Baltimore Art News: Ghost Rivers, CharmTV, Ivy Bookshop’s Emma Snyder, and more

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This week’s news includes: Bruce Willen’s Ghost Rivers, CharmTV moving to Black Arts District, Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and Jackie Milad at VisArts, playwright Tatiana Nya Ford, Terri Lee Freeman, Dr. Edwin T. Johnson, and Lady Brion interviewed on WYPR Midday, women and The Culture, Allora’s rise and fall, Terri Lee Freeman in conversation with Nick Mosby, Bertha’s closes for good, Emma Snyder and The Ivy Bookshop, and more reporting from Baltimore Beat, Hyperallergic, Baltimore Magazine, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Jackie Milad, “Sarcophagus 1,” 2021 (Image: Vivian Doering)



Photo © Public Mechanics.

‘Ghost Rivers’ Visualizes a Mile-Long Stream Buried Deep Beneath Baltimore
by Grace Ebert
Published October 27 in Colossal

Excerpt: How much do we really know about the land we walk on each day? For those of us in urban areas, pavement and buildings mask what were once prairies, forests, or glaciers, with any natural terrain often disguised in swaths of concrete and blacktop.

But in some cities, the remnants of the former landscape still haunt the streets. From Paris to Auckland to New York, communities are deciding to daylight the streams and rivers that were buried underground during development as a way to reduce pollution from urban runoff and prevent disastrous flooding. Baltimore alone is home to nearly 50 waterways that run for miles across the city—including the well-known Jones Falls that flows beneath I-83—and a new public art project is drawing attention to one of the bodies hidden below several central and northern neighborhoods.

The creation of artist Bruce Willen of Public Mechanics, Ghost Rivers is a multi-site installation and walking tour that visualizes the path of Sumwalt Run, which travels in culverts nearly 40 feet below Remington and Charles Village. “I first stumbled across this buried stream eight or nine years ago, on an antique map of Baltimore. On this 1870s-era map, a creek and a large pond cut across several miles of central and north Baltimore, not far from where I live,” Willen tells Colossal. “I was curious about this missing stream that once ran just a few blocks from my house.”

See also:

Buried beneath Baltimore, ‘ghost rivers’ surface in new Remington art installation
by Marcus Dieterle
Published November 1 in Baltimore Fishbowl



A rendering depicts a new home in Penn North for Baltimore’s Office of Cable & Communications, operators of the city’s CharmTV channel. Rendering courtesy of PI.KL.

CharmTV headquarters to move to Baltimore’s Black Arts District
by Ed Gunts
Published October 27 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Baltimore’s Office of Cable & Communications, operators of the city’s CharmTV channel, will move its headquarters from downtown to Pennsylvania Avenue under a plan to strengthen Baltimore’s Black Arts District and the Penn North community.

Preliminary plans for the proposed headquarters were presented on Thursday to Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel (UDAAP). They call for a 20,000-square-foot building at 2675 Pennsylvania Ave., just north of North Avenue and the Penn-North Metro station.

The building is a project of the Baltimore Development Corp.; the Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation (BARCO) and The Civic Group. PI.KL Studio is the architect.

See also:

CharmTV to move headquarters to Penn North, joining Baltimore’s Black Arts District
by Hallie Miller
Published October 26 in The Baltimore Banner



VisArts Presents a New Exhibition by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and Jackie Milad
Press Release :: October 27

VisArts is pleased to present “Understory,” a new exhibition by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and Jackie Milad . The exhibition opens November 8 and will be on view in the Gibbs Street Gallery through January 14, 2024. An opening reception will be held November 17 from 7-9 p.m.

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and Jackie Milad

Gibbs Street Gallery
November 8, 2023-January 14, 2024

VisArts presents “Understory,” a two-person exhibition by artists Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and Jackie Milad. “Understory” combines painting with collage, sculpture, and installation to examine themes of accumulation, fragmentation, excavation, landscape, and identity.

Both artists create large-scale paintings on paper and canvas. These works create a somewhat maximalist, and at times overwhelming, environment – one that creates an entry into abstract worlds that draw from Mann’s and Milad’s backgrounds as Asian American and Honduran-Egyptian American artists.

About the Artist: Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann
Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann examines landscape painting, environment, and cultural estrangement by building luxuriant, cinematically scaled paper paintings and installations. These combine romantic, utopian, and immersive sensibilities from both Chinese and Western landscape painting traditions, with a lexicon drawn from a personal mythology informed by her identity as a biracial, second-generation Asian American: ribbons, baubles, bats, peaches, sperm, piles of flowers repeated so many times as to appear biomorphic and alien, but bursting with incongruous efflorescence.

