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BmoreArt’s Picks presents the best weekly art openings, events, and performances happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas. For a more comprehensive perspective, check the BmoreArt Calendar page, which includes ongoing exhibits and performances, and is updated on a daily basis.

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We’ll send you our top stories of the week, selected event listings, and our favorite calls for entry —
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<><><><><><><><>Waving and Wavering | Opening Reception
Thursday, May 17th · 6-9pm

Maryland Art Place
218 West Saratoga Street : 21201

Many of our most visible public symbols, including flags, are currently under increased scrutiny and public reconsideration. Rather than seek to define any fixed set of meanings, the exhibition Waving and Wavering assumes that a flag will always carry various and contested meanings. Exploring multiple interpretations of flags as both concept and format, this exhibition emphasizes three main perspectives: local examples of artists creating new flags for the city of Baltimore, new models of artists examining the American flag, and international samples of artists working with flags in contemporary ways.

The art world’s investigation into the use of banners, pennants, and other similar iconography is long standing, and representations of flags persist as important symbols in modern and contemporary art. One may look to Jasper Johns’ notable series of the stars and stripes as an example which initiated a dialogue over freedom of expression and the limits of representation. In the 70 years since Johns’ flag works debuted, numerous flag exhibitions – such as the People’s Flag Show or Old Glory – have been mounted, the American government has debated the use of its flag in protests through proposed amendments and Supreme Court cases (Texas v. Johnson, 1989), and artits have continud to present their own versions of iconic flags, such as David Hammons’ African American Flag (1990). We now find ourselves in an unprecedented time, when flags and monuments around this country are being reassessed, when the appropriate responses to the National Anthem are in debate, and when symbols for new social movements such as Black Lives Matter and Time’s Up are being created.

Waving and Wavering aims to contribute to these conversations by presenting alternative views of familiar symbols, illustrating the ways in which artists are using the format of a flag to address issues of power and personal politics.

<><><><><><><><>A Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates
Thursday, May 17th · 6-10pm

Baltimore Museum of Art
10 Art Museum Drive : 21218

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) will present a conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, and author of Marvel’s The Black Panther comic book series on Thursday, May 17 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The program is part of The Necessity of Tomorrow(s), the BMA’s free series of creative conversations and social events featuring nationally recognized artists, writers, and thought-leaders to consider key ideas at the intersection of art, race, and social justice—and imagining the futures we want. The discussion with Coates and BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford will be centered on Afrofuturism and its role in today’s cultural landscape.

The event includes music by Ancestral Duo and DJ Trillnatured, a comic book reading room organized by Atomic Books, art-making activities, light refreshments, and community conversation. Coates will give a reading from one of his recent books and discuss his work on the Black Panther comics, as well as on the recent blockbuster film of the same name. Tickets will be available beginning at 6 p.m. on May 17, and seating is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Admission is free. The event will also be live-streamed in the BMA’s Fox Court along with overflow seating.

“We developed the Necessity of Tomorrow(s) because we believe that, as Baltimore’s civic museum, it is incumbent upon us to use our exhibitions, collections, and public programs as platforms to engage the most urgent questions of our time,” said BMA Director Christopher Bedford. “Ta-Nehisi was a natural choice for the next iteration of the series. He is this generation’s voice on issues of race and black identity, which is especially topical with his involvement in the cultural phenomenon that is Black Panther, and the museum is honored to host him.”

The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) borrows its title from an essay by science fiction author Samuel Delany that argues for the role of creative speculation in making a more just future. The first event featured artist Mark Bradford in conversation with Christopher Bedford explored how he changed the course of his life when he was 30 years old to eventually become one of the most accomplished artists of his generation. Bradford also discussed Art + Practice, the nonprofit he co-founded in South Los Angeles to supports the needs of local foster youth.

<><><><><><><><>2018 Young Playwrights Festival
Friday, May 18th · 6:30pm

Center Stage
700 North Calvert Street : 21202

Join us to Celebrate Maryland’s Student Playwrights

We invite you to experience one of Baltimore Center Stage’s signature education programs, which reaches over 1,200 students across the state of Maryland each year. Please join us as we honor these creative and inspiring students. Children (ages 6+) are welcome!

