Baltimore News: New Mount Vernon Record Store, Artists and Lexington Market, Rubell Museum DC

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This week’s news includes: DJ Amy Reid’s ‘Utopia,’ an Abundance of art at AVAM, new Lexington Market looks to artists to preserve the past, MICA downsizing, Food for Thought at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, and more reporting from ArtNews, Maryland Matters, Baltimore Brew, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Glenn Ligon’s America (2008), courtesy of the Rubell Museum


With an Expansion to the Nation’s Capital, Rubell Museum Looks to Highlight Artists Sensitive to Today’s Most-Pressing Issues
by Maximilíano Durón
Published October 7 in ArtNews

Excerpt: “It’s not like any other city,” Mera Rubell told ARTnews, referring to Washington, DC. “To be bringing a collection that [my husband] Don and I built over the last 58 years to our nation’s capital is emotional. I have a lot of history with Washington. I was there for Martin Luther King Jr.’s march in 1963.”

Over a decade in the works, the Rubell Museum DC, which opens to the public October 29, is Mera and Don Rubell’s second private museum, after one in Miami. Housed in a building more than 115 years old, it will span 32,000 square feet. The architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle is renovating the building, which was the home, until 1978, of the Randall School, a segregated junior high school for African American children in DC’s Southwest neighborhood. (Alumni include singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye.) The building joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

“We tried to preserve as much of the character and spirit of the school as we possibly could, because there’s something very special about saving a building of that age and in that neighborhood and [with] that history,” Mera said.



How Local Artists are Preserving Lexington Market’s Past in its Renovated Digs
by Grace Hebron
Published October 12 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: SHAN Wallace’s latest collage is full of life—people young and old, sitting, standing, eating, dancing, all amidst a colorful array of signs hawking everything from crab meat and oysters to lake trout and snowballs. And through it all, there is one main character, which serves as both the backdrop of many of these photographs and the artwork’s ultimate destination: Lexington Market.

“I’ve been going to Lexington Market for most of my life,” says Wallace, 31, an East Baltimore native who grew up visiting the historic downtown landmark, circa 1782, with family and friends. “As a photographer, I felt called to document its history.”

Last year, in partnership with market developer Seawall Development, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, and the Municipal Art Society of Baltimore City, Lexington Market chose four teams of local artists to decorate its new digs, which, after two years of construction, are slated to open this month between Paca and Eutaw streets near Fayette.



Mount Vernon Records opens as a ‘community store’ for all
by Ed Schrader
Published October 11 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: West Read street retains a quiet mystique which harkens back to early Baltimore days. While walking past the cozy brick and mortar buildings, I spy an old-fashioned pub, a barber shop, a deli, a bakery, and a cafe. This little Mount Vernon enclave feels like something from Rick Steves’ Europe and less like any place else in the city. Nestled amidst the quaint shops is the newly minted Mount Vernon Records and despite a bit of drizzle folks have shown up to celebrate its grand opening on a chilly autumn day. Glizzy’s Hot Dog cart rolls up offering a yummy reprieve from the comparatively chilly weather with mustard, ketchup, or relish.

I find William Hicks, one of the partners in Mount Vernon Records, very busy greeting old friends, patrons, and random folks walking by who are curious about all the new commotion. A smooth R&B number called “Park Bench People” by Freestyle Fellowship pumps out of a mini speaker at the shop’s entrance where artist Tracey D Cooper sits chatting with a friend amongst a collection of his lush and evocative paintings, collages, and prints featuring stoic and mirthful faces staring back at you over splashes of aqua blues, grapefruit pink, black, yellow, and red.



DJ Amy Reid creates musical ‘Utopia’ centered on joy and connection
by Imani Spence
Published October 11 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Imagine you’re sweaty, out of breath and shuffling toward the bar while the DJ is giving the dancers a rest with a slow jam. You’re gathering your wind, maybe ordering vodka lemonade or getting a vital drink of water and then Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine” creeps into the mix. It’s subtle at first, and then all-encompassing, and revives you like nothing you’ve ever felt before.

When you turn to the DJ booth, there is a small blonde person with a sharp bob having the time of her life. It’s DJ Amsies, aka Amy Reid.

Reid has been creating magical dance spaces in Baltimore for years. She’s a member of the band Chiffon, which has been creating electronic pop music and touring since around 2014. She supports other musicians like Ami Dang with keyboard, background vocals and synths. She will DJ your wedding, party, or b’nai mitzvah. She’s also released three projects as a solo artist. “Utopia,” her most recent EP, dropped in early September.



Baltimore’s MICA downsizes as pandemic-related financial problems persist
by Hallie Miller
Published October 11 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, struggling to recover from economic hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, made several cuts to staff and student services ahead of the fall semester in an effort to become financially sound again.

While many public colleges and universities in Maryland have rebounded and are poised to even exceed pre-pandemic enrollment and revenue numbers, the recovery at MICA hasn’t been as strong as expected, president Samuel Hoi told The Baltimore Banner. Total enrollment for degree-earners, once typically about 2,100, has leveled at about 1,900, Hoi said.

