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BmoreArt’s Ten Best Baltimore Exhibits of 2022

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While some may claim that 2022 has been a literal parade of never-ending shit shows, when it comes to the arts, the team at BmoreArt heartily disagrees. In Baltimore and surrounding areas, we have experienced a deluge of gleaming, magnificent, achingly good art in 2022. Often, there’s so much that we cannot cover it all, but whenever possible, we recognize the value of these artistic achievements–in our stories, print journals, photo essays, calendar, social media, and events.

Baltimore’s museums, galleries, colleges, artist-run spaces, and universities consistently supply us with exhibitions that challenge our intellect, influence our emotions, and encourage us to participate in creative production. Thankfully for all of us, this trajectory bears no indication that it will change in 2023 and we want to refine our focus on Baltimore, but also continue to expand our coverage to include more Washington, DC-based artists, museums, and exhibits in 2023.

For all those who work in the arts–the curators, preparators, conservators, museum guards, and especially those who fund these projects and artists directly–we thank you for your commitment to excellence and for making Baltimore a rich and inspiring place to live and work.

We want to extend a special thank you to all those who have contributed to BmoreArt as writers, critics, photographers, designers, team members, advertisers, subscribers, and patrons in 2022 for not only recognizing and supporting artistic achievements of all kinds, but in actively BUILDING an inclusive, diverse, rich, and authentic Art History for future generations! What we are doing requires a vast team of dedicated individuals and ongoing support.

If you love what we do, please consider becoming a subscribing member today or making a tax-deductible donation here. We look forward to continuing this work with you in 2023. (Cara Ober)

 

Ten Best Baltimore Exhibits of 2022 (with a few Honorable Mentions):

Alberto Cavalieri at Catalyst Contemporary

10. Have & Have-Not: Alberto Cavalieri at Catalyst Contemporary
Curated by Liz Faust

Through structural forms of concrete blocks, ingots of various commodities, and knots rendered both digitally and in metal, Alberto Cavalieri’s work provides the viewer with a sense of categorical order to the impending fall of humanity.

While the idea that [inept/greedy governments + capitalism = societal collapse] is not a novel one, Cavalieri inquires about our current chaos with an intentionally clean take on the Anthropocene. (Leah Clare Michaels, November 2, 2022)

 

 

Suzy Kopf: Orange Crush at Gormley Gallery

9. Orange Crush: Suzy Kopf at Gormley Gallery, College of Notre Dame in MD

We acknowledge that Kopf has been a significant contributor to BmoreArt for many years, however, this solo exhibit was incredible, ambitious, and informative. Orange Crush was a well-balanced show that references mid-century advertising and marketing materials for what eventually became major orange corporations, like Sunkist.

Using a variety of media—collages, digital prints, and watercolors, as well as a decorative vinyl installation and a faint but pervasive scent of orange—Kopf explores the “mythology erected by advertising, contrasting facade with fact, sometimes within a single work,” as her exhibition statement says. (Rebekah Kirkman, October 5, 2022)

 

 

Luba Druzd Installation at CPM

8. The fields would slowly overtake you: Luba Drozd at CPM

The only thing that physically touches the ground in Luba Drozd’s site-specific installation, The fields would slowly overtake you at CPM Gallery, is you. Sound waves continually bounce off of every surface, however. Created by minimalist sculptures of industrial steel channels and micro motors the artist programmed to control the frequency and speed of their interactions with suspended piano strings, the installation is poetic and intimate.

Whereas an immersive installation at a huge institution might make a person feel small and lost, Drozd’s installation feels like it’s meant to be experienced by one or two people at a time. I feel one on one with the work, which rarely happens in museums. (Elena Volkova, September 7, 2022)

 

 

Sister Corita Kent at Goucher College Silber Gallery

7. We Care: Works by Corita Kent at Silber Gallery, Goucher College

Kent’s primary influence was the world of advertising, and that aesthetic bleeds through the majority white-background graphic works on display at Goucher, forcing viewers to question their origin and purpose. As an educator, Kent practiced what she preached, a fact evident when reviewing works from the short time span highlighted in We Care. Kent’s ability to try ideas in multiple ways, to riff on herself with openness, might also speak to the life she enjoyed, somewhat removed from the pressures of the art world machine.

