Baltimore News: Rob Sabal, Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown and Charles Mason III, Baltimore Peninsula

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This week’s news includes: Two new Joshua Johnson Council Artist in Residence at the BMA, MICA’s next provost, MAP partners with Baltimore Peninsula, Baltimore dining on the decline, Jonathon Heyward’s vision for the BSO, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Beat, Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Magazine, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: E. Brady Robinson’s Rainbow Over Fells


Image caption: Rob Sabal.

MICA Appoints Rob Sabal as Its Next Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Press Release: May 10

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) announces the appointment of Rob Sabal as the College’s next provost and vice president for academic affairs, beginning on July 12, 2023. Sabal brings 25 years of higher education leadership, with a focus in visual and media arts, to MICA. He currently serves as dean of the School of the Arts at Emerson College in Boston; the school enrolls over 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students, representing 58% of Emerson’s student population. His diverse experience includes chairing the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson, serving as special advisor to the president and head of academic affairs for Emerson Los Angeles and an appointment as an American Council on Education Fellow. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) and was past president of the University Film and Video Association.

“At a time in higher arts education when new thinking and action are needed, Rob Sabal brings to this important role vision and skills that align perfectly with MICA’s mission and strategic directions,” said President Samuel Hoi. “As a collaborative and innovative educator committed to providing diverse student populations with a transformational art and design education, he has a long and rich track record in effectively leading faculty and staff to achieve common goals in service of students and society. He has the humanity, judgment and temperament to confront challenges while working with others to implement positive change. Very importantly, he believes in MICA’s urban anchor work and will play a key role in fostering our many reciprocal collaborations in Baltimore.”

An artist-educator with chief academic, financial and administrative officer experiences, Sabal is as expert in pedagogy as he is adept at a holistic approach to the design, implementation, support and assessment of programs and initiatives. He is demonstrably committed to student support and outcomes, shared governance and faculty development. A humble yet confident leader, he promotes and models civility, generosity and gratitude, and is dedicated to creating a humane and caring community in order to support purposeful work and invite active engagement.

“It is an immense honor for me to join the MICA community at this pivotal time in the College’s history,” Sabal said. “I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with the faculty and staff to create a contemporary art education that will attract students from down the block and around the world. I have long respected MICA’s community engagement – bringing art and design students and faculty together with Baltimore’s civic organizations to advance positive social change – and I’m excited to get to know our partners and the broader Baltimore community.”

At Emerson College, as dean of the School of the Arts, he led a school-wide planning process to develop the school’s agenda, increased interdepartmental collaboration and implemented new domestic and international programs for new student populations. He advocated for the arts on campus and in the community and secured resources, including endowed scholarships, to support both existing and new initiatives. Sabal has significantly diversified the faculty over the years. He led the adoption of the School of the Arts’ DEI plan and launched the Dean’s Fellowship for Racial Equity and Leadership Development for students

Sabal received his Master of Fine Arts in Film and Video, as well as his Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies, from Northwestern University.

During his year-long American Council on Education (ACE) fellowship with the president’s office at Suffolk University, he participated in drafting a new comprehensive university-wide handbook – unifying faculty handbook policies from three schools (law business, and arts and sciences) – and conducted research on online and hybrid learning, the diversification of revenue and innovation in higher education such as new education technology ventures, degree disaggregation, alternative credentials and competency-based assessment. As part of the research, he visited more than 40 colleges and universities world-wide: US, Canada, England, Japan and UAE

In his new role at MICA, Sabal will serve as the chief academic officer, responsible for all aspects of the development and delivery of educational programs, including curricula, faculty, facilities and budget, and ensuring and supporting the achievement and fulfillment of academic excellence across all disciplines of the College.

Sabal is married to novelist and memoirist Mako Yoshikawa and has two children.



