After way too much digital-only interaction with art (and people) over the past year, the BmoreArt team was excited to see the 2021 Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Finalists exhibition in person. Like many organizations, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA) had to cancel events last year and tried to keep things alive online instead. We experienced the 2020 Sondheim exhibition virtually—arguably better than nothing, and certainly the wisest choice amid an unrelenting pandemic. But unless art is originally made for the screen, there is no substitute for seeing it in real life.
It felt both good and weird to view the 16th annual Sondheim Prize Finalists show at the Walters Art Museum—vaxxed, masked—a couple of weeks ago. The Sondheim exhibition is typically part of Artscape, the largest free art festival which also somehow always lands on the hottest weekend of the summer. Citing safety concerns for employees and attendees, BOPA announced in May that Artscape would be canceled for the second year in a row. But the Sondheim show would once again be viewable in person at the (air-conditioned) Walters Art Museum.