This was Alex Ebstein’s last show as Director of Exhibitions and Curator for Goucher College, a space with notably high ceilings for a college exhibition space, and the curator has left room for viewers to breathe and space to contemplate the legacy of the protest art created by possibly the most famous American Catholic nun-turned-artist-educator. The show consists of seventeen serigraphs on loan to Goucher from the U.S. Province of the Society of St. Sulpice, the Baltimore seminary that has a large collection of Kent’s work. (Suzy Kopf, November 7, 2022)

 

 

Ex-tend, Ex-cess: Metamorphosis in Clay at Towson University

6. Ex-tend, Ex-cess: Metamorphosis in Clay at Towson University Center for the Arts Gallery
Curated by Sagi Refael and J. Susan Isaacs

Ex-tend, Ex-cess: Metamorphosis in Clay is a compelling celebration of the versatility of ceramics. The sculptures, installations, and video works vary in scale, content, and textures, but an overall unifying theme of action, transformation, and impression is palpable throughout. The genre of ceramics is pushed beyond its expected functional uses into conceptually driven, often abstracted pieces, each well-crafted, showcasing the technique and talent of the diverse artists.

The artist’s gestures, movements, and bodies are deeply tangible in their work. I’m drawn to the transformative aspect of clay and its ability to capture an artist’s unique mark. There seems to be a level of spirituality in the work as an artist becomes embedded in and connected with the material in a very profound manner. The objects in this show push the boundaries of clay into abstraction, while holding onto its direct connection to the land. (Fanni Somagyi, October 5, 2022)

 

 

Baltimore, Addressed (Paintings by Ernest Shaw) at the BMA

5. Baltimore, Addressed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
An exhibit of Baker Artist Award Winners produced by GBCA with curatorial leadership from Brittany Luberda, on view through March 12, 2023

Baltimore, Addressed: Baker Artist Awards at the BMA presents works by five recent awardees “who respond to the past, present, and imagined future of the city.” According to the museum, “Laura Amussen (interdisciplinary, 2020); David Page (visual arts, 2019); Ernest Shaw Jr. (visual arts, 2022); Susan Waters-Eller (visual arts, 2020); and Pamela Woolford (interdisciplinary, 2022) have each created works that speak to their geographic or social experiences in Baltimore. Some delve into the city’s complex histories and challenges, while others celebrate the city’s rich natural and intellectual resources, painting the future leaders of this American metropolis.”

“The Baker Artist Awards celebrates and invests in the careers of artists working in the Baltimore region,” says Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Executive Director Jeannie Howe, just after the opening night celebration on Friday, November 11, which recorded over 600 attendees. “In fourteen years, Baker Artists Awards has given $1.3 million in prizes to 150 artists. Thanks to the Baker Fund, this investment lets artists know that Baltimore is a place that embraces and supports creative people of all kinds.” Since the inception of these interdisciplinary art awards with an inclusive website for artist applications, the GBCA has facilitated this process, part of an ongoing partnership with The William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and Maryland Public Television.

To add context to this exhibit, this is the first time Baker award-winners have been installed in the third floor of the Contemporary Wing, and the third time in recent memory that the museum has mounted a significant exhibition of Baltimore-based artists in this particular space. (Michael Anthony Farley and Cara Ober, November 23, 2022)

 

 

The Guardians at The Peale

4. The Guardians: Reshaping History at The Peale

Baltimore-based public artist Whitney Frazier’s latest collaborative project builds upon nearly two decades of her community-based art practice. The Guardians: Reshaping History is a multimedia artwork that shares the stories of Black women in Baltimore working towards better, healthier, safer conditions in their neighborhoods.