This work addresses two primary concerns: the exploration of landscape in a world where “landscape” is defined through an ever-widening field of digital, graphic, and visual forms, and the insertion of personal world building – a world of fragmentation, hybridity, and incongruity—into that history.

About the Artist: Jackie Milad
Jackie Milad’s work explores the layering of transcultural history in Central America and the Middle East. She links the universal topic of cultural layering and documentation with her multicultural identity by blending and packing in what appears to be disparate imagery, icons, and language (graffiti, rap lyrics, popular slang, etc).

Milad’s layered compositions not only mimic her upbringing, but also symbolize the way cultures are recorded and monumentalized in remaining fragments over time. She aims to obfuscate the meaning of her pieces to prevent a single reading of the work, hoping this embraces the complexity of the pieces and their analogy to global history. Milad also excavates her earlier artworks and splice them into new pieces, in a purposefully confusing and chaotic manner. Artworks that were once static and stored away become repurposed and responsive in dynamic compositions.

Milad is a Baltimore City-based artist whose mixed media abstract paintings and collages address the history and complexities of dispersed cultural heritage and multi-ethnic identity. She has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally. Select exhibitions include The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, Md.), The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, Md.), Academy Art Museum (Easton, Md.), Weatherspoon Art Museum (Greensboro, N.C.), The Mint Museum (Charlotte, N.C.), Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Penn.), and the Harvey B. Gantt Center (Charlotte, N.C.).

Milad is a multiyear recipient of the Individual Artist Grant from Maryland State Arts Council. In 2019, she was named a Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Finalist and a Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Ruby Grantee. In 2022, she received the Municipal Art Society of Baltimore City Travel Prize to conduct in-depth research on the Egyptian antiquities held at the British Museum and Petrie Museums in London, England.

Mann is the recipient of the Sustainable Arts Foundation grant, a Fulbright grant, the AIR Gallery and Lower East Side Printshop Keyholder Fellowships, and the Mayor’s Award and Hamiltonian Fellowship in Washington, D.C. Mann has shown her work at venues including The Kreeger Museum, Academy Art Museum, The Walters Art Museum, American University Museum, Tides Institute & Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Rawls Museum Arts, the U.S. consulate in Dubai, UAE, and the U.S. embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon.



Mecca “Meccamorphosis” Verdell shines onstage at The Voxel in Tatiana Nya Ford’s Lyra and the Ferocious Beast. Credit: Photo courtesy of Chris Ashworth / Voxel

Accidental Poetry
by S. Ireti
Published October 30 in Baltimore Beat

Excerpt: When Tatiana Nya Ford wrote “Lyra and the Ferocious Beast,” which ran at The Voxel Theater this summer, it was a way of blending several different parts of herself.

The play starred actor, teacher, and spoken word superstar Mecca “Meccamorphosis” Verdell as Lyra, an intergalactic scientist who does whatever she can to keep her beloved pet Yucca (the “ferocious beast”) safe. Along the way, she must also grapple with the series of decisions that got her into this predicament in the first place.

Ford, a licensed therapist, weaves lessons about whimsy, redemption, and grief into this story. The tale doesn’t wrap up neatly, but instead concludes the way things end in real life: sometimes you move forward, acknowledge what was lost, and learn from it what you can. Ford’s training as a therapist and her talent as a playwright resulted in a play where characters embodied the full spectrum of human emotions, including more challenging ones — like grief — with authenticity.



Terri Freeman, (Top) president of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture talks about the importance of accuracy when teaching and learning about, African American history and culture. She's joined by (Bottom L) Lady Brion, executive director of the Pennsylvania Ave. Black Arts and Entertainment District, and (Bottom R) Dr. Edwin T. Johnson, chairman of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. Photos: Freeman/Aisha Butler Photography; Johnson/Kristina D. Allen, Brion/provided.

Pass the Mic: Teaching the truth about African American history and culture (Audio)
by Melissa Gerr
Aired October 24 on WYPR’s Midday

Excerpt: Why has teaching African American history become politicized — and what must be done to make sure the true stories are told?

Today we ‘Pass the Mic’ to Terri Freeman, head of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. She asks Dr. Edwin T. Johnson Chairman of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Cultureand historian and archivist at Morgan State University, about the role cultural institutions play in correcting the rampant inaccuracies about African American history.

