Baltimore Art News: Artscape, AVAM Director’s Sudden “Departure,” Mayor’s Arts & Culture Advisory Committee, John Waters

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This week’s news includes: The Board of Directors of the American Visionary Art Museum announces the departure of Jenenne Whitfield as director, effective immediately, Mayor Scott establishes an Arts & Culture Advisory Committee, John Waters gets his Hollywood star, High Zero and Charm City Fringe return, what to know ahead of Artscape weekend, André De Shields honored, Derrick Adams in LA, 2023 Trawick Prize winners, Queer-Scape pop-up, funding for the GW Textile Museum,  and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Banner, East City Art, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image:  John Waters’ Hollywood Star Ceremony, Courtesy of @imagerybyoscar/Hollywood Chamber of Commerce



Jenenne Whitfield, AVAM courtesy of Baltimore Magazine

Jenenne Whitfield Departs As AVAM Director
Press Release: September 21, 2023 via AVAM’s Board of Directors

(Baltimore, MD) – The Board of Directors of the American Visionary Art Museum announces the departure of Jenenne Whitfield as director, effective immediately. Ms Whitfield assumed leadership of the Congressionally-Designated National Museum & Education Center for intuitive artists, creatives and visionaries in September, 2022.

The Board has further defined a shared leadership structure on an interim basis for the remainder of 2023 and 2024. Donna Katrinic, Director of Finance & Operations, will share responsibilities for the day-to-day operations of AVAM with Director of Development & Marketing Valerie Williams. AVAM’s Founder and past Director Rebecca Hoffberger has agreed to return to AVAM in this period as Artistic Director to assist with curation and also support the further development of AVAM’s endowment. In the coming days, the Board will commence with the formation of a search committee and begin defining the process for the selection of AVAM’s next director.

Christopher Goelet, Chair of the Board of Directors stated: “After an extensive review of issues essential to the strategic growth of AVAM, the Board of Directors decided to part ways with Jenenne Whitfield as director. While deeply unfortunate, the Board nonetheless appreciates Ms. Whitfield’s contributions over the past year and wishes her well in her future endeavors. In this interim period, AVAM is in very capable hands with the shared leadership structure we have put in place and we have full confidence in the dedicated professional staff who have helped to make AVAM among the most acclaimed museums in the country and the number one tourist destination of Baltimore. We will be communicating further as developments warrant and invite all to experience AVAM’s upcoming Mega-exhibition, “If You Build It, They Will Come,” opening October 7, 2023 through September 1, 2024.”



Mayor Scott Issues Executive Order Establishing Arts & Culture Advisory Committee
Press Release :: September 19

Today, during ‘Arts and Culture Week, Mayor Brandon M. Scott issued an executive order to establish the Mayor’s Arts & Culture Advisory Committee.  The 23-member body will serve in an advisory capacity, providing guidance, recommendations, and support to the Mayor, City Council, and Senior Advisor of Arts & Culture in Baltimore City on matters involving and pertaining to arts and culture.

In an effort to cultivate and support Baltimore’s rich longstanding artistic and cultural history, Mayor Scott seeks to nurture an economy that prioritizes and retains artists and preserves culture. Therefore, the advisory committee will recommend methods and pathways to support local artists, entrepreneurs, and other creative professionals while also promoting the growth and sustainability of the arts and cultural sector for all who live, work, and play in and around Baltimore.

“The Arts & Culture Advisory Committee will champion the importance of arts and culture in our city, advocating for increased support, funding, and resources for the creative community,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “I’m thrilled we have a group of dedicated and passionate art professionals and enthusiasts who will be instrumental in supporting our local artists and organizations, and the coordination of cultural events that showcase our city’s talent and heritage.”

According to the Executive Order, the Mayor appoints 20 members to the committee, while the City Council President and Comptroller appoint the remaining three seats on the committee.

