BmoreArt News: Black Businesses on Read Street, Joseph Orzal, Julia Fleischaker

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DC’s New Art World Consigliere

This week’s news includes:  Black businesses return to Read Street, Joseph Orzal + NoMüNoMü, what Julia Fleischaker is reading, Amos Badertscher in Art Forum, Greenmount Avenue’s Thai Restaurant closes, Women Creators at The Walters Art Museum, Six Black Baltimore Creatives, Launch of free public Wi-Fi for Baltimoreans, Spring Programs at the Walters, JBGB’s restaurant closes, and Changes to SNAP rules — with reporting from WYPR, The AFRO, The Baltimore Banner, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Joseph Orzal + NoMüNoMü in Baltimore Magazine, Photography by Matt Roth


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Mount Vernon Records on Read Street in Mount Vernon on Dec. 28, 2023. (Nick Thieme/The Baltimore Banner)

A Black business renaissance is blooming on Mount Vernon’s Read Street
by Nick Thieme
Published January 3 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Many people are familiar with Mt. Vernon’s major landmarks — Mount Vernon Place, the Washington Monument, the Peabody. Some residents know it for the 20th-century gay and arts revivals that nicknamed it Baltimore’s Greenwich Village. But fewer know Read Street and its 19th-century Black history.

Read Street has become a vibrant community of Black-owned residences, buildings, and businesses with at least five Black-owned stores opening in the just two years since pandemic lockdowns abated. Many of them take in each other’s mail, clean each other’s garbage, collaborate on events and, just generally, look out for one another.

This Read Street renaissance returns the street to a time when Black-owned business flourished there.

… this story continues. Read the rest courtesy of The Baltimore Banner: A Black business renaissance is blooming on Mount Vernon’s Read Street



Amos Badertscher, Dennis and the Ladder, 2001, ink-jet print, 24 × 18”.

Amos Badertscher
by Stephen Frailey
Published December 31 in ArtForum

Excerpt: Art history has recently seemed flexible, recuperating a handful of those who have been neglected from the canon for reasons tediously familiar: lack of proximity to power, a detachment from fashionable critical agendas, the mercurial taste of the market, or just simple stubborn independence—languishing unknown in both province and cosmopolitan capital. When an artist is salvaged from the rubble of obscurity, their patina of authenticity can be burnished by withstanding neglect. Ideally, this process of mainstream “discovery” is part of a systemic recalibration of privilege and an acknowledgment of marginalized identities—an attempt at correcting the record.

Amos Badertscher (1936–2023) was largely unknown beyond a coterie of local admirers and certain historians of queer culture. Badertscher photographed drag queens, hustlers, street kids, rent boys, barflies, and junkies, documenting his City of Night in Catholic Baltimore from the mid-1960s to 2005, scrawling his detailed recollections within the margins of black-and-white prints, overexposed and redolent of the darkroom. “Lost Boys: Amos Badertscher’s Baltimore,” an abundant survey of the artist’s work here, was the first thorough retrospective of his output, and an opportunity to include it in an important and enduring tradition of photography—from Brassaï to Juergen Teller—that reveals all the splendid misbehavior lurking beneath the veneer of polite society.



Photography by Matt Roth

Downtown Gallery NoMüNoMü is Creating a Community for Marginalized Artists
by Grace Hebron
Published January 3 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: On a gray afternoon in November, NoMüNoMü is largely empty, aside from Joseph Orzal, who contemplates the multi-colored artworks that hang on the walls. But on any given weekend, the downtown gallery on Howard Street is packed with young creatives, all curious about the exhibitions and events hosted by this “intersectional arts collaborative.”

“[The typical museum] is not for people, it’s for the donors,” says Orzal, creative director at NoMüNoMü and former staffer at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., where he grew up.

As a first-generation son of immigrants, he found local art museums to be exclusive in their formality and unwelcoming to people of color with their Eurocentric collections. Which is why, in 2014, Orzal co-founded NoMüNoMü, an art gallery and workspace for marginalized artists who have largely been left out of mainstream art museums.



Julia Fleischaker, the owner of Greedy Reads bookstores in Baltimore.

Julia Fleischaker (Audio)
by Tom Hall
Aired January 2 on WYPR’s What are You Reading?

Excerpt: Tom talks with Julia Fleischaker, the owner of Greedy Reads bookstores in Baltimore.

Julia is recommending:

This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno
The Woman in Me by Britney Spears



Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced the launch of free public Wi-Fi throughout the city. Recreational and senior centers will be the first to offer the new Wi-Fi. Middle Branch Recreation Center and Solo Gibbs Recreation Center’s free Wi-Fi is live. Photo courtesy of Baltimore City Office of the Mayor, / J.J. McQueen

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott launches first phase of free public Wi-Fi
by Tashi McQueen
Published December 26 in The AFRO

Excerpt: Mayor Brandon M. Scott, alongside other city officials, recently announced the launch of free public Wi-Fi for Baltimoreans and visitors.

“In this digital age, digital equity is one of the defining civil rights issues of our time,” said Scott. “We must work to close the digital divide to help shape the future of our communities and of Baltimore.”

According to Baltimore’s Digital Inclusion Strategy, 73 percent of white households have broadband access compared to 50 percent of Black households. About 38 percent of low-income households lack a computer device or only have access to a smartphone.



