Baltimore Art News: Fluid Movement, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Ja Rule

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This week’s news includes: It’s all about the infrastructure with Fluid Movement, Smithsonian American Art Fellowship Program receives funding from Frankenthaler Foundation, BOPA rules against Ja Rule, East City Art reviews two DC shows, The Peale’s receives a grant for it’s apprenticeship program, the Poe must go on, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, East City Art, Baltimore Magazine, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Antonio McAfee, Sides of the Rainbow 2, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.


Fluid Movement image: Jennifer Bishop

With good humor and a glittery fatberg, Fluid Movement brings “infrastructure ballet” to Baltimore
by Laura Fay
Published July 28 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: As residents who’ve had their basements flooded with human waste, their intestinal tracts threatened by E. coli and their tax dollars flushed away on ineffective public works projects know all too well, Baltimore’s “aging infrastructure” is not exactly one of its strong points.

On the plus side, however, all this municipal mayhem has inspired art.

Behold the theme of this year’s “water ballet,” mounted by the local performance art group, Fluid Movement: “Sinkholes, Sewers, & Streams: A Water Infrastructure Ballet.”

The show, performed in city swimming pools, takes audience members on a journey as if they were a drop of, well, fluid – from sinkholes to wastewater treatment plants and down sewers and through storm drains into the Inner Harbor.

See also:

With Its Junior Scene, Fluid Movement is Forging Intergenerational Connections
by Grace Hebron
Published July 26 in Baltimore Magazine



Research fellows share new discoveries about artworks on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of a regular series of gallery talks. Photo by Charla Jasper.

Helen Frankenthaler Fdn. Gift Caps $10M Campaign for Smithsonian American Art Fellowship Program
Press Release :: July 31

The Smithsonian American Art Museum today announced a $2 million gift from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation that culminates a major campaign to support the museum’s fellowship program, considered the preeminent program for American art scholarship since being founded in 1970. The gift will establish an endowment to support the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Fellowship in modern and contemporary art and the professional development of fellows at the museum. It is the largest single gift to the campaign and the largest gift ever to the museum’s fellowship program.

The fellowship program is part of the museum’s Research and Scholars Center, dedicated to advancing new scholarship by providing emerging and established scholars with financial support, publication guidance, unparalleled research resources and access to a network of colleagues at the Smithsonian and experts across the field.

To mark the 50th anniversary of its fellowship program in 2020, the museum embarked on a fundraising and awareness campaign to strengthen the program’s future and impact. Other recent contributions to the campaign include gifts from the Wyeth Foundation for American Art to establish, in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Betsy James Wyeth Fellowship in Native American Art for five academic years (2024–2029), and a gift from the artist Audrey Flack to establish the Audrey Flack Short-Term Fellowship, which will contribute to greater equity in the field by supporting researchers whose personal circumstances preclude them from participating in longer-term residencies. Together with support from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, these gifts complete the $10 million goal of the SAAM Fellowship Program 50th Anniversary Campaign.

“Thanks to the deep generosity of supporters like the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, the excellence of SAAM’s exceptional fellowship program and its longstanding role in catalyzing innovative research and new perspectives is strengthened for generations,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The first Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Fellowship will be awarded for the 2024–2025 academic year. Applications will open in September and are due by Nov. 1. Information about how to apply will be available on the museum’s website or via email. […]



Ja Rule performs onstage during the BET Awards 2023 at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

BOPA balks after Ja Rule asks ‘Can I Get A…’ luxury hotel package to perform at Artscape?
by Emily Sullivan
Published August 1 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts attempted to book rapper Ja Rule for a high-profile Artscape performance, but balked after his management added handwritten amendments to a draft contract, according to emails between the city’s events office and the rapper’s management reviewed by The Baltimore Banner.

BOPA offered $75,000 to host the New York City rapper, known for his smash hits “Always On Time” and “Mesmerize” — as well as co-founding the infamous 2017 Fyre Festival that stranded guests in the Bahamas with no food, shelter or concert — the Friday night of the Artscape, but rescinded the proposal earlier this month.

And after the arts organization withdrew the offer, Ja Rule’s management team insisted they had a signed deal to perform.



