Baltimore News: Raúl de Nieves, Baker Artist Awards Finalists, People of Pride

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This week’s news includes: Raúl de Nieves receives BMA Meyerhoff-Becker commission, 2023 Baker Artist Awardees Announced, “People of Pride” interview series from John-John Williams IV, “spicy” BOPA budget hearings and Todd Yuhanick announced as BOPA interim director, the Honfest–Planned Parenthood controversy explained, new Baltimore Museum of Industry outdoor exhibition, fashion designer Justin Shaw, New Door Creative (gallery) participates in the Atlantic World Art Fair, Baltimore Center Stage announces their new Shared Spaces Initiative, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Magazine, The Afro Newspaper, Baltimore Beat, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Raúl de Nieves. Communidades Visibiles: The Materiality of Migration installation at Albright-Knox Northland (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery, New York.


Raúl de Nieves in his studio. Photo by Ambera Wellman.

BMA Selects Raúl de Nieves as Second Meyerhoff-Becker Artist for East Lobby Commission
Press Release :: June 1

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has named Raúl de Nieves (b. 1983, Michoacán, Mexico) as the second artist to receive the Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission. The commission was established in 2018 to foster the creation of new works by international contemporary artists, cultivate aspiring curators from underrepresented backgrounds through a parallel fellowship, and activate the BMA’s two-floor East Lobby with publicly accessible art. De Nieves is a multimedia artist, performer, and musician who often creates joyful, interactive installations that investigate notions of beauty and transformation. His new work for the BMA will engage with ideas of metamorphosis in the natural world through a 27-pane faux stained-glass window, a multi-tiered chandelier, light box installations, and opulently decorated figurative sculptures. Together, these vibrant works will immerse audiences in de Nieves’ distinctive visual language, which draws on Mexican craft traditions, costumes and adornment, religious iconography, mythology, and folktales. The installation will be on view November 19, 2023, through May 2025.

“As the first named public art commission for a U.S. museum, the Meyerhoff-Becker Biennial Commission supports the BMA’s vision to engage our community with the work of pathbreaking artists and to offer points of creative connection across our public spaces,” said Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “During Mickalene Thomas: A Moment’s Pleasure—the inaugural commission—we saw firsthand how her redesign of the East Lobby captivated audiences and transformed the space into a place of gathering. We are delighted to now have the opportunity to present Raúl de Nieves’ evocative work, which embraces a range of artistic and cultural traditions and speaks powerfully to the experience of change.”

De Nieves’ installation for the BMA will transform the East Lobby with dazzling new and existing works inspired by themes of emergence and becoming. The central component is a 27-pane faux stained-glass window inspired by the wonder, beauty, and chaos of the natural world. The large-scale work will evoke the migratory patterns of Monarch butterflies across the United States and Mexico, a Crested Caracara falcon who came to the artist in a dream, and Brood X (or Great Eastern Brood) cicadas, among other symbolic imagery that reflects wild transformation. This vibrant work will be presented in dialogue with a multi-tiered chandelier suspended from the ceiling that depicts a beaded figure encased in a cocoon, awaiting its future flight. Lavishly adorned bead-encrusted seated figures designed for direct visitor interaction will also be placed on benches on both levels of the East Lobby. Additionally, the artist will create faux stained-glass lightbox installations that continue the theme of the larger window for the front of the East Lobby visitor services desk. This vivid, awe-inspiring space will be further activated through community events.

See also:

Mexican artist Raúl de Nieves to transform East Lobby of Baltimore Museum of Art
by Aliza Worthington
Published June 2 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Finalists announced for the 2023 Baker Artist Awards
Press Release :: June 1

The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund are thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2023 Baker Artist Awards. The 36 finalists were selected from over 600 artists who created a Baker Artist Portfolio in 2023.

