Baltimore News: Amy Sherald, Artscape 2023, Galerie Myrtis’ New Exhibition

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This week’s news includes: Amy Sherald goes global, the Grit Fund, efforts to reduce food insecurity, the new Druid Hill, and more reporting from Baltimore Magazine, Artnet News, Baltimore Banner, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Amy Sherald in the studio with For love,and for country (2022). Photo: Kelvin Bulluck. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Published in Artnet News.


‘As an Empath, Portraiture Works for Me’: Amy Sherald on How She Makes Space for Black Histories in Her First U.K. Show
by Jo Lawson-Tancred
Published October 11 in Artnet News

Excerpt: Two Black men on dirt bikes soar up through the air in the mammoth diptych Deliverance (2022), one of the highlights from “The World We Make,” Amy Sherald’s new solo show at Hauser & Wirth in London. Behind this powerful ascension we might imagine the roar of engines or yells of camaraderie but, frozen in motion, the scene is instead one of serene majesty.

When Sherald discovered dirt bike culture after moving to Baltimore in her 20s for her MFA, it left a lasting impression. When she asked her models what they loved about riding, they explained that it gives them a sense of freedom. “I read that as freedom from oppression,” she said, when I met her shortly after the show’s installation, just in time for Frieze week.

Though Sherald’s work eloquently captures the individual experience—specifically, the Black experience—its resonances always feels manifold and far-reaching. And so, with our minds trained on long-standing art historical motifs, Deliverance almost inevitably recalls the classic equestrian portraits of aristocrats or imperial rulers, produced by Old Masters like Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jacques-Louis David.



After months of uncertainty, BOPA is set to announce details for Artscape 2023
by Ed Gunts
Published October 19 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: After months of uncertainty and confusion, Baltimore is about to learn the future of Artscape.

Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts CEO Donna Drew Sawyer have scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. Thursday to address one of the city’s most closely guarded secrets: the dates, location and other details for the 2023 version of Artscape, for many years the biggest festival on the city’s calendar, drawing 350,000 people over three days.

After going three years without its signature outdoor event, BOPA has promised to bring Artscape back in 2023, but not necessarily at the same time of year or in the same way people might remember it. Beyond that, BOPA hasn’t released many details, and that’s what Thursday’s announcement is about.



The Latest Theories on How Rey Rivera Died Don’t Point to the Rooftop (Audio)
by Taya Graham and Stephen Janis
Published October 18 in The Real News

Excerpt: In May 2006, Rey Rivera disappeared from his North Baltimore home. Roughly a week later, his body was found in the second floor concourse of Baltimore’s historic Belvedere hotel. The 2020 Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries brought international attention to Rivera’s mysterious death. The Real News journalists Taya Graham and Stephen Janis have previously covered Rivera’s death, asking why his injuries were more consistent with being stuck by a car instead of falling from a rooftop, as the discovery of his body suggested, Taya and Stephen return with Jayne Miller to break down the latest evidence in Rey Rivera’s death.



Baltimore’s Galerie Myrtis’s Beautiful and the Damned
by Teri Henderson
Published October 18 in Baltimore Beat

Excerpt: According to the exhibition statement written by curator Myrtis Bedolla, “The Beautiful and the Damned asserts beauty as imagined through the lens of three African American women artists who challenge the notion of the historic limiting and unattainable standards of what is desirable.” The Beautiful and the Damned features the work of Megan Lewis, Lavett Ballard, and Monika Ikegwu, three Black women artists who Galerie Myrtis represents. In this exhibition, the women explore desire and standards of beauty in their elegant, powerful, and sentimental depictions of Black men and women.

Lavett Ballard’s nine artworks on display are collaged worlds full of Black pop culture references and archival imagery. Ballard traditionally creates her works on more unconventional surfaces, adding an element of texture to what the viewer might assume at first glance were more two-dimensional works on paper. Ballard creates mixed-media collaged artworks on hand-carved birchwood panels and wood fencing.



Baltimore trio stresses value of yoga, meditation in new book
by John John Williams, III
Published October 17 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: As a Black kid growing up in the ‘80s in West Baltimore, Ali Smith remembers not telling his classmates that his mornings began meditating with his father.

“We didn’t really tell too many people. Back then people weren’t really into it. We tried to keep it as quiet as possible,” said Smith, 46, who was introduced to meditation by his late father, Meredith Smith, and to yoga by his late godfather, Will Joyner.