Jessica Valoris, (right) Small fires and after, Opening Series, 2022. (left) Of stars and seeds, Opening Series, 2021-2022. Images by Luke Walter

by Olivia Niuman
Published August 1 in East City Art

Excerpt: Curators Nicole Dowd and Allison Nance present RE/ENVISIONING, an ambitious group show at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH) Gallery, with six artists who each question, subvert, and re-tell traditionally accepted narratives. The curators make it clear that they are not aiming to replace one dominant narrative with another, but rather to offer up “a mere six stories in a sea of multitudes of lost or suppressed narratives.” Artists Adele Yiseol Kenworthy, Antonio McAfee, Jessica Valoris, Fargo Nissim Tbakhi, Stephanie Mercedes, and Stephanie J. Williams each have their own distinct perspective, but are united in their aim to introduce nuance and subjectivity into the mix, empowering the voices of their ancestors and community members.

RE/ENVISIONING invites viewers to engage with the artwork as participants, questioning their own narratives. As Adele Yiseol Kenworthy asks in a text associated with her work: Do I return to the systems and institutions to find the stories these spaces actively participated in the erasure of them? Do I need to reconcile the memories I’ve inherited with the memories of the colonizer?”



2022-23 cohort of AAA apprentices.

Funding for Accomplished Arts Apprenticeships at The Peale
Newsletter :: July 20

We thrilled to announce that The Peale has received a $25,000 grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority to support apprenticeships in historic preservation and exhibition preparation at The Peale!

Now in its third year, the Accomplished Arts Apprentices (AAA) program, led by the Peale’s Chief Curator, Jeffrey Kent, enables young people and returning citizens from Baltimore’s marginalized communities to earn a living wage while learning transferable skills in art handling, exhibition installation, gallery preparation, and the historic preservation trades.

MHAA’s grant must be matched, dollar-for-dollar, to help us include more apprentices in the 2023-24 cohort. Contact us to learn more about how you can help this game-changing program!



Photo from Poe Fest Intl Twitter page.

Poe Baltimore Receives Major Funding Commitment from Wells Fargo with the Support of La Cite Development
Press Release :: July 31

Today, Poe Baltimore, with the support of La Cite Development, announced that they have received a major investment from Wells Fargo Bank to support the Annual International Edgar Allan Poe Festival & Awards taking place October 7 & 8, 2023.  The commitment of $300,000 over a three-year period will provide for the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum’s largest program, keeping the festival a free community event and premier tourist destination for Poe-lovers from all over the world.

“Wells Fargo’s investment to the International Edgar Allan Poe Festival helps to support and maintain an important institution that not only continues Poe’s legacy, it also promotes the significance of education, the arts, and literature. This is a great opportunity for Well Fargo to contribute to the preservation of a literacy heritage for future generations to appreciate and celebrate,” said Wells Fargo Vice President and Senior Social Impact and Sustainability Specialist, Traci N. Horne. “We believe this is an opportunity for Wells Fargo to help bring excitement and legendary entertainment to a city we have supported over the years. Baltimore has been a city where Wells Fargo has been a pillar for many local nonprofit organizations and now the International Edgar Allan Poe Festival can be a part of our legacy that reflects positive impact for our communities.”

The funds for the festival will assist Poe Baltimore in expanding educational components and providing the festival with additional ways in which to partner with the community to promote art, culture, and literacy.

“We are extremely honored to work with the City of Baltimore, Poe Baltimore, and our local partners to help implement our shared vision of making communities stronger and more prosperous,” said Dan Bythewood, La Cité Development’s President. “Equally so, we are thrilled to have worked closely with Wells Fargo in securing this substantial commitment and look forward to continuing our efforts to building a broader, more inclusive neighborhood.”

Enrica Jang, Executive Director for Poe Baltimore, the nonprofit that maintains and interprets The Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, says this level of funding from Wells Fargo is transformative: “We are extremely grateful for Wells Fargo’s investment in our vision to highlight Baltimore history, gothic literature and art, as well as educational programming.”

The 6th Annual International Edgar Allan Poe Festival is set to take place this Fall, October 7 & 8, 2023. For information about the festival, visit

See also:

Infusion of Wells Fargo funds means Poe Festival goes on
by Aliza Worthington
Published August 1 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Ultra Naté at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. —Photography by Schaun Champion

Deep Sugar, Baltimore’s Traveling House Music Party, Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary
by Teri Henderson
Published July 24 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: With a cursory Google search of “house music in Baltimore,” you’ll see several mentions of men like DJ Spen, Karizma, Teddy Douglas, Jay Steinhour, and Thommy Davis, who formed The Basement Boys in 1986.

But an important legacy is often overlooked: that of two Black women who created an itinerant house music party known as Deep Sugar, which has traveled around the city for two decades and shows no signs of slowing down.

