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Baltimore Gallery: Nine April Exhibitions

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Art galleries have always held a sort of mystique for me. While I adore being able to see some of the best (and worst) new art up close and free of charge, if I am being totally honest, these spaces can also be intimidating and confusing, with counterintuitive social cues and etiquette. So before I share with you my list of Baltimore art galleries to visit in April, I want to take a moment and unpack what an art gallery is and does, in the hope that it makes readers feel more comfortable visiting these kinds of spaces in the future.

In general, an art gallery is any space dedicated to exhibiting visual art, offering opportunities for community and commerce. A gallery might look and feel like a museum, but in museums the art has already been collected and is not for sale. In this way, a gallery functions more like a shop or boutique, but in a much more subtle and curated way. A gallery can be located in a standalone space, a storefront, a private residence, or within a larger nonprofit, cultural center, or business. To be considered professional, a gallery must keep certain hours open to the public. They should offer a regularly changing schedule of exhibits featuring solo and group exhibitions, usually every month or two, rather than keeping the same art up indefinitely.

Most galleries host opening receptions and different kinds of artist talks and events; some ask you to RSVP, but all should be free and open to the public. If you want to receive invitations to attend a gallery’s events, just go to their website and sign up via their mailing list. This way you never miss one and, when you show up, your presence is expected.

In Baltimore, we have commercial galleries, college and non-profit galleries, as well as DIY and artist-run galleries, all existing at varying scale. We have a handful of higher end commercial galleries, which are focused most on artists who envision their work in museum collections, so these look and feel more like museumswith professional lighting, wood or concrete floors, and large empty expanses of wall space, emphasizing the high value of individual works. Commercial galleries need to sell art to continue to exist, with a 50/50 split between gallery and artist to cover the gallery’s expenses and to generate funding for the artist’s next big project.

In contrast, a non-profit or college gallery does not need to sell art to stay afloat, so the emphasis is more on community than sales, but you can always ask for a price list if you fall in love with something. Most non-profit galleries are hosted within a larger organization, like a theater, college campus, cultural center, or apartment building so it’s important to check the website for availability because the gallery can have different hours than the larger organization.

Historically, Baltimore’s independent, artist-run spaces have played an outsize role within the arts community, especially for recent art school graduates and artists with an experimental or a non-commercial agenda. Located in warehouses, storefronts, private homes, and businesses, our DIY and artist-run spaces tend to be less formal than commercial galleries, more a labor of love than a business. For those not a part of the community, they can feel cliquey from the outside. However, these are the best spaces for new, culturally curious audiences and patrons to visit because they function as a launching pad for tomorrow’s art superstars and the prices are more accessible. You can always make an appointment to visit when the gallery is mostly empty too.

We don’t learn the names of galleries in art history class; they tend to be invisible, hidden behind a great artist’s success story, and perhaps this is by design, a sales technique. However, when you look at the most successful artists’ careers, there are dozens of talented and dedicated gallery professionals, who function as curator, salesperson, and business owner and whose creativity and ambition matches the artists’. Whether you call them a gallery director, dealer, curator, or gallerist–these are often the hardest working people within the art world who receive the least amount of attention and take on the most risk.

If you’re serious about purchasing anything, set up a one-on-one follow up meeting to discuss the process for acquisition. Some galleries offer payment plans, so if you don’t have all the dough up front, you can still claim the piece you want and pay it off in installments. And if you’re not interested in buying anything, or the art is out of your price range, that’s perfectly fine too, but don’t ask for a discountthose are reserved for museums.

None of this is an intuitive social or economic process, but once you’re well versed in the gallery ecosystem, you can feel more confident in the way you engage, interact, observe, and ask questions. April is a great month for Baltimore galleries, so happy visiting and collecting!

 

Header image details from: Miranda Javid, Andy Yoder, Sheila Crider, Kelly Walker, Waller Gallery Flyer, Tim Tate and Joyce J. Scott, Bill Schmidt, Zhou Zhou, Rosa Leff, Phaan Howng

 

Bill Schmidt, detail image from Made (Up) at the C. Grimaldis Gallery
Bill Schmidt installation shot at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, courtesy of the artist's Instagram

Bill Schmidt, Made (Up) at the C. Grimaldis Gallery
523 N. Charles St., Baltimore
Through April 13

The commercial C. Grimaldis Gallery, which opened in 1977, the longest continually operating gallery in Baltimore, is of high esteem and discerning aesthetics. They launched with a focus on regional and internationally known artists and now participate in a number of international art fairs, so their collector base goes well beyond Baltimore. 

