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Baltimore News: Great Blacks in Wax, the Cone Sisters, Onion Pickles, and the Waverly Book Festival

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This week’s news includes: Reviews of the new BMA exhibition in Artnet News and The Baltimore Banner, National Great Blacks in Wax Museum receives federal funding, Anthony Le at Transformer DC, don’t call them pickled onions, the Waverly Book Festival, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Beat, Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Magazine, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Brittney Howard, who talks about the Baltimore dining scene on TikTok, went viral for her videos about onion pickles. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

 

 

Claribel Cone in Munich, c. 1915-16, and sister Etta Cone in her apartment at the Marlborough Apartments, Baltimore, Maryland. (The Baltimore Museum of Art)

Commentary: Cone sisters brought the modern art world home to Baltimore
by Katy Rothkopf
Published March 31 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Women have been essential in developing and leading the Baltimore Museum of Art throughout its 109-year history. Among the most renowned are Claribel and Etta Cone, two sisters from Baltimore who formed one of the premier collections of modern European art in America.

The Cone sisters are notable for their interest in some of the most progressive art of their time, for supporting numerous contemporary artists and for their dedication to Baltimore. They not only brought together an impressive collection, but through their generous bequest to the BMA, they also played a major role establishing the museum’s national and international reputation.

 

 

National Great Blacks in Wax Museum awarded more than $2M in federal funds
by Latrice Hill
Published March 31 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Baltimore’s historic National Great Blacks in Wax Museum received more than $2 million in federal funding Friday.

U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume and U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen presented a check for $2,008,580 to Dr. Joanne Martin, president and co-founder of the nation’s first wax museum.

Martin founded the facility, located in East Baltimore’s Oliver community, in 1983 alongside her late husband Elmer Martin. The couple planned to “create a museum so powerful, right in the heart of a fragile community in East Baltimore, that people from around the world could understand that communities matter and museums matter,” Martin said.

See also:

National Great Blacks in Wax Museum looks to expand with $2 million in congressional funding
by Taji Burris
Published April 3 in The Baltimore Banner

 

 

Texas Isaiah's "Pelada: Chapter II" at the BMA's new exhibition, "The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century"

The Culture Report: The beauty on display at the BMA’s ‘Hip Hop and Contemporary Art’ exhibit
by Lawrence Burney
Published April 2 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Over the weekend, the Baltimore Museum of Art held an invitation-only preview celebration of its newest exhibition, “The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century,” which coincides with the genre’s 50th anniversary. Co-organized with the St. Louis Art Museum, the exhibit isn’t just focused on the musical components of hip-hop. Instead, it highlights how the music is but one element of a culture in which fashion, photography, literature and visual art all help expand on the stories told through sound and lyricism. And with that framing, “The Culture” takes you on an expansive, rewarding journey through the BMA’s Contemporary Wing. Considering that we’ll have a comprehensive take on the show’s execution in the coming days, I’d like to focus on a singular piece that spoke to me while shuffling through the halls eating complimentary crème brûlée with peppercorn topping.

That would be “Pelada: Chapter II,” from nationally heralded, Brooklyn-born photographer and artist Texas Isaiah. The photograph shows Brooklyn-born Afro-Latina rapper Ms. Boogie perched against a backyard gate, dressed in cut-off denim shorts and a plaid top. Her chin is held high, exuding a regal exuberance. It’s the type of photo you’d want taken of yourself when you’re feeling your most powerful, most ready to go out and face the world with confidence and assurance. This is the crux of Isaiah’s work, which often immortalizes queer Black artists with a refreshing level of intimacy. In the piece’s description, it mentions that the Spanish word “pelada” translates to “naked” or “peeled” and that the photo “bears witness to Ms. Boogie during the conception of her debut album ‘The Breakdown’ which celebrates the transformative and transcendent experience of the evolution of her personhood.”

 

 

Installation view of "The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century" at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Photo: Mitro Hood/BMA.

‘Hip-Hop Is a Canon’: How the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Major Hip-Hop Show Is Bridging the Divide Between Rap and Art
by Miki Hellerbach
Published April 5 in Artnet News

Excerpt: “Hip-hop is a canon. It’s only 50 years old and it belongs in museums,” Asma Naeem, director at the Baltimore Museum of Art told Artnet News. “It doesn’t just belong in temporary exhibitions; it belongs in the permanent collections of museums.”

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of a genre born in the Bronx at a birthday party hosted by DJ Kool Herc, the institution is presenting its first hip-hop-themed exhibition, titled “The Culture: Hip-Hop & Contemporary Art in the 21st Century,” to consider how the form has shaped all manner of cultural production. The show, which opens today, is not alone in commemorating the movement’s 50th year—Fotografiska and the Museum at FIT are also doing so—but it’s one that’s weaving the overarching culture with works of art in a collage of consequential objects and imagery.

