BmoreArt News: Key Bridge, Baker Finalists, $2 Million from MacKenzie Scott

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This week’s news includes: J.M. Giordano’s Key Bridge community photo essay, changes at BOPA, Celebrating Joyce J. Scott, Area 405 returns, Baker Award finalists announced, MacKenzie Scott’s $2M donation to two Baltimore non-profits, Maryland Film Festival updates, Jaz Erenberg announced as Pikesville Community mural artist, MSAC Land Acknowledgement updates, electrical box wrap artists, National Portrait Gallery to exhibit American Women in Paris, 1900–1939, and Rubell DC presents 2023 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards  — with reporting from Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Brew, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Road to Nowhere: the truncated terminus of I-695 where the Key Bridge used to span. J.M. Giordano for Baltimore Magazine

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Volunteers at the North Point Edgemere Volunteer Fire Department sort donated goods

Photos: Marylanders Unite in the Aftermath of Key Bridge Collapse
by J.M. Giordano
Published March 27 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Before the collapse of the landmark Francis Scott Key Bridge in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Maryland was a place made up of towns and neighborhoods. But after the Dali cargo ship struck the 47-year-old structure, causing it to crumble in mere seconds, residents from throughout the state united to form one community—Baltimore.

Only hours after the crash, people began to mobilize to support the network of first responders from various counties, making sure that divers, fire personnel, police officers, and EMTs were taken care of.

For those who waited to hear news of loved ones lost when the bridge came down, churches in Turner Station and Dundalk opened their doors to all—including Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr., and both city and county council members.



Marian House, a Baltimore charity founded in 1982, provides transitional housing for women. (Photo courtesy of Marian House)

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gives $2M awards to Baltimore nonprofits
by Hugo Kugiya and Lillian Reed
Published March 19 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: MacKenzie Scott was a child of privilege, and educated at Princeton where she studied creative writing under Toni Morrison. She was previously married to someone named Jeff Bezos and together they started a company in Seattle called Amazon that has done quite well in the few decades it has existed.

Now an accomplished novelist, one of the world’s wealthiest women and a famous philanthropist, Scott has distributed her fortune methodically, leaning hard into social causes. Her dollars have flowed directly into Baltimore — and more is on the way.

Scott’s organization Yield Giving on Tuesday announced new awards of $2 million each to local organizations including Marian House, Wide Angle Youth Media, the St. Francis Neighborhood Center, Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation and the Baltimore Tree Trust.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Katie Allston, president and CEO of Marian House. “We’ve never received an unrestricted gift of this size.”

… this story continues. Read the rest at The Baltimore Banner: Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gives $2M awards to Baltimore nonprofits



Artist Joyce J. Scott sits atop a throne inside a yurt installation in her retrospective exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The joy of celebrating an artist who is still alive — and thriving
by Leslie Gray Streeter
Published March 25 in The Baltimore Banner

I’ve covered many retrospective art shows in my career, taking the invitation to stroll through an artist’s creative biography writ large in paint and clay on walls and platforms. Last week’s preview of the latest such visual memoir at the Baltimore Museum of Art featured the usual: a throng of press, fervent admirers and experts on the artist’s work.

But this time, the main expert was uniquely well-versed in the subject.

“Most retrospectives are dead people,” said Joyce J. Scott, who led the winding, vibrant trip along the path of her own inspiration that is the “Joyce J. Scott: Walk a Mile in My Dreams” exhibit, which can be seen at the BMA through July 14. “I’m alive, and I’m sure it’s been a challenge for them.”

From the love shown to the prolific artist and self-described “Baltimore girl” by the BMA staff, that’s probably not true. From where I stood, she seemed delightful, providing insight into the astonishing breadth of a lifetime of filtering her expressions on what she calls “isms” of all varieties. On display are nearly 140 pieces including sculpture, textiles, intricate beading, jewelry, prints and more. Some evoke a knowing warmth, others a searing pain. All are colorful, complicated, witty and guaranteed to make you think.

“I am someone who is always on a quest,” Scott said, “ to do something different with what exists.”

She came to the art world as part of a beautiful legacy started by her mother, the late Elizabeth Talford Scott, whose work is also currently the subject of its own exhibit at the museum and in several other institutions in and around the Baltimore area.

