I’ve been in Baltimore for almost five years now, but I think that there are things about me that will make it impossible for me to ever fully assimilate. I haven’t eaten one crab since I moved here, I’m a die-hard Cowboys fan, and I adore Artscape, much to the chagrin of native Baltimorean peers, who seem to think the weekend is a chance to boil in the heat, battle visitors from the county, and struggle to navigate the congestion on North Charles. My obsession with Artscape surprises some of my friends.
When Maryland implemented stay-at-home orders I was sure that the world would resume in a few weeks, maybe a month tops. How naive I was seven months ago. As weeks crept by in isolation, I kept seeing more events that I used to mark and remember time being canceled or postponed.
When Artscape got canceled I was dealt a devastating blow. Celebrating this weekend, whether it included me working as a production assistant for the silent disco, or dancing at Four Hours of Funk, or the inevitable torrential rain, had given me something to look forward to, and the sudden passage of July without Artscape weekend was a huge disappointment.
The capacity for humans to adapt and change has always fascinated me and in August I was so excited to learn that BOPA and Hot Sauce Artist Collective were hosting a series of outdoor pop-up art exhibitions in Station North, in the spirit of Artscape, but on a much smaller scale. I visited the pop-up in the lot across from the Charles Theater twice, and I wish I had attended every single weekend. The ability to see art in public around other art lovers was enriching, and being able to walk to these pop-ups also felt special. These temporary exhibits were outside of my Covid routine and they were beautiful. Suddenly, I felt more connected to other people in Baltimore.
The members of the Hot Sauce Artist Collective—Alpha Massaquoi, Jr., Italo De Déa, Kayla Fryer, and Alexandre Edoh Yao Amegah—are on fire with energy and enthusiasm for their fellow artists. They’re shining examples of artists of color in Baltimore making their own lanes, forging their own paths. They are printmakers, educators, neighbors, innovators, and curators, and they are using their platform to bring outdoor art and culture events to different neighborhoods in Baltimore City. I decided to reach out to them to find out more about their current series of outdoor exhibits—now held at Jubilee Arts in partnership with the Black Arts District—continuing this fall as part of BOPA’s Free Fall Baltimore program.
On Saturday, October 24, check out the pop-up with art by Kayla Fryer and Chima Ezenwachi at Jubilee Arts, 1947 Pennsylvania Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217.