The 2023 finalists were selected by an anonymous jury, and exemplify excellence in three areas: mastery of craft, depth of artistic exploration, and a unique vision. Six artists from each of the six artistic disciplines on the website (visual, literary, interdisciplinary, film/ video, performance and music) make up the 36 finalists. All artists who have received a cumulative total of less than $20,000 in previous prizes remain eligible for a Baker Artist Award.

Since 2009, the Baker Artist Awards has distributed $90,000 in annual prize money, awarding over $1.3million to over 150 artists over the past 15 years. The 2023 Baker Artist Awardees will be announced in June, with one artist from each of the six artistic disciplines receiving a $10,000 Mary Sawyers Baker Prize. One of the six selected artists will also receive the additional $30,000 Mary Sawyers Imboden Prize, for a total prize of $40,000—the largest art prize in the region.

The awards in 2023 will represent the 15th year of prizes awarded from the Baker Artist Awards. The finalists, and all of the portfolios can be viewed at

The Finalists for the 2023 Baker Artist Awards are:

Visual Arts: Nancy Linden, Richard Liu, Quentin Moseley, M. Jordan Tierney, Lars Westby, Jowita Wyszomirska

Interdisciplinary: Hoesy Corona, Oletha Devane, Liz Downing, Katherine Fahey, Kei Ito, Fahimeh Vahdat

Film/Video: Marnie Ellen Hertzler, Jonna McKone, Corrie Parks, Margaret Rorison, Russell Sharman, Chung Wei-Huang

Literary Arts: Elizabeth Dickinson, Sylvia Jones, Edgar Kunz, Tonee Moll, Nguyen Nguyen, Heather Rounds

Music: Judah Adashi, Abdu Ali, Irene Jalenti, Mark Navarro, Outcalls Band, Anthony Parker

Performance: Anna Fitzgerald, Christopher Johnson, Colette Krogol, Nicole Martinell, Glenn Ricci, Juanita Rockwel

The Baker Artist Portfolios were created to support artists and promote Greater Baltimore as a strong creative community. The online portfolios are open to artists working in all disciplines who live and work in Baltimore City and its five surrounding counties. The portfolios expose area artists’ work to regional, national and international audiences. The site has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of art lovers, critics, gallery owners, academics, and leaders in creative business in nearly every country around the globe. The portfolios and associated awards were established by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund and are a program of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.



Council President Nick Mosby, left, and Mayor Brandon Scott listen during a Baltimore City Board of Estimates meeting inside City Hall in October. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Mayor, Mosby call to ‘assess’ alternative arts partners after BOPA budget hearing
by Hallie Miller
Published June 2 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Following a spicy budget hearing that turned the spotlight back on the city’s troubled arts council, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, joined by City Council President Nick J. Mosby and City Councilman Eric T. Costello, said late Friday the city would “assess alternative options” regarding the organization’s future.

The trio, in a statement, said that evening’s budget presentation had “intensified and solidified” concerns about the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts’ ability to deliver on its mandate to serve the city’s arts community and stage citywide events. The group is city funded but run by a private board.

“Our trust in them as a zealous advocate for Baltimore’s arts community, responsible steward of allocated funding and vehicle for delivering critical city funding to that community has been eroded by BOPA’s repeated inefficacy,” they said in the statement.



Todd Yuhanick. Photo via LinkedIn.

BOPA Board Appoints Local Documentarian and Film Producer Todd Yuhanick as Interim CEO
Press Release :: June 1

The Board of Directors of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) has appointed Mr. Todd Yuhanick as the interim CEO while the search continues for the permanent leader of the City’s primary arts and cultural presenting organization, Film Office and Arts Council. Mr. Yuhanick’s appointment is effective as of June 2, 2023.

“We’re delighted and grateful to Todd for his willingness to provide the necessary leadership to the dedicated staff of BOPA in this transition period, while also collaborating with our many stakeholders and City leaders to keep arts and culture front and center and provide the support our local creatives need to thrive and contribute positively to neighborhoods north, south, east and west,” said Brian D. Lyles, BOPA President and Chair of the Board of Directors.

