BmoreArt News: Bishme Cromartie; Awards for MICA + The Peale; Tupac, Biggie, and the BSO

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This week’s news includes: Bishme Cromartie at NY Fashion Week, MICA named top Fulbright producer, The Peale wins an award from The Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM), Tupac + Biggie + the BSO, the Lewis Museum featured in article about African American Museums navigating book bans, the Gordon Center celebrates Black History Month, Banneker-Douglass Museum may add Harriet Tubman to their name, Sandy Williams IV sculpture returns to DC, Baltimore/Brazil artist exchange, Baltimore Art Gallery’s anniversary, and the Baltimore Sun may be setting — with reporting from Baltimore Magazine, Hyperallergic, Baltimore Banner, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image:  Bishme Cromartie, Photography by E. Brady Robinson


Celeste Diaz Ferraro - PhD Candidate, Management & Organization Studies - The University of Texas at San Antonio | LinkedIn


Bishme Cromartie —Photography by E. Brady Robinson

Photos: Bishme Cromartie Debuts Bold, Edgy Fall/Winter Collection at NYFW
by E. Brady Robinson
Published February 14 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: On Feb. 13, a snowy afternoon in Manhattan, Baltimore-born designer Bishme Cromartie debuted his fall/winter 2024 collection at New York Fashion Week. In lieu of a traditional runway show, the Project Runway alum presented the new pieces simultaneously—against the backdrop of draped white linens and the soundtrack of high-energy club music in one of the ballrooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Nomad.

The format allowed press, photographers, and other industry pros to deeply study the 20 looks that further Cromartie’s love of fusing streetwear with the avant-garde. Inspired by The Matrix, the black, white, and red collection incorporates everything from edgy jackets and cargos to show-stopping ruffled and draped gowns. As Cromartie puts it: “The collection is intended to be strong, effortlessly sexy, and both masculine and feminine at the same time.”

In the show’s program, the East Baltimore native who attended Hamilton’s Reginald F. Lewis High School thanked his mom and his late sister, Chimere, who passed away from cancer shortly before Cromartie reported to compete on—and eventually win—Project Runway: All Stars last year.

“I’m just thankful,” Cromartie told us in an interview after his win. “I’m thankful I am who I am because of the people that I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with. I’m thankful for this journey. And I’m thankful that I’ll be able to inspire other people.”



MICA Announced Top Producer of Fulbright U.S. Students
Press Release :: February 14

Today, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recognized Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) for being one of the colleges and universities with the highest number of students selected for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Fulbright Top Producing Institutions like MICA value global connection and support members of their campus communities to pursue international opportunities.

Linda Whelihan ‘12 (Art Education MA), who currently supervises student teachers at MICA, was selected for a Fulbright award for the academic year 2023-24. She will be working with the Maasai Trust and the Mara Elephant project in Kenya, developing arts-integrated curricula. This is the sixth year in a row in which at least one MICA student has been selected for the Program, and the 23rd since 1994. Whelihan now becomes the 41st MICA student to receive the distinction.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international academic exchange program. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 talented and accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds with the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. Fulbrighters exchange ideas, build people-to-people connections, and work to address complex global challenges.

“We are very excited for Linda to take her love of comprehensive and holistic arts education to Kenya, where her love of nature and sustainability will find a perfect home. She joins an incredible community of students who have pursued their passions abroad, extending MICA’s ethos of creative connections far beyond our walls,” said Rob Sabal, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

MICA has a rich history of alumni receiving Fulbright scholarships, with students traveling to India, Ukraine, South Korea, Germany, Nigeria, Colombia, Turkey, Cambodia and other countries around the world to further their studies. Students return with renewed energy and perspective on the importance and impact of their practice.

Two notable alumni who received Fulbrights directly after graduation – Louis Fratino ‘15 (Painting BFA) and Adejoke Tugbiyele ‘13 (Rinehart School of Sculpture MFA) – are considered to be working at the highest level of their respective crafts.

“Fulbright’s Top Producing Institutions represent the diversity of America’s higher education community. Dedicated administrators support students and scholars at these institutions to fulfill their potential and rise to address tomorrow’s global challenges. We congratulate them, and all the Fulbrighters who are making an impact the world over,” said Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Applicants to Fulbright at MICA are supported by Mike Rini, Associate Director of Education Abroad & Exchange Services.

Fulbright is a program of the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program.

