BmoreArt News: JHU Spends $500k on Baltimore Art, Joyce J. Scott, Mexican + Filipino Food Pop-up

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This week’s news includes: Joyce J. Scott interviewed about her BMA retrospective, Lane Harlan, Carlos Raba, and Rey Eugenio’s Mexican + Filipino Pop-up, Monica Ikegwu on CNN’s “Art is Life” segment, Six Baltimore artists selected for acquisition at JHU, Mark Rothko works on paper at the National Gallery of Art, Black Arts District annual meeting, Mayor Scott announces electrical box artists, Jinji’s Chocolate, One Maryland One Book selection from Myriam J.A. Chancy, artist and doula Lauren Turner, VisArts announces 2024 Bresler Residents, and Gregory W. Branch’s artistic departure — with reporting from Baltimore Magazine, The AFRO, Baltimore Brew, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Sebastian Martorana, Seven Words, photo by Geoff T. Graham, from JHU Hub Article

YARN | This is great news. | Schitt's Creek (2015) - S05E07 A Whisper of Desire | Video gifs by quotes | 199de8a4 | 紗



SHAN Wallace. The Oldest and the Middle

Seeing Baltimore Through a New Lens
by Emily Gaines Buchler
Published March 13 in JHU Hub

Excerpt: If pictures could talk, SHAN Wallace’s The Oldest and the Middle would utter, I’ve got you.

The photo depicts a brother and sister wrapped in each other’s arms on North Avenue in Baltimore.

“When I asked to take their photograph, they said, ‘Let’s show the world how much we love each other,'” says Wallace, the Baltimore-based photographer and mixed-media artist whose work is among nine new contemporary art pieces acquired recently by Johns Hopkins University.

Wallace’s photograph is part of a new university commitment to select artists and artwork representing a broad range of perspectives, with many pieces created by local artists of burgeoning acclaim and reflecting some aspect of Baltimore. The effort, which involved an initial investment of $500,000 over two years and includes plans for future acquisitions, is an outgrowth of the university’s Diverse Names and Narratives Project. A committee made up of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustee representatives selected artwork for purchase and installation.




—Scott: Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art/Goya Contemporary Gallery/Joseph Hyde; 'Evolution,' 1992: Courtesy of the BMA

Joyce J. Scott Discusses Highlights of New BMA Retrospective
by Ron Cassie
Published March 19 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Sandtown-born Joyce Scott learned quilting from her mother, Elizabeth Talford Scott, who learned it from her mother, on the South Carolina plantation where she grew up among a family of sharecroppers. Both went on to acclaimed careers as mixed-media fiber artists, though Joyce, named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow and 2019 Smithsonian Visionary Artist, became more renown for her figurative statues, her jewelry, bead, and glasswork—and, in Baltimore, the massive Memorial Pool installation at Druid Hill Park, which honors the park’s historic segregated swimming pool.

In 2018, the ever-evolving Scott created a towering 15-foot sculpture of Harriet Tubman with a mixture of soil, clay, and straw that was designed to disintegrate into the land near where Tubman led enslaved people to freedom.

With all this and more in mind, the Baltimore Museum of Art presents a 50-year career retrospective of one of the country’s most important working artists today. “Joyce J. Scott: Walk a Mile in My Dreams” opens as a special ticketed exhibition March 24 and runs through July 14 before moving to the Seattle Art Museum.



From left, Lane Harlan, Rey Eugenio and Carlos Raba will take part in a Filipino/Mexican popup Wednesday at Clavel. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Clavel pop-up will show how Mexican and Filipino food — and cultures — overlap
by John-John Williams IV
Published March 19 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: When Lane Harlan opened Clavel Mezcaleria nearly nine years ago with chef Carlos Raba, little did she know that the award-winning Mexican hotspot would actually teach her more about her Filipino heritage.

Many of those lessons will be displayed Wednesday during a cooking collaboration between Raba and Filipino chef Rey Eugenio. For Harlan, the night will be a culmination of what she’s learned about her own background while operating the Remington restaurant.

“Often my mama would taste something off our menu and say, ‘This reminds me of a dish Grandma used to make,’ but I hadn’t spent time looking into historical references,” Harlan said about her Filipino mother.

The connection between Mexico and the Philippines became cemented for Harlan in 2018 when she traveled to the coast of Jalisco to learn more about mezcal. Harlan and her team have been visiting various states in Mexico for almost a decade — accumulating more than 1,200 hours of public education about the spirit.

In Jalisco, Harlan visited a mezcalero who was fermenting agave in stone wells and distilling in a hollowed-out tree trunk. The maker there spoke to her at length about the “Filipino-style” production methods. Interest piqued, the restaurateur went down a rabbit hole that revealed a centuries-long tie between the two countries separated by more than 13,000 miles.

“It is important to highlight the shared history between Filipinos and Mexicans. Filipinos have had an undeniable influence on Mexican cuisine and the production of mezcal in Mexico today,” Harlan said.

