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Artist Books, the Gateway Drug into Art Collecting

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Three years in the making, City of Artists is the first full-length book from BmoreArt, and it is unlike any project we have ever done before. However, over the last two years, we have forged a new publishing initiative to include small edition artist books and we see this as an exciting future direction, to continue to publish our own books and also in collaboration with others.

Once designer Raquel Castedo joined the BmoreArt team in 2022, we began to experiment with book design, producing three in 2023, in addition to our biannual print journals. The artist books were all markedly different and created in conjunction with the exhibits at BmoreArt’s Connect+Collect gallery.

Although we originally had planned exhibition catalogs, we quickly realized the power of a book to function as an art object in itself. Instead, we decided to create unique publications that reinforced the concept and style of the artists we were showing, each with its own graphic identity, and to make them available to collectors who may not be able to afford to buy individual works of art at that time.

During this period of experimentation, we had already commissioned the text for City of Artists, inviting sixteen globally recognized writers–novelists, journalists, and art historians, all based in Baltimore–to write short essays about a specific place in Baltimore that held special meaning for them. Our goal was to commission essays that would allow writers of esteem to turn their focus on the city that sustains them creatively, to discern how Baltimore acts as a source of inspiration, but to do so through personal stories that often embedded historic research into their place-based subject matter.

 

City of Artists, photo by Vivian Doering
Sheri Booker reads from her essay at the City of Artists release event, Enoch Pratt Free Library
Ed Berlin with City of Artists book at the Enoch Pratt Library

After the editing process was finished, the next step was to select Baltimore-based visual artists whose careers also sit on the cusp of local and global whose images felt connected to individual stories, either in subject matter or style. We wanted to create distinct pairings between writers and artists and to present multiple strategies for expressing similar ideas.

The result, which took a year of conversations, organizing, emailing, and all manner of contracts, features 220 pages of personal reflections from leading writers alongside portfolios from the city’s most celebrated visual artists. In inspired text and rich visuals, the book offers a multifaceted and diverse perspective of a place we all know well and love, where authors explore specific moments that shaped their creative vision and visual artists offer bodies of work inspired by materials, ideas, and experiences of their hometown.

Now that it is complete, we are so proud that City of Artists tells a multifaceted story about living and creating in Baltimore and how the city influences and informs the creative process.

By the end of December, 2023 we had SOLD OUT of the first edition of City of Artists, but we are excited to announce a second printing is hot off the press this March and books are again available

We have planned 2024 as a year of events to feature all thirty-two authors and artists—including readings, salon style talks, panel discussions at area institutions, and exhibitions in our Connect+Collect Gallery.

In the meantime, please enjoy this video and photo recap of our very first City of Artists release event on December 8, 2023 at the Enoch Pratt Library featuring readings by Scott Shane, Sheri Booker, Lane Harlan, Ed Doyle-Gillespie, and BmoreArt editor and publisher Cara Ober as moderator.

If you’d like more, you can watch the event in its entirety here:

Please note the correction from the Pratt’s original title from this event. Our authors that night included Scott Shane, Sheri Booker, Lane Harlan, and Ed Doyle-Gillespie.

 

Cara Ober, Scott Shane, Ed Doyle Gillespie
Lana Harlan reads her essay at the City of Artists release event, Enoch Pratt Free Library
Ed Doyle-Gillespie and Sheri Booker
Scott Shane
Ed Doyle-Gillespie
Ed Berlin, City of Artists co-editor in the audience at the release event, Enoch Pratt Free Library
City of Artists Creative Director, Raquel Castedo in the audience, Enoch Pratt Free Library

About the Contributors:

Scott Shane is a former reporter for the New York Times and Baltimore Sun. He is the author of Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone and Dismantling Utopia: How Information Ended the Soviet Union.

Sheri Booker is the author of Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home and the children’s book, Imagine a Brown Girl. She is a lecturer in the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University.

Lane Harlan is the Philippines-born founder of several nationally recognized bars and restaurants in Baltimore. In 2013, she opened W.C. Harlan, a cocktail bar in a dimly lit row home. Her other establishments include: Clavel Mezcaleria, which has been nominated for culinary rewards by the James Beard Foundation three times; Fadensonnen, named “Best Bar in America 2021” by Bon Appeìtit Magazine; Angels Ate Lemons; and the forthcoming cocktail bar, The Coral Wig. In 2021 she was named “Most Interesting Woman in the Restaurant Industry” by Saveur Magazine.

Edward Doyle-Gillespie is a Baltimore poet and writer. He holds a BA in History from George Washington University, and a Master of Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University. He has worked in the fields of education and law enforcement.

​​​About the Moderator:

Cara Ober is an artist, arts writer, curator, and the founding editor and publisher at BMoreArt.

Program Information:

This FREE event was presented in-person and virtually.

 

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