Women Creators are Illuminated in a New Rare Books and Manuscripts Installation at the Walters Art Museum

BALTIMORE, MD (December 18, 2023, Press Release) – New on the Bookshelf: The Creative Power of Women, an intimate display showcasing recently acquired works by women, is now on view at the Walters Art Museum. Celebrating the creative power of women in the book arts, the installation features ten new additions to the Walters’ Rare Books and Manuscripts collection, revealing how creating with ink, paint, paper, and parchment can be an empowering and, at times, a rebellious act. This installation is the second in a two-part series introducing the new permanent manuscripts gallery and is on view through May 2024.

“The recent additions to the Walters collections on view in New on the Bookshelf: The Creative Power of Women allow us to celebrate the sweeping impact of women in the book arts at all levels. Each of these works were printed, illuminated, commissioned, designed, or written by women, and have the potential to shift the narrative around women creators,” said Julia Marciari-Alexander, Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director. “Understanding these objects, the artists who created them, and why they were made reveals that these objects are not just artistic creations, but also a means of business and entrepreneurship and a way to preserve family, history, and identity. At the moment, there are several extraordinary exhibitions at local institutions—including at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts—that speak to the power of female creators, and this installment of New on the Bookshelf adds to this exciting and necessary conversation.”

Standout objects on view include three books printed by the Calderón-Benavides family: the Oracion panegyrica (1683), the Exaltacion Magnifica de la Betlemitica (1697), and the Distribucion de las Obras Ordinaria, y extraordinarias del dia (1712). A family tree detailing seven generations of the Calderón-Benavides family printers is included in the installation’s didactics, detailing the many women who ran the press across nearly 200 years.. This tree presents a visual guide to the collected works from the family and sets the stage for the exhibition to tell the story of “widow printers,” a term used for women who took on their husband’s printing presses after they died.

The stories in the exhibition also demonstrate how bookmaking and writing could be deceptively rebellious acts. Clothilde Coulaux, the scribe and artist of the Clothilde Missal, was a young woman living in German-occupied France. On its surface, the Clothide Missal is a beautiful and humorous book, but closer examination shows that Clothilde used her book to privately resist the German occupation, choosing to write in French as opposed to German, and including the figure of Joan of Arc, a symbol of French rebellion. Other stories include Frances Macdonald’s binding design, which features a sensual depiction of the Virgin Mary as a challenge to how 19th-century society viewed women; and a letter written by Sybby Grant, the enslaved cook of Dr. John Hanson Thomas of 1 West Mount Vernon Place, also known as Hackerman House, whose letter was considered rebellious for the mere acts of reading and writing, which were illegal for most enslaved people.



Billy and Soy stand Tuesday in an empty dining room that once served the Waverly neighborhood for 43 years. (Nat Mettawiparee)

The Dish: Why did this 43-year-old Thai Restaurant in Waverly suddenly close?
by Matti Gellman
Published January 3 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: On New Year’s Eve, Billy Mettawiparee had little to celebrate.

He roamed Greenmount Avenue’s Thai Restaurant, a family business since the early 80s, and began to disconnect appliances. The “cleanup”, as he called it, was more than a matter of wiping down countertops; it was calling old customers, removing walls of Zagat ratings, awards and friendly newspaper clippings — packing up 43 years spent serving the Waverly neighborhood.

The restaurant closed on Dec. 30. Unlike other notable Baltimore eateries, Thai Restaurant did not shutter before year’s end due to pandemic-era losses or dwindling foot traffic. In September, the property’s new landlord told Mettawiparee he needed to leave 3316 Greenmount Ave. by Dec. 31.

They plan to open a Pizza and Halal spot in the restaurant’s place, said Anjum Zeeshan, a family member of the landlord, who bought the property on May 18.



Photo Courtesy Of The Institute For Justice

Victory for Maryland grocer changes federal rules for SNAP vendors
by Emily Hofstaedter
Published December 29 in WYPR

Excerpt: A federal regulation that prevented most people with drug and alcohol convictions from becoming vendors that accept food benefits has been changed after a Maryland grocer won his lawsuit with the federal government in December. Under new regulations, that prohibition will largely be limited to vendors who committed drug and alcohol offenses on their store property.

“We were delighted,” said Altimont Mark Wilks of Hagerstown when asked about his reaction to the news. It was Wilks’ lawsuit that ultimately brought about the regulation change.

“It really impacted not only our business and our lives, personally, but also our communities in Frederick and Hagerstown, because we were not able to supply affordable food and beverage to low income families who were SNAP recipients,” he said.



Game changers: 6 Black Maryland creatives who stood out in 2023
by Tramon Lucas and Taji Burris
Published December 29 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Does it seem like time goes by faster each year? It’s almost like if you blink, January turns into December. You know what you couldn’t have missed, though? The impact of these six Black Baltimore creatives in 2023.

They are people who have made Baltimore proud by elevating their brand through hard work and consistency. All steadily deliver original content that exemplifies their uniqueness and why the city rallies behind them.

Whether these creatives are motivating their audience with music, keeping them updated with news or just saying where they should avoid eating, each has had a positive influence on the city they call home.



The Banner’s Jamyla Krempel stares down a JBGB’s pizza. (Lee Krempel)

After just over two years in Remington, JBGB’s closes its doors
by Matti Gellman
Published January 3 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Andrea Romesser expected JBGB’s restaurant to be slammed with customers when she arrived for her New Year’s Eve shift.

Instead, the lead server found empty tables.

The highly anticipated night was the latest disappointment in what had been weeks of lackluster foot traffic. At times, the restaurant would close early, she said. It finally came to a head when she received a message Monday from owner Robert Voss, explaining that the restaurant would permanently close effective Tuesday.

The butchery would be offering discounted meats and grocery goods to customers until their doors shuttered on Sunday.



header image: Jessica Whittingham, Down Home, 2022, mixed-media collage, 60 × 40″.

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