“Todd brings a fierce passion for the arts and a keen appreciation for the ability of expansive cultural and artistic programming to lift the sights and prospects of City residents, from youngest to oldest. As we work to strengthen BOPA’s relationships with our many stakeholders, we have full confidence that Todd will provide a steady hand in this interim period and demonstrate a truly collaborative approach in guiding the organization to fulfill its mandate to serve Baltimore’s diverse creative community and produce the celebrated community events that also define our great City.”

Todd Yuhanick stated: “I am honored and excited to take on the role of Interim CEO for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts. Working alongside our incredible team and dedicated Board, and with the support of City leaders, we will support and empower local creatives, collaborate closely with cultural institutions, and ensure that artistic and cultural programming thrives and reaches the widest possible audience in every part of our community.”

Todd Yuhanick (47) was born in Baltimore County and attended St. Paul’s School for Boys. He attended the University of Arizona, though returned to Baltimore prior to the completion of his studies in order to work for T Rowe Price as a Retirement Investment Consultant.

In 2001, Mr. Yuhanick joined his father’s public relations and events firm, John Yuhanick Associates, where he spent the next 15 years in a variety of roles, eventually serving as president and ultimately managing the firm when his father took ill in 2007 and upon his death the following year. He joined Digital Cave Media in 2016, a Baltimore-based video and film production company where he produced “Decanted – A Wine Marker’s Journey,” which was distributed by Netflix beginning in 2017, in addition to collaborating on other documentary and film projects. Notably, Mr. Yuhanick produced “A Path to Follow – The Reddy Finney Story,” a poignant feature-length documentary which premiered on Maryland Public Television in 2019 and which chronicles the legendary headmaster of Gilman School who was responsible for the school’s integration in the 1960s.

In 2019, Mr. Yuhanick joined the local full-service production company Mozell Films as Executive Producer where, among other projects, he produced “Baltimore Hustle,” a pilot docuseries showcasing the stories of five entrepreneurs and their impact on the City of Baltimore. He has most recently served as an executive producer with Lunchbunch Pictures, a film, TV and documentary production collaborative, where he and his colleagues launched the production of “Thank You, Mr. Brown,” a feature-length documentary exploring the transformative influence of a visionary figure on the entertainment industry.

The BOPA Search Committee, comprised of Board members, arts and community leaders, will be reviewing interested and qualified local, regional and national candidates for the permanent CEO position in the coming weeks, following an initial application process that will be made available at BOPA’s WEBSITE. The full position description will be posted on June 12, 2023.


BOPA names Todd Yuhanick to serve as interim CEO, succeeding Donna Drew Sawyer
by Ed Gunts
Published June 1 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Blair and Brandon Dottin-Haley, husbands, pose together for a portrait around Mount Vernon in Baltimore, Tuesday, May 30, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

People of Pride: A look at Maryland’s LGBTQ community
by John-John Williams IV
Published June 5 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: With the LGBTQ community under assault in many states, LGBTQ Marylanders say Pride Month has taken on added meaning this year.

There are an estimated 11 million LGBTQ adults in the United States, with 151,000 in the state of Maryland, according to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law. The community covers a diverse spectrum of genders, identities, races and cultures.

The Baltimore Banner spoke and emailed with members of the community about the meaning of pride and the greatest challenges facing the LGBTQ community. Here are their answers, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.



Could HonFest use a makeover? (Kaitlin Newman)

Does Hampden’s HonFest need a makeover? After Planned Parenthood dust-up, some say yes.
by Christina Tkacik
Published June 5 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: What do you get when you take a long-running neighborhood festival, a polarizing former Hampden business owner and one of the most controversial issues in America today?

The makings of a firestorm, which happened over the weekend when Planned Parenthood of Maryland announced that the organizer of HonFest, a yearly summertime festival on Baltimore’s West 36th Street, had rejected the group’s vendor application.

