Baltimore Art News: Women Printmakers, New Indigenous Art Gallery, Derrick Adams

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This week’s news includes: BMA announces new exhibition of women WPA printmakers, Baltimore Center Stage + Baltimore American Indian Center announce a new Indigenous Art Gallery, Derrick Adams and The Last Resort Artist Retreat, Baltimore in hip-hop, Honey Chile Fest’s love letter to Baltimore, updates to Artscape, Deep Sugar turns 20, Sam Barskey and his sweaters, an apology from the Smithsonian, Christopher Michael Jensen’s passing, and more reporting from Hyperallergic, Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Banner, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Keith, from Ashley Minner’s Exquisite Lumbees Series, 2010



Margaret Lowengrund. Loading Bricks. 1936. The United States General Services Administration, formerly Federal Works Agency, Works Progress Administration, on extended loan to the Baltimore Museum of Art.. Courtesy of the Fine Arts Collection, U.S. General Services Administration, WPA, Federal Art Project, 1935-1943

BMA to Open Exhibition Exploring the Significant Contributions of Women Printmakers of the WPA
Press Release :: August 23

In 1935, the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP) began offering employment to millions of workers affected by the Great Depression, including a wide array of artists from across the country. Art/Work: Women Printmakers of the WPA, opening at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) on November 5, offers new insights into the vast contributions of women printmakers, who gave visual form to the fraught state of American society throughout the 1930s and early 1940s. Featuring approximately 50 works drawn from the BMA’s extensive holdings of nearly 1,000 prints made by WPA artists, the exhibition explores the importance of these women artists who captured the human faces of industrial and domestic labor—and its inherent racial, gendered, and class inequities—while they used their art to support important reforms led by the era’s growing communist and socialist movements. It also links the economic, social, and environmental crises of that period to the present day, demonstrating the critical relevance of these artworks to contemporary issues. An adjacent gallery highlights how WPA artists—both women and men—used the printing press to oppose fascism, creating work about the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), even against governmental orders. Art/Work: Women Printmakers of the WPA, is on view at the BMA through June 30, 2024.

“For too long, the work of women has been unrecognized and swept under the rug. In this moment when the topic of invisible labor of women and others is receiving critical attention it deserves, I cannot think of a more apt exhibition to engage our audiences on this issue and its histories,” said Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director.” […]



New Indigenous Art Gallery Opens in Baltimore
Press Release :: August 18

Baltimore Center Stage (BCS), in partnership with the Baltimore American Indian Center (BAIC), is pleased to announce the opening of a new Indigenous Art Gallery at Baltimore Center Stage. This gallery showcases some of the region’s finest contemporary local Native American artists, and highlights the core tenets that Native people are still here, Native people are diverse, and that Native art and practices are connected throughout time. The gallery is free and open to the public during regular box office hours at BCS.

“The Indigenous Art Gallery makes erased histories visible while honoring the tradition and legacies of the Piscataway, Susquehannock, Lenape, and Lumbee peoples and the many Indigenous peoples who care for our lands and waterways today,” noted Annalisa Dias, Director of Artistic Partnerships and Innovation at BCS. “We walk in immense gratitude to the Baltimore American Indian Center for their ongoing trust and collaboration on this project and more. We look forward to deepening our collaboration for years to come.”

“Indigenous art embodies decolonization, incorporates history, past, presence, future, family, economically marginalized communities, and confronts environmental issues, through a balance of beauty, tradition and innovation,” said Tomalita Peterson, Executive Board Secretary at Baltimore American Indian Center. “We are deeply honored for this opportunity to work side by side with Baltimore Center Stage  to showcase some of our finest contemporary local Native American artists.”

The new gallery aims to highlight the fact that BCS’ land acknowledgment, a practice of acknowledging the traditional Indigenous stewards of the land on which the theater works at the beginning of public events and in written public materials, is more than just a symbolic gesture; it showcases the vibrant and diverse works of contemporary Native artists in the Baltimore community, highlighting their unique perspectives and creative expressions. BCS has worked with partners at the BAIC to deepen relationships with local Native artists: the gallery features artworks by Baltimore Native artists Judy TallWing (Apache), Ashley Minner (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), Joshua Webster (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), Dean Tonto Cox (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), and Tanelle Schrock (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina).

