BmoreArt News: Artscape Returns to Summer, City of Artist on WYPR’s Midday, Black Butterfly Farm

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This week’s news includes:  Cara Ober and Ed Berlin interviewed about ‘City of Artists’ on WYPR’s Midday, Denzel Mitchell Jr. and Myeasha Taylor of Black Butterfly Farm, Artscape returning to August, BOPA requests additional Artscape funding, George Ciscle and Christine Sciacca featured on Rob Lee’s “The Truth in This Art” podcast, Morton Street Dance Theater celebrates inclusivity, the work of Simone Leigh, announcements from Iron Crow Theatre, Dan Deacon, North Avenue Holiday Market, Middle Branch Park pop-up ice skating rink, and more reporting from Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Fishbowl, The Baltimore Banner, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Fish peppers at Black Butterfly Farm. image: J.M. Giordano, via Baltimore Magazine



Artwork By Derrick Adams, Publication Design By Raquel Castedo, Photo By Vivian Doering

“City of Artists: Baltimore” integrates writing & visual arts (Audio)
by Tom Hall, Teria Rogers, Malarie Pinkard-Pierre, Sam Bermas-Dawes
Aired December 4 on WYPR’s Midday

Excerpt: A new book, “City of Artists: Baltimore” celebrates the vibrant, diverse, and multi-pronged literary and artistic community here in Baltimore.

The editors of this beautiful and engaging book are Cara Ober and Ed Berlin. Ober is the founder and publisher of Bmore Art, a semi-annual print magazine and insightful web site that covers all things arts in the Baltimore metro area. Ed Berlin is the former owner of the Ivy Bookshop, and the author of a memoir called Adrift: A Travelog.



Denzel Mitchell Jr. and Myeasha Taylor at Black Butterfly Farm in Curtis Bay. —Photography by J.M. Giordano

Heirloom Fish Peppers Carry on the Story of African-American Cookery in Maryland
by Amy Scattergood | Photography by J.M. Giordano
Published December 5 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: On a warm morning in late August, Myeasha Taylor wades down a row of nearly waist-high greenery at Black Butterfly Farm, a teaching urban farm on 6.7 acres in Curtis Bay that’s part of the nonprofit Farm Alliance of Baltimore. Taylor, the farm’s education and production manager, picks a handful of ripe fish peppers—bright red chiles about the size of small jalapeños—from among the 100 “row feet” of plants running down the plot between columns of indigo, flowering okra, and red amaranth taller than she is. Bees weave through the summer air. Butterflies alight on the tallest sun-drenched plants.

“This is our little ancestral crop section,” says Taylor as she lifts a tangle of vines woven through a line of near-invisible trellises. Most of the peppers are still the same shade as the leaves surrounding them, some are painted in stunning kelly-green and orange stripes, some are vermillion, still others the color of butter. A few are white, a distinction that gave the fish pepper its name, as it was favored by cooks in 19th-century Chesapeake Bay oyster and crab houses for use in their fish stews, disappearing into pale, creamy soups, and before that, in Black communities in the Mid-Atlantic where the peppers were grown and used in fish and seafood cookery.

That fish peppers are now growing in this South Baltimore field, are being sold at the 32nd Street Farmers Market, and are on the menu of such places as Blacksauce Kitchen, Artifact Coffee, and Spike Gjerde’s Woodberry Tavern—where they’re used so liberally, the peppers have their own mis en place containers at the chefs’ stations—is largely because of Denzel Mitchell Jr.



A street performer braves the rain at Artscape 2023. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Baltimore’s Artscape festival returning to summer in 2024
by Ed Gunts
Published December 4 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: After a one-year, rain-soaked stint as a fall festival, Artscape is moving back to the summer in 2024.

Returning the annual event to the summer was the preference of stakeholders working with the city, Mayor Brandon Scott said on Sunday. According to his director of communications, Bryan Doherty, the 2024 event will be held over the first weekend in August.

“It was a collective decision of the partners, the folks that are down in that area,” the mayor said. “That’s what they wanted to do.”

