Baltimore News: Sondheim Winner James Williams II, AVAM Director Jenenne Whitfield, BMA Hip Hop Exhibition

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This week’s news includes: Juliet Ames is at it again, Cloudy Donut creates community, Rubell Museum appoints Caitlyn Berry as inaugural director, and more reporting from WYPR, The Art Newspaper, Baltimore Fishbowl, and other local and independent news sources.


Multimedia artist James Williams II wins the 17th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Art Prize
by Ed Gunts
Published July 29 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Multimedia artist James Williams II is the winner of the 17th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Art Prize, awarded Thursday night at the Walters Art Museum.

Finalist Megan Koeppel came in second and Maren Henson finished third.

The artists were selected over more than 300 others who applied for the prize, one of the most prestigious in the country. Their work is on view at the Walters Art Museum until Sept. 18.



New AVAM director wants the world to see Baltimore landmark for the ‘treasure’ it is
by Imani Spence
Published July 29 in Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Jenenne Whitfield has never been afraid to take a chance. Twenty-nine years ago she left a corporate job and joined Detroit’s Heidelberg Project, which started as an outdoor visionary art environment that transformed one block of Heidelberg Street in the eastern part of the city with sculptures and other pieces by local artists.

The Heidelberg eventually also opened a physical building to display artwork and host artists in residency, and has curated exhibits and created programming on the transformative power of art. As with any endeavor, roadblocks presented themselves over the years, including arsons that nearly destroyed it; the Heidelberg Project still stands.

Much of that is because of Whitfield. But in September she will leave her post as president and CEO of the Heidelberg Project and move to Baltimore to run the American Visionary Art Museum.



Are Pay Phones the New Salt Boxes?
by Grace Hebron
Published August 1 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: We’ve been following the work of local artist Juliet Ames—founder of local jewelry business The Broken Plate—for years. But many Baltimoreans were introduced to Ames more recently, when she embarked on a quest to breathe new life into Charm City’s forgotten salt boxes. Thanks to the Govans artist, the yellow grit bins that assist with snow removal have become adored attractions decorated with vinyl, paint, and plywood.

Ames’ growing fanbase can’t get enough of her renovated pieces of public art, which feature witty designs like zebras that ran wild from their local farm, out-there lawyer Barry Glazer, Baltimore’s own Billie Holiday, and depictions of John Waters’ Dreamlanders Divine and Edith Massey (The Egg Lady). This past spring, The New Yorker even ran a piece on Ames and asked Waters to weigh in. The native Baltimorean, whose 1966 film Roman Candles showed his sister using sand toys in a salt box, was impressed with Ames’ idea to take standard city property and turn it into “Banksy-bait.”



Baltimore Museum of Art and Saint Louis Art Museum co-organize exhibition on the impact of hip hop over decades
by Latrice Hill
Published July 29 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) have partnered for an exhibition examining the impact hip hop has had on contemporary art and culture through the past 20 years.

“The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century” features contributions from more than 50 artists, writers, scholars, curators, and arts leaders that capture how hip hop has influenced music, visual and performing arts, fashion, and technology.

The exhibition will display approximately 70 pieces from artists with backgrounds in fashion, music and media to demonstrate hip hop’s growth and evolution since its advent in the 1970s.



‘It’s bigger than us’: Black-owned vegan donut company Cloudy Donut seeks to lift up fellow Black entrepreneurs
by Latrice Hill
Published August 3 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: When Derrick Faulcon acquired vegan donut company Donut Alliance in 2019, he renamed it Cloudy Donut because he believed eating the soft pastry felt “light and airy, like biting into a cloud.”

Like its predecessor, Cloudy Donut serves all-vegan recipes, which means using applesauce instead of eggs, no dairy, and no animal byproducts. They also bake all their donuts from scratch and in-house.

The company opened its first shop in 2020 on Harford Road on the edge of Baltimore’s Beverly Hills neighborhood, and they later expanded to a second location on Charles Street in Federal Hill in 2021. Their third shop will open its doors in two weeks in Brooklyn, New York.