Confirmed members of the Mayor’s Arts & Culture Advisory Committee include:

  • Derrick Adams, Contemporary Artist and the Last Resort Artist Retreat
  • Sean Brescia, Mission Media
  • Nicholas Cohen, Maryland Citizens for the Arts
  • Terri Freeman, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture
  • Amy Burke Friedman, PROFILES
  • Stacy Handler, Bloom Arts Strategy
  • Jeannie Howe, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance
  • Eze Jackson, Artist
  • Mary Ann Mears, Sculptor and Public Art Advocate
  • Robyn Murphy, JRM Consultancy
  • Cara Ober, BmoreArt
  • Wendel Patrick, Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute
  • Ernest Shaw Jr., Contemporary Artist
  • Jessica Solomon, Art in Praxis
  • Eric Souza, Midtown Community Benefits District
  • DJ Tanz, DJ, Event Producer, and Baltimore Influencer
  • Thea Washington, Thea Washington Casting
  • Jenenne Whitfield, American Visionary Art Museum and The Heidelberg Project

“Baltimore is entrenched with talent,” said committee member Derrick Adams. “However, nearly 30 years ago, I left Baltimore to pursue a career in the arts. While my path in pursuit of my passion was destined and I am ever-grateful for my journey over the past three decades, it is important to me that we create spaces in Baltimore that nurture and retain the City’s talent.”

The Scott Administration remains committed to prioritizing and promoting arts and culture in Baltimore through economic development, policy recommendations, community engagement, and education and outreach, as well as cultural heritage preservation and public art initiatives. The creation of the advisory committee reinforces that commitment, and further guides and influences efforts toward realizing these objectives.



Waters holds a framed photo of his parents after being presented with his star. —Courtesy of @imagerybyoscar/Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

John Waters Gets His Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
by Ed Gunts
Published September 19 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Baltimore writer and filmmaker John Waters got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday, the capstone to a week of West Coast parties and tributes that he called “the ultimate Dreamland reunion.”

Hundreds crowded onto the narrow sidewalk in front of Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard—and behind barriers across the street—to watch the newest Hall of Famer get his star and hear accolades from actresses Mink Stole and Ricki Lake, as well as photographer Greg Gorman.

Women wore cat eye glasses and leopard-skin leggings. Men came in Camp John Waters T-shirts and Pink Flamingo-print pants. One fan held up a poster of the famous Hollywood sign, except that the letters read “Filthywood.” Emcee Steve Nissen, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, proclaimed September 18 “John Waters Day” and gave a shoutout to fans back in Baltimore, watching live-streams of the ceremony at the Charles and Senator theaters.

See also:

John Waters’ faithful flock to Senator and Charles theaters for livestream of Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony
by Aliza Worthington
Published September 19 in Baltimore Fishbowl

As John Waters gets his star on Hollywood Boulevard, fans in Baltimore toast the ‘Pope of Trash’
by Lillian Reed
Published September 18 in The Baltimore Banner



Susan Alcorn of Baltimore plays alongside Alabama’s Alvin Fielder at a previous High Zero Festival. (Stewart Mostofsky)

The High Zero Festival has one request for its musicians: Come completely unprepared
by Al Shipley
Published September 19 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: “The thing about High Zero is that, in theory, you should really, really go with an open mind,” says musician Tom Boram.

For the 25th year in a row, the High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music will convene for five concerts over four days with musicians of every conceivable discipline from Baltimore, across America and abroad, arranged into unique combinations that have never existed before and may never exist again. That means, for both the performer and the audience, it’s best to rid yourself of any preconceptions of what music is or should be, and just see what unfolds on the stage at the Theater Project in midtown.

In a typical High Zero set, two to five musicians (who may not have even met beforehand) will form a temporary band and try to make a sound nobody’s ever made, listening to each other and exploring the possibilities for roughly 20 minutes. One such set on Thursday, the opening night of this year’s festival, will consist of Simone Baron on accordion, Emily Rach Beisel on woodwinds and electronics, Toshi Makihara on percussion and Chris Taylor on guitar and percussion. A series of guerilla street performances, dubbed High Jinx, will run concurrently throughout the city, so you may run into the festival even without buying a ticket.



Photo from Charm City Fringe Instagram page.

Charm City Fringe Festival is back after 3-year hiatus
by Aliza Worthington
Published September 14 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Charm City Fringe Festival will return this fall after a three-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Running from Sept. 29 through Oct. 8, the festival will take place in the Bromo Arts District with performances by artists from around the world and locally. This will be their first full-scale event since 2019.

“This homegrown festival is more than just a celebration of arts; it’s a reunion that celebrates our community’s spirit and resilience,” reads the press release announcing the Fringe Festival’s return.



Tonya Miller Hall, left, the senior adviser for arts and cultural affairs with the mayor’s office, and interim BOPA CEO Todd Yuhanick. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Artscape organizers push on despite tumult, ‘haters’ and a changing music lineup
by Wesley Case
Published September 19 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The long road back to Artscape has been littered by potholes and detours.

