators, teachers, or museum professionals,” I have to sign a waiver that I will not expect compensation for damaged work? If this is the level of respect that artist’s should expect from the Bromo Seltzer LLC, it’s kind of sad.

Oh, and there’s other hoops to jump through! There’s questions, like “What is your artistic philosophy?” Do you mean the artist should submit an artist statement? A professional artist should have this ready to go. Also, other questions like: “The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower requires artists to open their studios one Saturday every month so visitors can view the artistic process. If you were creating in the Brown Studio, what would the public see you doing?” Please. Um, stretching canvas and painting? I thought performance artists weren’t supposed to apply. Now I’m supposed to be a serious artist and also one who entertains the public?

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Oh and this one is great, too : “Explain to the jurors how your work is executed. Please be brief.” They give you room to write about 2 sentences in your answer. Briefly, I paint. With paint. On canvas. Sometimes on paper. Is this what you’re looking for, jurors? It seems to me an artist statement should work here as well.

I looked up the Bromo Selzer LLC to see who these people are and all I got was the city of Baltimore, the mayor’s office, and BOPA, as well as a few philanthropic families, form the LLC. To me, this seems like a great opportunity for Baltimore, but already set into bungling hands. The Browns are being incredibly generous here and already the deck is stacked against artists who are serious about what they do.

Did i mention the application, just advertised, is due in one week? If you’re really going to provide opportunities for artists in this city, please give us longer than a week to put our application together. Some of us would actually have to fetch our recent work from other cities and states to apply!

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Good luck, Brown Studio Winner! Oh, and don’t forget the insurance!

“1. The winner of the Brown Studio at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower will be required to sign a lease and meet all obligations of the lease except for the monthly rental fee.
2. The winner of the Brown Studio at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower will be expected to be an active member of the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower Tenants Council.
3. The winner of the Brown Studio at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower will be responsible for providing their own renters insurance.
4. The winner of the Brown Studio at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower will be required to sign a release allowing for a credit check before the lease can be executed.
5. Any upgrades to the Brown Studio space are at the expense of the artist and must be approved by the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower LLC.”

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