BmoreArt News: New BMA Acquisitions, Make Studio, and Heidi Daniel

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This week’s news includes: Akea Brionne and Derrick Adams featured in ArtNet News, Carlos Raba’s new restaurant Nana, BMA announces new acquisitions, BOPA news, 2024 festival dates announced, this week in John Waters news, upcoming programing at Make Studio, Eutaw Place Gallery partners with Artsy, Highwire Improv workshop series, and CEO Heidi Daniel leaving the Pratt Library — with reporting from ArtNet News, Baltimore Fishbowl, The Baltimore Banner, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image:  Zéh Palito. Won’t you celebrate with me. 2022. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of the Artist, BMA 2023.8. © Zéh Palito


Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Portrait of a Singer. c. 1769. Private collection.

BMA Adds New Works by Baltimore Region Artists and Major Loans to Galleries
Press Release :: December 20

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) today announced some important changes and additions to several of its collection galleries. The BMA’s contemporary wing has been updated with a new selection of works by contemporary artists with ties to Baltimore and Washington, DC, continuing the museum’s commitment to featuring the work of local and regional artists as an essential part of its mission. The European art galleries have also been newly enlivened with extraordinary historic French and Dutch paintings on loan from acclaimed private collections, including two masterpieces by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. These changes reflect the BMA’s vision to continuously enhance and reimagine presentations of its collection to capture a depth of artistic expression and excellence, across time and into the present moment.

Since fall 2021, the BMA has presented rotations of the contemporary collection under the umbrella title How Do We Know the World?, with approximately half of the works changing every six months. The latest iteration of the front room gallery, now on view, continues to highlight the dynamism and experimentation of Baltimore and Washington, DC-area artists with paintings, photographs, prints, video, and mixed-media works by Maren Hassinger, Emmanuel Massillon, linn meyers, Tom Miller, Devin N. Morris, Zéh Palito, Jo Smail, and SHAN Wallace. The BMA’s Black Box Gallery screens A Black Girl’s Country (2019) by Baltimore-based director and spoken word artist NIA JUNE with cinematographer Kirby Griffin, and creative director and musician APoetNamedNate. This four-minute, 24-second video uses poetry, music, and dance to celebrate the multifaceted experiences of 50 Black women and girls across generations in Baltimore. Also on view in adjacent galleries are works by Grace Hartigan, Valerie Maynard, and artists affiliated with the legacy of The Washington Color School: Timothy Corkery, Sam Gilliam, Alma W. Thomas and Anne Truitt.

The central gallery of the BMA’s European art collection has been transformed by the loan of two magnificent works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806). Portrait of a Singer and The Actor (both c. 1769) show the artist at the height of his creative powers with two portraits from his series of fantasy figure paintings (14 of which are known). Fragonard drew on his circle of friends and associates for models and lavishly—and somewhat daringly—depicted them in an old-fashioned Spanish style of costume captured with painterly bravura. The paintings belong to descendants of the celebrated Rothschild banking family and were among those seized in 1938 following the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany. The last time they were publicly shown together was in 2017 at the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

An adjacent gallery features three paintings on loan from The Leiden Collection in New York that focuses on 17th-century Dutch women as subjects, patrons, and artists.[…]



Akea Brionne, 2023. Photo: PD Rearick. Courtesy of the artist and Library Street Collective.

In Her Photo-Based Tapestries, Detroit Artist Akea Brionne Conjures an Afro-Surrealist World
by Katie White
Published December 15 in ArtNet News

Excerpt: Rising artist Akea Brionne is imagining an Afro-Surrealist world by the sea. In the 27-year-old artist’s mixed-media textile works, lone women, adorned with oversized sunglasses and cinched-waist dresses, stand with pharaonic poise against seascape backdrops while art historical elements such as African masks and De Chirico-esque architecture fill the spaces with uncanny strangeness.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship to the loss of knowledge and understanding oneself,” said Brionne during a recent video call. Her works—digitally printed jacquard tapestries that have been filled with doll stuffing and rags—are three-dimensional objects painstakingly adorned with beads. The works have a nearly votive effect. “A lot of this body of work is thinking about water as an elemental force that’s moved me to different places—I’ve moved from New Orleans to California to Maryland and Michigan, and Missouri in my life already. I think of these works as taking place in a dreamscape. Lately, I have been having these vivid dreams occurring by the ocean or where the desert and the ocean collide,” she explained.