The decision puts an end to the one-year experiment to hold Artscape in September and shifts the date back to its traditional summer time frame. It means organizers have eight months to plan the 2024 edition, two fewer months than if it were held in September.

See also:

Artscape will return to summer in 2024 as festival is scheduled for August
by Taji Burress
Published December 4 in The Baltimore Banner



The Made in Baltimore market was part of Artscape 2023. Baltimore's Artscape festival returned this September after a three-year hiatus. Photo by Ed Gunts.

BOPA, the agency behind Artscape, is asking Baltimore’s City Council to restore another $581,334 in city funds that were withheld from its budget in June
by Ed Gunts
Published December 5 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The independent agency that produces Artscape would receive a cash infusion of $581,334 to help plan the 2024 festival and perform other services, if Baltimore’s City Council and Board of Estimates approve a request to restore operating funds that were withheld from its budget in June.

City Council member Eric Costello, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, announced on Monday that his committee will meet in City Hall this month to consider legislation that would provide a “supplementary General Fund operating appropriation” to the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA).

BOPA has a contract to serve as the city’s events producer, film office and arts council through June 30, 2024. During budget hearings in June, the agency requested $2,625,754 in city funds for fiscal 2024, which began July 1. But council members withheld more than $1.7 million, saying they would restore the money if BOPA made progress on addressing certain concerns they had with its governance and operations.



Exploring the Art of Elizabeth Talford Scott with Curator George Ciscle (Audio)
by Rob Lee
Aired December 4 in The Truth in This Art Podcast

Excerpt: In this episode of The Truth in This Art podcast, host Rob Lee interviews curator George Ciscle about the exhibition “Eyewinkers, Tumbleturds, and Candlebugs: The Art of Elizabeth Talford Scott” at the Baltimore Museum of Art. They discuss the significance of Scott’s intricate textile art, the collaborative approach to curation, and the impact of the exhibition on the Baltimore art scene.

Exploring Ethiopian Art and History with Christine Sciacca (Audio)
by Rob Lee
Aired December 1 in The Truth in This Art Podcast

Excerpt: Join host Rob Lee as he engages in a rich conversation with Christine Sciacca, curator of European art at the Walters Art Museum. They discuss Christine’s journey in art history, her fascination with Ethiopian art, and the upcoming exhibition “Ethiopia at the Crossroads.” Discover the connections between past and present, the significance of manuscripts in storytelling, and the cultural impact of Ethiopian art.







The Morton Street Dance Center will put on an all-Black production of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 at the The Chesapeake Arts Center in Baltimore. (Photo courtesy Morton Street Dance Center)

Morton Street Dance Center celebrates its growth, dance inclusivity
Published December 2 in The AFRO

Excerpt: Donna Jacobs, the visionary director behind the Morton Street Dance Center, recently shared insights into the institution’s rich history and its upcoming production of “The Nutcracker” in an exclusive interview with The AFRO.

Founded in 1992, Morton Street Dance Center has evolved under Jacobs’ guidance for nearly 32 years. Jacobs revealed that the idea sprouted when she noticed a ballet school facing eviction due to unpaid rent. Seizing the opportunity, she approached the landlord and Morton Street Dance Center was born, a testament to Jacobs’ quick thinking and dedication to the art form.

Over the years, the institution expanded its reach, giving rise to the Full Circle Dance Co. in 2000. This offshoot, now 23 years old, stands as a testament to the growth and success of Morton.



Simone Leigh, Satellite (2022). Photo by Rick Coulby for the Hirshhorn.

Simone Leigh’s work explores how Black women have been misrepresented in art and culture (Audio)
by Jeffrey Brown and Anne Azzi Davenport
Aired November 30 on PBS News Hour

Excerpt: Last year, artist Simone Leigh represented the U.S. at what is widely considered the world’s most important exhibition of contemporary art, the Venice Biennale. She was the first Black woman to have that honor. Now, there’s a chance to see her work in a retrospective touring the country. Jeffrey Brown meets the artist for our arts and culture series, CANVAS.

