Baltimore News: Bethesda Painting Awards, Landis Expandis, Planned Parenthood

Previous Story
Article Image

Power in The Flare: Republic of Greatmen

Next Story
Article Image

Gallery Round-Up: Building and Breaking from Trad [...]

This week’s news includes: Nicole Santiago wins the Bethesda Painting Awards, Maria Broom’s former students document her life in film, a fundraiser for Landis Expandis, BOPA and FOPA, the Baltimore Guitar Center in Hampden, Hons stand with Planned Parenthood, Hard Histories at JHU and the Walters, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Banner, East City Art, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image:Nicole Santiago, A Series of Negotiations I, oil on linen, 25” x 31”, 2021. Photo courtesy of Gallery B (BUP).


Grace Doyle, Exit, Oil on linen, 46” x 48”, 2020-2021. Photo: Lauren Castellana, courtesy of G. Doyle.

Painting is Alive and Well: the 19th Annual Bethesda Painting Awards
by Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D.
Published June 13 in East City Art

Excerpt: The art of painting—qua painting, on a flat support using traditional means—has had a number of deaths and resurrections over the past 50 or so years. From its complete nadir around 1970 to the present, these periodic changes have been widespread and easy to document. From the evidence of the high quality work on view now at Gallery B of the winners and finalists of the Bethesda Painting Awards, it is alive and well in the DMV, with a strong emphasis on figuration. And, reflecting other trends, all the winners are women. Of the nine finalists, only three were men.

The first place went to Nicole Santiago who was third place winner in this competition in 2019 with paintings depicting crowded interiors and dreamlike situations, often tense and illogical.[1] From the work in this year’s show, it appears that Santiago has veered away from these narrative scenes in favor of simple realist portraiture, and still lifes that refer to her studio environment. The narratives in these, and their evocation of time having passed (numerous dirty cups, cans of beer, cigarettes stubbed out) is intuited rather than depicted. Santiago is a great colorist and her surfaces vary in paint thickness. She is clearly committed to beginning with an underlying structure to her compositions that is sensitive to the shapes and colors of each object and its relation to the others. She also plays with perspective so that there remains a feeling of imminent change, a liminal state that gives these pictures a sense of life. In the artist’s words, “[my] intuitive approach keeps the image in an extended state of flux…”. This way of working “reveals connections” she says, between the surface image and her painting’s “underlying abstraction,” the latter visible in graphite studies for them seen on her website.



Performer Landis Expandis. (Courtesy of Landis Expandis)

Landis Expandis has entertained Baltimore for decades. Now he needs something in return.
by Taji Burris
Published June 9 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Would you rather be great at one thing or good at many? It’s a question that has been asked over and over again, but perhaps not to Landis “Expandis” McCord, who defies the logic behind it.

Landis Expandis is a Baltimore-based artist who has been a fixture in the creative scene for about 30 years. He takes pride in being well-versed in different forms of expression, diving into lanes of visual art such as painting on top of being a musician and DJ.

Expandis has stayed fresh by constantly reinventing himself. After moving to Baltimore to study painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he first found popularity while fronting the All Mighty Senators band. Since then he has performed with other groups, such as Flo and F City, as well as creating his own act called Landis Harry Larry.

There will be a Landis Expandis benefit show at the Ottobar on July 1.



Stilt walkers move through the street as attendees of Artscape 2019 visit vendor tents. Photo credit: Artscape/Instagram.

Baltimore City Council withholds more than $1.7M from BOPA’s budget for fiscal 2024; no layoffs expected, Artscape and Fourth of July fireworks are still on
by Ed Gunts
Published June 14 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The Baltimore City Council has voted to withhold more than $1.7 million from the fiscal 2024 budget of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA), following a tense June 2 budget hearing during which lawmakers expressed concerns about the way the independent agency was spending funds allocated by the city.

BOPA had requested $2,625,754 to help fund its operations as the city’s events producer, film office and arts council during the fiscal year beginning July 1. Fiscal 2024 is the final year of BOPA’s contract to work with the city.

In meetings Wednesday at noon and 3 p.m., the City Council voted to approve an amendment to the Ordinance of Estimates for fiscal 2024 that temporarily withholds $1,744,002 from BOPA’s budget, leaving $881,752 coming from the city.


