Baltimore News: Myrtis Bedolla, Aaron Maybin, Food Deserts

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This week’s news includes: Myrtis Bedolla makes history in Venice, Native American reflections on Thanksgiving, Frederick Transgender Day of Remembrance, John Waters’ collection at the BMA, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Beat, Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Magazine, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Myrtis Bedolla, founder of Baltimore art gallery Galerie Myrtis. Photo by Grace Roselli.


Baltimore’s Myrtis Bedolla is first Black woman-owned art gallery owner to participate in Venice Biennale exhibition
by Latrice Hill
Published November 18 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The local gallery, which was founded by Myrtis Bedolla, is the first Black woman-owned gallery invited to participate in the Venice Biennale-affiliated exhibition, “Personal Structures: Time, Space, and Existence.” The cultural event, organized by the European Cultural Centre, takes place every other year. It was established in 1895 and attracts up to 600,000 visitors from all over the world.

Bedolla’s exhibition, “The Afro-Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined,” examines how “time, space, and existence serve as the framework for exploring Blackness and its speculative future,” according to a release from the Baltimore Office for Promotion & The Arts.



‘The true meaning is kind of hard’: How American Indians in Maryland observe Thanksgiving
by John-John Williams IV
Published November 22 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Growing up with an American Indian father and a Polish mother, Rosie Bowen immediately saw how different cultures observed Thanksgiving.

The morning of the holiday, she would go to her American Indian grandmother’s home for dishes eaten by the Lumbee tribe: chicken ‘n pastry, an American Indian dish that consists of flat dough noodles and chicken in a sauce, collard greens, cornbread and fried chicken.

“It was more soulful,” the 43-year-old Rosedale resident said, explaining that with tribes such as the Lumbee, whose tribal headquarters are based in Pembroke, North Carolina, traditional foods reflect the southeastern region where they are mostly concentrated. “My Native paternal grandparents house was very different from going to my Polish grandmother’s house.”



Diary of a Mad Black Artist: Latest works by NFL player Aaron Maybin
by Taji Burris
Published November 21 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The face of Baltimore writer D. Watkins is set in the center of a canvas against a red, white and blue background. Two guns on opposite ends point directly at him — one held by a Black hand, the other by a white one. It’s meant to symbolize his inability to escape his environment.

And that’s not the only recognizable face displayed throughout the room. Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are painted against a light-brown backdrop, a small portrait of George Floyd pinned to the front of the left side of Malcolm’s chest.

Toward the back of the room is a painting of Kanye West looking into a broken mirror. Notable quotes from the musician and rapper, who has raised the ire of some for his opinions, are written out like a diary on the painting, chronicling his views on key issues over the years.

The art is the work of Aaron Maybin, part of his latest exhibition, “Diary of a Mad Black Artist,” his first showing in two years because of the pandemic.



John Waters at the BMA: ‘Infecting’ people with contemporary art for seven decades
by Ed Gunts
Published November 18 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Writer and filmmaker John Waters is sometimes introduced as “the one and only,” but he’s the first to say that’s not accurate.

“My father would take difference to ‘one and only,’ because I’m a Junior,” he told Asma Naeem, the interim co-director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, after she introduced him that way this week.

The occasion was a press preview for “Coming Attractions: The John Waters Collection,” an exhibition of 83 works of contemporary art from Waters’ personal collection.

They were culled from a larger group of about 375 works that Waters, a Baltimore native and BMA trustee, has agreed to donate to the museum when he dies. The museum mounted the exhibit, which opens Sunday and runs until April 16, 2023, as a sign of “coming attractions.”



This Cop-Turned-Mentor Opens Doors for West Baltimore Students
by Suzanne Loudermilk
Published November 17 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Former Baltimore City police detective Deborah B. Ramsey has been on a mission to help people for a long time. “I’ve been a public servant all of my professional career,” she says. “That is where I feel my love of community.”

For the past seven years, Ramsey, 71, a Baltimore native, has nurtured more than 150 young people in West Baltimore’s Penn North neighborhood, providing academic support and recreational opportunities at no cost to their parents, through Unified Efforts, a program she founded in 2012.

