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BmoreArt News: Oprah’s Portrait, Syrian Fine Dining, Best Baltimore Books of the Year

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Confluence: Ethiopia at the Crossroads

This week’s news includes:  John Waters cancels Christmas (parties at his house), Bruce Willen’s Ghost Rivers, Joyce J. Scott retrospective opens at the BMA in March, Ethiopia at the Crossroads ongoing at the Walters, Aaron Dante interviews Carlos Raba and Emma Childs, best of Baltimore literary news, Syrian fine dining, Baltimore’s best bites, Annapolis public art controversy, and Oprah in the Portrait Gallery — with reporting from ArtNet News, Baltimore Fishbowl, The Baltimore Banner, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image:  From left to right: Hummus, beet mutabal and muhamara at Ammoora, a Levantine restaurant in Federal Hill, on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Kylie Cooper / The Baltimore Banner)

 

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Top Literary News of 2023: Charm City Edition
by Marion Winik
Published December 27 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The pages are running out for 2023’s story, but we can still skim through some of the year’s highlights before beginning a new chapter in 2024. From book festival news to author interviews, it’s time to revisit the top moments in Baltimore’s literary world this year.

 

 

—Photography by Mike Morgan

New ‘Ghost Rivers’ Public Art Installation Honors a Long-Lost Landscape in Remington
by Lydia Woolever
Published December 21 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: It’s a few dozen steps down the north slope of the Wyman Park Dell near Charles Village. Upon the descent, the surrounding streets, nearby buildings, and neighboring art museum begin to fade behind a thicket of oak trees, nearly disappearing entirely by the time one reaches the bottom, where, on an early November morning, Bruce Willen stands before the park’s long, low lawn—a sort of sunken oasis in the heart of northern Baltimore City.

“This is the last remnant of the original stream valley,” says Willen, 42, looking around the hillside speckled with picnics, a playground, and people out walking their dogs. “It’s mind-boggling to imagine, but where we’re standing, right under this walking path, is where it still runs today.”

He’s referring to the Sumwalt Run, a rock stream that flowed openly from 31st and Charles streets southwest to the Jones Falls River a century and a half ago. In the early 1900s, the city buried it into underground tunnels—the surrounding land filled in or flattened to build the roads, rowhomes, and neighborhoods we now recognize today.

 

 

One proposal features three hands in the center of the circle, holding a red heart. The proposal from Washington, D.C., artist Jay Coleman was submitted by an anonymous Annapolis family that offered to fund it. (Courtesy photo)

Annapolis posted 3 ideas for a new sculpture. Then it got ugly.
by Rick Hutzell
Published December 26 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: People can be so mean.

“There’s an economic disconnect if the city is considering spending half a million dollars on one of these monstrosities while established arts organizations in the city are receiving little to no funding.”

“The two with hands almost look like there are almost dead people reaching out — gruesome.”

“I love art, including modern art, but these three options are awful.”

 

 

In the new exhibition "Ethiopia at the Crossroads" at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, ancient texts and other artifacts are displayed alongside more contemporay artworks to show the exchange of ideas among cultures and across time. Photo courtesy of Walters Art Museum.

‘Ethiopia at the Crossroads’ exhibition at the Walters Art Museum explores global connections through art, spirituality, and more
by Marcus Dieterle
Published December 21 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Spanning 1,750 years of Ethiopian history, a new exhibition at the Walters Art Museum explores the interplay of art, culture, and spirituality within Ethiopia and among its neighbors throughout the region.

Aptly named “Ethiopia at the Crossroads,” the show which opened Dec. 3 highlights a nation at the junction of cultures throughout Africa, Western Asia, and Europe. Situated on the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has connections stretching east through the Arabian Sea and north through the Red Sea, up the Nile River, and over the Mediterranean Sea.

“This exhibition is really putting Ethiopia front and center and thinking about Ethiopia in relationship to its surrounding cultures throughout its history,” said Christine Sciacca, curator of European Art from 300–1400 CE.

 

 

Photo by Greg Gorman.

John Waters wraps up another whirlwind holiday tour, confesses he probably won’t have his Christmas party anymore
by Ed Gunts
Published December 22 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: If you weren’t invited to a Christmas party at John Waters’ house this year, you’re not alone. The Baltimore-based writer and filmmaker told a sold-out audience at Baltimore Soundstage Thursday night that he’s not having his party this year and probably never will again.

For years, Waters’ Christmas party was a highlight of the holiday season for those lucky enough to go – “one of the city’s most coveted invites,” as The New York Post once put it. Longtime friends of Waters mixed with celebrities from his movies and the art world and others for an event that celebrated both the holiday season and the end of his multi-city spoken-word “John Waters Christmas” tour.

 

 

EP 249: Artist Emma Childs (Audio)
by Aaron Dante
Aired December 19 on No Pix After Dark Podcast

Excerpt: Aaron interviewed artist Emma Childs one of the upcoming artists on the scene. Emma discusses her childhood and how she always loved art.  She talked about how in college she overheard a conversation among her professors saying she  will be a great artistans has that it factor. She sells her art all across the world and if you work at the new Amazon Headquarters in Virginia her work will be on the walls.

Emma Childs is an American-born painter. The Baltimore native uses eloquent shapes and thoughtful pops of color to create objects that physically interact with their environment Through her minimalist approach, Childs transforms experiences and emotions into simplified forms, color, and geometric edges. The results are eye-catching compositions, which tell complicated and interconnected narratives in an accessible way. Childs’s paintings are layered depictions of existence in the worlds we build around ourselves.

