News Briefs: Mare Residency Launch, Ivy Bookshop’s New Home, Celeste Doaks’ “American Herstory”

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Mare Residency Initiative Launches at Sunspot Studios in West Baltimore

The first iteration of a new, nomadic residency program starts in the small neighborhood of Ten Hills, Baltimore. The Mare Residency Initiative brings together painters Jerrell Gibbs of Baltimore and Raelis Vasquez of the Dominican Republic for a two-week-long residency at the west Baltimore studio space run by mTkalla Keaton, a real estate broker who also runs Sunspot locations in Brooklyn and Johannesburg. Both painters were chosen because of kindred themes in their works: “family, memory, and the Black American experience,” according to a press release. The residency will aim to the “connect and support artists of the African diaspora beyond traditional and colonial borders.”

Tiffany Auttriana Ward, the residency’s creative director and a member of its namesake collective Mare Projects, will hosts artists in cities around the Americas. This first round will feature studio time, “Black history tours of Baltimore and Washington D.C.” and a guest critique from artist Daniel Lind Ramos. Ward, an MFA candidate in MICA’s Curatorial Practice program, said of the residency’s Baltimore launch: “I consider Baltimore to be an important city within the African diaspora, and I would love to bring artists from the Americas to share and learn from the wonderful history and culture here.” The program is partially supported by the Curatorial Practice program.

The next residency location will be Loíza, Puerto Rico, in 2020.

To celebrate the start of the program, there will be an open studio night at Sunspot Studios tonight, August 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 4909 Edmondson Ave., Baltimore, MD 21229. (Rebekah Kirkman)

The Ivy Bookshop Has Purchased a New Building within Baltimore City Limits, Just 0.2 Miles from the Original Space

The Ivy Bookshop has announced the purchase of a property located at 5928 Falls Road, just two blocks from their longtime home at Lake Falls Village. After renovations to the 19th century farmhouse, transforming it into a new home for the bookstore, they plan to open in the spring of 2020. Plans for the new space include more room for books, a workshop area upstairs, a writers residency apartment, a hospitable front porch with rocking chairs, and several acres of lawns and gardens.

By an email announcement, owner Emma Snyder announced that the shop will be officially located inside Baltimore City. “We love this city and are so proud to be a part of it,” she said. “The new location will be easy, accessible and beautiful. Please know that for almost everyone, your path to the store will hardly change. The building is on the same side of Falls Rd, less than 0.2 miles from our current home. We are building on-site parking! And everything will be ADA accessible.”

The Ivy plans to continue a robust schedule of programming, events, and will remain open. Their staff is prepared to answer questions about the new space and is looking forward to exciting new opportunities. (Cara Ober)

Judy Chicago’s New Work Grapples with Death and Extinction

Judy Chicago, “Stranded,” from The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, 2016; Kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, courtesy of the artist

As if we didn’t all already have enough death anxiety these days, the often bold and always challenging feminist artist Judy Chicago’s newest body of work will appear in an exhibition titled Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Sept. 19, 2019–Jan. 20, 2020.

The series features 30 paintings on black glass, some porcelain works and large bronze reliefs that consider the artist’s own mortality (she recently turned 80) and the precariousness of the Earth’s ecosystems and endangered species. “Viscerally bold, the graphic style of these works communicates the intensity of Chicago’s personal contemplation of her own death as well as the death of entire species,” says the NMWA press release.

Chicago is known best for her canonical ceramic installation work “The Dinner Party” (1974–1979), exhibited in part as a large, triangular banquet table with undeniably vulval/labial place settings for female goddesses, saints, artists, and activists such as Sappho, Saint Bridget, Emily Dickinson, Sacajawea, among others. Nearly a thousand names appear on tiles for the piece’s “Heritage Floor,” the foundation of the table. And although “The Dinner Party” was a feat in terms of researching and honoring so many women marginalized or entirely forgotten by history, it’s worth noting one of the critiques of the piece (aside from irrelevant male fears of/disgust toward the female body, etc.) is that the piece largely neglects Black women: Sojourner Truth is the only Black woman with a seat at the table.

NMWA calls Chicago’s newest body of work “no less audacious than her earlier projects” as it connects with her recurrent themes of birth, sex, death, nature, and violence. Along with the exhibition, NMWA will publish Chicago’s monograph Judy Chicago: New Views.

“In a world in which women’s cultural production continues to be undervalued, discounted or marginalized, I am pleased to premier this work for the first time at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the only museum in the world dedicated to ensuring that women’s art is preserved,” said Chicago, in a press release. (RK)

Celeste Doaks’ Poems About Michelle Obama

Baltimore poet celeste doaks recently published American Herstory, a selection of poems about former First Lady Michelle Obama, enshrined in the hearts of many as our forever first lady. The chapbook, published by a Backbone Press in Durham, NC, features Amy Sherald’s painting of Michelle Obama on the cover.

Doaks began writing poems about Michelle Obama in 2009. “I felt that Michelle Obama was due the same sort of respect, and introspection, that all our other First Ladies have had in the past,” the poet wrote in an email. (The first poem in the book, “Response to the White Woman in North Carolina who asks, ‘Why are you writing Michelle Obama Poems?'” offers a few additional reasons.)

