Baltimore News: James D. Thornton Elected BMA Board Chair, Renovations at The Peale, ‘The Amazing Black Man’

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This week’s news includes: artist Cindy Cheng interviewed on The Truth in This Art podcast by Rob Lee, Baltimore clicks the pics from Webb telescope, Maryland lawmakers in January 6 committee spotlight, and more reporting from Maryland Matters, Baltimore Banner, Women in the Arts magazine, and other local and independent news sources.


Baltimore Museum of Art elects James D. Thornton as board chair
by Liv Barry
Published July 13 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The Baltimore Museum of Art board of trustees has elected James D. Thornton as its new board chair. Thornton, who is Black, is the first person of color to lead the board.

“I am extremely honored to follow in the footsteps of so many accomplished board chairs who played pivotal roles in establishing the Baltimore Museum of Art as a cultural anchor over the past 108 years,” Thornton said in a statement.

Thornton is a member of the committee tasked with searching for the museum’s next director, to replace former Director Chris Bedford, who stepped down in June to lead the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.



Though the Exterior of The Peale is Relatively Modest, The Story Inside Is Anything But
by Ron Cassie
Published July 12 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: The first museum building in the Western Hemisphere can be easily missed. Situated behind beautiful Zion Lutheran Church, which has maintained German-language services for more than 265 years, and in the shadow of historic City Hall, the exterior of The Peale is relatively modest.

The story inside the four-story, red-brick Federal Period townhouse is anything but.

The brainchild of painter and innovator Rembrandt Peale, acclaimed for his astonishing likenesses of contemporaries George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, The Museum and Gallery of Fine Arts opened a month before the British attack on Fort McHenry. Two years later, Peale fired up a gas-fueled chandelier in his repository of fine art and curiosities—recently discovered mastodon bones, for example—and convinced several local businessmen to launch the nation’s first gas company, aka BGE. Then Peale and friends talked city officials into making Baltimore the first city in the U.S. with streetlights.



‘The Amazing Black-Man’ sticks around at The Peale
by Imani Spence and Aaron Wright
Published July 8 in Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Growing up in Turner Station, Kumasi J. Barnett was always looking for something to do. He was introduced to the world of capes and escapades at a very young age, reading Garfield and other comics at the Turner Station Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library as a way to learn how to read.

“This is my culture and I’m changing it a little to be real stories of my culture,” Barnett says of his work. Barnett is classically trained in abstract art, having received a BFA from the University of Maryland, College Park and an MFA from the Ohio State University.

His current solo exhibition “The Amazing Black Man,” is on view at the Peale until July 16.



Cindy Cheng
Interviewed by Rob Lee
Aired July 11 on The Truth in This Art Podcast

Excerpt: Cindy Cheng is an artist that lives and works in Baltimore, MD. She enjoys puzzles and learning about what her friends like to collect. She has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center and the Anderson Ranch Artist Residency. She is a 2018 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, and in 2017 she won the Sondheim Artscape Award. She has participated in solo and group shows at School 33 Art Center (Baltimore), Fjord Gallery (Philadelphia, in collaboration with Cheeny Celebrado-Royer), Ditch Projects (Eugene, OR), St Charles Projects (Baltimore), and ‘Sindikit Project (Baltimore, in collaboration with Cheeny-Celebrado Royer). Cindy received her BA from Mount Holyoke College. She received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from MICA in 2008 and then earned an MFA from MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art in 2011. Cindy teaches at MICA in the Drawing Department.



Clearest images ever of universe captured by Webb telescope controlled in Baltimore
by David Nitkin
Published July 12 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: NASA on Tuesday released the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, revealing new details about the scope of the universe captured by a precise instrument being controlled from the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

NASA gushed about the images, saying in a release that “the dawn of a new era in astronomy is here as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

The agency released five images in all, which it said were selected by representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute and chosen because “they reveal the capabilities of all four of Webb’s state-of-the-art scientific instruments.”



Hours after fatal encounter between driver and squeegee worker, Scott names new public safety chief
by Fern Shen
Published July 8 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced a new deputy mayor for public safety today less than 24 hours after an encounter between a motorist and a group of squeegee workers in downtown Baltimore ended in the fatal shooting of the motorist.

Anthony Barksdale, a former Baltimore Police deputy commissioner, will return in the role of deputy mayor for public safety, said Scott, noting that the appointment, filling a vacancy, was the result of a months-long search.

“Barksdale is one of the smartest and most knowledgeable crimefighting professionals that we can bring to the table,” Scott said at a news conference joined by Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and other city officials.

“His track record speaks for itself,” Scott said, adding that during Barksdale’s tenure, homicides and violent crime both saw substantial drops.

