The life of cities entails shifting spatial identities. Everything was once something else, especially where art spaces are concerned. The Maryland Art Place building on Saratoga Street has had many different lives in my time in Baltimore. I specifically remember a short-lived stint as Gallery 788 in which the interior was covered in half pipes for skateboarding and BMX riding. In a previous artistic life, the upstairs floors, including the now-closed Terrault Contemporary, were part of the Rooms Fall Apart, an immersive participatory art experience facilitated by the Copycat Theater Collective.
All that is to say, Maryland Art Place has lived up to its name, and the 2023 Triennial, organized in conjunction with the Maryland State Arts Council, was no exception to this theme of immersion with an impressive display of 81 artists selected from MSAC’s online registry.
Spread over three floors, the 2023 MSAC Triennial replicated the tradition embedded in these past art experiences. Within the buildings’ maze-like corridors there were hidden studios, couches for crashing, and surprising vistas of the Bromo Arts District and surrounding downtown area, giving a glimpse of an older, denser, multi-layered Baltimore where the imagination could play on the rooftops. Because of this immersion, the viewer was only able to linger with so many of the pieces in the exhibition and have a variety of reactions and conversations.