Fulbright alumni work to make a positive impact on their communities, sectors, and the world and have included 41 heads of state or government, 62 Nobel Laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, 80 MacArthur Fellows, and countless leaders and changemakers who build mutual understanding between the people of the United State and the people of other countries.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit 



The Peale and The MIT Museum for being Honored as 2024 Buildy Award Winners.
Newsletter :: February 8

The Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) is excited to announce two recipients for this year’s Building Museums™ Symposium’s Buildy Award: The MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts and The Peale, Baltimore’s community museum.

The Buildy Award recognizes both museums for their leadership and exemplary accomplishment through the careful, creative planning and diligent implementation of their projects, leading to institutional sustainability. The Buildy Award Selection Committee of the Building Museums™ Symposium chose to honor The Peale for its revitalization of the country’s oldest purpose-built museum to serve its community through grassroots-up programming and hands-on training in architectural preservation skills.

The Buildy Award aims to increase awareness within the field, the public at large, the value of museums, and the need for their ongoing creation, rehabilitation, and expansion to serve future generations.

The Peale is thrilled to receive this recognition at the Building Museumsconference in Philadelphia on March 8, 2024.



Conducting at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

How Tupac and Biggie are helping the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
by Taji Burris
Published February 9 in The Baltimore Banner

When you think of orchestras, you might picture a formulaic evening of sitting for an extended period of time while listening to the same old songs. But the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra wants you to know that there’s more than meets the ear.

This weekend, the group will perform a concert mixing hits from legendary rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac with Mahler’s “Resurrection” symphony.

The show, appropriately dubbed “The Resurrection Mixtape,” is another edition of conductor Steve Hackman’s “Fusion” series. With previous events pairing up artists like Beyoncé and Beethoven, Lady Gaga and Brahms, and Drake and Tchaikovsky, Hackman’s blend of classical music with contemporary R&B, rap and pop encapsulates what modern fandom can look like for the BSO.

“This piece this weekend is a really striking example of that because you’re bringing Mahler, this really established late romantic Austrian composer together with … two of the most iconic rap artists of all time,” Hackman said.

The conductor created “Fusion” so these musical events are inclusive for fans of all genres, not just traditional orchestra pieces.

“I was trained classically as a composer and a conductor so when I got out there into the professional classical music world, I was just struck by how distanced it felt from popular music,” Hackman said. “Having grown up with both kinds of music and having always made both kinds of music myself, I thought there was a real opportunity to create a bridge between the classical and popular worlds to experience music together.”

And while the concerts at the Music Center at Strathmore on Friday and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Saturday will feature works from the ‘90s (both 1890s and 1990s), Hackman said “the message from the source material is just as powerful and essential as ever today.” With overarching themes of racism and triumph in Tupac and Biggie’s music, it’s hard to disagree on its relevancy in 2024.

Tupac, who attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, frequently voiced his disdain with social injustices through interviews and in songs such as “Changes” and “Keep Ya Head Up,” which will both be in the orchestra’s medley. The Brooklyn-born Biggie’s music also heavily influenced hip-hop, and has penned songs about subjects like his mental health (”Suicidal Thoughts”) and time selling drugs (”Things Done Changed”) — tracks that are also apart of BSO’s lineup. But don’t worry: “The Resurrection Mixtape” will also include chart-toppers like “Hypnotize” and “California Love.”

The five featured soloists for the show are all Black artists. Jecorey Arthur, India Carney and Marcus Tenney will handle vocals, Bobby Wooten will be on the electric bass and TaRon Lockett will play the drums. “When you attend a symphony orchestra concert, you might not see as much diversity on the stage as there should be,” Hackman said, adding that he wants to be part of efforts to change that.

The “Fusion” series is just one of the avenues the BSO has taken to diversify their programming. On Thursday night, they held their second annual Lunar New Year concert. Less than two weeks ago, the orchestra played the score of “Back to the Future” live alongside a screening of the film.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra president and CEO Mark Hanson said there has been a noted increase in attendance. Their current season is up by about 7% over last year’s, and the “Fusion” concerts have attracted between 1,500 to 2,000 attendees per show — the majority of which are new to BSO’s database, he said.

“It gives those of us who have been in the orchestra field for a couple of decades a lot of hope,” Hanson said. “These programs are attracting not only new audiences, but younger audiences who are perhaps being attracted to BSO concerts here at the Meyerhoff or at Strathmore for the first time in their life.”

Hackman said the “overall mission” of his series is “to find possible solutions of how to keep the classical art form alive and thriving and to build bridges with new audiences.”