Their current exhibition features beautiful, tightly wound abstract paintings by Bill Schmidt, the director of Maryland Institute College of Art’s post-baccalaureate program from 2006 to 2019 and a prodigious banjo player. This solo show is a chance to put your face as close as you are allowed to observe the myriad layers of tiny marks and color combinations that will stun your eyes into blissful wonder. Schmidt’s paintings are mighty despite being small in stature—all you have to do is look carefully at and through their surfaces to enjoy them.

 

Rosa Leff, cut paper image at Creative Alliance's Amalie Rothschild Gallery
Kelly Walker painting at Creative Alliance's Amalie Rothschild Gallery

Rosa Leff and Kelly Walker, A Fine Pairing at Creative Alliance
Amalie Rothschild Gallery
3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore
Through April 20

A Fine Pairing is a two-person exhibition featuring graffiti-inspired paintings by Baltimore-based artist Kelly Walker and intricately cut paper landscapes by Rosa Leff, now based in Puerto Rico and Baltimore. Located upstairs in the Amalie Rothschild Gallery—a smaller project space at Creative Alliance at the Patterson, formerly a historic theater and now a cultural nonprofit—both artists explore a personal relationship with Baltimore’s urban environment but in markedly different ways.

Walker is interested in the texture and grit of Baltimore streets, embellished with hot pinks and orange spray-painted patterns that form interlocking grids, while Leff meticulously renders Baltimore cityscapes rife with signage, flags, graffiti, and familiar architectural details. Each reaffirms a commitment and love for Baltimore as a site for beautiful imperfection and interaction.

 

Emerge Vol. 3, Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower

‘Emerge Vol. 3, Spring Edition’ at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower
21 S. Eutaw St., Baltimore
Through May 27

The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower is a Baltimore landmark and historic building repurposed to host artist studios, with several different gallery spaces managed by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and curated by Kirk Shannon-Butts. The “Emerge” series, now in its third year, offers a platform to emerging regional artists. 

In the Mezzanine Gallery, painter BlissArmyKnife currently exhibits playful abstractions reminiscent of Art Brut and Jean Dubuffet, in which proliferating compositions appear to be free-associating from pop culture and art history. In the ground floor Lobby Gallery, Xavier Hardison exhibits abstract stone sculptures and wall pieces that resonate with a spiritual energy and resemble stone tablets found by archeologists. In the third floor Members Gallery, Jennifer McBrien exhibits embroidered compositions featuring natural elements like birds and plants, marrying craft and painting into thread-based paintings.

Pro-tip: Visit the Bromo Arts Tower during open hours on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the galleries are free and open. You can also visit the building’s own history museum, climb up all fifteen stories and talk to resident artists in their studios. (The clock tower costs $8 to visit, which I think is silly if the building really wants to attract all kinds of visitors.)

 

Bao Nguyen, "I am a Tree in Your Life," included in This Is Not Your Grave at Eubie Blake Center

This Is Not Your Grave at Eubie Blake National Jazz and Cultural Center
847 N. Howard St., Baltimore
Through April 20

This exhibition, featuring works by Aliana Grace Bailey, Sarah Clough, Huxley Green, Pavlos Liaretidis, Bao Nguyen, and Zhou Zhou, was inspired by Anne Boyer’s poem, “What Resembles the Grave But Isn’t,” which explores healing as a repetitive and meditative act. According to a press release, the group show hosted at this historic nonprofit cultural center on Howard Street features “restorative works, which lead the viewer from diverging paths to a sense of sanctuary.” Using photography, sculpture, print media, performance, and video, these artists collectively address trauma and healing, connecting their own non-linear experiences to universal narratives. 

This exhibition is unique because it was an educational and group effort curated by an entire class of MICA graduate students enrolled in their Master of Fine Arts in Curatorial Practice program, including Victoria Jackson, Rui Jiang, Gabi Kortemeier, Alfonso Sanchez Herrera Lasso, Kai Maries, Deborah Mason, Honey Mautino, Brandon Rochester, Ireanna Rogers, and Maggie Wei, with advisors Jeffry Cudlin and Jose Ruiz.

 

Sheila Crider "Relief" at New Door Creative

Sheila Crider, Relief at New Door Creative
1601 St. Paul St., Baltimore
Through April 27 

New Door Creative is located in a brownstone just a few steps from Penn Station. The small commercial space run by Michelle Talibah has represented artists and their estates for over a decade; they participated in the 32nd Annual Outsider Art Fair in New York just last month. 

