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BmoreArt Releases Issue 10: Power

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Art AND: Magnolia Laurie

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Monsieur Zohore’s “The Last Supper” at the BMA

Cheers to BmoreArt’s next ten issues! We look forward to hosting parties again in Baltimore’s most iconic locations in the future after Covid-19 restrictions are over. Thank you to all of our contributors, supporters, and subscribers who made this issue a reality.

This year we are so disappointed that we have not been able to continue to host our usual big magazine release parties. We did, however, host a toast and behind-the-scenes conversation with our contributors and featured artists on Zoom, which culminated in a reveal of our cover, with commentary from fashion designer Earle Bannister and photographer Kelvin Bulluck.


We hope you will enjoy looking at the photos and hearing from our contributors as much as we did! Read on to find out more about the concept and details behind our newest print publication.

 

Editor’s Letter: A few years ago I attended an institutional workshop that shifted my perception of power dynamics in all of my personal and professional relationships. The powerful, the speaker said, want to be liked and respected and those with less power want to be seen and heard. Although simple, this idea has been useful to me in negotiating conflicts, making decisions, and advocating for myself, regardless of my relative power in any given situation.

This idea of shifting power dynamics and cultural movements, art objects, and collaborative projects providing new pathways to power inspired BmoreArt’s newest print journal–our TENTH! We came up with the “Power” concept before Covid-19 closures completely changed our lives and the theme has adjusted accordingly, but we see this issue as an opportunity to explore what it means to have power, to expand its use, and to analyze it from the perspective of creative individuals observing these structures from outside traditional boundaries.

The art world is hierarchical, where an elite minority tightly wields influence through access to resources and social networks. A vast majority of artists reside at the bottom of the pyramid, where they function as creators and often the audience for exhibitions, performances, and publications.

In the middle, curators, critics, and gallerists labor on behalf of artists, typically for tiny paychecks, but enjoy a level of visibility and influence. They work with a select group of artists who have achieved a modicum of power through exhibitions, acquisitions, awards, and scholarship. At the very top are cultural and educational institutions, where a few individuals with access to the majority of resources have the clout to identify talent, invest in causes, and shape public discourse.

 

Lowery Stokes Sims and Leslie King Hammond, photo by Phylicia Ghee

Personally, I am most interested in the ways that artists collectively and creatively advocate for a more equitable distribution of resources, and many of the stories included in Issue 10 highlight artists, galleries, museums, and even collectors interested in achieving progressive goals, eschewing a capitalist marketplace that prioritizes competition and scarcity.

Issue 10 features Lowery Stokes Sims and Leslie King Hammond, best friends since childhood in New York, who grew up to be cultural leaders, arts administrators, and curators. Written by Angela N. Carroll with photos by Phylicia Ghee, we delve into the story of two highly accomplished individuals, who, as Black women working in museums and higher education, fought to be seen and heard and laid the groundwork for others.

This publication includes a story by Teri Henderson about artist Larry Cook, whose club-inspired photographs highlight intimate cultural codes, in conversation with Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis, a Baltimore-based Black- and woman-owned gallery recently achieving deserved national attention in “Black Gallerists Press Forward Despite a Market That Holds Them Back,” a New York Times article by Robin Pogrebin.

This issue also presents the work of artist Jackie Milad, whose baroque mixed-media works expand notions of cultural heritage, systems of visual language, and the way artists can utilize (and sometimes destroy) their own past works to build new ones, in conversation with art historian Jordan Amirkhani with photos by Vivian Doering from Milad’s recent solo exhibition at Loyola University Maryland’s Julio Fine Arts Gallery.

 

Jackie Milad
Larry Cook

Expanding the range of visual art, our team explores what power means in fashion and art jewelry, creating opportunities to consider the ways we adorn our bodies to communicate and feel more powerful. Fashion historian Victoria Pass writes about four Baltimore-based fashion designers and the garments that feel powerful to them. We photographed Ella Pritsker, Natalie Karyl of Dollhouse Boutique in Mount Vernon, Earle Bannister (our cover model), and Stephen Wise at Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum wearing their own designs, with models Marcella Myles and Ashanti Marche in Dollhouse originals, and Kelvin Bulluck photographed them.

Not only do we learn about the evolution of the power suit throughout history, we provide a compelling argument that Baltimore’s fashion designers are consummate artists whose craft can help all of us to look and feel our best.

 

Ashanti for Dollhouse, photo by Kelvin Bulluck
Earle Bannister, photo by Kelvin Bulluck

After the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this fall, we wanted to honor her legacy. So our jewelry feature includes elaborate collar-like constructions made with non-traditional materials including Peyote-stitched beaded necklaces by Joyce J. Scott, formal compositions of plastic and kitsch objects inspired by crown jewelry by Nikki Couppee, and what appeared to be collars but were actually jockstraps, an iconic gay fashion symbol, by Everett Hoffman.

All three jewelry artists have a connection to Baltimore through the Baltimore Jewelry Center and their works were modeled by Letitia Enos and Monsieur Zohore with photos by Jill Fannon.

 

Letitia Enos wearing Everett Hoffman, photo by Jill Fannon
Monsieur Zohore wearing Joyce J. Scott, photo by Jill Fannon
Ryan Dorsey and Erin Fostel, photo by Joe Hyde

It’s a priority for us to promote the value of collecting the art of our place and time, so we always include a Living With Art article, featuring the art collection and home of a notable artist or cultural leader.