The nearly 20 positions cut — representing about 6% of employees — were spread across the college, including in the admissions, communications and president’s offices. Campus amenities deemed non-essential, such as more robust operating hours at the library, also were trimmed. Meanwhile, tuition increased by 3.4% this year.



‘Abundance’ exhibit opens this weekend at the American Visionary Art Museum
by Ed Gunts
Published October 7 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: At a time when many Americans are complaining about inflation and supply chain disruptions and generally not having enough of what they want, the American Visionary Art Museum is opening an exhibit about abundance, as seen by visionary artists both within its permanent collection and new to the museum.

“ABUNDANCE: Too Much, Too Little, Just Right,” is the title of the museum’s new thematic exhibit, which will be open from Saturday, Oct. 8, until Sept. 3, 2023, in AVAM’s main building at 800 Key Highway in Baltimore.

It’s the 27th thematic ‘mega-exhibition’ in AVAM’s history and the first since founder Rebecca Alban Hoffberger stepped down as director and primary curator in April. The curator for the show is AVAM curatorial and development coordinator Gage Branda. Jenenne Whitfield started as AVAM’s new director on Sept. 6, after planning for this show was far along.



Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office abruptly drops case against Adnan Syed of ‘Serial,’ citing DNA of others on victim’s shoes
by Dylan Segelbaum and Tim Prudente
Published October 12 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: With an unannounced, one-minute hearing Tuesday, Baltimore prosecutors abruptly dropped murder charges against Adnan Syed, the man whose case captured worldwide attention with the hit podcast “Serial.”

The move caught the family of the victim, Hae Min Lee, and officials with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office by surprise. They had asked an appeals court last week to step in and halt proceedings in the case.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby appeared publicly in the afternoon and explained the move. She said newly performed DNA tests on Lee’s shoes found a mixture of multiple people — none of them Syed. The test results arrived Friday, she said, and led prosecutors to return to court and formally dismiss the charges by entering “nolle prosequi” — a formal notice from a prosecutor that a criminal case will be ended.



New Exhibit Honors Food and Nutrition Service Workers in Baltimore City Schools
by Madison Bateman
Published October 11 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Despite virtual schooling throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, food and nutrition workers in Baltimore City Public Schools continued serving around 88,000 meals per day. Now, the local unsung heroes are being recognized for that work—in addition to the work they’ve done for decades to bolster school nutrition—in a new art exhibit titled Food for Thought

The Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI) partnered with the school system to celebrate the district’s 573 food and nutrition service workers with the installation, which is on view in the lobby of the Baltimore City Schools headquarters at 200 E. North Avenue (free and open to the pubic during normal business hours) through June 2023.

There, spectators can browse nine worker portraits by local photojournalist—and Baltimore School for the Arts teacher—J.M. Giordano, as well as audio clips recorded by WYPR radio producer Aaron Henkin. This preview exhibition—which can also be explored online—precedes a larger display set to open at the BMI in January 2023, which is set to provide more context about food insecurity in Baltimore, as well as additional information on how the school system addresses the issue.



Commentary: To save lives from drug overdoses, Maryland must lead
by Brandon Scott
Published October 9 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: In 2021, nearly eight Marylanders died each day from an overdose. In my city of Baltimore alone, our community lost more than 600 people last year — a stunningly tragic situation that demands action.

These preventable deaths are the consequences of systemic discrimination and suffering rooted in the war on drugs. Decades of police violence and generations of mass incarceration have pushed people who use drugs into the shadows. Our family members, our friends, and our neighbors are disappearing into social and emotional isolation, where they engage in risky behaviors that put their health and that of others at risk.

But in Baltimore, we’re charting a new course toward proven solutions to address the overdose crisis and save lives.



Wes Moore pays his Baltimore water bill
by Mark Reutter
Published October 11 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: City records show that Wes Moore, the Democratic Party candidate for Maryland governor, and his wife have paid their delinquent water bill to Baltimore City.

The Moores now have a $0.00 balance on the account of their Guilford home, according to an update on the Bureau of Revenue Collections’ online paymentssite that shows a $15,000 “last pay amount.”

Campaign spokesman Brian Adam Jones said the online portal had required multiple payments to cover the couple’s debt, “which is why the website is showing the last payment amount as less than the full balance” of $21.200.26.



:: BONUS ::

Lizzo’s historic crystal flute moment, and why it matters
by Leslie Gray Streeter
Published October 7 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: One of the biggest, most controversial stories last week was that a classically-trained musician played an antique flute. Make that make sense.

Of course, this wasn’t just any musician, but Emmy-winning pop diva Lizzo. The flute in question was a more than 200-year-old crystal model that President James Madison once owned. And some people lost their daggone minds.

Many of those mad about the flute playing by the proud former marching band member and self-described “baddest piccolo player in the land” probably never knew the historic instrument existed before now. That didn’t stop them from acting like Lizzo had rolled up on the Library of Congress, stuck it in her thong and quickly twerked away to her tour bus.



Header Image: Glenn Ligon’s <em>America</em> (2008), courtesy of the Rubell Museum

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