Evolving through multiple iterations and more popular than ever because of the renaissance of one of its founders—singer, songwriter, DJ, and producer Ultra Naté, who scored her first major hit with the house classic “Free” in the late ’90s and last year released her 10th album, Ultra—Deep Sugar will celebrate its 20th anniversary next month. With a party, of course.



Detail view of The last persimmon my grandfather picked, (2023). Cecilia Kim. Photo by Vivian Marie Doering, courtesy of Hamiltonian Artists.

Cecelia Kim when the body becomes dust and settles around you
by Hiba Ali
Published July 31 in East City Art

Excerpt: Absence serves as the doorway that molds grief into the very foundation of home, it is a gateway for processing emotions. We are called to walk through it by entering the doors of Hamiltonian Artists and invited to a four-way conversation between video artist Cecilia Kim’s friends, in her solo exhibition, when the body becomes dust and settles around you.

In Far from Home (2022-23), four staggered television screens feature conversations that are about defining home as a concept rather than a physical location. In this work, home is something we carry with us. It is a connection, a history, and memories, something that becomes layered with multiple movements, something that is reflected across Kim’s many lives across the continents of North America, Asia, and Europe.



Submersive Productions Crosses The Boundary Sept. 1st
Press Release :: July 31

Submersive Productions debuts The Boundary: A Life and Death Experience, an original, site-specific, immersive experience focused on themes of death and grief, opening September 1.

The Boundary invites audience members to tour the research facilities and showroom of a new startup called Boundry, which purports to have developed technology allowing clients to pre-plan and customize their afterlife. In the background of ongoing research and commercial tech activity is the mysterious and sudden disappearance of the lead scientist, which leaves the remaining staff reckoning with loss while struggling to keep the company afloat.

“This started out as a Covid project,” said Kim Le, who originated the concept that became The Boundary and is one of the five Core Team members that helped shape the show from concept to opening. “People were losing loved ones that they could not even visit, let alone mourn in person with family and friends. Our culture already had difficulty reckoning with our own mortality and I wanted to think about how to get people talking about that.”

“The beauty of The Boundary is that it invites you to explore your own relationship with death, grief and loss as you are willing and able,” said Core Team member Josh Aterovis. “But there’s still a lightness about it… and a lot of humor. Humor was the only way we could get through it, really, and that comes through in both the design and the performance.”

The Boundary was devised through Submersive’s own style of collaboration, eschewing the roles of author or director in favor of contributions from a team of roughly twenty performers and visual artists. “So many members of our artistic collective have been a part of building this world, too many to list here,” said Ursula Marcum, Submersive’s Co-artistic Director and Boundary Core Team member. “And we’re so grateful. Many of the contributors serve multiple roles on the production, and all are encouraged to participate in areas outside their designated role.”

The production and process is guided and shaped by a Core Creative Team: Josh Aterovis, Kim Lee, Megan Livingston, Glenn Ricci and Ursula Marcum. They are joined by collaborators Deana Brill (designer), Tina Canady (performer), Tara Cariaso (performer), Marissa Dahl (performer), Jessie Delaplaine (performer), Griffin DeLisle (showrunner), Cori Dioquino (performer), Josh Hne (performer), Vicky Graham (performer), Connor Kertiss (performer), Debra Lenik (production assistance), Karen Li (performer), Betty O’Hellno (performer), Jenna Rossman (performer), and Mara Wild (showrunner). Additional contributors include August Bryant, Juan Jucas, Jacob Marrero, Mika Nakano, and Chris Reuther.

“The show was developed by a very diverse team of artists and the concepts reveal a wide range of spiritual, religious and non-theistic perspectives about the afterlife,” said Megan Livingston, another Core Team member.

Submersive has formed a reputation for taking on dark topics by approaching them with humor, sensitivity, and wild imagination. “When we returned to making full-on immersive experiences earlier this year with Katalepsis, we were heartened to see a real hunger for what we do. That show took on themes of loss and isolation through a far-future science fiction lens. Death can be difficult to grapple with, but we’re approaching it from a lot of angles.” says Glenn Ricci, Submersive’s Co-artistic Director and Boundary Core Team member. “As with all our work, The Boundary tries to meet the audience where they are. We create a world and a set of conditions and from there the journey is largely up to them.”

The highly interactive experience will take approximately 75 minutes, with an assortment of start times available for each evening. Participants enter in “focus groups” of up to seven individuals, and are encouraged to participate at their level of comfort. The top secret location of the Boundry labs is accessible, but it is recommended to contact Submersive Productions for accommodations and special instructions.

