Baltimore News: Jeffrey Kent, NWMA Billboard, Lexington Market Mural

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2022 Sondheim Semi-Finalists at School 33 Art Center

This week’s news includes: Katharina Cibulka’s textile commission at the NMWA, SHAN Wallace’s Lexington Market billboard, Artscape 2023 details, a profile of BmoreArt’s C+C Director Jeffrey Kent, what election ballot questions mean for Baltimore, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Brew, Artnet News, Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Magazine, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Installation view of Katharina Cibulka, SOLANGE #27 (2022) at National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.); © 2022 Katharina Cibulka; Photo by Kevin Allen



Jeffrey Kent’s Quiet Influence Has Shaped the Baltimore Art Scene for Decades
by Lauren LaRocca
Published October 25 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: When Jeffrey Kent moved into a luxury apartment overlooking Druid Hill Park in the ’80s, it was one of the nicest places he’d ever lived. It reminded him of a scene straight out of a Woody Allen film, with treetop views of Baltimore’s “Central Park.” Except for one thing. There was no art on the walls.

And he had ample time to stare at them. He’d just gotten fired from his day job at a Georgetown haberdashery, where he sold menswear, after being arrested for possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He decided to make his own art and started creating bright, abstract acrylic paintings, often with words embedded in them, to hang in his apartment. Meanwhile, he continued hustling, because, as he put it recently, he still had rent to pay—and now lawyer fees.

“But then people started trying to buy the paintings,” Kent recalls. “People I was selling drugs to—lawyers and doctors and accountants—and the people I was buying drugs from, who had money from selling drugs…they started buying the paintings off my walls. So I had to keep making more.”



The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., Has Turned Its Facade Into a Massive Feminist Billboard
by Kriston Capps
Published October 24 in Artnet News

Excerpt: Scaffolding wraps the facade of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, whose building in downtown Washington, D.C., closed in August 2021 for a $67.5 million renovation. While the building will be shuttered until next fall, the museum is hardly idle.

On Monday, NMWA unveiled a major textile commission by Austrian artist Katharina Cibulka. Suspended across the north face of the building is a nearly 11,000-square-foot banner with a message for Washington, spelled out in cross-stitch embroidery: AS LONG AS GENERATIONS CHANGE BUT OUR STRUGGLES STAY THE SAME, I WILL BE A FEMINIST.

The piece, the latest in Cibulka’s “SOLANGE” series—which refers to the German words for “as long as”—is her first installation for the U.S. as well as her largest to date. Rendered in pink tulle letters over a white mesh fabric that hugs the existing scaffolding, the artist’s words point to frustration felt by women in Washington and nationwide.



Artist SHAN Wallace breaks down the photos in her mural at the newly renovated Lexington Market
by Lawrence Burney
Published October 26 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The first thing you’ll see when you step into the newly renovated Lexington Market is an imposing collage of photos shot by Baltimore native and artist SHAN Wallace. If you’re familiar with Wallace’s photography — which has graced the pages of The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post and more — some of the images that find themselves in this amalgamation of moments around the market may look familiar. That’s because the mural is comprised of photos that she’s taken and shared over the years — mostly in Baltimore, but also in North Carolina, Cuba and Johannesburg, South Africa.

The collage beautifully crystalizes what Lexington Market used to feel like for people who frequented it before its new look. There are awnings for businesses that sell fresh produce, crab meat and burgers, to name a few. Vendors are carrying food, patrons are dancing while others rock matching outfits. Others are leaning onto the top floor’s railings, entertained by everything happening below.

There is an accuracy to the liveliness recreated here that only someone of Wallace’s Baltimore-bred experience could make. Seeing it evokes the nostalgic smells of fried food, steamed crabs, and breakfast platters. You can suddenly hear the constant chatter of people placing orders or running into old friends. In a lot of ways, Wallace, whom I have know for years, has created a mural that’s a guided travel back through time for Baltimoreans. Through our friendship and frequent collaborations, I’ve come to know her work intimately.



Artscape will return Sept. 20-24, 2023 in Midtown, Station North and Greenmount West
by Ed Gunts
Published October 20 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Baltimore’s Artscape festival will return as a five-day event on Sept. 20 to 24, 2023, focusing less on food and more on “the arts.” Much of the festival will take place in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, where organizers promise to use Artscape “as a creative placemaking vessel to transform vacant lots…into thriving creative marketplaces and sustainable civic gathering spaces.” A stretch of Mount Royal Avenue near the Maryland Institute College of Art campus – part of the festival’s historical boundaries – also will be part of the footprint.

On Sept. 20, the sole event will be an “opening night gala” to kick off Artscape. It will be followed by four days of the main festival, including art exhibitions, interactive exhibits and pop-up performances, roughly from noon to 10 p.m. each day.