The elder Scott’s primary medium was quilting, evoking the traditions of her family’s deep roots as sharecroppers and, before that, enslaved people. Elizabeth Talford Scott’s work is featured lovingly in her daughter’s new show, most notably in the striking introductory piece. “The Threads Of My Seat of Knowledge” encompasses a literal seat under a yurt festooned with quilts and books — a throne for a queen whose power is woven from the past and its connection to the present and future.

Joyce J. Scott cautioned visitors not to dismiss such work as easily accessible and folksy, like she’s “from some special space and I’m some magical Negress,” she said. “It’s not improv. I did go to school.”

The Maryland Institute College of Art graduate sat proudly and resplendent in patterns of royal purple as BMA Director Asma Naeem regaled the crowd with highlights of Scott’s storied career, including when she won a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2016.

“Joyce, you are everywhere,” Naeem said.

“Like the influenza or something,” Scott replied, with perfect comic timing. It cannot be overstated how funny she is, not just as a human, but in how she weaves a sense of playfulness into her work, a function of what she calls her “trickster” spirit. Her stories are almost as impressive as her art, like the time she was “thrown out of Brownies because I didn’t get a cut of the [Girl Scout] cookie sales.”

During the preview, the artist was transported in a wheelchair, which she explained she does not usually need but made it easier to travel the length of the exhibit with her bad knee. “But I can still fight,” she said, laughing.

“Walk a Mile in My Dreams” is deliberate, bold and effervescent, much like its creator. It made me grateful that Scott never seemed to follow the edict that women in this society, particularly women of color, should exist quietly and politely. When the floor was opened for questions in the part of the exhibit featuring detailed outfits from the 1970s and 1980s — all of which I would wear — I asked the artist if she was driven artistically and personally by seeking to take up as much space as possible.

After joking that my question could be mistaken for calling her fat, Scott said she was born in a “sweet spot” of history that allowed her to evolve as an artist since her birth in the 1940s through the relative progress that came with each successive decade.

“I know I have power, and I have the prowess and the courage to follow it. I will not be squelched,” Scott explained. “And I’m phat.”

Everyone laughed.

“See, that’s funny!”

Such is her versatility that the show can go from the humorously powerful videos of her “Thunder Thigh Revue” shows from the ’80s with performance partner Kay Lawal-Muhammad to the painful figure of “Lynched Tree,” depicting a woman who has been hanged — a melting figure of beads, metal and tragedy. The piece is installed in unique locations at each place it appears to enhance its message. At New Orleans’ Tulane University, for instance, it clung disturbingly from a tree branch.

“I’m not sure why we are still fooling around with racism,” Scott said, adding that “it’s such a failure for humans to keep doing it.”

I’d advise taking your time walking a mile through Scott’s dream. There’s so much to see, hear and drink in, and no matter what you absorb, it makes a statement. The artist wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I want you to know how bodacious I am,” Scott said. “I want people to go home and drink about it. Why else am I on this earth?”

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



Finalists Announced for the 2024 Baker Artist Awards!
Newsletter :: March 26

Congratulations to the 36 this year’s finalists for the Baker Artist Awards who were selected from close to 700 artists Baker Artist Portfolio site!

The Finalists for the 2024 Baker Artist Awards are:

Visual Arts: Shroeder Cherry, Katie O’Keefe, Sara Prigodich, Andrea Sherrill-Evans, Tony Shore, Stephen Towns

Interdisciplinary: Selin Balci, Kelley Bell, Melissa Hyatt Foss, Phylicia Ghee, Bruce Willen, Pamela Woolford

Film/ Video: Albert Birney, Eric Cotten, Marnie Ellen Hertzler, Corrie Parks, Jimmy Joe Roche, Lynn Tomlinson

Literary Arts:  Michael Downs, Kristina Gaddy, Nguyen Nguyen, Lia Purpura, Patrick Smithwick, Jeannie Vanasco

Music: Judah Adashi, Geffrey Cassuto, Ami Dang, Outcalls Band, Anthony Parker, Daniel Ryan

Performance: Michael Harding, Katie Hileman, Christopher Johnson, Tavia La Follette, Matt Reeves, Allen Xing

Since 2009, the Baker Artist program has awarded over $1.3 million to over 150 artists. This season the Baker Artist Portfolios is bringing back Finalist Showcases. During the month of April, the finalists will be featured in a series of public performances, events, and exhibitions. Don’t miss any of the showcases which can be viewed at

Stay tuned–the 2024 Baker Artist Awardees will be announced in May, and congratulations to 2016 Baker Artist Awardee Joyce J. Scott on the opening of her 50 year retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art!