Harlan learned that Spanish trading ships, known as the Manila Galleon, linked “Nuevo España” (New Spain) based in Mexico City, to its Asian territories. The trade route, which went between Acapulco, Mexico, and Manila, Philippines, was in use from 1565 to 1815.

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



Photography by Contributor Justin Tsucalas

CNN features Monica Ikegwu on ‘Art is Life’ segment (Video)

Galerie Myrtis is honored to share that Monica Ikegwu was featured on the CNN news segment ‘Art is Life.’ During the interview conducted by correspondent Victor Blackwell, Ikegwu discussed the sense of empowerment her subjects gain through modeling and the importance of visibility. Further, the interview uplifted Monica’s forthcoming solo exhibition with Galerie Myrtis, “Extensions,” opening in the Fall. Band of Vices coordinated the CNN segment.

Ikegwu features in the traveling exhibition The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, currently hosted by the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt through May 26th. Additionally, the painter is among an esteemed group of artists displaying new works during Galerie Myrtis’s debut at EXPO Chicago, Booth #405. Featured alongside Ikegwu are the exceptional artists Ronald Jackson, Megan Lewis, and Delita Martin.

“Black youth are often judged negatively by their appearance; an afro, braids, barbershop cut, tattoo, hoodie, and other traditional dress styles place them in the immediate threat zone. When people outside of the Black community observe my paintings, I want them to try and imagine who the individual is while placing all preconceived notions and stereotypes aside. And when encountering Black youth, I hope they will consider, as when viewing the subject in my work, that the individual’s outward appearance is a positive form of self-expression.

For African Americans viewing my paintings, I want them to feel a sense of connectivity and pride—and discover a familiar face within, one that reminds them of themselves, a friend, or a family member.

My process when creating portraits is to collaborate with the sitter. I allow them to determine their pose and clothing, thus taking charge of their image. Often featured in my paintings are my friends and family members. But I also venture outside of that circle and deliberately select African Americans of varied skin colors to elevate and celebrate the diversity of skin tones within our race.” – Monica Ikegwu



Installation view of Rothko’s easel flanked by two blue and green paintings from 1969 in Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper. Photo by Olivia Niuman for East City Art.

Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper at the National Gallery of Art
by Olivia Niuman
Published March 14 in East City Art

Excerpt: Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper presents a side of the artist that is not well known; indeed, much of the work on view has never been publicly shown. From small watercolor landscapes to looming paintings mounted on hardboard, the exhibit presents a full picture of the artist as he moved beyond the figurative to a style of pure abstraction that engages timeless themes such as tragedy, ecstasy, and doom. Viewers of the show have the privilege of watching this evolution unfold before their eyes.

In many ways, 2023 was the year of Rothko, with a major retrospective in Paris prompting the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection to mount new Rothko pieces to replace the ones on loan overseas. Even though artists often consider works on paper to be preliminary studies or sketches, the show includes over one hundred paintings on paper that Rothko considered to be finished works. Spanning Rothko’s career from his earliest forays into painting to works created right before his death, the show presents the story of the artist’s development as he returned to paper while creating the works on canvas for which he is best known.



Empowering creativity: Highlights from the Black Arts District’s annual meeting
by Ericka Alston Buck
Published March 12 in The Afro

Excerpt: In a celebration of culture, empowerment and community, the Black Arts District (BAD) recently convened for its annual community meeting at the New Song Community Center in Sandtown. At the heart of their mission lies a commitment to use an anti-displacement framework to empower Black creatives and contribute to the ongoing community-based revitalization efforts in West Baltimore through culture, arts and entertainment.

New Song Community Center was packed with a diverse audience. Attendees included staff, board members, local artists, students, investors, supporters and stakeholders, all coming together to celebrate the achievements of the past year and outline the ambitious goals for the future.

One of the focal points of the evening was the presentation of the Black Arts District’s annual report, a testament to the organization’s impactful work in the community. The report showcased impressive accomplishments, demonstrating the agency’s commitment to its mission and the tangible results of their efforts.



(Left) Four portraits of former Baltimore mayors; (Right) An example of an electrical box wrapped in colorful art created by artist Saba Hamidi. Photos courtesy of the Mayor's Office.

Mayor Scott names 10 artists or arts groups to wrap electrical boxes in Baltimore; 150 artists vie to paint mayoral portraits
by Ed Gunts
Published March 14 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Nondescript electrical boxes on utility poles along Pratt Street in Baltimore will get a new look from 10 artists or groups chosen to turn them into works of art.

Mayor Brandon Scott on Thursday announced the winners of the “Downtown RISE Electrical Box Art Competition,” also called the “Wrap the Box” competition, launched by the Mayor’s Office and the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore to find artists to dress up electrical boxes that are usually overlooked as drab pieces of public infrastructure.

It’s the latest twist on bringing art to city streets, after local artist Juliet Ames started a trend of painting the yellow salt boxes that are installed on city street corners every winter. It follows an earlier effort to brighten electrical boxes along portions of Charles Street just before Baltimore’s Artscape festival last year.