“There are members of our community that maybe haven’t felt like it is a place for them — that maybe haven’t felt that it [the orchestra] is a place where they’re welcome,” he said. “And that’s something that I take very seriously. I’m trying to be part of a movement of change.”

This story was republished with permission from The Baltimore Banner. Visit for more.



A July, 1946 photo of Thurgood Marshall and Vivian Burey from The AFRO American Newspaper Archives, will be on view at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland, for the REVISIT/REIMAGINE exhibition starting February 24 (courtesy AFRO Charities)

How African-American Museums Are Navigating Book Bans
by Rhea Nayyar
Published February 1 in Hyperallergic

Excerpt: As access to information gets politicized through book bans, overreaching legislation under the guise of child safety, and stripped funding for libraries across the nation, where is one supposed to turn when even the encyclopedia has been deemed “inappropriate” in certain spaces?

According to Vedet Coleman-Robinson, executive director of the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), cultural institutions are stepping in to fill the gaps with uncensored and community-oriented programming.

In an interview with Hyperallergic, Coleman-Robinson explained how book bans and information restrictions within the education system have somewhat of a Streisand effect that has sent people running to museums for the full story. Citing the American Alliance of Museums’s 2021 study determining that the American public regards museums as highly trustworthy sources of information, she expressed excitement that “more people are actively approaching institutions to learn about African American history,” both during and beyond Black History Month.



Members of the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco!) perform. Photo courtesy of Philadanco!

The Gordon Center, Meyerhoff Arts Gallery to celebrate Black History Month through dance and art
by Jake Shindel
Published February 14 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: As part of Black History Month, the Gordon Center for Performing Arts is hosting a celebration of Black dance in America throughout the month.

“Celebration: Honoring the Culture and History of Black Dance” is on Feb. 15. It represents “a celebration of the history, diversity, and beauty that resides within African American Culture through the voices of community artists from around Baltimore County,” according to a press release.

Later in the month, more than 1,000 students from Baltimore County Public Schools will attend a performance from the Philadelphia Dance Company, also known as “Philadanco!” The dance company will perform twice on Feb. 29; once during the day for students and another performance in the evening open to the public.



A photographic portrait of famed abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman. (Courtesy of Corey Nickols)

Banneker-Douglass Museum could add Harriet Tubman’s name, an ode to her Maryland roots
by Royale Bonds
Published February 12 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The Maryland Senate has passed a bill that would rename an established Black history museum in Annapolis to better celebrate Harriet Tubman and her ties to Maryland.

The Senate on Thursday voted 44-0 to approve a bill that would add Tubman’s name to that of the 40-year-old Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis. Under the measure, it would become the Banneker-Douglass-Tubman Museum.

The Senate bill, SB 341, is sponsored by Sens. Cory McCray, Malcolm Augustine, Benjamin Brooks, Mary Beth Carozza, Brian Feldman, Jason Gallion, Katie Fry Hester, Cheryl Kagan and Karen Lewis Young.

A companion bill in the House, HB 390, was introduced by Del. Shaneka Henson and reported out favorably by the Health and Government Operations Committee.



40 ACRES: Camp Barker, by Sandy Williams IV. Credit: Courtesy CulturalDC

Sandy Williams IV’s Six-foot-tall Wax Replica of the Lincoln Memorial Returns to DC
by Editorial Team
Published February 12 in East City Art

Excerpt: 40 ACRES: Camp Barker, the captivating six-foot-tall wax replica of the Lincoln Memorial statue by Richmond, Virginia–based artist Sandy Williams IV, is set to make its highly anticipated return to the District. Commissioned by CulturalDC and funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Public Art Building Communities Grant, this thought-provoking piece will reappear once again at Garrison Elementary School (1200 S Street NW) on Thursday, February 15.

40 ACRES: Camp Barker marks the third public installation of Williams’ 40 ACRES Archive: The Wax Monument Series. In this series, Williams creates wax replicas of notable public monuments and cultural symbols — such as Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, and Stonewall Jackson, and President Thomas Jefferson — that include candle wicks to allow the public to engage with the sculptures as they are melted over time. The 40 ACRES Archive is a multidisciplinary project investigating the history of the Reconstruction era, often referred to as the second founding of America.