EP 250: Carlos Raba (Audio)
by Aaron Dante
Aired December 19 on No Pix After Dark Podcast

Excerpt: Chef Carlos Raba was born and raised in the Mexican state of Sinaloa by his mother and her four sisters. He learned to make tortillas by hand in his uncle’s restaurant and picked up classic Mexican recipes like cochinita pibil and lengua from his aunts and grandmother. Raba’s mother was a journalist who was critical of Mexican politicians, so fearing for their lives, she sought asylum and moved the family to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. when Raba was 17.

After he graduated from high school, Raba attended business school for a year and then began working in grocery stores. He started at the Whole Foods in Kentlands, Maryland, trying his hand at different roles—butcher, fishmonger, cheesemonger, and eventually store manager. He. then moved to Giant Foods and worked at various locations for five years. Tiring of the corporate life, his business partner Lane Harlan convinced him to use his creativity and family recipes to open Clavel in Baltimore in 2015. In a Converted American grill, Raba serves the same shrimp ceviche recipe that his familky taught him when he was 6 years old, along withother Sinaloan specialties in a relaxed, communal setting. In 2017, Raba was named “Best Chef. in Baltimore” by City Paper, in 2018 Carlos Raba was name also name “Rising star chef” by Star chef publications and on 2022 Carlos Raba was a “James Beard” semifinalist.

Carlos Raba also a practitioner of Brazilian jiujitsu, hold a black belt first degree under Vicente Jr team and his passion for jiujitsu lead him to Co-found Guardian Baltimore a 501(c)3 nonprofit martial arts gym in Remington, Baltimore that offer classes in Brazilian jiu jitsu. The gym is free for kids ages 6 – 18, and offers affordable sliding-scale memberships for adults. the space was founded on the belief that almost everyone wants to be a part of a tribe, and they work daily to serve as a vital space for their community.

 

 

Chef Carlos Beza, sous chef at Ammoora, garnishes a plate of short rib freekeh on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

The Dish: How a tech millionaire cracked the code for Syrian fine dining
by Matti Gellman
Published December 27 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: From the age of 4, Jay Salkini would follow his father to the largest orchards in Syria and watch as he haggled over olives and cheese.

The bidding would begin at $100, to which the elder Salkini would scoff, propose $70 and wait for the vendor to meet him halfway. The dance went on until the father and son slinked off with bundles of produce and a standing invitation to dinner.

“He knew how to make every vendor treat him as part of the family,” Jay Salkini said of his father, who ran a company producing Syrian goods.

 

 

Toki Underground's opening in July was one of many bright spots during a fun and busy year for Baltimore restaurants.

The Year in Food: Baltimore’s Biggest Bites of 2023
by Kit Pollard
Published December 27 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: After a few rocky years during the pandemic, the Baltimore food and restaurant scene was mostly back to normal in 2023.

Things weren’t always smooth sailing this year – remember that rainy weekend in September that canceled multiple food festivals along with fun Artscape food plans? But for the most part, we were back to doing what we love most – trying out new restaurants, piling our plates at raw bars, downing local brews, and fighting about who has the best crab cakes.

In 2023, we welcomed new spots with open arms and sadly said goodbye to some old favorites. We got excited about pop-ups, watched as local restaurants gained national attention, and celebrated milestones.

 

 

Joyce J. Scott. Photo: Joseph Hyde. Courtesy of Goya Contemporary Gallery.

12 Must-See U.S. Museum Shows in 2024
Published December 25 in ArtNet News

Excerpt: With 2024 just on the horizon, we here at Artnet News have already started planning our visits to the most important, must-see museum exhibitions opening in 2024. If you’re looking for a go-to list of stellar exhibitions opening across the U.S. in the next few months, you’ve come to the right place. Below, find twelve upcoming exhibitions opening through May.

March  – Joyce J. Scott: Walk a Mile in My Dreams
The Baltimore Museum of Art
March 24—July 14, 2024

“Walk a Mile in My Dreams” is not Joyce J. Scott’s first retrospective. It’s not even her first retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art (that distinction belongs to 2000’s “Kickin’ It with the Old Masters.”). But the 2024 exhibition, set to include more than 120 pieces of jewelry and sculpture from the past five decades, will do doubt have extra significance for the septuagenarian artist for a specific reason: it will arrive alongside an already-open survey of work by her mother, the late Elizabeth Talford Scott. The connection between the two women—and the one they shared with their hometown of Baltimore—will surely be a point of emphasis.

“Joyce J. Scott’s sophisticated and virtuosic use of a wide range of materials brings beauty and biting irony to bear on subjects ranging from the traumatic to the transcendental,” the show’s co-curators, Cecilia Wichmann and Catharina Manchanda, said upon announcing the show last summer. “Her intergenerational practice is radical in its commitment to community and place while building self-awareness and empathy. Those who already know Scott’s intimate and revelatory work will be delighted to see the many facets of her practice brought together—and those who encounter her work for the first time can expect to be blown away.”

 

 

Shawn Michael Warren, Oprah Winfrey (2023). Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

A New Portrait of Oprah Winfrey Enters the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection
by Min Chen
Published December 14 in Artnet News

Excerpt: The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., has unveiled the latest addition to its permanent collection: a radiant, full-length portrait of television icon Oprah Winfrey, painted by Chicago-based artist Shawn Michael Warren.

Measuring about six feet by five feet, the work depicts Winfrey in a purple taffeta dress, posed smilingly with a stalk of leaves in her hand amid the garden in her California home. The portrait was revealed at a December 13 ceremony attended by Winfrey, Warren, and Kim Sajet, the museum’s director.

“Through her rise to fame as host and producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah demonstrated an unparalleled ability to connect with people and inspire them to become the best versions of themselves,” Sajet said in a statement. “Her vision and spirit deserve recognition in the nation’s portrait gallery.”

 

 

header image: From left to right: Hummus, beet mutabal and muhamara at Ammoora, a Levantine restaurant in Federal Hill, on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Kylie Cooper)

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