Frazier partnered with photographer and filmmaker Kirby Griffin, who took the eye-catching, banner-sized photographs of these 13 women that are currently on view throughout the Carroll Mansion’s interior, on the mansion’s exterior, and on the front of City Hall. The portraits are lovely, rich in color and texture, and monumental in ways, meant to pay respect to the chronically under-acknowledged work that Black women do to care for their communities. (Rebekah Kirkman, December 17, 2022)

 

 

Oletha DeVane at CADVC, UMBC

3. Oletha DeVane: Spectrum of Light and Spirit at UMBC’s Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture (CADVC)
curated by Lowery Stokes Sims

“I’ve always been fascinated by how materials convey meaning and reemerge as myths and memories,” says Oletha DeVane, a prodigious Maryland-based artist whose prominence has grown significantly in the past few years with a BMA exhibit and acquisition, as well as a recent public art commission at Lexington Market.

Oletha DeVane: Spectrum of Light and Spirit is the first full retrospective of the artist and educator’s work, and traces an extensive career, from her early paintings and works on paper to video, beaded assemblages, and interactive sculpture. Curator Lowery Stokes Sims’ ability to elucidate the essence of her work, as well as the cross-pollination of multiple story lines, offering coherence across a diverse range of media and making the work’s emphasis on spiritual process resonate even more powerfully. (UMBC, through Dec 17, 2022)

 

 

2. Majolica Mania at the Walters Art Museum

This gorgeous exhibit, Majolica Mania, is the result of a near-constant effort by Deborah and Philip English and a number of other enthusiasts to get decorative arts curators in the United States to take this fantastical subset of ceramics seriously.

Mounted at the Walters in collaboration with the Bard Graduate Center, the 350 works seen throughout the museum’s Hackerman House function as a survey of the art form’s breadth and depth. For many collectors, including the Englishes, majolica represents the technical peak practitioners of the craft achieved during the Industrial Revolution, combining never-before-attempted shapes, vibrant glazes, and various themes. (Suzy Kopf, July 18, 2022)

 

Murjoni Merriweather at The Walters

Walters Honorable Mention: Activating the Renaissance Curated by Joaneath Spicer with assistance from Chandi Kelley, this modest but intelligent exhibition smoothly achieves its stated aim. The juxtapositions suggest a range of partial parallels and meaningful differences, centuries-old works read in new ways, and the additions offer a meaty, if occasionally uneven, sampler of recent artistic experiments. (Kerr Houston, May 2, 2022)

 

 

Torkwase Dyson and Mark Bradford at the BMA

1: A Movement in Every Direction: The Great Migration at the Baltimore Museum of Art
Curated by Jessica Bell Brown, BMA, and Ryan Dennis, MMA and on view through January 29, 2023

The artists in this fascinating exhibit, co-organized with the Mississippi Museum of Art, are not only creating innovative constructions and beautiful objects to look at, they’re rewriting history based on research.

As part of this intensive process, the participating artists traveled to ancestral lands, looked up old records and newspaper articles, dug into scrap books and keepsakes in dusty boxes and in attics and basements where objects, documents, and photos of unfamiliar faces were unearthed. The surprises came from revelations about their own family members, from finding stories they always believed were just rumors, and understanding why it all came to happen. The sum total outcome of the exhibit is that these artists, and with them the audiences who see the show, can feel more connected to the past and each other, part of something much larger. (Cara Ober, December 26, 2022)

 

Joan Mitchell

BMA Honorable Mention: The Joan Mitchell Retrospective, co-curated with SFMOMA, was an opportunity to denationalize art history—a massive project that the retrospective’s curators (the BMA’s Katy Siegel and SFMOMA’s Sarah Roberts with the help of a team of researchers) by no means started or fully achieved. (Maura Callahan, June 13, 2022)

 

Salman Toor at the BMA

BMA Honorable Mention: No Ordinary Love: Salman Toor is the artist’s second institutional solo exhibition, showcasing the artist’s separateness and distinction within the deluge of gay male artists creating figurative work these days, Salman Toor stands apart from the crowd.

Toor is complicated—and that’s a good thing. He’s a queer person of color, born in Lahore, Pakistan, and now living in America; his paintings are autobiographical yet steeped in references to classical paintings, and executed with the casual air of an illustrator in his sketchbook. Toor doesn’t use models or photographs as references for his paintings, relying instead on small sketches, memory, and imagination. (Laurence Ross, August 17, 2022)

 

 

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