BMA Announces 2023 JJC Summer Artists in Residence at MICA: Nicoletta Darita de la Brown and Charles Mason III
Press Release: May 10

The Baltimore Museum of Art, (BMA), Joshua Johnson Council (JJC), and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) today announced Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown and Charles Mason III have been selected for the 2023 Summer Artist-in-Residence program at MICA jointly sponsored by the three organizations. Launched in 2022, the residency program provides selected artists the opportunity to work in MICA’s Fred Lazarus IV Studio Center Studio over the course of six weeks in June and July, allowing the artist to expand his work and scale, as well as embedding himself within the college community. Brown and Mason are both Baltimore-based artists who were selected by a four-panel jury comprised of artists Maia Chao and Jerrell Gibbs and curator Cynthia Hodge-Thorne, representing each organization, as well as James Phillips, the previous JJC artist-in-residence.

“The JJC Artist in Residence at MICA is designed to provide access and opportunity for artists at any stage in their career, to explore, expand, and even resurrect parts of their creative practice in an environment where collaboration is encouraged and opportunities are limitless,” said Antoinette Peele, JJC immediate past chair and executive committee member. “The JJC intends for this initiative to provide long-lasting intergenerational connections among artists in our community, by leveraging connections between organizations to support artists with what they actually need.”



Rainbow Over Fells, E. Brady Robinson

Baltimore Peninsula Partners with Maryland Art Place to Curate Building Artwork to Showcase Local Artists
Press Release: May 3

Today, the Baltimore Peninsula development team, led by MAG Partners, and Maryland Art Place (MAP), announced the installation of original artwork by ten Baltimore-area artists in several buildings at Baltimore Peninsula, the 235-acre mixed-use waterfront neighborhood. Through the partnership, which aligns with the development team’s goal of generating fresh opportunities for the local community and workforce, the artwork has been installed in residential and office buildings, including Rye House, 250 Mission, Rye Street Market, and 2455 House Street.

“Our partnership with Maryland Art Place allows us to showcase and support Baltimore’s flourishing artistic creativity and community,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, Founder and CEO of MAG Partners. “We are creating a true neighborhood that allows Baltimoreans of all interests and walks of life to find their passions and will continue to pursue opportunities like this that support local entrepreneurs and demonstrate our commitment to positively impacting the city.”

“On behalf of myself and MAP’s Trustees & Program Committee members, it’s been exciting to have the opportunity to place artworks in these stunning new facilities at the Baltimore Peninsula. Having the team at MAG Partners understand the rich artistic talents right here in Baltimore is immeasurable. There are so many fantastic visual artists in our city. It was our hope to illuminate that through this collaborative community partnership,” said Amy Cavanaugh, Executive Director of Maryland Art Place.

The exhibiting artists and their artwork represent the best of contemporary arts in Baltimore. Artists include: Laura Amussen, Tracy Barwick, Amy Boone McCreesh, Kevin Hailey, Sookkyung Park, Stephen Reichert, E. Brady Robinson, Albert Schweitzer, Rachel Rush, and Kelly Walker.

“I feel honored to be a part of this cohort of amazingly talented Baltimore artists,” said Artist Sookkyung Park. “It is heartening to know that the people behind Baltimore Peninsula are actively seeking to promote and encourage the local creative community in our city. I hope that through my nature-inspired sculptures, viewers experience the same feelings of harmony and joy that they would feel when they visit the beautiful waterfront so close by.”

“As someone that has been living and working in Baltimore for 15 years, it’s wonderful to see local artists being featured in this project,” said Artist Amy Boone McCreesh.

“My Alcohol Ink paintings create a world of Cosmos and Zen like worlds. They’re made very spontaneously, but with great control and intentional placement,” said Artist Albert Schweitzer. “The colors have an electric energy; they live in a world of enlightenment. I hope the viewer enjoys the harmony and mystery of the floating worlds and orbs.”

The artwork features a diversity of artistic mediums, including alcohol ink paintings, large-scale oil paintings, painted plaster wall pieces, photography, origami, airbrush work, mixed media installation using mylar and acrylics, and more.

