Art I’d Buy: Highlights from the 2024 Creative Alliance Marquee Ball Auction

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On Saturday night, the Creative Alliance will once again host their signature gala event: The Marquee Ball. It’s Baltimore’s costume party to end all costume parties, where artists often spend weeks creating looks that are beautiful, bizarre, and clever. It’s a massive fundraiser that includes live music, dancing, and all kinds of interactive performances. This year’s theme is Illusion, harkening back to the “Golden Age of Magic at the turn of the 20th Century, when the artistry of stage performers, magicians, and illusionists filled us with shock and awe!”

Honestly. What kind of wardrobe challenge is this?? I am not a creative wardrobe person, so I have no idea what I’m going to wear, but I will come up with something. I always do! Past themes have included The Wizard of Oz, Warhol’s Factory, Disco Nights, Rio, and Mad Max and BmoreArt has the photo archives from past Marquee Balls to prove how seriously guests take this epic wardrobe challenge.

This year, CA has created a Pinterest Board and suggests a visit to Milk & Ice Vintage for magical, mystifying costume and styling ideas. [You can even contact them to set up a private, personal shopping experience!] CA also suggested watching The Prestige, Howl’s Moving Castle, Presto, or Houdini films for inspiration, which I am probably not going to do, but I appreciate the suggestion.

For the costume challenged like me, their description of the event kinda helps: “For one night only, daring feats of escapism, disappearing acts, fortune-telling, and mystical wonders abound in the historic Patterson Theater! Step into a world where nothing is as it seems. Experience mysterious decor, captivating costumes, supernatural cocktails, and enchanting entertainment that defies reality and draws you into the magic!” So… like… stars and fortune teller chic? Harry Potter? Top hats? AI robots? I have a few days left to figure it out.


Marquee Ball, Creative Alliance 2023 by E. Brady Robinson
Marquee Ball, Creative Alliance 2023 by E. Brady Robinson

Costume issues aside, this party is fun because you walk into a larger than life, comprehensive installation where the entire Patterson Theater is transformed by talented artists into a wonderland of unusual detail. AND–every year there is a silent auction. This year, the main gallery will be packed with over 80 works from area artists, and the funds raised will support the organization’s free youth and community programs.

In past years I have bid on, and sometimes won, some incredible pieces that are prominently displayed in my home–and form the heart of a growing contemporary collection that I am proud of. I also have to admit that I still have MAJOR REGRETS over works of art that I did not bid on in the past (OMG some of those Joyce Scott pieces currently up at the BMA!!!😭😭) or perhaps did not think I could afford to bid on, but in retrospect I wish I had, because the value of many of these pieces is now approaching student loan balance amounts.

Hopefully I will see you this weekend at the Marquee Ball! While everyone else is boozing and dancing and taking selfies of their amazing costumes, I will be perusing every single work of art on the walls, looking for the next addition to my collection. For those interested in early bidding, in person or even from a distance, Creative Alliance is offering the chance for early acquisitions. From Thursday April 25 at Noon to Saturday April 27 at Noon, a select group of artwork will be available to Buy It Now! You can visit the art shop here: on April 25.

Whether you’d rather shop in person or from home, I encourage everyone to get a ticket for this incredible event–not just because it’s a great time, but because it supports one of Baltimore’s very best cultural organizations that does so much for so many different creative communities in Baltimore. There will be inspired party decor, incredible costumes, as well as open studios for resident artists, live and silent auctions, and a wild dance party with music from Rufus Roundtree & Da B’more Brass Factory on the main stage. I guarantee that you will have fun.

In the meantime, I am sharing with BmoreArt readers a very select preview of auction artworks that I would personally love to acquire. This is a completely subjective list based upon my own taste and research, and I know that sharing it isn’t necessarily great for my wallet, but I encourage everyone to show up with CREDIT CARDS so you can spend more on art than you did on your costume!


2024 Marquee Ball: ILLUSION! Saturday | April 27, 2024 | Info & Tickets


It Takes Courage To Ride (Fly) Free, 2023, B&W photo by Anna Divinagracia
Ada Pinkston, Landmarked Pt VI. A Tribute to Fannie Lou Hamer, 2018, archival digital print unlimited edition
Rosa Leff, Paper, 2020, handcut paper
Form between nature and myself, 2024, by Ara Ko, charcoal on canvas
Light Dances Through Dark Forms, 2021, Farida Hughes, oil and resin on wood
George Halkias, George had cataracts #1, 2021, Paint marker on canvas
Emma Childs, Untitled, 2020, Acrylic on canvas
Rivendell Pack by Gary Kachadourian, 2024, Mezzotint (print)
Bria Sterling Wilson, Photo Collage
Sara Dittrich, Cyanotype Study 1
Interval #1 by Lou Joseph, Acrylic, latex and spray paint on recycled vinyl
Angel Sconce Black Wings, assemblage by Schroeder Cherry
Kini Collins, Nest 2.0
Gina Pierleoni, Women Hold Community Together
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