Baltimore News: Phaan Howng, Elizabeth Talford Scott, Open Works

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This week’s news includes: Phaan Howng’s Dinner Gallery exhibition, BMA + MICA’s Elizabeth Talford Scott exhibition + community celebration, Adam Holofcener interviews on Beyond the Studio Podcast, MCHC’s Jim Henson exhibition, Catalyst Contemporary moving out of their space, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Beat, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Installation view “Phaan Howng: I’ll Be Back” at Dinner Gallery, New York, 2022. from Artnet News


Phaan Howng, 2023.

On-the-Rise Artist Phaan Howng’s Lush Vegetal Paintings and Installations Imagine How Plants Might One Day Retake the World
by Katie White
Published May 26 in Artnet News

Excerpt: Once upon a time, maybe in a not-so-distant future, a long-abandoned home found itself slowly swallowed in a camouflage of vegetation. Acid yellow shoots with bright orange markings crept over the home’s fireplace, mantel, and floorboards. Even the paintings lining the walls were subsumed, bearing now only these vegetal striations, their original subject matter obscured.

These enveloping tendrils and vines, one soon realized with surprise or alarm, all led back to a few humble houseplants, who had invaded all elements of the human architecture around them. Suddenly, and much to our shock, an uncanny impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator could be heard throughout the home, saying “I’ll be back”.

This satirical meets science fiction premise was the underpinning narrative of artist Phaan Howng’s debut solo exhibition “I’ll Be Back” with New York’s Dinner Gallery in the spring of last year. And the exhibition did reach nearly cinematic production levels. Through painstakingly detailed installations of hand-painted wallpaper, sculpture, and painting, Howng (b.1982) managed to transform the ground floor gallery into an imagined near-future artifact of a Victorian parlor—a relic in a world now absent of human life and reclaimed by the houseplants people once believed they owned. Howng calls these works “optimistic post-apocalypse” and the titles “make her laugh,” allowing her to deal with such “totally depressing” subject matter.



Elizabeth Talford Scott, Flower Garden (1979-97)

Baltimore Museum of Art and Maryland Institute College of Art Announce Elizabeth Talford Scott Exhibition and Community Celebration
Press Release :: May 26

Twenty-five years ago, the Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) inaugural Exhibition Development Seminar (EDS) organized a landmark retrospective of Elizabeth Talford Scott’s vibrant mixed-media fiber works that brought significant recognition to the artist and modeled innovative community-centered approaches to curation and interpretation.

This fall, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) is partnering with MICA and the Estate of Elizabeth Talford Scott at Goya Contemporary to build upon that legacy with an exhibition guest-curated by MICA Curator-in-Residence Emeritus George Ciscle in dialogue with a new generation of EDS students. On view November 12, 2023, through April 28, 2024, and borrowing the same title as the original exhibition, Eyewinkers, Tumbleturds and Candlebugs: The Art of Elizabeth Talford Scott will feature 20 stunning works by the artist that bridge the gap between fine art and craft. Guided by instructor Deyane Moses, EDS students will lead the organization of the Elizabeth Talford Scott Community Celebration, expanding the recognition of Talford Scott’s oeuvre with presentations of her work at eight other institutions that have a significant history with the artist and/or EDS: Cryor Art Gallery at Coppin State University, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland Center for History and Culture, MICA, James E. Lewis Museum of Art at Morgan State University, The Peale, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, and the Walters Art Museum. These presentations will be on view February through May 2024.

“Elizabeth Talford Scott’s textiles are more than quilts; they are prayer pillows, healing shawls, and family diaries—artistic creations that incorporate her personal symbolism with motifs of Africa and the Deep South,” said George Ciscle, guest curator and MICA Curator-in-Residence Emeritus. “I am delighted that the BMA and MICA are working collectively to give Talford Scott’s life story and works the time and attention they warrant and command, as well as expanding what inclusion in the arts might look like as a sustained commitment.” […]

See also:

MICA and BMA plans Elizabeth Talford Scott community celebration
by Aliza Worthington
Published May 30 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Open Works Releases Maker Policy Playbook in collaboration with Nation of Makers and Open Source Medical Supplies
Press Release :: May 30

Open Works, a nonprofit makerspace in Baltimore city, is excited to announce the publication of the Maker Policy Playbook, now available for download at

In 2022, Open Works led an effort to pass SB453, the Maryland Makerspace Initiative Program. The General Assembly appropriated $5M over five years to “expand or establish” public-access makerspaces throughout the state. According to Legiscan, this is the first bill of its kind in the US. This advocacy effort involved support from many organizations, including the Nation of Makers, Open Source Medical Supplies, and Coppin State University. The grant program based on this funding is being administered by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), and is open for applications through May 31st. The first tranche of grants will be awarded in late June, 2023.