Representatives of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA) testify during the Baltimore City Council Ways and Means Committee's June 2, 2023 hearing. In the front row (left to right), those representatives included Jocquelyn Downs, senior director of programming and the arts council at BOPA; Brian Wentz, chief financial officer; and Brian Lyles, board chair and president. In the row behind them (left to right) were Todd Yuhanick, interim CEO; Franklin N. McNeil, Jr., board secretary and governance committee chair; and Michael Shecter, executive committee member. Screenshot via Charm TV/YouTube.

BOPA board gets 11 new members and preliminary approval for more operating funds
by Ed Gunts
Published March 25 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The organization that produces Artscape and other major civic events is gaining 11 new board members this month as part of a strategy for addressing concerns about its governance and flawed performance during the tenure of former CEO Donna Drew Sawyer.

With fewer than five months to go before Artscape 2024 in early August, representatives for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) this month provided to City Council members a “draft list” containing the names of 12 people who have been identified to serve on a “2024-2025 Interim Board of Directors,” starting with a board meeting this week.

The names were submitted as part of the BOPA board’s effort to secure $581,334 in funds that were previously withheld until council members were satisfied that the organization has sufficiently addressed concerns voiced by Mayor Brandon Scott and council members related to its governance and operations.



Baltimore’s Cherished Art Hub, Area 405, Reopens with New Exhibition April 5
Press Release :: March 25

Baltimore’s beloved artist gallery and event space at AREA 405 (405 E. Oliver St.) has been closed since January for the complete removal of lead paint. The gallery, whose wood, brick and stone are now beautifully revealed, will re-open with a new art exhibition, which is the first in a year-long sequence of exhibits. Theresa Robertson: AREA 405 Portrait Project’s opening reception will be held on April 5 from 5 – 8 p.m., plus organizers will host a variety of robust programs and events to celebrate Area 405’s re-opening, including a Tea Time Artist Talk, a Baltimore Photo Walk led by Baltimore-based photographer Meaze Getachew, and an Ice Cream Social with Area 405’s studio artists.

Robertson’s AREA 405 Portrait Project exhibits portraits of artists in the studios of AREA 405, documenting the flux of “artistic practice, sites, and modes of production and expression” (extract from “The Art Studio as Archive” by Jenny Sjöholm) of the Baltimore artist community. It celebrates the fluid identity of AREA 405 through the lens of artists and their studios.

“This exhibition originated from a photography project proposed by artist Theresa Robertson, who also participated in the process of the transferral of the building’s ownership as a CBP employee,” said Central Baltimore Partnership Executive Director Ellen Janes. “With intimate photoshoots and conversations, Theresa aptly captures the moments when the new community converges with the building’s 176-year history, forming a new identity for AREA 405.”

“Despite not being able to capture all tenant artists, this exhibition serves as a testament to Theresa’s and the Central Baltimore Partnership team’s commitment to growing and learning alongside the building’s community. The 405 Portrait Project will be an ongoing photographic effort to archive the evolving identity of AREA 405 and the relationships among the artists, their studios, the 405 community, and the Central Baltimore Partnership team,” Janes added.

“When Hans Namuth captured Jackson Pollock in his studio in 1950, five hundred photographs and two films of the artist at work transformed the relationship between the artist, the process of art making, the art, the artist’s studio, and the public,” said Joyce Liang, the curator. “For the first time, the audience gained access to the details of the artist’s studio — which was once an Ivory Tower, with artists and art working in solitary existence. The foregrounded concept of studios provided flesh of context to the barebones of finished artworks, becoming an inseparable element in the making of an artist’s identity.”

The Theresa Robertson: Area 405 Portrait Project exhibition and events are made possible by a grant from the T. Rowe Price Foundation.


See also: AREA 405 re-opening with portrait exhibit after lead paint removal
by Aliza Worthington
Published March 26 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Arts and artists’ hub AREA 405 announced its reopening after being closed since January for the complete removal of lead paint.

The artist gallery and event space will host a new exhibition by Maryland-born artist Theresa Robertson, titled “Theresa Robertson: AREA 405 Portrait Project.” It is the first in a year-long sequence of exhibits, and its opening reception will be held on April 5, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Programs by organizers celebrating AREA 405’s reopening include a Tea Time Artist Talk, a Baltimore Photo Walk led by Baltimore-based photographer Meaze Getachew, and an Ice Cream Social with Area 405’s studio artists.