“Traditionally, monuments are made to sit and collect a patina, as they withstand change, in an attempt to eternalize a particular reality. I am interested in visualizing change and building monuments able to keep a living record of activity,” said artist Sandy Williams IV. “By melting these wax versions of famous monuments, people are given agency over these forms that are normally (legally) untouchable.”



Ariel Barbosa, right, in her Baltimore apartment with Villager, center, and Roy Byrd while they meet remotely with artists in Brazil on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. The artists are members of A Gente, which is an exchange between Black artists in Baltimore and Brazil that engage in deep dialogue and immerse into local culture and their art. (Gail Burton/for the Baltimore Banner)

Artists exchange between Baltimore and Brazil highlights Black culture
by John-John Williams IV
Published February 13 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Seated in a white stucco-walled one-bedroom walk-up in Mount Vernon, the three artists huddled around a laptop eager to get to know the people on the other side of the screen far away in Brazil.

Despite a language barrier, the energy between the two groups was electric — as the artists from two different countries shared stories of their culture and creativity being shaped by a common African ancestry.

This was exactly what Ariel Barbosa was hoping for when she formed A Gente, an exchange between Black artists in Baltimore and Brazil to travel between both locations and connect over their shared African Diaspora roots. For the next year, a cohort of four Baltimore-area artists plus five leaders will participate in the exchange. The group of Americans are scheduled to go to Brazil in late November. The Brazilian contingency will come to Baltimore in June 2025.



The Baltimore Art Gallery Celebrates Valentine’s Day Anniversary
Press Release :: February 8

The Baltimore Art Gallery in Hampden will mark its fourth anniversary celebrating and supporting Baltimore City artists on Valentine’s Day. The Gallery, located on the Avenue in Hampden, invites the public to stop by for chocolates and champagne on Wednesday, February 14 to cheer on its mission of offering original art, by local artists, at accessible prices.

“We are excited to highlight the many wonderful artists of Baltimore City,” says Sonny Lacey, half of the husband and wife duo who established the Gallery. “Considering that we opened in February 2020, just 30 days before the great pandemic shutdown, we are really thrilled to still be here.”

Over the past four years, many significant accomplishments of the Gallery, include the following:

  • Paying local artists over $230,000 in commissions
  • Selling over 2430 individual pieces of art
  • Hosting 45 First Friday Showcase Opening Receptions.

“The local artists in this city make Baltimore great,” says co-owner, Kristin Wiebe, “and even in the darkest days of the pandemic, we were writing commission checks to artists. We’re pretty proud of that, considering we received no pandemic assistance.”

For a sweet Valentine’s treat that will last forever, peruse the Gallery’s artists online: click here

About the Baltimore Art Gallery: The Baltimore Art Gallery in Hampden offers accessible, local, original art. We believe that Baltimore deserves a place to find new art talent as well as appreciate established masters at an affordable level. The Baltimore Art Gallery is as much for the artists of this great town as it is for the discerning and emerging collectors and patrons of original art. Follow us on Instagram



The Baltimore Sun front page is seen, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in Baltimore. David D. Smith, executive chairman of the Sinclair broadcasting chain and an active contributor to conservative causes, has bought Baltimore Sun Media from the investment firm Alden Global Capital. The purchase price was not disclosed. (Lea Skene/AP)

Commentary: Sun takeover risks leaving Baltimore in the dark
by Isaiah Jerome Lewis Poole
Published February 10 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The glow hasn’t lasted very long on the sale of The Baltimore Sun, which initially was characterized by some as “local ownership” rescuing the storied publication from rapacious and parsimonious owners.

The new owner, media executive and conservative donor David D. Smith, met the staff of his acquisition and, as The Baltimore Banner reported, “told employees he has only read [The Sun] four times in the past few months, insulted the quality of their journalism and encouraged them to emulate a TV station (Fox45) owned by his broadcasting company,” including by running daily unscientific online polls.

This behavior serves to validate the worst fears: That The Sun’s journalism under Smith’s ownership will be a deluge of slanted, right-wing agenda-setting, laundered through Fox News-style “fair and balanced” branding. Those fears are based on Smith’s role as executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, infamously known for pushing conservative content through the local newscasts of the nation’s largest collection of owned-and-operated television stations. They are also fueled by Smith’s donations through his family foundation, which The Banner has reported includes large donations to such hard-right organizations as Young Americans for Liberty, Project Veritas, Turning Point USA and Moms for Liberty — all of which play key roles in the Donald Trump/MAGA universe.



header image: Bishme Cromartie—Photography by E. Brady Robinson

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