Jinji Fraser by Justin Tsucalas

Zen and the Art of Chocolate Making
by Jane Marion | Photography by Justin Tscalas
Published March 18 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: On a crisp fall day, sunlight spills through the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows inside Jinji Chocolate at the corner of Greenmount Avenue and 31st Street in Waverly. The circa-1873 Classical Revival-style building, with its Greek temple-like form, was once the neighborhood’s official town hall—a bustling political and civic centerpiece for the surrounding community. And in many ways, a century and a half later, the function of the space hasn’t changed.

Owner Jinji Fraser swings through the kitchen door of her charming confectionery to tend to patrons who’ve come in to buy truffles or fudge or, in some cases, nothing at all—many flock just to spend time with Fraser, who warmly greets each guest from behind the glass display case. “Are you a neighbor?” she asks some. “Is this your first time visiting?” she asks others.

Jinji’s Chocolate is a chocolate shop, first and foremost, filled with rows of truffles with currants and cranberries, piles of Tuskegee pecan turtles, lines of peanut butter fudge, and trays stacked with Turkish figs stuffed with peanut butter ganache. But ever since opening last October, it’s also quickly become a community hub, whether that means collaborating with neighbors like Local Color Flowersfor an edible flower class, hosting a traditional mole dinner with Neopol Smokery, or providing a place for local musicians to perform as patrons stand at the high-top table and enjoy the vibe over cups of hot drinking chocolate.



Author Myriam J.A. Chancy. Photo by N. Affonso.

‘What Storm, What Thunder’ chosen for 2024’s One Maryland One Book program
by Aliza Worthington
Published March 19 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: A novel about the aftermath of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake has been chosen by Maryland Humanities to be the 2024 One Maryland One Book selection.

“What Storm, What Thunder” by Myriam J.A. Chancy follows an NGO architect, a water-bottling executive, a drug trafficker, an immigrant cab driver, and others in scenes before, after, and during the earthquake. The chaos of the natural disaster upends everything they thought they knew. The book made the shortlist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize and the longlist for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.

The Selection Committee for the One Maryland One Book program includes teachers, scholars, librarians, writers, booksellers, and more. The theme of this year’s program is “Restorative Futures.” “What Storm, What Thunder” was chosen from nearly 250 titles submitted.



Artist Lauren Turner’s works re-create moments of childbirth, motherhood, fatherhood, lactation and more, with an emphasis on people of color. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

From cradle to canvas: How a doula pivoted her advocacy into paintings
by Jasmine Vaughn-Hall
Published March 18 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Lauren Turner can’t help but journey back to experiences of giving birth and motherhood when she sits down to paint.

Turner, who became a doula so she could help other families on their birthing paths, picked up the artform nearly seven years ago when she was postpartum with her second child. Though she’s aided at least a dozen people in her work as a childbirth professional, she found her paintings can be their own avenue of support.

Turner’s works re-create moments of childbirth, motherhood, fatherhood, lactation and more, with an emphasis on people of color. By combining her passion for birth work and maternal health, she aims to create advocacy through art.

… this story continues. Read the rest at The Baltimore Banner: From cradle to canvas: How a doula pivoted her advocacy into paintings



VisArts Announces 2024-2025 Fleur and Charles Bresler Residents
Press Release :: March 15

VisArts is pleased to announce our 2024-2025 Fleur and Charles Bresler Residents: nwaọ, Kiara-Maribel Rivera, and Anna Kroll.

nwaọ, Rivera, and Kroll have been offered four-month residencies that provide a unique opportunity to create a new body of work, evolve an existing body of work, or develop a project in a stimulating, supportive environment. Residents receive a $2,000 stipend and free studio space, and present their work in culminating solo exhibitions.

In addition to the residency at VisArts, Kroll will serve as Montgomery College Artist-in-Residence for three weeks, during which time she’ll be embedded in the Rockville and Germantown art departments, allowing students to work with a contemporary artist other than faculty.

The 2024-2025 Bresler Residents‘ exhibition will be in the Kaplan Gallery from January 31-March 2, 2025



Dr. Gregory Branch and County Executive Johnny Olszewski speak to the media during the Covid pandemic in front of health department offices on York Road. (Baltimore County handout)

Baltimore County’s top health officer was fired for allegedly devoting his workdays to theatrical pursuits
by Mark Reutter
Published March 19 in The Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: The unexplained departure this month of Gregory W. Branch, Baltimore County’s health officer for the last 18 years, appears related to his extensive involvement in outside theatrical productions, including the directorship of a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine choir.

These activities, which had been known by county officials for years but were overlooked, reportedly reached a tipping point when emails and other information underscored the extent of his freelancing during county hours.

“He was doing everything but work,” said a knowlegeable source, who described the March 5 announcement that Branch was “no longer” director of the County Department of Health and Human Services and Baltimore County Health Officer as a firing.



header image: Sebastian Martorana, Seven Words, Marble, photo: Geoff T. Graham

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