Fast-forward four decades and Smith has taught meditation and yoga techniques all over the world; he runs a successful school, Holistic Life Foundation, that employs 40 people, and he co-wrote a book, “Let Your Life Shine,” with two business partners that they will discuss Tuesday on ABC’S “Good Morning America.”



The Grit Fund Provides a Vital Lifeline for the Arts
by Suzy Kopf
Published October 19 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Baltimore, despite being a capital of culture, is a city with only a handful of major art funders. So when a new one splashes onto the scene, particularly one that distributes at least $55,000 annually in grants to local artists, people pay attention.

Such was the case in 2015, when the now-defunct The Contemporary teamed up with perhaps the best-known national arts funder, the Andy Warhol Foundation, which led to the creation of the Grit Fund.

“There is nothing better than being able to give people money to do something that they want to do for the community,” says Krista Green—pictured right, above—program officer for the Grit Fund and former chief administrative officer of The Peale Center, which now oversees the fund.



Black Yield Institute, and Other Grassroots Organizations, Help Bring Food Justice to Baltimore City
by Omnia Saed
Published October 18 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Dressed in a yellow hoodie and caramel-colored slacks, Eric Jackson sits in his South Baltimore office. The 36-year-old filmmaker is the co-founder
and director of the Black Yield Institute (BYI), a Black-led food sovereignty organization and urban farm in Southwest Baltimore.

“What does it mean to be fully human?” he asks. “What does it smell like? What does it feel like? How does it taste?”

To Jackson, at least part of that answer lies in the community garden some two blocks away, where rows of collards, tomatoes, squash, and kale were once in full bloom. But the garden lies empty now.

See also:

Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III Creates Black-Owned Food Systems to Reduce Food Insecurity
by Amy Scattergood
Published October 12 in Baltimore Magazine



Developers, residents and politicians flock to Druid Hill Park anticipating “historic amount of investment”
by Fern Shen
Published October 17 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: “The Future of Druid Hill Park” was billed as a chance to mingle with neighbors, developers and city officials and learn about the upcoming multi-million-dollar, largely taxpayer-funded overhaul of Baltimore’s oldest park.

So why were organizers asking those registering in advance – for a community meeting about a public amenity – to each pay a $20 fee?

Leading up to the event, the admission fee sparked online criticism (“Is this information only intended for those with disposable income?”) and was eventually dropped by its sponsor, Druid Hill Park Partnership, Inc.

See also:

One Baltimore resident’s love for Druid Hill Park, flaws and all
by Seth Sawyers
Published October 13 in The Baltimore Banner



New documentaries on Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman premiere on Maryland Public Television
by Imani Spence
Published October 14 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass are among history’s most famous Marylanders. Both were born in bondage and both have statues in the state to commemorate their influence.

This month, two new documentaries about their lives are airing on Maryland Public Television: “Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom” and “Becoming Frederick Douglass.” Each documentary serves as a great starting point for those wanting to dig deeper into these formidable Black icons. And they’re also a call to look more honestly at the history of Maryland.

“People think about slavery in the Deep South but not usually in the upper south,” said Stanley Nelson, the Oscar-nominated documentarian and MacArthur Fellow who directed the two new films for PBS. Maryland had about 90,000 enslaved people and 74,000 free Black people in 1850, according to the Maryland State Archives; it was common for an enslaved person to walk down the street and see a free Black person living out the dream they desperately craved.



Online, word of mouth grass-roots effort emerges to oppose legalizing cannabis
by William J. Ford
Published October 18 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Heidi Rochon says she continues to experience the negative effects medical cannabis has brought to a few of her family members, who never used the drug until it became legal in Maryland.

Although various polls show a majority of voters support a ballot measure to legalize recreational use of cannabis, the Caroline County resident on the Eastern Shore is part of a grass-roots movement that says no.

One of Rochon’s family members received approval last year for a medical cannabis card after being diagnosed with attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Her family member, who is also slightly autistic, has had nine car crashes.

“I really don’t worry he’s not going to kill himself. I really worry he’s going to kill somebody else,” Rochon said in an interview Monday. “This is not just about pot. This is having a negative effect on people.”



Header Image: Amy Sherald in the studio with For love,and for country (2022). Photo: Kelvin Bulluck. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

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