As an ode, with awe and admiration, American Herstory feels like a corrective to some of the racist and sexist comments that have been cast at Michelle. In doaks’ writing, Michelle becomes something mythical, a “Lotus rising out of South Side water & night”—but also a very real figure with whom the poet conjures vivid and semi-romantic imagined conversations in a garden. Though she began writing these poems 10 years ago, she sees connections to present politics too, particularly in how Kamala Harris is perceived and spoken of. “Many of my same concerns about race and gender, and how these constructions are used to oppress, can be seen right now in Harris’s political campaign.”

Several poems focus on art that the Obamas collected and filled the White House with, like Alma Thomas’s “Sky Light” and Jeri Redcorn’s “Intertwining Scrolls.” Doaks says she became intrigued by the former first lady’s artistic choices after learning about some of the work that was selected for the Obama White House. “Many of my poems in this volume were my meditations on why she chose what she did,” the writer says. “Her choices were interesting, but I saw them as visual art course corrections for American His/Herstory.”

Doaks will celebrate the book release with a reading along with Tafisha Edwards and Lydia Rhodes on Aug. 19, at Wet City, at 7 p.m. (RK)

Five Baltimore Artists invited to Pigment Sauvage Art Residencies at Galerie B-312 in Montreal, Canada for Two Weeks in August

Image: Lu Zhang

The month of August is perfect for travel, recharging creative batteries, and slow and meandering exploration. Perhaps we should add Canada to this list? Five artists from Baltimore—Ada Pinkston, Amber Eve Anderson, Erick Antonio Benitez, Hannah Brancato, and Lu Zhang—have been invited to travel to Montreal for two weeks to use the city “as prime material for their creation” from August 16th to the 26th, as part of the bilateral residency project The Track / La Track.

Curated by Gabrielle Lajoie-Bergeron, in partnership with Pigment Sauvage Art & Residencies (Baltimore), Galerie B-312 (Montréal), and the Institute of Contemporary Art – ICA (Baltimore), the project aims to explore the way our relationship with the act of creation is affected by changes in scenery and culture and to question geographical and conceptual boundaries. “How can movement, shifting locations and the unknown characterize one’s identity, may it be cultural, historical, political or sexual? What do we bring back and what is left behind when we leave? A person? A state of mind? How do we mark our territory? What way of shattering conventions do we have? Making the limits undistinguishable? Blurring the lines? How do we (re)write history?”

According to founder Nader Kalhor, an art collector and project manager at Horizon Builders, “Baltimore and Montreal are fertile grounds for creativity, diversity and inclusion. In the long run, the objective is to make strong, lasting bilateral cultural exchanges between Quebec and Baltimore.”

The Track / La Track is born from the will to build bridges between Quebec and Baltimore. This year’s iteration includes six multidisciplinary Canadian artists and collectives—Pascale Théorêt-Groulx / Jean-Michel Leclerc / Gabriel Favreau / Helena Martin Franco / Les Couleuves (Joël Vaudreuil & Carolyne Scenna) / Natacha Clitandre / Filles Debouttes (Christine Major / Isabelle Guimond & Gabrielle Lajoie-Bergeron)—to Baltimore for a 2-3-week residency at PS including a public presentation at the end. In Montreal, the five artists from Baltimore will show new work created in two collective exhibitions, first in Baltimore (ICA – Institute of Contemporary Art), then in Montréal (Gallery B-312). Each exhibition will be accompanied by a program of discussions around the issues related to the project. (CO)

Photography’s Beginning Explored at the National Gallery

John Dillwyn Llewelyn, A Summer’s Evening, Penllergare, August 25, 1854,
albumen print, National Gallery of Art

Living in a digital age, the recent surge of interest in practicing archaic photographic processes like tintypes, aquatints, and wet collodion prints takes us back to the earliest roots of photography, where magical accidents and chemical effects offer surprise and spontaneity. The Eye of the Sun: Nineteenth-Century Photographs from the National Gallery of Art will give viewers a selection of the earliest examples of various photographic processes—daguerreotypes and photogenic drawings and salted paper prints by William Henry Fox Talbot—and should be catnip for newly inspired alt-photo practitioners as well as those who appreciate a rare historic archive and want to consider how the 180-year-old medium has changed the way we see, as well as the history of art.

“Today photography is so omnipresent in our lives that it can be hard to imagine a world without it,” said Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. “This exhibition takes us back to the exciting nascent years following the birth of the medium, and the many ways that early practitioners explored its possibilities.” Featured photographers include Anna Atkins, Édouard Baldus, Lewis Carroll, Gustave Le Gray, Charles Marville, George Barnard, Roger Fenton, Francis Frith, Amélie Guillot-Saguez, Hill and Adamson, Viscountess Jocelyn, John Moran, Eadweard Muybridge, Charles Nègre, Andrew Russell, Augustus Washington, and Carleton Watkins. (CO)

Featured Image: Artist Erick Antonio Benitez

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