1. NEW CASH PRIZES! The new Baker Artist Awards, as well as the newly established Sondheim Prize, awarded annually, means up to $85,000 for a handful of local artists. This is NOT chump change and does establish, especially in times of economic uncertainty, a REAL commitment to artists here in Baltimore (unlike that Station North Tax Bullshit).
The Baker Artist Awards is absolutely free for artists to participate in and encourages an online community for artists living here – a virtual curator’s wet dream!
The Sondheim Prize set the tone three years ago, awarding $25,000 to one artist and promoting the work of finalists and semi-finalists in professional exhibitions, as part of Artscape. This prize and the exhibitions surrounding it are creating amazing opportunities for artists and we need to remind ourselves – it’s only been around for a couple of years. It just keeps getting better!
2. Free Museums/Free Fall Baltimore: Beginning in 2006 with an $800,000 fund from Baltimore City and County, and having acquired a current list of 20 sponsors, Baltimore residents continue to enjoy free admission to the BMA and Walters Art Museums. Additionally, Free Fall Baltimore organizes free events and workshops involving several of the city’s under-attended art centers, including Baltimore Clayworks and Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. Having access to international, contemporary and historic artwork free-of-charge is an invaluable resource to students, teachers, aspiring and working artists alike. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
3. Gary Kachadourian! We love Gary. A working artist, teacher and Visual Arts Coordinator at Baltimore Office for Promotion and the Arts, the man can’t possibly sleep. Organizing city-wide events, reviewing grant proposals, and serving as a constant resource to the arts community, Gary Kachadourian is responsible for some of Baltimore’s greatest art assets. From the Current Gallery to beautifying the city (and employing local artists) with the Baltimore Mural Program, Gary is behind the scenes of Baltimore’s coolest public art projects.
4. A Rumor of Live/Work Spaces being built by the city! I have no idea where this project is, in terms of being a fantasy or a reality, but rumor has it that the city is funding the construction of loft-style studio spaces on abandoned lots in the city. Other rumors are that 11 Row Homes on the 1600 block of Latrobe St. (between Lanvale & Federal St., just east of Guilford) are now being rehabbed for Artists to not only live in, but also work in. This project is being funded by a private company so it could be bust at this point. However, as real estate prices plummet and the station north arts community grows stronger each day, the price is right and the only people with enough ‘vision’ and/or crazy to buy or lease these spaces are artists.
5. New and Re-Opened Venues. In 2008, no less than 6 major players emerged or re-opened on Baltimore’s cultural venue roster. Two projects (originally) spearheaded by Jason Hughes, The Library and Gallery Four are again holding exhibitions, while The Wind Up Space, The Strand and Echo have begun to establish themselves as enclaves of artistic, theatrical and musical expression in the city. The Hexagon, formerly the Lo-Fi Social Club, continues to showcase young, regional musicians on their stage and artworks in its lounge-like lobby. Baltimore’s talents have an ever-expanding outlet for exhibition.
6. A Supportive Local Media. Baltimore artists are fortunate to have individuals like Bret McCabe, Lisa Morgan, Aaron Henkin and Tom Hall in the local press. Shining a light on many of the deserving exhibitions and art ventures produced in the city, The Signal, Maryland Morning and City Paper help to generate the encouraging buzz needed in the community. Be it an interview with Lisa Morgan, or a CP best-of nod, artists receive a healthy amount of praise and recognition along with some valuable criticism.
7. Erin Cluley. Sure, she is adorable and yes, an artist in her own right, but this year she’s been cutting her teeth as a professional curator and we have to say, we’re happy with her efforts. Cluley is most often seen behind the scenes at C. Grimaldis Gallery, as the assistant gallery director. We suspect she is at least in part responsible for the tremendous innovations we’ve seen in the last year from this Baltimore mainstay – especially exhibits like Grimaldis Sculpture at Area 405, as well as her own curatorial projects like, “My ______ Other,” “To The Teeth” and “Transitions” all at Creative Alliance. Cluley shows a professionalism and a promise that Baltimore sorely needs.
8. NEW ART STORE! The Artist and Craftsman Supply store opened its doors several months ago, next to Joe Squared Pizza on the corner of North Avenue and Howard Street. If it’s colorful, funky attitude doesn’t win you over, their low prices and huge selection of everything you need will. We hope that their strategic location, next to MICA’s graduate studios will be condusive to their success because we like shopping there! Kitty cat stickers and glitter and wooden boxes to paint on? YEAH. This store is part of a small chain of stores based in Maine.
9. DC ART Collectors! God Bless ‘Em. Just a short train ride away, DC has an art scene that is populated not only by artists and curators but these other people called COLLECTORS. These collectors actually PURCHASE work by local emerging artists, sit on panels to brag about their collections, provide tours of their homes and collections, and support LOCAL artists. It is truly amazing. Names like Philip Barlow, Philippa Hughes, Fred Ognibene, Heather and Tony Podesta, Robert Lehrman, Ames Alefantis, Monica Bussolati, Allison Cohen, Melvin L. Hardy, and Dr. Michael Pollack are music to artists ears in DC, and also Baltimore artists who manage to get their work there. You can read Philippa’s Hughes’ blog, The Adventures of Hoogrrl to get an idea of this concept!
How about that for collector worship!
Where are the Baltimore collectors? They do exist. At this point, there are a few shining stars and we LOVE you!, but most Baltimore collectors still prefer to buy work for their collections in New York and spots outside of Baltimore. For shame! Local collectors need to step it up and get involved with the homegrown art scene. Panel discussion on collecting, anyone? Just say the word and we’ll make it happen.
10. Local Art Blogs. Not that we’re trying to pat ourselves on the back or anything, but blogs are an amazing, although under-utilized, promotional tool. Immediately accessing an international audience, Radar Redux, Baltimore Interview, Bmore Art and Ten Tigers are on a mission to bring Baltimore’s artists to the world! On a less grand scale, blogs help to consistently promote and document local events and exhibitions, creating permanent, accessible records for artists, curators and art spaces. We’re here for you.