The artist Derrick Addams. Photo: John Berens Studio.

The Artist Derrick Adams Has Created a Haven for Black Creatives In Baltimore
by Max Berlinger
Published December 14 in ArtNet News

Excerpt: Anyone who’s ever touched down in Baltimore can see, almost immediately, why it’s lovingly referred to as Charm City. From its beguiling Federal-style row houses, to its dramatic Beaux-Arts museum, to the folksy commercial thoroughfares lined with quirky, independent businesses, there’s an easygoing charm that’s impossible to deny. And yet the Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist Derrick Adams has taken it a step further, creating a Charm City within Charm City: The Last Resort Artists Retreat. The space is a sanctuary dedicated to Black creatives that encourages rest, rejuvenation, and self-reflection—a radical notion in a world that asks us to always be productive.

The project can be seen as an extension of Adams’s own art practice, which has dedicated itself to depicting Black people in times of rest and leisure. This was something he felt was missing from the art world and, thus, decided to change himself. The Last Resort, is, in some ways, the physical manifestation of the worlds Adams depicts on his canvases. The Last Resort Artists Retreat is housed in a rambling multi-floor house in the residential Waverly neighborhood, about a 20-minute walk to Johns Hopkins University. Adams acquired the property in 2019 and has since painted the home completely white, inside and out. This makes the space an ideal blank canvas not just for the visiting artists, but for the staggering collection that is on display at every turn, ranging from his own vibrant work to those of friends and colleagues, a who’s who of those who have shaped the modern Black canon: Kehinde Wiley, Mickelene Thomas, Faith Ringgold, and photos by I. Henry Phillips Sr., who captured Black life in Baltimore in the post-War years.



Carlos Raba behind the counter of Nana. Photo by Aliza Worthington

Nana: Chef Carlos Raba’s love letter to family, childhood, and of course, the taco
by Aliza Worthington
Published December 20 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Carlos Raba, chef-owner of the acclaimed Clavel restaurant in Remington, is set to open his newest restaurant, a taqueria called Nana, in Towson this January.

Raba’s personality exudes child-like exuberance. In fact, kids, childhood, and family are front of mind with everything going into his newest venture, which will replace the former Purdum Pharmacy in the historic Stoneleigh Community Building at 6901 York Road.

Inspired by his mother, aunts, and granmother, Nana pays tribute to the women who raised Raba and who ensured that a tragedy that occurred before he even drew his first breath would not impede the joys he would find throughout his life.



People listen to MC Lyte’s set at Charm City Live on Aug. 26, 2023. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Mark your calendars: Festival dates set for AFRAM, Artscape and Charm City Live
by Taji Burris
Published December 18 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Baltimore’s 2024 summer season is going to be packed with music, diversity, fun and a lot of heat.

Mayor Brandon Scott announced the official dates for the AFRAM, Artscape and Charm City Live festivals during a press conference Monday.

AFRAM is a celebration of African American culture, honoring food, music, art and crafts that debuted in 1976. After celebrating the history of Baltimore club music at the 2023 festival, it will return on June 22 and 23 in 2024.

Artscape made its return in September after being absent since the COVID pandemic. The festival, which was traditionally held in the summer, bumped some other neighborhood celebrations and ran up against local institutions’ eventswith its new fall date. The festival also shut down its Saturday events after facing weather problems from Tropical Storm Ophelia. Scott and the Baltimore Office of Promotion and The Arts confirmed earlier this month that Artscape would move back to a summer date. Scott joked at the conference that with the event taking place Aug. 2 through Aug. 4 of next year, he doesn’t want to hear any complaints about the heat.