After 12 years on the force, Ramsey left the police department in 1994 and held various jobs before developing a series of bullying prevention and violence prevention programs that led to the founding of Unified Efforts. The nonprofit organization offers out-of-school activities at summer camps, back-to-school sessions, and during breaks or whenever the kids are out of school for any extended period.



Tired, angry, but hopeful, Frederick queer community marks Transgender Day of Remembrance
by Angela Roberts
Published November 20 in Frederick News Post

Excerpt: Everett Tarmy is tired of fighting.

He is so much more than a trans person, he told a small crowd gathered inside Frederick Community College student center on Sunday evening. He is also a writer. An actor. An artist. A Dungeons & Dragons player, who wants to be an oceanographer and zoologist when he grows up.

Standing before a transgender rights flag pinned to the whiteboard of a classroom, Tarmy — who uses the pronouns “he” and “they” — told the group he wished he didn’t have to speak in front of them.

Not because he doesn’t love them, he said with a slight smile. But because he wishes the day they had come together to observe didn’t have to exist.

“I am 15,” he said. “And yet I have to live with the fact that if I had been born somewhere else, and made the decisions I have to this moment, I may not be alive to speak today.”



Pigtown’s loss of a grocery store, as Locust Point gets a new one, highlights “food apartheid,” critics say
by Fern Shen
Published November 21 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Last week Giant Food trumpeted the opening of a supermarket in one of Baltimore’s more affluent areas, the grocer’s first new store in the city in more than a decade.

The Riverside/Locust Point Giant is to have, along with the basics, a sushi bar, fresh-baked pizza and smoked foods made in-house, including pulled pork and brisket. It will supplement for the neighborhood the Harris Teeter supermarket a few blocks away at McHenry Row.

At the same time, news broke that, about two miles west of the new Giant, Pigtown will be losing Price Rite Marketplace at the Mount Clare Junction shopping center.



We went shopping in a food desert where there is little access to healthy food. Here’s what we found.
by Alissa Zhu
Published November 17 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Joseph Snowden’s two-story rowhome in Baltimore’s Midtown-Edmondson neighborhood is more than a mile away from the nearest food market, where he goes to restock his fridge and pantry.

The 65-year-old lifelong resident of West Baltimore used to be able to drive to Westside Shopping Center, but as the cost of living rose, he struggled to keep up with car payments. Now, he has to rely on others to give him rides or pick up grocery items at the market for him.

The corner stores near his home aren’t an option. Mostly what they carry is “something old,” he said with a laugh. “Nothing fresh.”



Frosh overrules decades-old Maryland laws on interracial marriage, education discrimination
by William J. Ford
Published November 21 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) issued an opinion Monday to formally overrule decades-old decisions that restricted interracial marriage and impaired the doctrine of “separate but equal” in public facilities— especially in public education.

Frosh, who will be stepping down in January after two terms, said the formal ruling reverses opinions from the attorney general’s office dating back as far as 1916 “that upheld or applied racially discriminatory state laws.”

“In years past the Office of the Attorney General issued opinions that upheld racially discriminatory laws in our state,” Frosh said in a statement. “The laws were abhorrent and ultimately held to be unconstitutional. We hope that our opinion today will help remove the stain of those earlier, harmful and erroneous works. We will continue to fight to stamp out racism and hate in all of our work for Maryland.”



Maryland STEM Festival takes on digital equity during Baltimore panel
by George Berkheimer
Published November 22 in Baltimore

Excerpt: Defined as the gap between individuals with and without access to modern communication and information technology, the digital divide makes it virtually impossible for people in underserved communities to fully participate in society.

A group of experts explored the way this divide plays out in Baltimore — where, like much of the surrounding state, around 40% of households lack high-speed internet — during an early November panel at ETC Baltimore. The panel was one of many constituent events during the statewide, month-long Maryland STEM Festival.

Increasingly, the featured panelists agreed, the digital divide prevents opportunity from reaching people who need it the most. Participants identified such contributing factors as the cost of devices, cultural acceptance, systemic racism and trust issues.



Header Image: Myrtis Bedolla, founder of Baltimore art gallery Galerie Myrtis. Photo by Grace Roselli.

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