The country’s largest free arts festival, an annual Baltimore tradition since 1982 that attracts thousands each year, has seen upheaval and tumult ahead of its return Friday, the end of a three-year absence prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Artscape and its organizer, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, have attracted plenty of skepticism and ridicule on social media along the bumpy way.

With such scrutiny and curiosity surrounding a signature event for the city, it’s Todd Yuhanick’s job to lead Artscape back to prominence and many locals’ good graces. It’s also a role that the BOPA interim chief executive aims to make permanent: He wants the job going forward.

See also:

Artscape 2023: Baltimore road closures and parking restrictions to know this week
by CBS Baltimore Staff
Published September 18 in The Baltimore Banner

Artscape bumped some of Baltimore City’s legacy events. What happens next year?
by Lillian Reed
Published September 15 in The Baltimore Banner



André De Shields. Credit: Photo by Lia Chang

Made in Baltimore
by Lisa Snowden
Published September 19 in Baltimore Beat

Excerpt: André De Shields, 77, is striking. He has brown skin, chiseled cheekbones, and a perfectly sculpted afro streaked with white, gray, and black. In his Broadway performance of “Death of a Salesman,” which completed a limited run on January 15, he skulked, crept, and glided across the stage as the character of Ben Loman. I can’t imagine that he’s ever taken a bad picture in his life.

De Shields will be honored by Baltimore City leaders on September 21 with a ceremonial street dedication. It’s part of several days of festivities encircling the return of Artscape. The southwest corner of the 1800 block of Division Street, the street where he grew up, will be known as André De Shields Way. Mayor Brandon Scott will also declare the day André De Shields Day.

“I left Baltimore in 1964,” De Shields told me when we met up for an interview last May. “It’s always been essential to what I do in my life and in my career that people understand that I am who I am because I was made in Baltimore.”



Derrick Adams in his studio. (Emil Horowitz / From the artist and Gagosian)

Why Derrick Adams’ jubilant art revolves around seizing moments of joy
by Leigh-Ann Jackson
Published September 14 in Los Angeles Times

Excerpt: Derrick Adams is serious about leisure. His jubilant, candy-colored paintings depict Black subjects in repose, in the midst of revelry, and surrounded by the creature comforts of home. Whether they’re maxing and relaxing in a bubble bath or soaking up the sun in a pool floater, Adams portrays Black people at ease. Paradoxically, aside from his in-studio yoga breaks, the Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist seldom takes time in his own life to rest.

This year alone, he opened the Last Resort Artist Retreat, a residency for Black creatives in his hometown of Baltimore; erected an interactive sculptural installation on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., commemorating the city’s first desegregated playground; and had solo shows in New York, Chicago and Detroit. Adams, who is now represented by the Gagosian gallery, will debut his exhibition “Come as You Are” at Gagosian Beverly Hills on Thursday.

“For a person who depicts leisure in their work,” Adams quipped during a recent Zoom interview, “for me, leisure is working!”



Images are provided courtesy of the Bethesda Urban Partnership

2023 Trawick Prize Winners Announced
Published September 18 in East City Art

$10,000 Best in Show Prize Awarded; Exhibit Open Through Oct. 1

The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards, a juried art competition produced by the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, announced the 2023 prize winners during last night’s awards reception. Rex Delafkaran of Washington, DC was awarded the prestigious “Best in Show” title and received the $10,000 top prize. Charles Mason III from Baltimore, MD was named second place and given $2,000; Stephanie Garon from Baltimore, MD was bestowed third place and received $1,000; and Megan Koeppel from Hyattsville, MD was awarded the Young Artist Award and received $1,000.

Rex Delafkaran is an Iranian American interdisciplinary artist and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. She uses movement and objects to explore ideas of failure and hybridity among bodies, objects, identities and language. Delafkaran has exhibited and staged performances at the NARS Foundation, Brooklyn, NY; Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; Panoply Performance Lab, Brooklyn, NY; Platform Art Fair, Athens, Greece; Satellite Art Fair Miami Miami; Southern Exposure Gallery, San Francisco, CA; and the Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., among others. She recently received a NARS Foundation International Artist Residency Fellowship and a Warhol Foundation Wherewithal Research Grant. She is also the co-founder and co-director of an artist-run project empowering artists to be both self-sustain and experimental through selling artist-made products and curating exhibitions.

