Baltimore News: Guarding the Art, Amy Sherald, Elizabeth Talford Scott, and more

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This week’s news includes:  Dereck Stafford Mangus unpacks the BMA’s Guarding the Art exhibition, Baltimore pop-culture is having a moment, the Kinetic Sculpture Race is back (and so is Artscape?), Banneker-Douglass Museum featured in Annapolis’s Up.St.Art Magazine, a review of Elizabeth Talford Scott at Goya Contemporary, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Beat, Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Magazine, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Elizabeth Talford Scott, “Birthday” (1997), fabric, thread, mixed media, 62 x 55 1/2 inches, courtesy of Goya Contemporary Gallery in Baltimore



Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) installation staff hang Sam Gilliam’s “Blue Edge” (1971), selected by security guard and Guarding the Art guest curator Dominic Mallari (photo Dereck Stafford Mangus/Hyperallergic)

We Wanted a More “Punk” Exhibition; The Museum Said No
by Dereck Stafford Mangus
Published April 16 in Hyperallergic

Excerpt: A little over two years ago, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) invited its security staff to participate in Guarding the Art, an exhibition to be curated by guards. In early 2021, we were asked to attend a mandatory Zoom meeting without being informed of the agenda. As they started to roll out the concept, I remember texting my coworker friend (out of view of my laptop’s camera) to see what she thought about the proposed project. “Would you do this?” I had my own reservations as I’m not exactly a group project kind of person. However, we both agreed that it sounded like a worthwhile endeavor. The institution may have its own priorities, but perhaps we could make the show our own somehow.

Over the following year, the 17 guards who elected to participate in Guarding the Art, worked on the various phases of the project: object selection and conservation reviews; exhibition design and installation; research and writing for wall texts and catalog entries; creating public programs and receiving media training. Each guest curator got involved in the process to whatever level they felt comfortable.

The opening reception was exciting: We were wined and dined and felt like kings and queens for a night, momentary art world celebrities. We were proud of our accomplishment and looking forward to its many unfolding phases: the public programs, gallery tours, media spots; the happenstance encounters in the galleries, and explaining the show’s concept to visitors who hadn’t heard about the exhibition. A year later, it all feels like a dream — a dream worthy of recurring.



Production still from the "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 11 episode, "Everyday Icons," 2023. © Art21, Inc. 2023.

‘I Consider Myself an American Realist’: Watch Portraitist Amy Sherald Reimagine Historic Images to Reflect the Contemporary Moment
by Caroline Goldstein
Published April 14 in Artnet News

Excerpt: How do you paint a picture of the life and the people of America? That question is what artist Amy Sherald seeks to answer with her large-scale, striking, and colorful portraits of everyday Black individuals.

Of course, hearing the name Amy Sherald, one immediately thinks of her most famous subjects that define the best and worst of America—the historic portrait of the regal yet approachable former first lady Michelle Obama and the striking depiction of the young medical worker Breonna Taylor, who was murdered in her home by police officers. Both images have become cultural beacons, and throngs of visitors have traveled to museums around the country to stand in the presence of the strong Black women Sherald portrays.

In the first episode of the brand-new season of Art21’s flagship series Art in the Twenty-First Century, viewers get to go inside the studio with the artist, who discusses the influences that inform her portraits, and how she is painting the world she wants to see.

“I consider myself an American Realist,” Sherald said in the exclusive interview. “For me, it means recognizing my Americanness first, and wanting the work to join a greater ongoing conversation.”



Courtesy of Fadensonnen/Lane Harlan

Art Space: Monthly Poetry Series “Hidden Palace” Charms at Fadensonnen
by Grace Hebron
Published April 14 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: At hip beer garden and wine den Fadensonnen in Old Goucher, words and wine collide to bring local poetry lovers a “Hidden Palace.” The series—which takes place on the first Wednesday of the month and is organized by writers Ashleigh Phillips, Joseph Grantham, and the staff at Remington’s Greedy Reads bookstore—gathers writers in the upstairs tavern to share their poems and other compositions of all genres.

“No matter who finds ‘Hidden Palace,’ as soon as the writer starts reading, everyone in the room is ready to listen,” Phillips says. “It never gets old.”

The winner of the 2019 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize for her debut collection SleepoversPhillips says that the event took off in the early days of COVID-19, when she was transitioning from working behind the bar at Fadensonnen to managing its natural wine shop, Angels Ate Lemons. When her book came out, Fadensonnen owner Lane Harlan bought a copy for everyone on staff, and later asked Phillips to curate the reading series after pandemic restrictions loosened.



Elizabeth Talford Scott, “Birthday” (1997), fabric, thread, mixed media, 62 x 55 1/2 inches

Elizabeth Talford Scott’s Quilts Defy the Grid
by Judith Stein
Published April 13 in Hyperallergic

Excerpt: Both Sides Now, the resonant title of Elizabeth Talford Scott’s exhibition at Goya Contemporary, hints at the artist’s uncanny ability to see not only what her materials are but also what they might become. Born on Blackstock Plantation near Chester, South Carolina, Scott (1916–2011) grew up as the child of sharecroppers who worked the same land toiled by her enslaved grandparents. Of necessity, her forebears were past masters at “making something out of nothing,” creating what was needed from what was freely available. It was a legacy that would enrich the creative lives of their descendants for generations.