Dr. Stephanie Santoso, Co-Founder and President of MakerUSA notes, “Policy is an important, but often underutilized lever that communities can use to support makers, including broadening access to makerspaces and maker learning. The Maker Policy Playbook is an invaluable resource that makes it easier for organizations, groups and institutions to do this by taking a collaborative, community-driven approach to advocacy.”

The Maker Policy Playbook uses the story of that process to illustrate how to advocate for maker-friendly policies in your community! At the end of the book, an open-source toolkit includes the policy paper, legislation, social media graphics, and op-ed used in our successful campaign. The PDF download also includes hyperlinks to digital copies of these documents to make them easy to remix and reuse in other campaigns.

Modern makerspaces are a fairly young (~20 years) phenomenon, and the press and policymakers have largely viewed them as hobbyist playgrounds or prototyping labs for startups. The collapse of TechShop, in 2017, fueled the view that makerspaces are impractical to use, expensive to operate, and lacking for demand. The Maker Policy Playbook makes the case that makerspaces are an emergent type of civic infrastructure that are absolutely critical to remedying the massive and ever-accelerating tech-driven inequalities that have upended our society over the last 30 years.

“The Maker Movement has had impacts on nearly every sector in society, including education, entrepreneurship, workforce and economic development, the arts, sciences, engineering, emergency response, community resilience, and more. The creation of the Maker Policy Playbook gives everyday makers a concrete toolkit that will expand this approach towards meaningful impact, helping them to advocate effectively for funding and resources in communities around the world,” said Dorothy Jones-Davis, PhD, Chief Impact Officer, KID Museum/Senior Advisor, Nation of Makers.

Our sincere hope is that the Maker Policy Playbook will help spur additional grassroots advocacy campaigns throughout the United States. To that end, Open Works’ Executive Director Will Holman will be giving a webinar on this playbook and process to the MakerUSA Learning Network on Tuesday, June 20th. Zoom link here.



—Photography by Mike Morgan

GameChanger: Rahne Alexander
by Grace Hebron
Published May 31 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Rahne Alexander is a creative polymath—a singer-songwriter, a writer, a multimedia artist, a performer, an activist. And over the last 20 years in Baltimore, the 53-year-old Baker Artist Award winner has used that talent to become a fixture on the local arts scene, where she regularly performs under her musical persona, the 50-Foot Woman, and also contributes to local publications such as BmoreArt and UMBC Magazine. As a trans woman, she’s also a vocal advocate for the local LGBTQ community. Stay tuned for a new EP from her hard-rock band Santa Librada this summer, as well as a solo residency at The Voxel theater this fall.



Adam Holofcener (Audio)
Aired May 2023 on Beyond the Studio Podcast

Excerpt: Hear more from Adam on why understanding the law is crucial to creating the equitable future artists desire, viewing legal writing as a really strange form of poetry, his unique point of view on copyright as both a practicing musician and Executive Director of Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, artist rights within capitalism especially with the emergence of new technologies like AI, and the importance of collective organizing.



Kotic Couture, rapper, DJ, emcee, and host of VERSION. Photo credit: Sydney Allen.

VERSION is a Necessary Space
by Teri Henderson
Published May 30 in Baltimore Beat

Excerpt: For decades, Black queer folks have found solace, release, and peace in nightlife. In Baltimore and beyond, dance floors, warehouses, and clubs provide marginalized people the opportunity to be something that they’re often denied in the daylight: free.

VERSION is a queer and trans dance party by and for Black people, started in 2017 by Jessica Hyman, a Baltimore City-based community school coordinator who was born in Harford County. Also known as “Trillnatured,” she serves as the event’s resident DJ.

But VERSION is more than a dance party. It is an incandescent spectacle to behold, taking place at The Crown in Station North on the last Saturday of every month. In a world that has always been inhospitable to members of the LGBTQ+ community, VERSION is a necessary space.