See also:

Mayor Brandon Scott announces 2024 summer dates for AFRAM, Artscape and Charm City Live festivals; indicates he has regained confidence in BOPA
by Ed Gunts
Published December 18 in Baltimore Fishbowl

BOPA news: MLK Jr. Day Parade returns; Book Festival may shift to the fall; Top of the World venue to be renovated; chair and vice chair to step down
by Ed Gunts
Published December 13 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Enoch Pratt Free Library CEO Heidi Daniel will step down at the end of February 2024 to become CEO of the King County Public Library in Washington state. Photo courtesy of Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Pratt Library CEO Heidi Daniel to step down at end of February to lead library system in Washington state
by Marcus Dieterle
Published December 19 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Enoch Pratt Free Library CEO Heidi Daniel will step down at the end of February to become CEO of the King County Public Library in Washington state.

“Leading the Pratt Library has been one of the most humbling, fulfilling, and joyful experiences of my life,” Daniel wrote in a letter Tuesday. “Each one of you made me feel at home in Baltimore and I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished.”

Daniel has led Baltimore’s public library system for seven years. She has overseen projects such as the reopening of the renovated Central Library; navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to serve the community; plans to break ground on the Pratt’s first new library building in 15 years in Park Heights; and more.

See also:

Enoch Pratt Free Library’s top leader Heidi Daniel to step down in February
by Lillian Reed
Published December 19 in The Baltimore Banner



John Waters. (Greg Gorman)

John Waters on his Christmas show, modern art and being self-assured in your weirdness
by Leslie Gray Streeter
Published December 18 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: I have tried-and-true holiday traditions that make the season bright, or at least quirky: my collection of Black nutcrackers that look like celebrities (I just scored a Santa that resembles “S.W.A.T.” star Shemar Moore), the Christmas morning viewing of “Die Hard” as I try to remember where I stashed all the presents I’ve been hiding from my kid and, now, a new one — my annual interview with John Waters.

Waters has his own holiday tradition, “A John Waters Christmas,” which tours the country and comes home to Baltimore Soundstage on Dec. 21. “The show is walking on the edge of political correctness and all these new fascinating rules I love to break,” said the city’s most fun uncle and naughty elf.

I mentioned a recent interview I’d read of Waters that proposed he’s not the shocking rebel he used to be. Even the suggestion makes him laugh. “I don’t know that I’ve changed. I think American humor did. I wore people down. They gave up,” he said, chuckling.

See also:

John Waters lands a featured role in ‘Chucky’ Season 3, Part 2, as the murderous doll’s ‘pseudo-father’
by Ed Gunts
Published December 15 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Make Studio Begins the New Year by Celebrating the Glitz & Glamour, Art & Artistry, of Women’s Wrestling
Press Release :: December 19

Make Studio is excited to announce exhibitions and related gallery programming for Winter 2024, as we prepare to celebrate our 14th organizational anniversary.

Opening January 12th, the multi-artist exhibition and experience BRAWLIN’ will be on view in our gallery at 3326 Keswick Road in Hampden (and on our website in digital form) through February 10th. Brawlin’ will take over the gallery space with performative competition, paintings, drawings, photographs, and an interior mural. It features work by several Make Studio artists and guests, including Jaqueline Cousins-Oliva of Chicago’s Project Onward and Sarah Magida.

We hope you’ll join us for the thrilling reception on the 12th from 6-8PM, with entertainment (aka shenanigans) from Baltimore’s theatrical women’s and nonbinary arm wrestling troupe Gunz of Steel and an appearance from guest star Maryland wrestler, Tara from MCW Pro Wrestling! While this exhibition highlights artwork dedicated to women wrestlers, there will be a variety of wrestling themed artwork by Make Studio artists also available for purchase.

In January, Make Studio fans and other art lovers residing or visiting further south in the DMV should also plan to check out our group exhibition I Define Who I Am at the Goldman Art Gallery at Bender JCC in Rockville, MD; opening on January 6th, 12-2PM and on view through the 27th.

While all of the above is percolating, the Make Studio crew will be putting the final touches on our anniversary exhibition and events, marking our “adolescent” 14th anniversary! Please save the dates of February 23rd and 24th to join us in making things awkward in a very fun and very uplifting way! More details will be shared soon on our website and social media.

About Make Studio: Make Studio is a 501(c)3 community-based arts organization located in Baltimore, MD. Founded in 2010 with the aim to put art and abilities to work, Make Studio’s mission is to empower artists with disabilities to grow as professionals with visibility and voice in their communities. We create opportunities for everyone to connect through art.