This event is FREE but tends to sell out so RSVPs are required. Don’t miss your chance to see the next generation of theater makers with the resources and support of the State Theater of Maryland behind them.


These 10-minute, award-winning plays include Pluto Problems by Kelly Durkin’s 2nd Grade Class at Hampstead Hill Academy, The Showby Tahjae Young, Grade 7 at Sisters Academy, and more! Read brief descriptions of all six winning plays.

Young Playwrights Festival

Friday, May 18
The Head Theater
FREE ($5 suggested donation)
Seating is limited, and tickets are required

Come early and experience new festival events beginning at 5pm:

Gary B. Unlucky
A short documentary film of a play written by students of the Lab School
Roche Chapel (4th floor)

The Last Meal and Ikea Kingdom
Two immersive theater pieces developed by students of the Montessori Public Charter School
Smith Studio (5th floor)

About the Festival:

A cornerstone of education programming at Baltimore Center Stage since 1986, the Young Playwrights Festival transforms 500 Maryland school children into playwrights. Residencies empower Baltimore City teachers with enduring tools for literacy and student engagement. The always-captivating award-winning plays are developed with a dramaturg and produced with professional directors, designers, and actors on The Head Theater stage.

<><><><><><><><>Invasive Queer Kudzu // Dual Use: Baltimore to Samarra // Practice/Performance | Opening Receptions
Friday, May 18th · 6-10pm

Baltimore Museum of Art
10 Art Museum Drive : 21218

Invasive Queer Kudzu (Main Gallery)

A solo exhibition by Aaron McIntosh


Image credit: Aaron McIntosh

At the intersection of quilt-making, storytelling, archiving, and social practice, the Invasive Queer Kudzu project generates leafy, quilted fabric vines adorned with stories that celebrate and make visible Southern queer culture from the past to the present day. Working with LGBTQ+ contributors and archives such as the Gay and Lesbian Center of Baltimore (GLCCB), the project uses kudzu—a fast-growing, climbing, coiling, and trailing perennial—as a slippery metaphor. It invades dominant Southern narratives, reclaiming the ‘monstrous’ vine as a symbol for Southern queer tenacity in the face of homophobic institutions that otherwise obscure our rich histories.

This participatory exhibition features several monuments of the South, both historic and imagined, in the process of being invaded and reclaimed by Invasive Queer Kudzu stories. The gay nightclub serves as retrospective site of revelry, camaraderie, and tragedy in the works

Invasive: Pulse Memorial and Invasive: Club Hippo. In the latter work, a scale replica of Baltimore’s erstwhile Club Hippo celebrates one of the country’s oldest continuously-operating gay dance clubs, which is now a CVS in Mount Vernon—a predominantly gay neighborhood which in recent years has faced the closure of many queer gathering spaces.

A series of Saturday Queer Quilting Bees open to the LGBTQ+ community and allies will encourage participants to contribute to the creation of story leaves to be added to the growing installation during the run of the exhibition.


 Dual Use: Baltimore to Samarra (Members Gallery)

A solo exhibition of works featuring sculpture, large scale assemblage works, found objects and video by Taha Heydari

 Image credit:  Taha Heydari

Between 1984 and 1988, 36 shipments of Thiodiglycol (TDG)—a total of 528 tons— left Alcolac International, an industrial chemical plant in Baltimore, en route to the port of Antwerp. The consignment was then transshipped to the port of Aqaba in Jordan and trucked across the desert to Baghdad, where it was transferred to the Muthanna State Establishment, Iraq’s chemical warfare production complex near Samarra.