Parents thinking about bringing children should gauge their interest and ability to discuss and explore the show themes.

Submersive Productions is a collaborative artworks company that creates original, site-specific immersive works where artists and audiences engage together at the intersection of histories, mythologies and the immediate experience. The company was formed in 2015 to produce the spring and fall editions of The Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe, which earned a Best of Baltimore award for BEST THEATER EXPERIENCE (City Paper). The company has since produced over a dozen original works, including the award-winning H.T. Darling’s Incredible Musaeum in 2017, 2019’s MASS/RABBLE at the Baltimore War Memorial, See Also at the George Peabody Library in 2020, and Katalepsis at the Peale Center in spring of 2023. The Submersive Collective comprises over fifty artists who have become regular collaborators with the company since its inception.

For more information and backstory, visit

See also:

Interactive show “The Boundary” explores death, grief, and the afterlife
by Aliza Worthington
Published July 31 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Historic Parkway Theatre, shuttered since January, to reopen briefly for Artscape, attorney says
by Ed Gunts
Published July 27 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The historic Parkway Theatre, closed since Jan. 2, will reopen for Artscape 2023.

Local attorney Caroline Hecker announced that the landmark theater at 5 W. North Ave. will be opened during the three-day arts festival, scheduled for Sept. 22 to 24 in the Mount Vernon and Station North areas.

Hecker also said the non-profit group that owns and operates the theater, the Maryland Film Festival, is still aiming to reopen the building full-time in the late spring of 2024, a period that coincides with the film festival’s 25th anniversary.



Baltimore’s Next Historical Restoration Project
Press Release :: July 26

The Neighborhood Design Center (NDC), a pioneer in community-based collaborative designs, has been selected to work on restoring the historic Parren Mitchell House, a well-known landmark in Baltimore. The announcement comes as the organization celebrates completing its 4000th project, marking a significant milestone.

The Parren Mitchell House, located in Baltimore’s Historic Upton Neighborhood, is named after the late U.S. Congressman. Parren Mitchell was the first African American elected to Congress from Maryland. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years, from 1971 to 1987. During his time in Congress, Mitchell was a civil rights activist who led a tireless fight for affirmative action legislation. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus and was key in passing important legislation, such as the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.

The Parren J. Mitchell House is significant because it was the home of Parren Mitchell for more than 50 years, from the 1950s until his death in 2007. It represents the legacy of a pioneering civil rights leader and a significant chapter in American history. The structure was built in 1855 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It symbolizes the city’s rich history and cultural heritage and continues to be one of the most photographed buildings in Baltimore. The highly-anticipated restoration project will ensure its preservation for future generations!

The invitation to participate in the Parren Mitchell project could not have been more timely. Founded in 1968, NDC recently celebrated the completion of 4,000 projects throughout Baltimore and surrounding areas.

This inspiring new endeavor is a complete restoration project led by the Upton Planning Committee (UPC) just north of downtown Baltimore City. UPC oversees the landmark Parren Mitchell Mansion which pays homage to Congressman Mitchell as a cultural and political leader.

Once restored, the historic site will serve as an events and retreat center for Baltimore’s Harlem Park community.

Upton Planning Committee Executive Director, Wanda Best, was selected as a co-collaborator on this historic project. For more than 40 years, UPC has been a leading community organization in Central Baltimore, focusing on uplifting the quality of life in the community.

“We are thrilled to have been selected to work on the restoration of the Parren Mitchell House,” said Jennifer Goold, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Design Center. “This project represents an opportunity for us to collaborate with the community and preserve a vital piece of Baltimore’s history. It is an honor to be entrusted with such an important project.”

The Parren Mitchell House restoration project will involve a comprehensive renovation of the property’s interior and exterior design, including repairs to the roof, windows, and other structural elements. NDC will work closely with local stakeholders to ensure that the project meets the needs of the community and is sensitive to the historic character of its namesake.

“We are excited to partner with NDC on this restoration project,” stated UPC Executive Director Wanda Best. “Their commitment to community engagement and design excellence will ensure that the Parren Mitchell House remains a vibrant and important part of our neighborhood for years to come.”

Renovation is expected to begin in the coming months, with completion scheduled for 2024. As NDC celebrates its 4,000th project milestone, this tremendous honor represents an important step forward in the organization’s ongoing commitment to community-led design and development.



Header Image: Antonio McAfee, Sides of the Rainbow 2, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

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