See Simone Leigh at the Hirshhorn through March 3, 2024



Iron Crow Theatre Announces New Administrative Appointments and a Daringly Reenvisioned Production of Jonathan Larson’s Rent
Press Release :: December 4

Monday, December 4, 2023: Iron Crow Theatre announced today that Dr. Natka Bianchini has been appointed Managing Director, reporting directly to the Board of Directors. Bianchini has been involved with the company since 2018 as a Resident Artist and Board Member, directing four critically acclaimed and award-winning productions with Iron Crow Theatre. In addition, Dr. Bianchini currently heads the theatre program at Loyola University, is a graduate of the HERS leadership institute, is an associate with the Centerfor International Theatre Development, and is the founding Vice President of the Edward Albee Society. Dr. Bianchini has published two books on American theatre, directed more than forty productions in her career, and received her doctorate in drama from Tufts University.

“I am so honored to be named Managing Director of Iron Crow Theatre. I have been a
theatre professional for my entire twenty-plus-year career, fifteen of them here in
Baltimore, and Iron Crow Theatre has consistently created relevant, important, artistically excellent productions that build community,” said newly appointed Managing Director Natka Bianchini. “The company has been my artistic home for several years now, and I cannot wait to work with Sean and April to continue the growth and expansion of the last few years and bring the company to new heights.”

“Natka Bianchini has been an instrumental force at Iron Crow Theatre as we’ve worked
tirelessly to bring professional quality productions to Baltimore,” said Artistic Director Sean Elias. “There is no greater gift to an Artistic Director than to work alongside a fellow artist who understands both the business and the creation of art. I have no doubt that Iron Crow Theatre’s future is bright as Natka lends her exceptional talents to the organization in this new way.” […]



Dan Deacon from his website.

Dan Deacon on his warehouse show days, scoring films and ‘that song’ in ‘Priscilla’
by Al Shipley
Published December 3 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: One of Sofia Coppola’s signatures as a filmmaker is using contemporary music in period pieces such as 2006′s “Marie Antoinette,” which depicted 18th century France with a score of 1980s post-punk bands such as the Cure and Gang of Four. Coppola is courting Oscar buzz for her latest film, “Priscilla,” a biopic about Priscilla Presley, which eschews using the music of her husband, Elvis Presley, in favor of a wide-ranging soundtrack. Amidst period-appropriate ’60s and ’70s pop are more imaginative selections including “The Crystal Cat,” a 2007 track by Baltimore avant-garde composer Dan Deacon.

Deacon, 42, grew up on Long Island and studied music at SUNY Purchase before moving in 2004 to Baltimore, where he co-founded Wham City, a collective of artists and musicians that staged DIY warehouse shows and eventually national tours and the Whartscape festival.

Deacon also became something of an evangelist for Baltimore as a breeding ground for boundary-pushing music. He inspired others to relocate to the city, including the North Carolina band Future Islands, who moved to Charm City in 2007. Deacon’s breakthrough album, “Spiderman of the Rings,” was hailed by critics as an innovative new sound in electronic music, and “The Crystal Cat” placed No. 84 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 best songs of 2007.



Community members shop at last year's Station North Holiday Market. Photo by Side A Photography.

North Avenue Market to come alive this weekend with Station North Holiday Market and pop-up cocktail bar
by Ed Gunts
Published December 6 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The long-dormant North Avenue Market will come alive this weekend with a holiday market for the community and a pop-up cocktail bar by StillPointe Theatre and Baltimore Queer-Scape.

On Saturday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., the Central Baltimore Partnership will present the Station North Holiday Market, featuring “All Baltimore” vendors inside and outside the historic North Avenue Market building, 12-30 West North Ave.

This is the third year for the holiday market, part of an effort by the Partnership to activate the North Avenue corridor and showcase local artists, artisans, merchants and makers. It comes two months after the market was opened during Artscape 2023 to a curated group of artists and organizations that were promoted as representing the festival’s “local side.”



header image: Fish peppers at Black Butterfly Farm. image: J.M. Giordano

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