Then spoken word artist Lady Brion recounts West Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Avenue famous past and offers an update on the Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts and Entertainment District, for which she is executive director.



Crowning the Queens of Hip-Hop Culture
by Eileen G’Sell
Published October 26 in Hyperallergic

Excerpt: From Salt-N-Pepa to Lauryn Hill, from Missy Elliott to Megan Thee Stallion, women artists have for decades proven a formidable creative force in hip-hop music — and for just as long, they have been overlooked or misrepresented. An exhibition co-organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Saint Louis Art Museum consciously addresses how women have served to shape, shake up, and reinvigorate the hip-hop realm at large.

On view in St. Louis through January 1, The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century explores hip hop’s influence beyond music, from contemporary art and fashion to technology and social justice movements, and challenges both US-centric and masculinized conceptions of the genre. While also featuring work by men and recognizing the genre’s many diverse contributors, however, the show shines a special light on women, revealing the layered ways in which they have played active roles as both creative players and subjects.



Restaurateur Brendon Hudson stands inside the Alexander Brown building that he and partner David Monteagudo are currently using for their catering business. (Christina Tkacik)

The Dish: Can Allora’s owners rehab their reputations — and their business?
by Christina Tkacik
Published October 25 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The old Alexander Brown bank building was one of the few downtown structures to survive Baltimore’s Great Fire of 1904. It’s a marvel of Gilded Age architecture inside, with marble columns, tufted couches and a Tiffany-style stained glass dome that takes up most of the ceiling. Prior to COVID, it underwent a massively expensive renovation and became a restaurant, which in turn shuttered in the early days of the pandemic.

Near the bar, restaurateurs Brendon Hudson and David Monteagudo sat across from me as they explained how they plan to use the space. “I just love that it has that underdog feel to it,” Hudson said. “It just feels like a spot that we can relate to.”

For months, the duo, who are business as well as romantic partners, have faced intensifying bad press as their former workers have alleged mistreatment and a former landlord and others have hit them with lawsuits. It’s been a dramatic fall from grace for a pair seen as rising stars in the local dining scene.



Episode 13: A Conversation with Terri Lee Freeman, President of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum (Audio)
by Nick Mosby
Aired October 27 on Notes from the Council Chambers Podcast

Excerpt: It’s the season finale of Council President Mosby’s Notes from the Council Chambers Podcast and he’s celebrating with a conversation with Terri Lee Freeman. As the president of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Freeman brings with her a wide wealth of experience. She was the founding executive director of the Freddie Mac Foundation in Washington, DC, served as president of the Greater Washington Community Foundation and, most recently, served as the president of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, is no stranger to broadening the scope and exposure of museums that cater to American history through the African American experience.

In Episode 13, Council President Mosby talks to President Freeman about discuss her upbringing, the importance of community building, what it is like steering the Reginald F. Lewis Museum post-COVID, and why we must continue to tell our stories despite the movement to erase the contributions of people of color.



Fells Point mainstay Bertha’s Mussels is closing. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

Bertha’s Mussels has closed — for real this time
by Matti Gellman
Published October 31 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Bertha’s Mussels — a 51-year relic of a Fells Point era gone by — took its final curtain call Monday night, owner and co-founder Tony Norris said.

The Fells Point landmark had become one of Baltimore’s most recognizable restaurants, with loyal patrons smacking their signature “EAT BERTHA’S MUSSELS” bumper stickers on objects far and wide, while on trips to destinations such as the Great Wall of China and the South pole.

The Norris family announced its closure over social media last year, alongside their intentions to bring the building to Alex Cooper’s auction house. But bidding was abruptly canceled after the price soared beyond $1 million.



Photography by Christopher Myers

GameChanger: Emma Snyder
by Ron Cassie
Published October 30 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: A former executive director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Emma Snyder returned to her native Baltimore in 2017 to join Ed and Ann Berlin as a co-owner of Mount Washington’s Ivy Bookshop and Charles Village’s Bird in Hand Café & Bookstore. Two years later, the Berlins, readying for retirement, sold both to Snyder. Not long after, she moved Ivy, an institution for Baltimore readers, from its shopping center location to a new home—a big stucco house on several acres around the corner on Falls Road. Weathering COVID, the Ivy has bounced back with a full slate of events and Snyder now plans to open another shop inside Hampden’s Whitehall Market—one more addition to the city’s burgeoning independent bookstore scene.



Header Image: Jackie Milad, "Sarcophagus 1," 2021 (Image: Vivian Doering)

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