‘Deeply, deeply concerned’: After another tense budget hearing with BOPA, city leaders indicate they will explore ‘alternative options’ for funding the arts and festivals in Baltimore
by Ed Gunts
Published June 9 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Press Release :: June 14

While we’re dismayed by the decision of the City Council to again withhold budgeted funding, we are also committed to working collaboratively with the Council and Office of the Mayor to address their concerns and fortify the governance of BOPA in a way that leaves no doubt about the proper oversight of the organization and the fulfillment of its mandate for the benefit of all Baltimore residents. A great many local artists and creatives depend on the support that BOPA provides. Moreover, we have a highly accomplished and dedicated staff that routinely goes above and beyond in order to provide essential resources, as well as elevate and amplify the broader impact that local artists make possible. BOPA fulfills its mission each and every day and the Board will work intently to allay any concerns about the stability or proper governance of the organization during this period of transition.

— Brian D. Lyles, Board Chair & President



Viva Maria! Billboards scattered all across Baltimore, 1973. Courtesy of Gaia Bethel-Birch and Ania Flanigan.

Filmmakers Highlight the Life of Maria Broom
by Jalynn Harris
Published June 13 in Baltimore Beat

Excerpt: Maria Broom, a former WJZ-TV news anchor and actress in prestige television shows “The Corner,” “The Wire,” and “The West Wing,” has been a steward of the arts in Baltimore for a long time. Two filmmakers are highlighting her efforts in a five-part documentary about her life. “Maria Broom: A Documentary,” was directed by two of her former students, Gaia Bethel-Birch and Ania Flanigan. They say that while the work is done, they need funding to help bring the film to audiences.

On a chilly late February afternoon, I had the honor of chatting with Maria. We’d met just after her last class of the day at the Baltimore School of the Arts. She was, in true dancer fashion, adorned in a colorful outfit that moved as easily as the wind. Within the first few minutes of our conversation, I was captured by how she holds herself and the pride with which she speaks of her artistry. She asked that she be referred to as Maria, so that is how she’ll be referred to for this story.

Maria was born in West Baltimore. She was six years old when she discovered she was an artist.

“My mother took me to The Lyric to see the Ballet Rousse de Monte Carlo, which is one of those last big ballets from Europe with huge sets and scenery with spectacular costumes,” she told me. “I remember we got the cheap seats down on the front row. I saw [those dancers] and was like, OK. These are my people. That is where I should be. Up there somewhere.”



At Honfest, Michele Danoff and a friend want it known they stand with Planned Parenthood, whose participation as vendors at the event was initially denied. (Fern Shen)

Amid controversy, support for Planned Parenthood and mixed feelings about HonFest
by Laura Fay and Fern Shen
Published June 11 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: HonFest kicked off in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood once again this weekend, but along with the usual bevy of big-haired, 50’s-styled women going for that kitschy “hon” vibe, many participants were sporting a decidedly different look.

Hot pink “I stand with Planned Parenthood” t-shirts were everywhere. So were buttons bristling with slogans like “Not your body, not your business,” “Stand up for Choice!” and “Against abortion? Don’t have one!”

Michele Danoff went for both looks, proudly displaying a “Bans off my body!” button on her pink flowery blouse, along with a towering purple wig and pink cat’s eye glasses.

“We came to support them,” said Danoff, referring to Planned Parenthood of Maryland and gesturing toward the local salon where the organization had set up tables after being rejected by the event organizers, stirring up considerable blowback.

See also:

Vendors, businesses show support for Planned Parenthood at HonFest 2023
by Dylan Segelbaum
Published June 10 in The Baltimore Banner



Brendon Huffman is shown last year at The Manor, where he was a bartender and manager. Since the establishment temporarily closed in December, he has been working at Guilford Hall Brewery. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)

Gay bars remain closed in Baltimore just as LGBTQ community needs them most
by John-John Williams IV
Published June 13 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: With Pride Month celebrations in full swing, the fate of Baltimore’s gay bars and nightspots remains uncertain just as the LGBTQ community faces a myriad of mounting concerns.

Two of the city’s largest bars and venues — Central and The Manor — remain shuttered, with no indication that either will be open for Pride Week activities this month.

The absence of what many call “safe spaces” for LGBTQ members occurs as they and their rights are under attack by many conservative politicians, activists and commentators.



Seeing Hard History at the Walters Art Museum
by Matt Palmer
Published June 8 in Hard Histories at Hopkins

Excerpt: In recent years, Johns Hopkins University and the Walters Art Museum have undergone similar reckonings with how racism has shaped their histories. During the “Hard Histories: The Walters Art Museum” webinar, which originally aired on March 5, 2023,  I was surprised by the parallels between these two institutions. In the years following the Civil War, a founder of the Walters promoted the Lost Cause myth while at the same moment Mr. Johns Hopkins was founding a university, hospital and orphan asylum.