Unique Robinson is Inspiring People in the LGBTQ+ Community and Beyond
by Michelle Wojciechowski
Published October 24 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Back when she was in high school at Baltimore City College, a college prep school in northeast Baltimore, Unique Robinson remembers that each year, guidance counselors would ask students what they wanted to be in life. When she wrote “poet” every time, they would respond, “You can’t make money from that.” Robinson’s retort was, “It doesn’t matter. This is what I want to do.”

Robinson, 34, officially chose her vocation at age 10 when she was attending Arlington Elementary School. “That’s where I discovered I wanted to be a poet, because we had a funny-titled standardized test called ‘You’re a Poet and You Don’t Know It.’ I can’t make this up,” she says with a laugh. “That’s literally when I started writing poetry, from that point on.”

Luckily for the Pride Center of Maryland, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and the local LGBTQ+ community, Robinson was stubborn and determined to not only be a poet, but to teach poetry to others.



Term limits, cannabis possession and more coming before voters on November 8
by Fern Shen
Published October 26 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: If well-worn patterns repeat themselves, most of the 15 questions Baltimore voters will see on the 2022 ballot in the November 8 General Election will be approved.

Many are pretty routine.

There are, for example, bond issues (Questions A. B, C and D) to authorize the city to borrow millions for new school construction and for building upgrades, affordable housing, blight elimination, libraries, cultural programs, etc.

There are constitutional amendments as well, including Question 1, which would rename Maryland’s two appellate courts to make clear which outranks the other. (Changing “The Court of Appeals” to “The Supreme Court of Maryland” should do the trick.)

But mixed in are a number of interesting referendum questions for city voters.



Red Emma’s officially opens at its new location in Waverly
by Ed Gunts
Published October 21 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Red Emma’s is finally open.

After months of construction, operators of the employee-owned bookstore and coffeehouse announced this week that they’ve received all the city permits required to open their doors at 3128 Greenmount Avenue in Waverly.

“Occupancy permit, traders license, health license, the whole nine yards!” they said in a posting on Facebook. “Come for the food and stay for the events…It’s been a lonely nine months without you and we can’t wait to welcome you into our new home.”

Employees left their location at 1225 Cathedral Street in Midtown last winter aiming to open in Waverly this summer, but the permitting process took longer than expected. They held some events on Greenmount Avenue but were limited in what they could offer.



Artist Dan Van Allen Lives In His Own Personal Museum
by Janelle Erlichman Diamond
Published October 26 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: There is an instant shock when you first step foot in Daniel Van Allen’s home, as your eyes decide where to land first.

There are just so many options. And then Van Allen, 70, starts talking and doesn’t stop for three and a half hours, until you find yourself back on the street, your tastebuds still singing from the pawpaws and homemade absinthe you’ve just consumed in his basement kitchen. It’s a wild, slightly disorienting, but amazing ride.

“I’m a Renaissance man,” says Van Allen, the preservationist, activist, outsider artist, and forager. He’s also a founder of the Arabber Preservation Society and a boater on his hand-carved canoes.

His two connecting rowhomes in Sowebo, built in 1850, contain 19 rooms, each with a different theme—Egyptian room, Mayan room, coconut bathroom, voodoo room, walnut room, Hindu room. It’s Architectural Digest meets the American Visionary Art Museum, and Van Allen is curator, docent, archivist, and tour guide. (He does in fact give regular tours of his home to MICA students.)



Maryland Office of Attorney General questions ‘integrity of the process’ that freed Adnan Syed of ‘Serial’ fame
by Dylan Segelbaum
Published October 25 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The Maryland Office of the Attorney General on Tuesday criticized the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office for how it has treated the family of Hae Min Lee and questioned the integrity of the process that resulted in the freedom of Adnan Syed.

Following an almost one-year investigation, Baltimore Assistant State’s Attorney Becky Feldman, chief of the Sentencing Review Unit, filed a motion last month to throw out Syed’s conviction, reporting that the state had discovered that prosecutors did not turn over exculpatory information and uncovered evidence of two possible alternative suspects.

Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn granted the motion and ordered Syed to be released from prison. State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby later announced that she was dropping the charges after receiving the results of new DNA testing.



Wes Moore has never been elected to anything. Some backers are already eyeing the White House.
by Brakkton Booker
Published October 19 in Politico

Excerpt: Wes Moore is on the rise — and some of the Democrat’s close allies already have their sights on more than just the Maryland governor’s mansion.

Moore is poised to become just the third elected Black governor in U.S. history if he holds onto a wide polling lead in Maryland. He may well be the nation’s only Black chief executive in the country next year.

Accomplishing that feat comes with lofty expectations from a Democratic Party hungry for a new generation of leaders. Moore would also enter the governorship under intense scrutiny: a political neophyte promising to usher in an era of transformation in his first elected gig.

See also:

Moore gets help from Democratic superstars as early voting approaches
by Josh Kurtz
Published October 25 in Maryland Matters



Header Image: Installation view of Katharina Cibulka, SOLANGE #27 (2022) at NMWA, © 2022 Katharina Cibulka; Photo by Kevin Allen

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