“Baltimore Center Stage strives to be a crossroads where people from all backgrounds across the many communities in Greater Baltimore can gather and find a cultural home through art. With that mission, we as an institution recognize the responsibility to make this space a place where Indigenous culture bearers, artists, artisans, makers, and their kin can thrive,” added Adam Frank, Managing Director at BCS.

Admission to the Indigenous Art Gallery is free to the public and open during regular BCS box office hours, Tuesday through Friday, 12PM to 6PM.



Derrick Adams, Photography by Schaun Champion

The Big Dreams of Derrick Adams
by Lydia Woolever, Photography by Schaun Champion
Published August 23 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: THE TUCKED-AWAY 500 BLOCK of Chestnut Hill Avenue in Upper Waverly, there sits a radiant dream.

Up a flight of stairs, through a latticed fence, there is a sprawling three-story house that’s as airy and ivory as the cumulus clouds that drift through the sky on this May afternoon. Everything across this one-acre property is the same hue: the walls, the windows, the gauzy shades that hang from the wrap-around porch, and the rocking chairs that encourage guests to stay awhile amidst the freshly planted trees and recently hung string lights of The Last Resort Artist Retreat.

“Your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art,” reads a quote from author Toni Morrison on a letterboard that hangs near the patio, which is surrounded by a lush green lawn and speckled with umbrellas, picnic tables, and one especially alluring hammock. A pink rosebush pops against the milky color scheme, with no city sounds out here in North Baltimore—just birdsong and the breeze.



Most of the top rap artists have nodded to Baltimore in their lyrics. (Yifan Lou for The Baltimore Banner)

50 years of hip-hop and references to Baltimore in songs
by Taji Burris
Published August 17 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: If you want to be a legendary hip-hop artist, it’s mandatory to have some references to Baltimore in your music.

That may not actually be true, but it does seem like most of the top rap artists have acknowledged Baltimore — in some way — in their music.

Why, you may ask? The Baltimore Banner was also curious, so we asked legendary Baltimore DJs Rico “Quicksilva” Silva and Shawn “Ceez” Caesar.

Maybe it’s because Baltimore’s reputation as a staple city in drug trafficking, and some of these artists may have done business here.

“Without incriminating anybody, they really were stopping by,” said Quicksilva, chuckling. “They had a job here, that’s the best way that I can put it.”



Felicia Pride of Honey Chile Fest poses for a portrait (Bria Celeste)

With this weekend’s Honey Chile Fest, local Black female creators send a love letter to their Baltimore
by Leslie Gray Streeter
Published August 18 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: For a woman of a certain age out here in these online dating streets, Felicia Pride’s short film “Look Back At It” is painfully funny, because so much of what 40-something single Baltimore mom Lanae experiences is the stuff of margarita-fueled nightmares.

Even better is recognizing people who look like me on screen in a way I don’t usually see myself. It’s not about violence or crime, but just about normal middle-aged Black lady stuff, with a Royal Farms chicken reference.

And it’s delightful.



BOPA Announces Further Updates to Artscape 2023
Press Release :: August 17

As ARTSCAPE makes its triumphant comeback, illuminating Baltimore from Friday, September 22 to Sunday, September 24, 2023, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is poised to maximize the festival’s urban landscape.

Infusing the city with a kaleidoscope of creative voices spanning diverse mediums, this year’s free arts festival – one of the nation’s largest – is an embrace of innovation. Artscape 2023 will go beyond the conventional and present captivating public art installations that beckon festivalgoers to explore, engage, and be inspired.

“We’re excited to infuse our city with a vibrant blend of artistic voices,” said Todd Yuhanick, Interim CEO of BOPA. “Artscape isn’t just about celebrating art; it’s about fostering fierce connections and sparking new perspectives, especially within our community.”

Among the new perspectives being ignited at Artscape, however, the Station North Arts & Entertainment District will undergo a remarkable metamorphosis thanks to an array of captivating public art installations.

The district’s landscape is being reimagined as a realm of creative possibility, inviting visitors to interact with the work of prominent artists including Derrick Adams, Jaz Erenberg, Erin Douglas, Adam Stab and Maya Hayuk. The artists are set to lead multi-discipline works of art through large-scale, vibrant designs that will adorn the district and its establishments. Three-dimensional works of art, by Saba Hamidi and Scott Pennington, will also punctuate the North Charles Street corridor, offering festivalgoers an opportunity to pause, reflect, and appreciate the exquisite interplay between form and function.