What do John Waters, Luther Vandross and The Matrix have to do with the MD Film Festival?
by John-John Williams IV
Published March 25 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: After a yearlong hiatus, this May’s Maryland Film Festival will lean into diverse communities with offerings that include a film selected by John Waters, a Luther Vandross documentary, a silent movie from the late Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, and trans short films curated by one of the creators of “The Matrix Trilogy.”

“The festival will offer something for every age, taste, and interest, with a wide array of films and filmmakers, from narrative and documentary to animation, experimental, and hybrid forms, embodying the essence of this year’s theme by exploring the depth and breadth of cinema’s past, present, and future,” KJ Mohr, the festival’s director and director of programming, said in a press release.

”We stand on the shoulders of those who have built this great festival and we are thrilled to guide Maryland Film Festival into its next evolution and into the next quarter century. As we launch into the next 25 years, we are thrilled to be able to again share with our audiences some of the greatest and most exciting new moving image work out there and to explore all the ways that image creation is changing and evolving.”

… this story continues. Read the rest at The Baltimore Banner: What do John Waters, Luther Vandross and The Matrix have to do with the MD Film Festival?



Pikesville Community Mural | Artist Announcement
Newsletter :: March 27

The Pikesville Community Mural Team is proud to announce Jaz Erenberg as artist for the Community Mural on Zips Cleaners! Jaz has a rich background in community and public artwork, is a co-founder of Baltimore’s BRUSH Fest, and created an amazing design for the space!

Please see attached flyer with information about our community meeting, Monday April 1, 6-7:30 PM at the Pikesville Branch of BCPL. This meeting will serve as an opportunity to meet the artist, view the design, and get involved! We request registration and hope to see you there!



A map of historically erased tribes, part of a historical update that is now available at the MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project webpage.

MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Receives Historical Update
Newsletter :: March 26

Maryland Traditions, the traditional arts program of the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), is pleased to announce that a historical update to the MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project is now available online as a public resource. This update includes a map and information on historically erased tribes.

A land acknowledgement statement can be a powerful starting place. Use the process of creating and delivering land acknowledgements to learn more about Indigenous peoples, history, and culture, and to work towards positive change led by Indigenous peoples.

Click here to view the MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide. This guide features best practices, tribal histories and maps, and land acknowledgement statements. It also includes a “Key Concepts” section containing culturally-specific information to help constituents more easily create land acknowledgements. Tribal consultants have reviewed the document for cultural accuracy and approved it.



Art from Brianna McKay, one of the winners of the "Wrap the Box" contest, is seen on an electrical light box at Pratt and South streets. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Here’s who is lighting up the city with their art on electrical boxes
by Taji Burris
Published March 23 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The football season is over, but if you’re strolling along the Inner Harbor, you might still see Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Walk a little further and you’ll see a Billie Holiday campaign poster for this year’s presidential election.

Wondering where it all came from? You have a local competition to thank for these eye-catching sights by local artists on the formerly dull electrical boxes up and down Pratt Street.

The “Wrap the Box” competition is part of Downtown RISE, a revitalization effortby Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration to make this area of the city more appealing. The action plan, which also aims to bring new businesses downtown and improve infrastructure, has an arts-and-culture component that “emphasizes the infusion of arts, culture, entertainment, and placemaking to revitalize the city,” according to a press release.

… this story continues. Read the rest at The Baltimore Banner: Here’s who is lighting up the city with their art on electrical boxes



“Self-Portrait” by Loïs Mailou Jones, casein on board, 1940. Smithsonian American Art Museum; bequest of the artist.

National Portrait Gallery Presents “Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939”
Press Release :: March 26

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will present “Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939,” highlighting the myriad ways that American women contributed to the city’s vibrant modernist milieu. This is the first exhibition to focus on the impact of American women on Paris—and of Paris on American women—from the turn of the 20th century until the outbreak of World War II.

Through portraiture and biography, the exhibition illuminates the accomplishments of more than 60 convention-defying women who crossed the Atlantic to pursue professional goals and lead authentic lives. “Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939” is curated by Robyn Asleson, curator of prints and drawings at the National Portrait Gallery, and will be on view from April 26 through Feb. 23, 2025. A press preview with the curator will be held Thursday, April 25, at 10 a.m. RSVP to [email protected].