Behind the call? Denise Whiting, who previously ran Cafe Hon on the Avenue.



Baltimore Center Stage Announces Industry-Leading Shared Space Initiative
Press Release :: June 5

Baltimore Center Stage (BCS) is excited to announce the Shared Space Initiative, a new industry-leading program aimed at creating a more equitable civic arts ecology in the Greater Baltimore region. This initiative will utilize BCS’ largest physical asset – its almost 110,000 square foot building, encompassing all theaters, administrative offices, rehearsal space and costume and scenic shops – as a civic and cultural anchor for Baltimore and the State of Maryland by sharing its spaces, staff time and knowledge, and community connections with values-aligned artists, organizations, and neighbors. BCS will offer complimentary space to community organizations, with associated labor costs paid at-cost or subsidized by BCS and its funders.

“At BCS, we know that for artists and creative changemakers in Baltimore and beyond, access to resources like space, networks, finances, and more is not equitably distributed,” said Annalisa Dias, Director of Artistic Partnerships and Innovation. “We also know this scarcity drives competition rather than collaboration. BCS firmly believes that when Baltimore’s arts ecology wins, BCS wins, and vice versa. Our new Shared Space Initiative will help enrich and solidify our community’s robust cultural economy.”

The Shared Space Initiative will provide BCS space, staff, and other resources to a variety of partners. Over the last few years, BCS has developed relationships with organizations who are now Core Shared Space community partners, including Native American Lifelines, the Black Arts District, and LoveGroove Entertainment. These organizations, whose missions align with ours, receive fully subsidized space for multiple activities throughout a calendar year, thought-partnership and producing support from our staff, and marketing support through BCS’s channels.  This initiative will also be offered to other values-aligned institutions, artists, and events.

These partners will be able to access BCS’ theaters, lobbies, meeting rooms, and other spaces for their events, from meetings to rehearsals to festivals. Through the use of shared space and BCS’ human resources, BCS offers these organizations an artistic home and the support they need to serve their own communities.

BCS has also held a variety of One-Off Shared Space activities throughout the year.  Some examples include an experiential learning visit with dance students at Western High School, the 2022 Baltimore Teacher Network’s Beacon of Light Awards, and Chase Brexton’s 2023 National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day celebration. Thanks to the generosity of BCS’s funders, the theatre is also able to offer subsidized space for all non-profit organizations at a 25% discount from standard rental rates. Partners for one-off events will receive 75% subsidized space and marketing support.

For the last two years, BCS has been piloting the Shared Space Initiative through experimenting with one-off events, conversations with community partners and bringing practices into alignment across staff departments. Over the last two years of piloting this program, BCS has held 21 events, supported 14 community partners and offered hundreds of hours of staff support. These events ranged from the 2023 Womxn of the World Poetry Slam (Black Arts District) to a graduation ceremony for Baltimore’s Native community (Native American Lifelines & the Baltimore American Indian Center) and welcomed thousands of people to BCS, many of whom visited for the first time.

“The new Shared Space Initiative magnifies the role of BCS as a cultural catalyst in support of the powerful creative ecosystem in Baltimore and the State of Maryland,” said Adam Frank, Managing Director. “As a flagship theater, we think it’s our responsibility to act from a mindset of abundance, expanding access to resources that enable artists to flourish and helping build the interdependent relationships that make our communities thrive. For theaters around the country working to support their local community organizations in similar ways, we welcome your thought partnership and look forward to sharing what we’ve learned.”

Any organizations looking for more information on the program and to apply for space at BCS can visit the website here.

The BCS Shared Space Initiative is made possible with the support of the Morris Mechanic Foundation and PNC Bank.