Photo from Eutaw Gallery Place's Instagram page.

Bolton Hill’s Eutaw Place Gallery partners with global online marketplace Artsy to elevate Baltimore artists
by Aliza Worthington
Published December 13 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Baltimore-based Eutaw Place Gallery announced its partnership with Artsy, the world’s largest online art marketplace.

Beginning on Monday, Eutaw Place Gallery started featuring catalogs of works by their represented artists, along with curated collections by partner artists, through the online platform.

The gallery is an independent, artist-owned gallery in historic Bolton Hill, adjacent to the Maryland Institute College of Art. It’s located in The Carriage House, a building originally constructed circa 1810 — one of the oldest freestanding brick buildings in Baltimore. The owners only do solo exhibitions, and do not work with curators. Their priority is to focus all their exhibitions on the artist and the artists’ works.

BmoreArt Editor’s Note: Eutaw Place Gallery joins other Baltimore galleries on Artsy including the C. Grimaldis Gallery, Goya Contemporary, Catalyst Contemporary, Arting Gallery, and the Baltimore Fine Art Print Fair.



Highwire Improv Launches Free Improv Workshops Across Baltimore
Press Release :: December 20

Highwire Improv, a non-profit theater committed to fostering creativity and community engagement through improv, is thrilled to announce a series of free improv workshops across numerous Baltimore neighborhoods in 2024. This initiative is made possible by a generous grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (

Designed to reach Baltimore residents in various neighborhoods, these free workshops promote inclusivity and access to the arts. Participants will meet new people, engage in fun interactive exercises led by experienced instructors, and play popular improv games, fostering a sense of connection, creativity and spontaneity.

Highwire Improv launched these workshops last year as a paid offering, complementing their multi-week courses and improv shows, but saw significant demand for a free option based on the use of scholarships.  “Over 55% of workshop participants this year opted to use our no-application scholarship, which was a clear signal that there is demand in the Baltimore community to try improv!  We want everyone to have the opportunity to be exposed to these experiences and skills, so we set to work to find a way to make the program completely free,” said Barry Wright, co-founder and board President.

In October, Highwire Improv received a Maryland State Arts Council Creativity Grant, and decided to use the funds to pay workshop instructors and space rental fees across the city.  “We’re proud to pay teaching artists competitive rates, so the MSAC grant is crucial to improving accessibility without asking creatives to work for exposure or experience,” added Wright.

Four workshops are already scheduled, in the Abell, Hamilton, and Riverside neighborhoods.

  • Jan. 9th, 7pm: Unlock Your Creativity Through Improv at Homewood Friends Meeting
  • Jan. 18th, 7pm: Embrace Spontaneity: An Intro to Improv at Riverside Third Place
  • Jan. 27th, 2pm: Discover the Magic of Improv at Enoch Pratt Free Library – Hamilton Branch
  • Feb. 13th, 7pm: Charm City Connections: An Improv Welcome to Baltimore at Homewood Friends Meeting.

The improv-curious can find information about scheduled and upcoming workshops at a special registration page specific to the program.  Neighborhood associations or community organizations interested in hosting a workshop in their neighborhood are encouraged to contact Highwire at [email protected]

About Highwire Improv:

Highwire Improv is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is to steward a community of artists committed to growth, collaboration, joy, and justice — in Baltimore and around the world — through improvisational theater.  Founded in 2020, they have produced over 1000 digital improv shows and have delivered hundreds of in-person shows, classes, and workshops all across Baltimore.

For more information, visit or on social media at Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

About the Maryland State Arts Council:

Founded in 1967, The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) is an agency of the State of Maryland’s Department of Commerce that plays an essential role, ensuring every person has access to the transformative power of the arts.

MSAC advances the arts in our state by providing leadership that champions creative expression, diverse programming, equitable access, lifelong learning, and the arts as a celebrated contributor to the quality of life for all the people of Maryland.

For more information,



header image: Zéh Palito. Won't you celebrate with me. 2022. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of the Artist, BMA 2023.8. © Zéh Palito

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