Featured in the exhibition of nearly 80 artworks will be portraits of cultural influencers, such as Sylvia Beach, Josephine Baker, Natalie Clifford Barney, Elsie de Wolfe, Isadora Duncan, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Zelda Fitzgerald, Janet Flanner, Peggy Guggenheim, Theresa Helburn, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Florence Mills, Anaïs Nin, Rose O’Neill, Gertrude Stein, Sarah Samuels Stein, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Anna May Wong. As foreigners in a cosmopolitan city, these “exiles” escaped the constraints that limited them at home as a result of prejudices based on gender, class, race, and sexual orientation. Many used their newfound freedom to pursue culture-shifting experiments in a variety of fields, including art, literature, design, publishing, music, fashion, journalism, theater and dance. An impressive number rose to preeminence as cultural arbiters, not merely participating in important modernist initiatives but leading them. The progressive ventures they undertook while living abroad profoundly influenced American culture and opened up new possibilities for women.

“By bringing the experiences of American women to the fore, ‘Brilliant Exiles’ providesa counternarrative to conventional histories of Americans in Paris that focus on the interwar period and the ‘Lost Generation’ of men such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald,” Asleson said. “The exhibition will highlight alternative approaches to modernism developed by women, as well as the enterprises through which they catalyzed creativity and forged interconnected communities.”

The exhibition reveals the dynamic role of portraiture in articulating the new identities that American women were at liberty to develop in Paris, with works by artists including Berenice Abbott, Alice Pike Barney, Romaine Brooks, Anne Goldthwaite, Loïs Mailou Jones, Henri Matisse, Isamu Noguchi, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Anne Estelle Rice, Augusta Savage, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Laura Wheeler Waring and Marguerite Zorach.

The richly illustrated 288-page catalog, published by the National Portrait Gallery and Yale University Press, will feature essays by Asleson and scholars Zakiya R. Adair, Samuel N. Dorf, Tirza True Latimer and T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, as well as a foreword by Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. The book will officially be released May 28. A series of public programs inspired by the exhibition will take place at the Portrait Gallery through winter 2025. For more on related events, visit

The exhibition will travel to the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky (March 29, 2025 to June 22, 2025) and the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia, Athens (July 19, 2025 to Nov. 2, 2025).

“Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939” is presented by Chanel, Inc. and the Terra Foundation for American Art. This project received federal support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the nation’s story.

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at and on Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube.



Rubell Museum DC Presents Award-Winning Artworks by Regional Teens for 2023 Scholastic Art Awards
Press Release :: March 27

Next week, the Rubell Museum DC presents award-winning artworks by creative teens from the DC area and beyond as part of the 2023 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, an initiative of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers that celebrates the artistic achievements of young people across the country. On view from April 3 through May 12, 2024, the exhibition showcases 32 works of all mediums by National Gold Medal winners in grades 7–12, including 4 students from the DMV region.

Each year, a jury of regional artists and arts professionals selects the awarded works from thousands of submissions across 16 categories: Architecture & Industrial Design, Ceramics & Glass, Comic Art, Design, Digital Art, Drawing & Illustration, Editorial Cartoon, Expanded Projects, Fashion, Film & Animation, Jewelry, Mixed Media, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture. Historically, many award winners go on to achieve distinction in the fine arts, applied arts, and design, often crediting their success to the early recognition they received as participants in Scholastic.

Access to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards exhibition is included with Museum general admission for visitors. Information about other exhibitions currently on view at the Museum is available here.

About the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, identifies teenagers with exceptional creative talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Founded in 1923, the Awards program is the longest-running, most prestigious initiative of its kind, having fostered the creativity and talent of millions of students through opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships.

About the Rubell Museum DC

Located at 65 I Street in the Southwest neighborhood, the Rubell Museum DC brings the Rubell Family’s extensive contemporary art collection to the nation’s capital. Dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, the Rubell Museum DC reinvigorates the 1906 building of the former Randall Junior High School, a historically Black public school in Southwest DC that ceased operations in 1978. The museum, which is free for Washington DC residents, serves as a place for the public to engage with the most compelling national and international artists of our time.



header image: Road to Nowhere: the truncated terminus of I-695 where the Key Bridge used to span. J.M. Giordano for Baltimore Magazine

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