Kermit the Frog—which was conceptualized during Henson's time at UMD—sits in front of his portrait in the exhibit. —Photography by Grace Hebron

Jim Henson Exhibit Celebrates Visionary Puppeteer’s Legacy—and Maryland Roots
by Grace Hebron
Published May 31 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Whether it’s from watching them chase fame on Broadway, conquer Treasure Island, or explore outer space, most of us are familiar with Jim Henson’s muppets. We’ve just never had the chance to see them up close and personal in Baltimore.

Not until now, that is. Starting this month, a handful of the furry and felt-covered characters will reside inside Mt. Vernon’s Maryland Center for History and Culture (MDCHC), which debuted “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited” last week. On view through Dec. 30, the display yields an in-depth look at the Maryland-raised puppeteer’s universal mark on entertainment, which includes The Muppets franchise, musical fantasy television series Fraggle Rock, and films like Labyrinth.

Created by the New York-based Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), the traveling exhibition highlights 5,000-plus square feet of Henson artifacts like puppets, costumes, storyboards, and sketches. There are also interactive installations, like a space for visitors to host their own “televised” puppet show—a way to explore performance artistry through Henson’s eyes.



Q&A with Rupert Wondolowski: Poet, Bookstore Owner, Dreamer
by Marion Winik
Published May 31 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Baltimoreans know him as the man behind the counter of Normals, a used and rare book and record store at the corner of 31st and Greenmount, also the locus of unconventional and alternative performances, readings, cultural events and political organizing. Founded in 1990 by a nine-person collective (some or all of whom had been part of the “normal” control group in a study of schizophrenia!), three of the original co-owners remain today, though Wondolowski is the only one who works at the store.

This month, his fourth book of poetry, “Dreams Are My Social Life,” comes out from Publishing Genius press, the project of former Baltimorean Adam Robinson, who will be in town for the June 4 launch (details below.) The poems reflect a union of opposites — both relaxed and contained, abstract and down-to-earth, funny and piercing, language-driven and observant. Perhaps all the same could be said of the man himself.

Wondolowski, who lives in the Lauraville/Waltherson neighborhood with his wife Everly, dog Lottie and cats Moonly and Marigold, was kind enough to answer our questions about the book and other matters.



John Waters holds up an honorary degree he received from the University of Baltimore during the Class of 2023's commencement ceremony Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at The Lyric. Photo by Ed Gunts.

John Waters receives honorary doctorate degree from University of Baltimore; pre-sales begin for new book about him and his moviemaking
by Ed Gunts
Published May 25 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: For some time, 2023 has been shaping up to be a year of reminiscence and reflection for writer and filmmaker John Waters, who has a career retrospective opening in September at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles followed by the unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The reminiscing got an early start on Wednesday, when Waters received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Baltimore.

Unlike other institutions that have given him honorary degrees, Waters said in his remarks, he actually attended the University of Baltimore in 1965. He said it was the first place to publish anything he wrote, a piece for a campus literary journal. He also used one of its auditoriums to hold the world premieres of three of his earliest movies, including “Pink Flamingos.”



Catalyst Contemporary is Moving Out of Our 523 N. Charles Street Location
Newsletter :: May 27

With a focus on the long-term viability of representing artists’ careers and after twenty-two in person shows and over fifty individual artists exhibited, Catalyst announces that it will shift its efforts to projects beyond the doors of 523 North Charles Street. The 2023/24 season holds excitement for projects here in Baltimore, as well as in New York, Miami and elsewhere.



Gregory Smith, then-executive director of the Creative Alliance, speaks at the opening of the Creativity Center. Smith has since resigned. Photo by Ed Gunts.

The Creative Alliance is seeking an executive director, following the departure of Gregory Smith
by Ed Gunts
Published May 31 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: For the second time in two years, the Creative Alliance is looking for an executive director.

The 28-year-old arts organization announced this month that its most recent leader, Gregory Smith, resigned and left on May 11, after 16 months on the job. He cited family reasons as the cause for his departure.

When Smith arrived from Minnesota in January of 2022, he was the third director in the Creative Alliance’s history, after founder Margaret Footner and her successor, Gina Caruso, who stepped down in early 2021.



Header Image: Installation view “Phaan Howng: I’ll Be Back” at Dinner Gallery, New York, 2022. from Artnet News

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