ROY CROSSE Image: Totemic Field, H50 x W40, oil collage and graphite on paper

New Door Creative Spotlights Caribbean Artists in The Atlantic World Art Fair
Press Release :: May 25

New Door Creative announces participation in the Atlantic World Art Fair. Four Caribbean artists will be featured in the Artsy online fair June 1st through June 15th, 2023. The Atlantic World Art Fair (AWAF) is an Arsty online fair dedicated to contemporary Caribbean art from the Atlantic World. Started in 2020 by Black Pony Gallery founder, Lisa Howie, the fair continues to evolve. The eight international gallery partners participating in the 2023 fair event are:

Black Pony Gallery, Bermuda
New Door Creative, Baltimore, USA
Calabar Gallery, NYC, USA
LES ÎLES- Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Natasha Knoppel- Suriname and The Netherlands
Olympia Gallery, Kingston, Jamaica
Readytex Art Gallery, Paramaribo, Suriname
Suzie Wong Presents, Kingston, Jamaica

In the words of Black Pony Gallery’s Lisa Howie: “Our artists are nationals of, or reside in, Aruba, Azores,The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic,French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, US Virgin Islands, and their diasporas. From emerging to established artists, the Atlantic World Art Fair offersa catalogue of provocative artwork.”

New Door Creative joins the 2023 Atlantic World Art Fair with artists representing Jamaica, Guadeloupe, and Trinidad. The artists are Roy Crosse (Trinidad), Helen Elliott (Jamaica), Michael Elliott (Jamaica), and Bruno Metura (Guadeloupe).



Baltimore Museum of Industry Honors Local Workers In New Outdoor Exhibition
Press Release :: June 5

The Baltimore Museum of Industry has unveiled an outdoor exhibition titled Redefining Industry, recognizing extraordinary individuals who are redefining industry with their work and pointing the way to a positive future for Baltimore.

The exhibition, installed along the museum’s Key Highway fence at the junction with Lawrence Street, is now open to the public and free of charge to view.  Featuring portraits by acclaimed local photojournalist J. M. Giordano and quotes about industry from the honorees themselves, the exhibition explores work grounded in Baltimore’s complex industrial past with an eye towards the future. With creativity, commitment, and grit, these workers are contributing to the economic and social vibrancy of Baltimore and beyond, and include:

● Chris Blume (environmental research)
● Scott Budden (oyster farming)
● Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper (media)
● Smitha Gopal (healthcare technology)
● Laura Gamble (finance)
● Janear Garrus (future entrepreneurs)
● Drew Greenblatt (manufacturing)
● Ryan Lynch (maritime)
● Judy Neff (brewing)
● Jaime Windon (distilling)
● Evan Woodard (urban archaeology)
● Ireatha Leona Woods (fashion design)

“Industry is about people–and this incredible group represents such an interesting variety of fields, from banking to bat research, media to maritime. They really are the future of industry in Baltimore,” says Anita Kassof, Executive Director of the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

A soiree was held on May 31 to celebrate the opening of the Redefining Industry exhibition, which will remain up for the balance of 2023.

The exhibition is generously underwritten by PNC Bank.

See also:

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



Justin Shaw is the owner of Shaw’s Covenant, a men’s custom suit company. Shaw started the business with limited experience in the suit market.

Shaw’s Covenant: meet the Baltimore-based tailor serving Baltimore’s elite
by Megan Sayles
Published June 1 in The AFRO

Excerpt: When Baltimore native Justin Shaw opened Shaw’s Covenant, a custom suit business in 2017, he had limited experience in the men’s suit market. At the time he was unhappy as a human resources professional and network marketer.

His best friend, Gilbryonna, who would later become his wife, urged him to choose a career based on his passions. Based on his love of suits– the choice was easy. He opened a professional attire company.

“It’s not a transaction for me, it’s a transformation. The value of the garment for my clients isn’t even necessarily the garment itself,” said Shaw. “It’s the opportunity for them to feel special, important and catered to as men because men carry a lot of responsibility and, oftentimes, get more criticism than gratitude.”



Header Image: Raúl de Nieves. Communidades Visibiles: The Materiality of Migration installation at Albright-Knox Northland (2021).

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