2023 Trawick Prize Finalists:

  • Rush Baker IV, Riverdale, MD
  • Rex Delafkaran, Washington, DC
  • Stephanie Garon, Baltimore, MD
  • Kei Ito, Baltimore, MD
  • Megan Koeppel, Hyattsville, MD
  • Giulia Livia, Baltimore, MD
  • Charles Mason III, Baltimore, MD
  • Fanxi Sun, Richmond, VA



Artscape to include Queer-Scape pop-up in Station North
by Aliza Worthington
Published September 19 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: As Artscape returns to Baltimore this weekend for the first time since 2019, a new section of the festival in the Station North Arts District has been dubbed “Artscape North of North” and will feature a “Queer-Scape” pop-up.

Artscape, taking place on Sept. 22-24, has expanded its footprint to include parts of Midtown and the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

Within the “Artscape North of North” area will be more than 100 local artists and makers, with murals and permanent art pieces that will remain in the community after the festival is over.



The George Washington University Museum & The Textile Museum Receives Record $25 Million Gift
Press Release :: September 18

The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum today announced a $25 million endowment gift from an anonymous donor, the single largest investment in the museum’s history. The bulk of the gift, $24 million in endowment funds, will provide long-term support for textile conservation, curatorial scholarship and educational initiatives. The remaining $1 million will fund priority projects and equipment as the museum prepares for its centennial celebration in 2025.

“This extremely generous gift will have a transformational impact on The Textile Museum,” GW President Ellen Granberg said. “The museum is recognized as a center of excellence for the international prominence of its collections, its academic mission and its global community. These funds will allow us to expand our leading work in textile collections care, scholarship and museum training for generations to come.”

Twelve million dollars in endowed funds for conservation and curatorial engagement will underwrite students and visiting scholars, advance research and scholarship, and support the museum’s Avenir Foundation Conservation and Collections Resource Center on GW’s Virginia Science and Technology campus. The conservation lab preserves more than 25,000 textiles in the collections and prepares them for display in museum exhibitions. It also serves aspiring conservators through training programs and graduate fellowships.

Another $12 million establishes a new endowment to support onsite museum education and broaden global reach through digital initiatives, ensuring the museum continues to be an integral part of teaching, research and learning at GW and beyond.

“This extraordinary gift acknowledges the worldwide relevance of our museum’s collections, invests in our museum professionals, and recognizes our responsibility to share, collaborate and facilitate access to global heritage,” said John Wetenhall, director of The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. “It also signals an investment in the future of textiles: training the next generation of scholars and museum professionals, and expanding the museum’s audience through digital learning.”

The endowment will also fund the hardware, software and staffing to activate The Textile Museum Collection online, focusing special support on interpretation by students, faculty, and independent researchers. These endeavors will also assure the preservation and dissemination of digital images of collection artworks and the archives of leading textile scholars.

Additional priorities include appointing a new educator dedicated to engaging faculty and students, as well as creating academic courses and paid student positions. Endowed funds also will support museum staff professional development.

The $1 million for centennial projects will fund new equipment for conservation, enhancements to the Textiles 101 learning center, technology to facilitate virtual programming and preserve the museum’s digital resources, and other immediate needs.

Over nearly 100 years, The Textile Museum has gained an international reputation for excellence in research, exhibitions and educational programs that explore textile art as global cultural heritage, with collections spanning five continents and five millennia. The museum’s conservation program has been a pioneer in innovative practices in textile care and providing specialized training for conservators. The Textile Museum reopened in its new home at the George Washington University in 2015, bringing new opportunities to invigorate research and scholarship, transform collections care and prepare the next generation of museum professionals.

“This remarkable donor’s generosity ensures The Textile Museum of enduring reach as it addresses the key challenge of cultivating successive generations of those who appreciate textiles as art and cultural heritage,” said Bruce P. Baganz, chairman of The Textile Museum’s board of trustees and co-chair of the George Washington University Museum’s board. “This investment fundamentally advances our aspirations for the museum’s international leadership in art, scholarship, education and fostering cultural understanding.”

About the Museum:

The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum is located on GW’s Foggy Bottom campus at 701 21st Street, NW, in Washington, D.C., just blocks away from the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery, the White House, Kennedy Center and the National Mall. Galleries are open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is free.

For the most up-to-date information on the museum’s visiting hours, exhibitions and educational programs please check the museum website.



Header Image: Courtesy of @imagerybyoscar/Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

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