While Thiodiglycol is utilized as a solvent in a variety of applications ranging from textile dye to the ink in ballpoint pens, it is also used in the production of the chemical weapon sulfur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas. Exposure to mustard agents causes permanent alkylation of DNA strands, preventing cellular division ultimately leading to programmed cell death. At 11am on March 16th, 1988, an estimate of twenty aircraft attacked Halabja, a Kurdish city across the Iran-Iraq border. The chemicals dropped by the planes included mustard gas, and the nerve agents sarin, tabun, and VX. The estimated number of civilians killed during the five hour attack ranges from 3,200-5,000, with an additional 7,000-10,000 injured. As many as to 75% of the victims were women and children.

Taha Heydari is an Iranian artist born in Tehran in 1986. Dual-Use: Baltimore to Samarra, featuring sculpture, large scale assemblage works, found objects, and video, is his first solo exhibition in Baltimore, Maryland.

Practice/Performance (Project Space)

A solo exhibition of works by Adam Holofcener

Image credit:  Photgrapher- Jiho Sohn

Adam Holofcener’s installation, Practice/Performance, uses a range of different media to engage participants in what it may mean for an individual to tether oneself legally, metaphysically, or otherwise to another human being in a caregiving posture. Utilizing previously internet-broadcast home video recordings, handcrafted scores featuring graphic notation, an interactive soundscape, and an accompanying tape cassette album release, Practice/Performance manifests a space soaked in amniotic fluid and inquiry. What truths, from the banal to revelatory, do we seek to communicate with those we look after? By what means do we tell them? How do we cope with the exercise? Don’t worry; this is the most natural stuff in the world.

Adam Holofcener, a native of Baltimore, works in many creative disciplines, but likes to think of himself primarily as a sound artist, composer, and performer. By day, Adam serves as director of Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (MdVLA).

<><><><><><><><>Nonument 01: McKeldin Fountain App Release & Public Art Project
Saturday, May 19th · 1-4pm

McKeldin Square
101 East Pratt Street : 21202

Join us for the official launch of the NONUMENT 01:: McKeldin Fountain app in McKeldin Square, the former home of the McKeldin Fountain, and participate in a public art project and demonstration of the value Baltimore residents place in their public spaces.

The demolition of Baltimore’s McKeldin Fountain in 2016 was a loss of both a unique public space and a valued representation of bygone brutalist architecture. It’s destruction, carried out with little public input, is but one of an escalating number of examples of public spaces that have been co-opted by private interests.

NONUMENT is a public art project dedicated to preservation of the memory of these spaces and their history through the power of augmented reality. Using a tablet or smart phone, the NONUMENT 01 app creates a three-dimensional projection of objects that are no longer there.

On May 19th, we will gather at McKeldin Square on the site of the former McKeldin Fountain and activate the NONUMENT 01 app to remember the events that took place there, and protest it’s loss and the loss of other spaces like it.

Following the conclusion of the event at 4, we hope you’ll continue to join us at the nearby 5th Fl MAP (Maryland Art Place) for the opening of the NONUMENT 01::McKeldin Fountain art exhibition.

<><><><><><><><>West Baltimore Murals and History by Bike
Sunday, May 20th · 9:30am-12pm

1145 Hollins Street : 21223

West Baltimore is full of public art and rich in history. On our tour, we’ll explore loads of both, as well as sites of transportation and communication innovation.

On the art side, Baltimore began a celebrated public mural program in the 1970s, including many in West Baltimore. We’ll cover murals on Viva House, a Catholic Workers refuge that has been serving the poor for over 50 years, as well as artwork through Sandtown-Winchester, Upton, and Druid Heights that features uplifting works by Mary Carfagno Ferguson, Pontella Mason, Gary Mullen, and Ernest Shaw Jr. Along the way we will learn about the current Art at Work youth program created after the 2015 Uprising to empower youth through employment and mural training.

On the history side, West Baltimore has transformed from farms and country estates into a set of primarily rowhouse neighborhoods that is intertwined with the city’s rich social, political, and creative heritage. It was also the location of two seminal events in the 19th century that helped shape world history. No only did Samuel Morse’s first long distance telegraph line start here, so did the first mile of railroad track.

We are lucky to have not one but two veteran tour leaders for this outing: Graham Coreil-Allen and Ralph Brown. The total distance is approximately 5 miles and we will ride at leisurely pace.

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