For the power issue issue, we visit the home of Baltimore City Councilman Ryan Dorsey and artist Erin Fostel, who give us the opportunity to consider the ways we can all support one another and simultaneously assemble an enviable collection of top-notch works of art. This article by Nora Belblidia with photos by Joe Hyde made us feel welcome in Dorsey and Fostel’s Mayfield home, and gave us hope for collective gatherings in the future, as well as inspiration for collecting.

Suzy Kopf wrote an article about In The Dark Circus Arts, an organization that offers circus-based classes and practices that build strength, confidence, and community. This story explores physical power, and one’s ability to build it through creative acts, with photos by Jill Fannon.

In the Dark Circus Arts, photo by Jill Fannon

 

The power to build new structures for advocacy and education is exemplified by Baltimore-based author Andria Nacina Cole, who founded a summer-long, reading-writing program for Black girls and young women, aptly named A Revolutionary Summer (ARS) in 2015, with co-founder Malene Kai Bell. The resulting story by Jalynn Harris with photos by Schaun Champion was so good we added extra pages to this issue.

As in all nine past issues, this issue includes a portrait series by Justin Tsucalas of artists and culture producers in their studios and workspaces. The goal of this series has always been to highlight a diverse range of Baltimore-based artists whose work relates thematically to the other stories in the journal, but also to present a range of locations and spaces, showing off one of Baltimore’s most valuable resources: studio space, which sometimes can mean the city itself (see: murals). This issue, we have added an online component where each of the eight artists in the portrait series are profiled online in an in-depth Art AND: interview.

 

Gaia on new Waverly Mural site, photo by Justin Tsucalas
Andria Nacina Cole by Schaun Champion

We would be remiss in an issue devoted to power to not include our museums, which hold a majority of the power in the art world pyramid, in terms of building artists’ careers, collecting their work, and presenting content to an engaged and established audience.

Art world power is concentrated in institutions, foundations, blue-chip galleries, and auction houses. Power can also be gained through the validation of professional expertise as well as social connections and wealth. Although many stakeholders express a progressive mission that prioritizes diversity, equity, access, and inclusion, there are few current methods to define such terms explicitly or to measure progress.

We explore the innovative collecting practices of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, an institution that has collected works by women exclusively for over 40 years, building careers and a new cannon through collaborative and visionary methods of acquisition. We consider the complex history of the Walters Art Museum, and a sustainable vision for moving forward that builds upon an honest assessment of past successes and failures with museum director Julia Marciari-Alexander and board president Guy Flynn.

 

Delita Martin, at NMWA, courtesy of Galerie Myrtis
Ellen Lesperance, courtesy of the BMA and Derek Eller Gallery

And, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, we consider the work of an artist recently added to their permanent collection: Portland-based Ellen Lesperance, whose works analyze the aesthetics within politics, touching not only on the history of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, but also its connection with the Pattern and Decoration movement, second-wave feminism, and traditional craft practices.

We end with an excerpt from our ongoing Art AND interview series by Suzy Kopf with Dr. John Brothers, President of the T. Rowe Price Foundation, the charitable arm of the global investment management firm, and one of Baltimore’s largest companies.

In Baltimore, all of us who participate in the arts ecosystem understand that financial resources are limited. Artists have always filled this void with cultural capital, providing significant investment in neighborhoods, galleries, public spaces, and concert halls. However, for far too long, Baltimore has been a city where excellent projects and artist-run organizations are acknowledged by those in power, but not given the resources needed to grow sustainably. Over and over, we see successful independent projects co-opted into larger, better-funded, institutional versions; this practice leaves artist-run organizations locked in an endless struggle to break into a position of significant cultural contribution while institutional versions of them, although well-funded, are hollow.

What would equitable collaborations look like, especially when acknowledging that they are occurring between entities and individuals where there is a clear power differential? What would it truly mean for the artists, museum guards, adjunct professors, and independent curators to be seen and heard by those who hold the majority of power and resources? How could such a conversation evolve and how much collective good could be accomplished in our city if we engaged in radical power-sharing structures, designed by and for those whose cultural contributions deserve recognition? We believe that the stories in this issue begin to answer such questions and present a road map forward.

It’s time for our institutions and cultural organizations that hold the majority of power to properly support the diversity and equity they claim to value—the artists, artist-run projects, nonprofit organizations, and creative start-ups that make our city great—and to invest accordingly.

Our power issue is a wake-up call for an entire community to realize that we have all the talent, vision, and resources we need right here; what’s missing are trust-based systems for equitably sharing and investing those resources where the powerful realize their ability to play a more strategic, active, and visionary role in uplifting the entire Baltimore arts ecosystem.

 

How To Acquire and Support: 

Issue 10: Power is BmoreArt’s second print publication released during Covid-19 restrictions and cutbacks. We believe it is essential to provide safe and socially distant methods to engage with the art of our place and time and our print journals are an excellent, evergreen way to support Baltimore and our publication.

We designed a new subscription service for Issue 09, and it is available for the current issue as well. All subscription purchases will be mailed out directly to you, and we offer several different plans for a variety of budgets and support.

You can purchase Issue 10 in person from a variety of local shops including: Greedy Reads in Fells Point and Remington, Good Neighbor in Hampden, Atomic Books in Hampden, The Store Ltd. in Cross Keys, Get Shredded in Remington, Domesticity in Hamilton, and Hunting Ground in Hampden.

Our cover image for Issue 10 features fashion designer Earle Bannister photographed by Kelvin Bulluck

This story is from Issue 10: Power,

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