During the Great Migration, Scott left the rural South and moved to Baltimore, where she worked variously as a domestic, cook, and caregiver. After her daughter left for college, she returned to quilting, a skill she learned as a child. But “quilt” is an insufficient description for the extraordinary fabric pieces she began to construct in the 1970s. Many are in low relief, with puffy compartments or whimsical pockets of pebbles or shells, held in place by repurposed netting she snitched from onion sacks. In others, tangible chorus lines of cloth knots or faux pearls toe the irregular line of Scott’s hand-stitched edges. The airy fringes of wool she favored provided pathways for spirits to come and go, she once told Amy Eva Raehse, Goya Contemporary’s director.



Sean Jones entertained the event guests with soulful jazz trumpet renditions and singer Candice Hoyes’ voice filled the hall with mellow tones. (Brian O'Doherty/for the Baltimore Banner)

The Culture Report: Billie Holiday at the BMA
by Lawrence Burney
Published April 16 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The Baltimore Museum of Art on Thursday hosted a presentation and exhibition by scholars from Johns Hopkins University about the formative years of iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday’s life, which were spent in Baltimore.

The exhibition, “The Birth of Jazz: Billie Holiday’s Baltimore,” comes after JHU’s Sheridan Libraries acquired what is considered to be the most significant collection of Holiday-related archives, including a photo of the singer as a 2-year-old, handwritten set lists for performances and a grocery shopping list written on crumpled paper.

The research is being headed by Professor Lawrence Jackson, a Baltimore native who directs the university’s Billie Holiday Center for the Liberation Arts, which aims to link Hopkins with the city’s historical Black communities.



MANIFEST – Strength in Resistance
by Desiree Smith-Daughtey
Published in Up.St.Art Magazine

From BDM Newsletter: Catch BDM in the latest Spring 2023 edition of Up.St.Art Magazine on stands now.

Writer Desiree Smith-Daughety and Photographer Mary Ella Jourdak captured our current exhibit, The Radical Voice of Blackness Speaks of Resistance and Joy, and the historic wing of the museum wonderfully through words and images.

“Where voices were once raised in song, voices are not expressed through visual works.” Thank you Up.St.Art for capturing the history and beauty behind the work that goes into the museum.



Fifi the dog competes in the American Visionary Art Museum's Kinetic Sculpture Race. Photo courtesy of AVAM.

AVAM Kinetic Sculpture Race to return for 23rd year
by Aliza Worthington
Published April 19 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The American Visionary Art Museum’s famous and beloved Kinetic Sculpture Race will return for its 23rd year on May 6.

AVAM Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield promises it will be “a sight to behold, indeed!”

“Our annual Kinetic Sculpture Race demonstrates the museum’s ongoing mission to support and promote intuitive, self-taught artists and visionaries of all sorts!” Whitfield said. “I stand in awe of the ingenuity that goes into designing and constructing these original human-powered machines. I challenge Baltimoreans and visitors alike to take a break from the daily grind and join us as we witness the creative spirit on full display in these unique mobile sculptures traversing the streets of Baltimore.”



The Muppets Take Maryland: Jim Henson exhibit coming to Maryland Center for History and Culture
by Aliza Worthington
Published April 17 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Searching for how to get to Sesame Street?

Look no further because a traveling multimedia exhibit of the works of The Muppets creator Jim Henson is coming to the Maryland Center for History and Culture (MCHC) next month.

The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited” will be at MCHC from May 26, 2023 until Dec. 30, 2023.

MCHC views this as a homecoming of sorts, and on its website, describes the exhibition as “Bringing Henson Home to Maryland.”

“With his gently subversive humor, restless curiosity, and innovative approach to puppetry, Henson built the Muppets into an enduring international brand, contributed beloved puppet characters to Sesame Street, and made movies that applied his vivid imagination to stories for the big screen,” MCHC writes on their website about the impact of Henson’s work.



(Center) Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Donna Drew Sawyer, then-CEO of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, stand with supporters of Artscape. Tonya Miller Hall (pictured fifth from the right), one of Sawyer's former lieutenants at BOPA, was later named to fill a new role in City Hall, Senior Advisor for Arts & Cultural Affairs. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Arts advocates question whether BOPA should continue to serve as the city’s official arts council
by Ed Gunts
Published April 17 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Local arts advocates are questioning whether the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) is the appropriate agency to serve as the city’s official arts council, with responsibility for stewardship and conservation of the city’s valuable collection of historic and contemporary art.

Mayor Brandon Scott in January expressed lack of confidence in the leadership of former BOPA CEO Donna Drew Sawyer and called for her resignation, which he got.

The advocates, a group that calls itself Friends of Public Art, or FOPA for short, are questioning whether BOPA is the right entity to be in charge of making decisions about Baltimore’s vast public art inventory, or commissioning future works of public art in the city.

See also:

Call goes out for Artscape 2023 vendors and exhibitors; festival is now back to three-day event
by Ed Gunts
Published April 18 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Beyoncé, Lance Reddick, Richard Belzer and Chris Rock are just some of the pop culture figures with ties to Baltimore. (Getty Images)

Baltimore pop culture is firmly in the mainstream. Again.
by Leslie Gray Streeter
Published April 13 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Baltimore’s first big cultural moment was arguably 209 years ago, when a local lawyer, trapped on a ship in the middle of a battle, wrote a poem about his relief at knowing the American flag still waved over Fort McHenry. It was similar to a lot of the artistic splashes the city would make in the next few centuries: dramatic, concerned with race, identity, and sense of place, and more than a little messy.

Since Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” we’ve continued to have big artistic moments that have captured the world’s attention. We’re the birthplace of Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway, of “The Wire” and John Waters.



Header Image: Elizabeth Talford Scott, “Birthday” (1997), fabric, thread, mixed media, 62 x 55 1/2 inches

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