See also:

Dashcam video shows final seconds of Timothy Reynolds’ fatal encounter with squeegee workers, but questions remain
by Justin Fenton
Published July 9 in Baltimore Banner


After the latest squeegee work flashpoint, what should Baltimore do? Listen to entrepreneurial leaders’ candid convo
by Sameer Rao
Published July 13 in Baltimore

Excerpt: Squeegee workers: If you live in Baltimore, you probably have thoughts about them. You might even be sick of talking about them.

But after the latest flashpoint in the decades-long acrimony around this kind of work — in which Hampden-based engineer Timothy Reynolds was shot and killed by a still-unidentified squeegee worker last Thursday near the Inner Harbor — the city and region must yet again discuss the social, economic, racial and interpersonal tensions that underscore this issue.

Those discussions also necessarily take place among economic and startup leaders like Conscious Venture Lab founder Jeff Cherry, who invited several other notable entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders to speak about the issue Tuesday. The result was a candid and urgent conversation between Cherry, Early Charm Ventures Executive Officer Ken Malone, FearlessCEO Delali Dzirasa and the Revival Baltimore hotel’s director of culture and impact, Jason Bass.

See also:

Opinion: ‘Squeegee kids’ are Baltimore. They are OUR young people. And we have failed them.
by Donte Johnson
Published July 8 in Baltimore Banner



Author, Author (Part Two)!
by Josh Kurtz
Published July 13 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: If you look back over the political chaos of the last half-dozen years or so, many Americans of all political stripes — though surely not all — would place the lion’s share of blame at the feet of former President Donald Trump.

Trump, after all, has been all about shattering consequential norms on an infinite variety of levels, thriving on the disorder.

But Marylander Ira Shapiro sees things a little differently. He traces the political dysfunction in America back several years earlier and places the blame squarely on U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“The current state of American politics really didn’t start with Trump,” Shapiro said in an interview. “The long decline really started with McConnell. I’m McConnell obsessed. A lot of people have Trump derangement syndrome. I have McConnell derangement syndrome.”



Jan. 6 Hearing: Raskin Leads Questioning, Harris Involvement in White House Planning Meeting Revealed
by Jacob Fischler
Published July 12 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: The U.S. House panel investigating Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results described Tuesday how the president explicitly called on his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 for a “wild” protest — resulting in an insurrection.

Trump exerted extraordinary influence over the mob, who marched to the Capitol on his orders and undertook the violent attack, testimony showed. Many dispersed only when Trump asked them to do so, hours after mayhem broke out.

Members of the violent extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and other Trump supporters interpreted a Dec. 19 tweet from Trump to attend a “wild” Jan. 6 rally in Washington as a call to arms to fight election certification, according to testimony at the wide-ranging hearing, the seventh by the panel.



A new COVID subvariant is spreading among a weary, divided public
by Hallie Miller
Published July 13 in Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: A new and easily transmissible COVID-19 virus subvariant is gaining traction in the U.S., according to the latest federal data, and public health experts in Maryland and elsewhere fear a fatigued and divided nation has let its guard down.

Scientists, medical professionals and researchers are racing to understand BA.5, a new subvariant of the highly contagious omicron strain that emerged last fall and quickly fanned out across the country. The rapid spread of infections caused a statewide surge in sickness that prompted hospitals to resort to emergency standards of care as patients overwhelmed the health care system.

The new strain — now accounting for about 65% of all cases reviewed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s genomic surveillance system and more than half of new cases sequenced from Maryland and neighboring states — joins a growing list of “variants of concern” monitored by the federal government. While much remains unknown about BA.5, variants of concern are generally thought to be more easily spread, more adept at evading vaccines’ protection, and less responsive to antibodies and other therapies, according to the CDC.



:: BONUS ::

Gifts from Steven Scott
by Orin Zahra
Published in Women in the Arts Magazine

Excerpt: This year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the opening of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a moment to celebrate the pivotal support of longtime donors and friends. One such committed patron is Steven Scott, a member of the NMWA Advisory Board and Baltimore-based art historian and dealer. During the museum’s renovation, he has donated a number of significant artworks. Reflecting on his enduring relationship with the institution, he says, “I turned sixty years young this year and NMWA turns thirty-five. A perfect time to make my promised gifts of these highly important works by some of the most influential women artists of our time into outright gifts to the collection.”

Scott’s most recent gifts include a remarkable range of works on paper and photographs by artists Louise Bourgeois, Nan Goldin, Sally Mann, Ana Mendieta, Cindy Sherman, Shahzia Sikander, Laurie Simmons, and Betty Woodman. In addition, Scott donated porcelain dinner and tea service sets designed by Sherman, as well as newly purchased prints and a sculpture by Alison Saar.



Header Image: Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI via Baltimore Fishbowl

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