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Gallery Roundup: Art and Fashion at Currency Studio, Zoomers at Current Space, Craft and Domesticity at MICA

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This week: CENTENNIAL: On The Topic Of Now at Current Space, Open House: Art, Craft, and Domesticity at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Decker Gallery, and a new art gallery/retail space in the former ICA Baltimore building on North Avenue.

 

CENTENNIAL: On the Topic of Now at Current Space
Drawing by Emma Cheshire

CENTENNIAL: On The Topic Of Now at Current Space
On exhibit through March 12. Closing reception (6-9 p.m.) and performance (7 p.m.) on March 12
by Teri Henderson

I am a millennial and I can remember the exact moment that my family got a computer and internet in our house. I find it mind-boggling that there is a group of people who are true children of the internet age, living their lives through various social media platforms. The Baltimore-based artists in the collective Centennial were all born after 1997, and the works in their first group show, On the Topic of Now, are a bit anachronistic, beautiful, and reflective of the strange time we’re all navigating, all while being focused and resolute. 

Curated by Reuben Francois, On the Topic of Now is a multimedia introduction to Centennial, composed of the artists Asha Jamila Holmes, Troy Taylor, Emma Cheshire, Isabelle Valcarce, Alec Ferrer, David Correa, Reuben Francois, Torrance Hall, Samantha Karlishev, and Ajay Bhatt. The show’s aim is to “define each artist’s unique perspective on what it feels like to be alive.” If you were wondering how a group of young artists are processing the present, look no further than On The Topic of Now. 

I was especially drawn to Asha Jamila Holmes’ projection Constellation 1, in which a grid of blueish-whitish dots representing the night sky blinks intermittently. This piece offered a moment to pause and reconfigure my thoughts, and led me to think about the heavens, about means of escape and possibilities of the future, and to remember that when I am no longer on this planet, the stars will remain.

Isabelle Valcarce’s thankyoubeautifulthings at Current Space

Isabelle Valcarce’s thankyoubeautifulthings, a single-channel, four-part video is a meditation on loss and isolation and the cycle of life. In the experimental piece, a molecular-model shape merges into what looks like footage from a walk in the woods; a close-up candlewick burns into the inside of some bodily sphincter—among various other surprising transformations. The outdated TV screen on which the videos play is rendered into a sculpture, covered with a web of found objects, twigs, and flowers. I’ve been reflecting on the purpose of art when the world is on fire, and I find works that exhibit both strength and vulnerability, like these by Holmes and Valcarce, also reveal a sense of hope. 

The untraditional materials and mixed media represented in the show are one of its other strengths. In Troy Taylor’s painting Repentance In Motion, a boxer and cartoon characters are displayed with found objects including moss and vibrant Flavor Aid packets. In Torrance Hall’s photograph Fountain, the subject is turned into an object, with a metal funnel in his mouth that allows water to escape. Near the back of a gallery are Alec Ferrer’s ten felted wool pieces, Centennial Chains, each serving as an avatar of a member of the collective that can also be worn like a collar.

On March 12th, there will be two performances by David Correa and Ajay Bhatt, and on display in the gallery are ephemera that will be utilized in those performances.  On The Topic of Now is timely, sudden, and familiar, and the work offers a chance for the audience to reflect on the urgency of this moment. 

 

Anne Howe Papercut Installation at MICA, photo Vivian Doering
Works by David Knopp, Emily Luking, Kellie Gillespie, Vanna Ramirez, Crump & Kwash, and Emily Paluska, photo by Vivian Doering

Open House: Art, Craft, and Domesticity at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Decker Gallery
February 3–March 6
by Cara Ober

photos by Vivian Doering, courtesy of MICA

We are living in an age where the breakdown between art, craft, and design is finally, thankfully, collapsing. It’s still relatively few and far between, but handmade things with an experimental, aesthetic, and/or utilitarian purpose are being recognized as art with a capital A and exhibited in museums and galleries. 

In MICA’s Decker Gallery, the exhibition Open House: Art, Craft, and Domesticity showcases the work of twelve artists who elevate everyday materials into meaning-laden objects which enhance and question common perceptions around domesticity. Curated by the Exhibition Design Seminar, a three-credit, hands-on class taught by Jeffrey Cudlin, five student-curators—Ara Ko, David Peterson, Elina Press, Marshall McGriff, and Victoria Cho—from both MICA graduate and undergraduate programs have cultivated a space for conversation between generations of makers using traditional and experimental approaches to reinterpret aspects of the home. The result is a wide-ranging show featuring clothing, furniture, ceramics, quilts, and video installations about what it means to have a home, be at home, and how we surround our private life with objects that are both functional and inspirational.

