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Ten Best Baltimore Artists of 2008

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This list is strictly based on projects, exhibitions, and achievements by Baltimore-based artists in 2008. And yes, obviously this is 100% subjective, as I did no polls and based it on my own opinions. We’re a low budget operation here at Bmore Art and we do the best we can!!! Happy Holidays to all.


1. Maren Hassinger. From her sculptural installations at the BMA’s Sondheim exhibit to her sculptures at Grimaldis’ Area 405 show, Hassinger has proven herself to be a prolific and provocative master of her craft. For more information, go to www.marenhassinger.com


2. Jeffrey Kent. Jeffrey’s Creative Alliance exhibit “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” was an ambitious and challenging selection of paintings. Through his figure studies, superheroes, and backwards text, Jeffrey communicates a personal and a communal experience in humorous and passionate terms. For more images, go to www.jeffreykentart.com.


3. Denise Tassin. As Art On Purpose’s Resident Artist, Denise has given presentations on her work to ALL of the area colleges. She is creating collaborative exhibitions with college students all over Baltimore, each one a unique theme and product based on her own work. Denise is single-handedly inspiring hundreds of students into authentic artistic growth. For more images, go to www.denisetassin.com.


4. Dawn Gavin. As one of the Sondheim finalists, Dawn’s immaculate wall sculptures were amazing for several reasons: technical proficiency, conceptual clarity, and for intricate beauty. Seen in the BMA, Gavin’s works were some of the most exciting pieces in the show. For more information, go to www.dawngavin.com.


5. Rene Trevino. Rene deserves to be on this list for pumping out two equally amazing concurrent shows: “Destructive Behavior,” a two-person show at Creative Alliance with Magnolia Laurie and for “Spoils of Love and War” at Grimaldis Gallery. Exhibits included huge, colorful paintings of Aztec sun discs, a ceiling installation of homemade banners, and smaller drawing-based works. Under Trevino’s hand, issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation seamlessly combine. To see more, go to www.renetrevino.com.


6. Joyce J. Scott. Scott is a Baltimore diva and legend, but she has proven in her most recent show, “Painful Death / Painless Life,” at Goya Contemporary, she continues to grow and evolve as an artist. Her works are beautiful, prickley, funny, and naughty. As a nationally recognized artist, Baltimore is lucky to have her. For more information, go to www.goyacontemporary.com.


7. Geoff Grace. I know, he already won the $25,000 Sondheim Prize, but that doesn’t mean he is done receiving accolades. Grace, a high school art teacher, has been a contender for not one, but all of the past Sondheim Prizes. His work is ideosynchratic, sensitive, political, and challenging. As a young artist, he shows surprising maturity as he continues to grow.


8. Mina Cheon. “Addressing Dolls,” Cheon’s solo exhibit at Grimaldis Gallery in February was an impressive, punchy examination of childhood, race, and politics. Having grown up in South Korea, Cheon explored the role of paper dolls and their clothing, in comparison to the political ideologies of the time. This was an insightful and visually complex exhibit, exquisitely curated to feel part toystore / part boutique. For more information, go to www.minacheon.com.


9. David Hess. At Goya Contemporary, Hess’ solo exhibition titled “Reconstruction” was a mini-view of the larger, architectural sculpture that Hess has become known for. Best known is his steel nest and staircase at AVAM, Hess’ works in this show were no less masterful, but more intimate, at a smaller scale. In Reconstruction, combinations of welded and found objects coalesce into playful meditations on industrial aesthetics. For more information, go to www.goyacontemporary.com.


10. Melissa Dickenson. After attending a paper-making residency in Japan, Dickenson’s work has jumped up several notches. Included in the Sondheim exhibition, and constantly exhibiting in Baltimore and DC, including ‘Paper Trail’ at DC’s Transformer Gallery, Dickenson is a young and energetic force in the local Baltimore art scene. For more information, go to www.melissadickenson.com.

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