Maryland Art Place has a storied reputation for uplifting artists in Baltimore and the greater Maryland area. In 2019, the group partnered with the development and community organizations to curate  “Hanover Street Gallery: Reframing Pathways”, an outdoor gallery space on the Hanover Street Bridge facade.

The Maryland Arts Place partnership and artwork installation at Baltimore Peninsula are the latest developments as the project is quickly evolving from a construction site into a flourishing neighborhood, with over 1.1 million square feet of new office, retail, and mixed-income residential opening this year, and with its first residents having moved in April into Rye House and 250 Mission. The announcement is part of the development team’s larger effort to realize Baltimore Peninsula as a vibrant mixed-income residential neighborhood and thriving business district, supported by waterfront events and activities, new restaurants and social destinations that bring opportunity and strengthen the spirit of Baltimore.

For more information on Baltimore Peninsula, visit or visit on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.



Ricky Johnson, owner and chef at Forno Restaurant and Wine Bar, stands for a portrait inside his restaurant on Monday, March 21. Johnson is one of several property and business owners who say they have concerns about the low levels of foot traffic in the district, which they need to stay in business. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The Dish: Do recent restaurant closures signal trouble in Baltimore’s dining scene?
by Christina Tkacik
Published May 10 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: A family member got a nasty case of COVID last week, right in time for the World Health Organization to declare the global health emergency over.

In a way, it reminds me of the bifurcated reality of Baltimore’s dining scene, which is simultaneously seeing major red flags and signs of recovery. While some neighborhoods, particularly suburban areas, are undergoing a restaurant boom, other eateries continue to suffer from the effects of the pandemic, whether from a drop in demand, the labor crisis, rising burnout or out-of-control food prices.

Just ask Farid Salloum. On Sunday, he is closing down Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen, his charming Locust Point restaurant, for good. It’s a huge loss to the neighborhood, which has relied on Baba’s for healthy, homestyle food for more than 14 years. But Salloum said it was a necessary decision amid increased operating costs coupled with reduced demand.



Jonathon Heyward, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, poses for a portrait at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

BSO’s new music director on jazz, diversity and his favorite parts of Baltimore
by Imani Spence
Published May 5 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Almost 20 years ago, Jonathon Heyward picked up a cello at a free music program in Charleston, South Carolina. On Thursday, he picked up his baton to conduct the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in full for the first time since his historic appointment as music director in July.

Heyward, 30, is the youngest and first person of color to lead the orchestra, which was founded in 1916. His energy is palpable. When we meet, he’s fresh off his debut with the New York Philharmonic. He said it was wonderful; others, including The New York Times, agreed, writing that Heyward’s “reputation for dramatic feeling and attention to dynamics seemed to be well earned.” During a rehearsal Tuesday for his upcoming debut with the BSO, musicians eagerly asked questions during breaks. It was clear there is chemistry in their burgeoning relationship; Heyward speaks their language.



Scenes from the Kinetic Sculpture race on May 6, 2023. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Photos: Kinetic Sculpture Race 2023
by Kaitlin Newman
Published May 8 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: If you’re from Baltimore, you’ve probably heard about the American Visionary Museum’s annual Kinetic Sculpture Race. It’s one of the quirky, weird and wonderful events that make Baltimore the oddball city that it is with each year’s sculptures becoming more elaborate and artistic than the last.

The idea of the Kinetic Sculpture Race has been around since 1969, but didn’t come to Baltimore until American Visionary Museum founder Rebecca Hoffberger kicked off the very first one in 1999. There were only six entries the first year but those numbers continued to increase over time. This year there were 25 entries.

Sculpture participants began at the museum around 8:30 a.m. and kicked off the race around 9:45 a.m. by going down Key Highway, peddling up the hill that leads to Federal Hill Park, going around the park and back down Key Highway. The steep hills on Battery Avenue leading up to the park were no easy feat. Cyclists had to navigate issues such as flat tires, steering, and balance by maneuvering through several main obstacles, including water, sand and mud.