Former dealer Caitlin Berry named inaugural director of the Rubell Museum’s Washington, DC outpost
by Gabriella Angeleti
Published August 1 in The Art Newspaper

Excerpt: The Rubell Museum has appointed the former art dealer Caitlin Berry to be the inaugural director of its forthcoming complex in Washington, DC, the 32,000 sq. ft museum that will open to the public on 29 October.

Berry was previously the director of the Cody Gallery at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, and served as a director at Hemphill Fine Arts, one of the leading commercial galleries in the US capital.

Berry holds degrees in gallery management and communications and art history from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is on the board of the nonprofit Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art and is a member of the Washington chapter of ArtTable, an organisation that works to support leadership positions for women in the visual arts.



Shwaze Collins cooks up in the recording studio and in the Brunch Gods’ kitchen
by Taji Burris
Published July 31 in Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Adrian “Shwaze” Collins only has four cares in the world: his unequivocally charismatic 3-year-old son, his current favorite strain of weed, his job at Brunch Gods and his music.

Shwaze, 29, was inspired to rap by Lil Wayne when he was in the seventh grade. By the 11th grade, he decided to fully pursue a career in music and has been a trusted voice in Baltimore’s underground scene since. Rocking stages and hitting the studio aren’t his only interests — he’s just as passionate about being in the city’s culinary scene.

In 2017, Shwaze and two fellow Baltimore artists and frequent collaborators, Mack Scott and Verze, formed the brotherhood known as New Wave Order. The collective works together on music, but most importantly, they support each other in times of need. This rang especially true when Shwaze lost his job during the COVID-19 pandemic.



The Pawpaw, America’s Largest Edible Fruit, Grows Quietly in Baltimore
by Lydia Woolever
Published July 28 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Doron Kutnick emerges from the overflowing shrubs of his white farmhouse in Hampstead before his first cup of coffee. It’s late June, just days before the summer solstice, and at 9 a.m., the morning shade still sweeps across the open fields and enclosed greenhouses of the two-acre Two Boots Farm that he runs with his wife, Elisa.

But we’re not here for the flowers and vegetables that grow before us, being tended to by several employees before the day’s heat unfurls like a stretching cat. Instead, in a straw hat and gray T-shirt, holding a ceramic mug, Kutnick ambles down the hill, past the persimmons, into a meadow-like path, and through the forest, which eventually leads to a small clearing, filled with rows and rows of pawpaw trees.

“It’s a beautiful tree, and it really is a lot of fun to take care of these things,” says Kutnick, standing amidst the slender gray trunks and broad symmetrical leaves of some 200, ranging in size from small, grafted saplings to 12-foot specimens dangling with powdery green clusters of what look like soft-skinned avocados or unripe mangos.



Buoyed by Plantation Park’s energetic Farmer Chippy, the Druid Hill farmers market is back
by Timothy Dashiell
Published July 29 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: There’s good news for fans of the Druid Hill Farmers Market who feared that Baltimore had lost the beloved Wednesday evening tradition forever.

Yes, following a pandemic hiatus, volunteers closed the market after 11 years of providing a mellow mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, crafts, flowers, honey and yoga on the grass.

Fortunately, the market is back this summer under new management as “The Agrihood Baltimore Farmers Market.”

The focus is on urban farming, but it still offers the same fresh fare and chill vibe.



Baltimore Police could fall under city’s control if voters approve this fall
by Bethany Raja
Published July 27 in WYPR

Excerpt: Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott signed a bill to add a charter amendment to the general election ballot which could put the city’s police department under local control for the first time in decades.

Baltimore’s mayor can hire or fire the police commissioner and compile a crime prevention plan, but the city is the only across the state where local officials can’t oversee the police department’s policies or practices.

The city’s police have been under state jurisdiction since the mid-1800s, which needs to change, Scott said.



Header Image: Hip Hop exhibit, courtesy of the BMA

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