Both Hard Histories at Hopkins and the Walters are committed to community engagement.  Webinar guest, Theresa Sotto, the Ruth R. Marder Director of Learning and Community Engagement at the Walters, emphasized the importance of community engagement and the power embedded in the stories that institutions tell. Ms. Sotto explained that the Walters aims to give Baltimore community members a more active role in exhibition design and shared the example of the “Activating the Renaissance.” The exhibit paired works by local, contemporary artists with artworks from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, side-by-side in the Walter’s galleries.



Steve Blake is the co-founder of Baltimore Music Company. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Baltimore Music Company is the city’s new six-string paradise
by Al Shipley
Published June 12 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: “I’m not a good salesman, I’ll never be a good salesman,” Baltimore Music Company co-founder Steve Blake said, despite the dozens of impressive guitars for sale adorning the walls of his new business. “I needed to come up with a place that just makes sense, where no one has to lie, and I think we’ll be okay. That was kind of my ultimate goal.”

Blake, 37, has spent most of his life surrounding himself with music, playing in bands, repairing guitars as a professional luthier and giving lessons to novice musicians. Baltimore Music Company, which is housed in the Union Collective building alongside UNION Craft Brewing and Vent Coffee Roasters, is a culmination of his dreams and aspirations for a business of his own, even if Blake speaks of it softly, with self-deprecating humor.



An orange astronaut sculpture at Artscape 2019, the most recent year that the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts held the arts festival. Photo by Tedd Henn.

Local arts advocates would like to see a department of Baltimore City government devoted to arts and culture
by Ed Gunts
Published June 9 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Mayor Brandon Scott and City Council leaders, unhappy with the performance of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, warned after a recent budget hearing that they may “assess alternative options” for funding the arts and producing major festivals in Baltimore.

But what options does the city have for supporting the arts, other than channeling money to an independent organization such as the BOPA?

A local group called Friends of Public Art, or FOPA, is an authority on the subject. Its members say relying on BOPA, an organization that’s not a direct division of city government, makes no sense and essentially leaves Baltimore without a true arts council.



Photo courtesy of Baltimore Museum of Industry Instagram account.

Baltimore Museum of Industry unveils ‘Redefining Industry’ photography exhibition
by Aliza Worthington
Published June 7 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The Baltimore Museum of Industry on Monday unveiled a new outdoor exhibition called “Redefining Industry,” which recognizes “extraordinary individuals who are redefining industry with their work and pointing the way to a positive future for Baltimore,” according to a press release.

The exhibition is installed on the museum’s fence that runs along Key Highway at the junction with Lawrence Street and is now open to the public free of charge.

Portraits by Baltimore photojournalist J.M. Giordano are accompanied by quotes from workers in various industries, including steel manufacturing, fashion design, oyster farming, and more.

“[T]he exhibition explores work grounded in Baltimore’s complex industrial past with an eye towards the future,” musuem officials said. “With creativity, commitment, and grit, these workers are contributing to the economic and social vibrancy of Baltimore and beyond.”



Header Image: Nicole Santiago, A Series of Negotiations I, oil on linen, 25” x 31”, 2021. Photo courtesy of Gallery B (BUP).

Related Stories
Baltimore art news updates from independent & regional media

New fiber art exhibition at the Renwick, The Phillips Collection 2024-25 exhibition schedule, BMA announces environmental initiatives, Charles Mason III, Preakness future, Everyman Theatre's "Midsummer," FPCT's upcoming season, Golden West, and MICA - News from local and independent media sources.

Preakness Photos by E. Brady Robinson

Along with weird horse names and laying a bet, the fashion at Preakness and other Triple Crown races is oddly traditional, a pageant of who's who in pastel suits, bowties, fancy hats, and floral dresses.

The best weekly art openings, events, and calls for entry happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas.

This Week:  Jerrell Gibbs at James Cohan NYC, artists reception + awards presentation for UMBC's 2024 Visual Arts Senior Exhibition, The Black Artist Fair's Grantwriting Basics – The Black AF Edition, Open Critique w/ Schroeder Cherry at Creative Alliance, Arvay Adams opening reception and more!

After 180 applicants, Baltimore's last five mayors have selected their choices for official portraits by Baltimore-based artists

The Baltimore Mayoral Portrait Competition has selected Ernest Shaw Jr., Kennedy Ringgold, Gaia, Megan Lewis, and Karen Warshal for $20,000 commissions