See also:

Photo Gallery: 2023 Kinetic Sculpture Race
by Marcus Dieterle
Published May 8 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Screenwriter Peter Allen in his West Baltimore home. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

From his West Baltimore basement, filmmaker Peter Allen shoots for the stars
by Rafael Alvarez
Published May 9 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Welcome to the subterranean lair of Doctor No near the banks of the Gwynns Falls in Windsor Hills.

Decades ago, the cream of the city’s Black professional class gathered here for good times — eating, drinking and dancing in a classic Baltimore “club basement”; the room lively with lawyers, judges, politicians and the hospitality of Milton B. Allen, the nation’s first big-city African American state’s attorney, and his wife Martha.

Drinks poured by Allen behind the block-glass and stainless steel bar during the “Great Society” of the Johnson administration are now served by his son Peter. A darkroom built by the elder Allen — who put himself through law school taking pictures of weddings and portraits of children — is long shuttered. Near a small kitchen is a row of disconnected rotary and push button phones, one of them panic-button red.



—Photography by Greg Pease

In honor of the Painted Ladies contest turning 25, the Baltimore native photographer shares his coverage of the neighborhood’s colorful rowhomes.
By Grace Hebron | Photography by Greg Pease
Published May 10 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: In the 45 years that he worked as a corporate industrial photographer, Guilford resident Greg Pease—whose family roots in Baltimore date back more than a century—traveled everywhere from Canada to South America to capture the sense-of-place snapshots that he has become known for throughout the decades.

When he would encounter people abroad who had negative things to say about his hometown, Pease made it his mission to “try to dispel the undeserved ideas people had about it.”

Naturally, among the many ways he carried out that goal was by photographing Baltimore’s neighborhoods, and sharing his work far and wide.



Photo courtesy of Baltimore AFRAM's Twitter account

AFRAM Baltimore to award $1,000 grants to organizations hosting Juneteenth events
by Aliza Worthington
Published May 8 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: AFRAM Baltimore is presenting $1,000 grants to nonprofit and community organizations that host existing and established Juneteenth events. The deadline for applications is May 11, and applicants will be notified by May 25 if they’ve received an award.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation legally freed all enslaved people in Confederate states at the beginning of 1863, though the state remained under the Confederacy’s control. Juneteenth commemorates the day of June 19, 1865 when 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas to announce the emancipation of the more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state.

From the Smithsonian’s website, “Juneteenth marks our country’s second Independence Day. Although it has long [been] celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans.”



Maryland Art Place / Maryland State Arts Council Triennial Exhibition Opening May 18
Press Release: May 5

In celebration of the talented and diverse array of artists across the state, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) and Maryland Art Place (MAP) are pleased to present the third Maryland Arts Directory exhibition this month. Held Thursday, May 18 at 6pm, the triennial event will focus on visual artworks, literary works, and performers in the ever growing Maryland Arts Directory, and will be held in tandem with the Bromo Arts & Entertainment District Spring Art Walk.

Maintained by MAP for more than 25 years, the Maryland Arts Directory originated as a regional resource conceived by MSAC. Curators, collectors, and patrons could physically visit MAP to review new visual artworks using slides. As time went by, slides became outdated and an official online resource was created to make access to artworks much more accessible.

The Directory is a free online platform that showcases the high-caliber, diverse, and relevant work of Maryland’s artists and arts organizations and promotes the vitality of Maryland’s arts communities. Collectively, MSAC and MAP aim to present a comprehensive survey of Maryland artists for the Triennial exhibition.