“It’s incredible how something as simple as a mural or sculpture can completely change an environment. This year’s Artscape event has been a wonderful opportunity to showcase Baltimore’s talented artists and boost the city’s creative economy,” said Tonya R. Miller Hall, senior advisor of Arts & Culture for the Mayor’s Office. […]

This year, Artscape received an overwhelming response, with over 1,000 applications from artists, vendors, and organizations eager to be a part of the spectacular event. Returning programming includes the Artists’ Market, featuring 100-plus artists presenting their original, professional-quality work, in addition to the Emerging Artist Program, which is supportingexclusively Baltimore-based artists this year by providing them a free space, tent, and tables to showcase.

Artscape is a rain-or-shine event, promising an unforgettable celebration of art and community. Produced by BOPA, the presenting sponsors of Artscape 2023 are the City of Baltimore, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, and the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). Artscape 2023 is generously supported by AARP, Kaiser Permanente, ATAPCO, PNC Bank, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Aetna Better Health of Maryland, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), NRG, and the Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA). WJZ-TV CBS Baltimore is the official media partner.

Information on navigating and parking at Artscape 2023, programming, logistics, and more can be found and will continue to be shared at and on social media (@promoandarts).



Recording artist, DJ, and Deep Sugar founder Ultra Naté at The Lord Baltimore Hotel. Photo by Schaun Champion.

Deep Sugar, Baltimore’s Traveling House Music Party, Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary
by Teri Henderson
Published August 22 in Baltimore Beat

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.



Audience engagement editor Krishna Sharma interviews local knitter Sam Barsky. (Laila Milevski/The Baltimore Banner. Original images by Getty Images and Krishna Sharma/The Baltimore Banner)

Sweaters, Baltimore and social media fame: A chat with Sam Barsky
by Krishna Sharma
Published August 23

Excerpt: If you’ve been on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve probably seen Sam Barsky’s sweaters. His knitted designs, which range from Baltimore landmarks to the Twin Towers and international locations, have earned him over 251,000 followers and 9.2 million likes on TikTok, plus 229,000 followers on Instagram.

In an effort to unveil some of the faces behind Baltimore’s digital curtains, I’m starting a new series to meet local content creators: Baltimore Online. Who should I meet next? Email me!

I met with the Barsky at the Howard County Library branch in Columbia, where his knitting group meets. Here’s a shortened version of our conversation.



Ales Hrdlicka served as the head of the Smithsonian’s physical anthropology division from 1903 to 1941. (photo via Wikimedia)

Smithsonian Apologizes for “Racial Brain Collection”
by Maya Pontone
Published August 23 in Hyperallergic

Excerpt: Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III has apologized for the museum and research complex’s bleak history of collecting human brains. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the majority of these physical remains had been taken from deceased Indigenous and Black individuals without prior knowledge or consent from them or their families. The investigation was led by Post reporters who reviewed thousands of documented studies, field notes, and correspondences, as well as interviewed over four dozen Smithsonian officials, historical experts, and affected descendants and community members.

On Sunday, August 20, the Washington Post published an opinion piece by Bunch that reckoned with the unethical practices of a former Smithsonian curator. As head of the museum’s physical anthropology division from 1903 to 1941, Ales Hrdlicka “oversaw the acquisition of hundreds of human brains and thousands of other remains,” which the Post investigation found involved the recording and classification of individuals’ body parts by demographic details including sex, race, and age.



Chris Jensen in his North Howard Street backyard. (Christopher Myers/Christopher Myers)

‘Chris da Plumber’: Your poop was his bread and butter
by Rafael Alvarez
Published August 22 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: His family called him “Fish,” an eccentric among eccentrics who, for 67 rollicking years, swam in a school of one. His habitat? Toilet bowls from Reservoir Hill to Dundalk and nearly every block in Charles Village.

Christopher Michael Jensen — “Chris da Plumber” — was a lovable if often cranky goof, as homegrown as a rowhouse tomato plant, as Baltimore as a shirtless man crossing the street with a can of beer in August.

“He was a wild specimen,” said Baltimore cartoonist Tom Chalkley, who drew the plumber with the butt crack logo for Jensen Plumbing. “Intense with a great, quirky sense of humor, a good eye for art and an authentic [white] working-class Baltimore accent.”



Header Image: Header Image: Miné Okubo. The Musician. c. 1938-1941.

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