Standout works include a site-specific cut paper installation by Baltimore-based artist Annie Howe, whose delicate radial patterns danced against the gallery walls activated by an afternoon sunset through the glass door entrance. A sensuous, natural wood-shaped table by David Knopp, a previous Baker Award winner, sits at the center of the gallery entrance, with a curvy whale-tail of a wooden lamp showing its functionality alongside its formalist and material-centric emphasis. Adjacent to Knopp’s work, Baltimore-based design studio Crump & Kwash offers two minimalist chairs and a coffee table in a stunning contrast where clean lines suggest a futuristic vision with midcentury influence.

Installation by Erick Antonio Benitez, photo Vivian Doering
Quilts by Loring Boglioli, Table and lamp by David Knopp, photo Vivian Doering

Bold freeform quilts by Loring Bloglioli hang on the subtle pastel gallery walls like authoritative collage-based paintings, emphasizing the personality of each segment of fabric with decorative stitching. A wall-mounted clothing rack of skirts, shorts, and jeans by Kellie Gillespie offers commentary in embroidered texts about abuse, recovery, mental health, and strategies to survive such abuse. Gillespie transforms fast fashion into political statements that are familiar and relatable, and viewers are encouraged to touch the pieces and interact with them to read the text. One pair of jeans offers the succinct statement: “No.”

In a video installation layered over a wall of small silhouette paintings of various South and Central American plants, Erick Antonio Benitez’s piece is a necessary addition on the subject of home. Benitez, a MICA graduate and 2018 Sondheim winner, is now attending graduate school in Los Angeles, and this work explores immigration and the experience of existing without the security of a physical home. 

Other artists included in this exhibition are Daun Lim, whose ceramics are both humorous and elegant, Emily Luking, who incorporates crocheting into sculptural mirrors and decorative objects, Joshua Frick, who utilizes coding to consider natural patterns, Leo Sewell, an assemblage sculptor whose materials feature landfill trash, and Vanna Ramirez, a ceramicist whose functional forms explore texture and formal structure. 

Rugs are one fun addition that could have activated the concrete floors of the gallery to further the domestic vibe cultivated from the choice of specific objects and transitioning pastel wall colors. But, on the whole, Open House is a satisfyingly complete exhibition. The student curators’ intentionality and restraint will hopefully inspire future exhibitions in the Decker Gallery, which historically has offered overhung and crowded shows. This exhibit presents a variety of well-crafted and unusual objects in an immersive setting that offers each work of art enough wall and floor space to breathe, an aesthetic choice that elevates the value and voice of artists and media. 

 

 

Currency Studio at Heather Gray Gallery + 0520 Concrete
Currency Studio at Heather Gray Gallery + 0520 Concrete, paintings by Adewale Alli

Currency Studio at Heather Gray Gallery + 0520 Concrete
at 16 W. North Ave. through May
by Teri Henderson

A few weeks ago, I found designer Michael E. Haskins Jr. painting red stripes on a small T-shirt inside of the beloved former ICA Baltimore site on North Avenue. The space has changed hands and changed vision, and Haskins’ team has transformed the cavernous building into a creative incubator. (ICA Baltimore is relocating to an as-yet-unannounced spot.) The new space is composed of two elements: a shop and a gallery. 

Located near the front, 0520 Concrete is the retail section where you can purchase original clothing and accessories made by Currency Studio. The clothes are displayed near the primary-color textured paintings of Adewale Alli, elevating them to art objects as well.

The original Currency Studio, operated by Haskins and his fiancee Erica Lee Page, is in Greektown. Haskins began his design practice in 2017, and after moving away and then returning to Baltimore, he realized that he wanted to design his life here and make space for other artists. They plan to run the pop-up space at 16 W. North Avenue until at least May, exhibiting work including an upcoming show by Adam Stab. 

Heather Gray Gallery: works by Alli, Page, Haskins, Michael E. Haskins Jr., and Maurice Scarlett III
Michael Haskins Jr. at Heather Gray Gallery

In Heather Gray Gallery, which takes over the rest of the area, four artists’ works are on display: paintings, prints, and sculptures by Alli, Page, Haskins, and Maurice Scarlett III. There’s also a wooden bench on display as part of a collaboration with Good Neighbor. Haskins’ round paintings echo the shape of a steering wheel, and one is a remix painting of the familiar Prada Marfa installation by artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset. Page has several silkscreen pieces on display, beautiful and intricate geometric patterns in shades of sepia, black and white. Along with Alli’s figurative works and Haskins’ graphic paintings, Scarlett’s paintings depict figures in shades of black and blue with gold teeth outlined, illuminating the work from within.

When I visited, Haskins alerted me to a large origami crane, a metaphor for the construction and changing landscape of this city and so many others across the country. Nearby, a trio of beige fabrics hung on the wall. Haskins said that with each new activation of a space—from the small Greektown location to the larger North Avenue location—he brings in bigger pieces of fabric, representing Currency Studio’s growth and ascension from place to place.

 

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