 

 

Tom (2022). Art by Anthony Le.

Disruptively Weird: Anthony Le’s “Golden Looking Hour” Exhibit
by April Thompson
Published March 24 in District Fray Magazine

Excerpt: Anthony Le’s “Golden Looking Hour” installation at Transformer is like one of those kitschy lenticular 3D postcards, where the girl winks or the lucky cat waves its paw: You see something different depending on the angle, and it’s a mesmerizing phenomenon. That one is lying down, blissfully asleep. No, now he’s peering over you, in a power stance.

The baker’s dozen of life-sized portraits, casually presented on unframed scrolls against a trompel’œilbackdrop of linocut printed, butcher paper bricks, invite you into their spaces with insouciance. The subjects — a bald, scruffy faced man in Crocs, overalls and sassy glasses holding an equally sassy looking black cat, an androgynous figure whose is face in profile but middle finger fully forward — beckon you to come closer, as if peering out from curtainless windows, while still warning not to jump to conclusions or take them too lightly.

“The engagement is on their own terms,” Le says. “You can’t fully know what’s happening in their world, but if you’re receptive to what they want to say, you will find the interaction more enjoyable.”

 

 

Brittney Howard, 30, of Owings Mills, said people from across the country messaged her about her onion pickles videos. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

Crab cakes, pit beef … and onion pickles? The Baltimore staple you may not know.
by Christina Tkacik
Published April 4 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: I had made a grave error.

“Do you have memories of eating pickled onions?” I asked in a post on the Facebook group “Baltimore Past & Present Photos.” I had shared a photo of a jar of whole sour onions I had purchased at Baltimore’s oldest Italian deli.

I was quickly — and repeatedly — corrected by members of the more than 89,000-person-strong Facebook group: In Charm City, they’re called onion pickles, not pickled onions.

 

 

Waverly Book Festival announces participating authors and booksellers for its event April 28 to 30
by Ed Gunts
Published April 5 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: With just three weeks to go before their event starts, organizers of the new Waverly Book Festival have announced a long list of authors and booksellers who plan to take part.

The festival is being organized by Waverly Main Street, Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, and Peabody Heights Brewery after the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts failed to put on a Baltimore Book Festival since 2019.

“We made a Book Festival, y’all,” Red Emma’s posted this week on Facebook.

 

 

John Waters. Photo by Greg Gorman.

After touring 40 cities in the U. S., John Waters is starting his birthday month in Europe
by Ed Gunts
Published April 3 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: John Waters’ last nonfiction book may be called Mr. Know-It-All, but he admits that title doesn’t necessarily apply when he travels abroad.

“I feel like an idiot when I’m in Europe and everyone speaks one or two or three other languages; I’m so jealous of them,” he recently confided to an entertainment reporter for a Hungarian news site, Telex.hu.

“I am an American, a member of the most stupid people, we don’t even speak English properly,” Waters said, according to an English translation of Telex’s transcript of the interview, which originally appeared in Hungarian.

 

 

Layne Bosserman, a librarian with Pratt, worked as a waitress for the Women’s Industrial Exchange back in the 1990s. She is volunteering with the MWHC to help with the research and oral history. She is pictured outside the historic building on March 29, 2023. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Stories left behind: Who were the women behind the Woman’s Industrial Exchange?
by Clara Longo de Freitas
Published March 30 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The waitresses at the Woman’s Industrial Exchange called Layne Bosserman, age 30 at the time, “the baby.”

She was much younger than the rest of the ladies who were in their 70s and 80s, most of them with decades of seniority working at the industrial exchange — a tearoom and craft store started to promote entrepreneurship among women dating back to the 1880s. They doted on her like she was their daughter. If the bow on her white apron was cockeyed, Miss Phyllis walked out from behind the register to fix it. On her first day, the women in their baby blue uniforms sat with her in the tearoom and went over the name of every customer and their usual order.

 

 

Image via Baltimore Center Stage's Facebook page.

Baltimore Center Stage’s next season to feature productions about Billie Holiday, Cinderella, and more
by Marcus Dieterle
Published March 30 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Baltimore Center Stage’s 2023/2024 season will feature a tribute to a Baltimore-raised jazz singer, a classic fairytale story, an earnestly comedic play, and more, the theater announced Thursday.

The season will be the last one curated by outgoing Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra, who will step down from her role with Baltimore Center Stage on April 1 to serve as the program officer in Arts and Culture at the Mellon Foundation.

“I’m proud to watch the last season I’ll curate come to life under the leadership of my friend, Ken-Matt and the entire BCS team,” Ybarra said in a statement. “This constellation of plays and artists represents so much of what I love about theater; it’s filled to the brim with music, laughter and hyper-theatricality delivered by way of world premieres, fresh takes on classics, local and national partnerships and so much more.“

 

 

Header Image: Brittney Howard (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

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