“We are excited to collaborate with MAP and work with these jurors to showcase the breadth and depth of the work of Maryland’s artists,” said MSAC Executive Director Steven Skerritt-Davis. “The Directory as an online resource is invaluable, and having the chance to experience participating artists’ work in person is sure to be inspiring”

This year’s roster of talented jurors includes: Jayme McLellan (visual art) – Founder and Director of Civilian Art Projects; José Ruiz (visual art) – Director and Faculty, Curatorial Practices Program at the Maryland Institute College of Art; Rahne Alexander (performance) – intermedia artist, writer and editor; and Gerry LaFemina (literary) – acclaimed poet, writer, professor and critic.

Past jurors included: Gamynne Guillotte (2016-Visual Arts) – Chief Education Officer at The Baltimore Museum of Art; Dr. J. Susan Isaacs (2019, Visual Art Juror) – Professor, Art History, Curator of the Dept of Art + Design, Art History, Art Education Galleries at Towson University; Jeremy Stern (2019, Visual Art Juror) – Former Exhibitions and Program Manager at the Creative Alliance, Baltimore; Laure Drogoul (2019, Performance Art Juror) – Interdisciplinary artist, Founder 14 Karat Cabaret, Co-organizer Transmodern Festival, Professor-Maryland Institute College of Art; Ada Pinkston (2019, Performance Art Juror) – Mixed Media Artist, Community Artist, Conceptual Artist, Arts Education Lecturer, Towson; and Hoesy Corona (2019, Performance Art Juror) – Independent Curator & Multi-disciplinary artist.

The exhibition will take place on three floors of the MAP building located at 218 West Saratoga Street between Park and Howard’s streets in downtown Baltimore City. Parking will be available at the Arrow garage across the street from MAP and street parking will be free after 6pm. This is a free event.



Artist Colin Williams, who formerly lived in Druid Hill Park, has obtained housing through the city and now lives in a home across the street from his previous park dwelling. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Druid Hill Park artist is on to next project — turning a house into a home
by Jasmine Vaughn-Hall
Published May 8 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Colin Williams can see the sun glisten on the dozens of windows on the dome-like Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory building in Druid Hill Park. He eats fruit on his mattress with blue sheets, takes in the view and people watches.

Not long ago Williams was living in the park, curating an ever-changing sculpture garden and befriending strangers. Many would bring him food, art supplies and other knickknacks during the nearly two years he spent outdoors.

The self-appointed, unofficial artist in residence of Druid Hill Park now has his eyes set on a new muse and journey — making his newfound house into a home. Beyond decorating, Williams is looking forward to taking on the role of a responsible, neat and creative neighbor in Auchentoroly Terrace, a stone’s throw away from the park.



BOPA and the Baltimore Film Office Announce Winners of the Baltimore Screenwriting Competition
Press Release: May 6

The Baltimore Film Office at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) announces the winners of the 18th annual Baltimore Screenwriters Competition. In the features category, first place goes to Michael Harris for “Premium Economy,” second place to Ari Parker for “Under the Moon,” and third place to (BMOREART VIDEO INTERN!!!!) Taja Copeland for “Running Out of Time.” In the shorts category, first place went to Treasure McCorkle for “Reconstruction,” Mecca Verdell won second place with “Beyond Breath and Time,” and Lee Connah took third with “Carpiercer.”

The winners, who will receive cash prizes and Movie Magic screenwriting software, were selected by the competition judges, film industry professionals Nina Noble, Ken LaZebnik, David Talbert, and Annette Porter. The winners were announced on Saturday, May 6 at 12:00 p.m. at the Student Center Theatre at Morgan State University.

The Baltimore Screenwriters Competition is a project of the Baltimore Film Office in conjunction with film programs at Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University. Funding is provided by the Screenwriting and Animation Program and Gilliam College of Liberal Arts at Morgan State University.

Additional support is courtesy Write Brothers, creators of Movie Magic screenwriting software. Submitted scripts receive coverage from students in the Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University screenwriting programs and by local screenwriters and producers. The final screenplays are judged by industry professionals in film and television, including producers and writers working on projects for HBO, Netflix, and others. […]



Header Image: Rainbow Over Fells by E. Brady Robinson

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