The current exhibit is a solo show featuring fiber-based works by Sheila Crider, who uses the language and materials of quilting to present color-filled abstract assemblages. Crider moved to Baltimore in 2022 from Washington, DC, and her new body of work, Relief, explores her migration to a new home, emphasizing themes of movement and transition through intense chromatic relationships, abstract patterns, weaving and abounding layers. You can attend the artist talk on April 13 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Phaan Howng and Andy Yoder at MONO Practice

Phaan Howng and Andy Yoder, Strata of Synthesis at MONO Practice
212 McAllister St., Baltimore
Through May 18

MONO Practice is a tiny gem of a space located in an unassuming garage facing a small community garden in the Station North Arts District. Gallery director and abstract painter Ruri Yi lives upstairs and the delicate precision found in her work is replicated tenfold in the beautiful architectural details of the gallery she and her husband renovated together. Although it’s technically an artist-run space, MONO Practice has the gleaming concrete floors, professional lighting and architectural details of a museum that can elevate works of art. It’s a treat to visit. The gallery focuses on abstract art, specifically by emerging and mid-career artists from Baltimore and beyond who work within modular systems and adaptive patterns. 

In this particular exhibit, Strata of Synthesis, Baltimore-based artist Phaan Howng and DC-based Andy Yoder imagine nature in fantastical ways, envisioning environmental crises combined with sociological stories and elevating the meaning of their everyday environment.

 

Waller Gallery flyer for 'Sprung'

Sprung at Waller Gallery
2420 N. Calvert St., Baltimore
April 12 through May 25

Waller Gallery is located in a Calvert Street rowhouse, which is also the home of director and curator Joy Davis. The Baltimore native spent her 20s in New York, but returned to open the space, which is named after her grandmother. (Davis is also the curator at the Creative Alliance and manages the artist residency there.) 

In Sprung, Waller Gallery’s newest group exhibition for which they’ll have a reception April 12, artists explore the romantic elements of the current season, when renewal and growth are celebrated while baby bunnies frolic and flowers’ fragrance fills the air. 

“Sprung” includes artwork by Adewale Alli, Liz Miller, Raine Dawn Valentine, Savannah Imani Wade, Khadija Jahmila, Aliana Grace Bailey, and Jerome Chester, who were invited to explore the creative energy inherent in nature’s season of fleeting renewal. According to the gallery, Sprung collectively explores new beginnings, amorous longing “and the profound connections between the awakening of nature and the stirring of hearts.” What’s not to like? Unless you have seasonal allergies. 

 

NOW: A Collaboration between Joyce J. Scott and Tim Tate, courtesy of the Goya Contemporary website

NOW: Collaborations by Joyce J. Scott and Tim Tate at Goya Contemporary
3000 Chestnut Ave., Mill Centre Studio 214, Baltimore
April 12 through June 2

If you haven’t yet experienced Joyce J. Scott: Walk a Mile in My Dreams, the artist’s  massive, 50-year retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art, go there first. Then visit this two-person collaborative exhibit with DC-based glass artist Tim Tate. Goya Contemporary, one of Baltimore’s finest commercial galleries located in Hampden’s historic Mill Center, has represented Scott for close to two decades, shepherding her steady ascension to MacArthur Genius in 2016 as well as museum acquisitions across the world. Part of the support the gallery has provided her has been the opportunity to experiment and collaborate. 

Glass is currently viewed more as a craft material than fine art, but both Scott and Tate have long proven the medium’s capabilities to address complex social issues like violence, racism, sexism, and homophobia, while utilizing exquisite color and luscious surfaces to draw people into uncomfortable conversations. This new exhibit includes works by each artist as well as pieces made together. The artists continue a craft-based activist conversation, showing how versatile and expressive the medium of glass can be. There will be a reception for the exhibit on April 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Having A Body Flyer at Current
Miranda Javid, "Talking To A Branch," at Current

Miranda Javid and Brendan Sullivan, Having a Body in main gallery at Current Space 
2024 Baker Artist Award Finalist Showcase in Project Space at Current Space
421 N. Howard St., Baltimore
April 20 through June 2 

Current Space started out as an artist-run collective space in an unused building near the Inner Harbor. It’s now run by Michael Benevento and Julianne Hamilton as a non-profit on Howard Street in the Bromo Arts District. There is a beautiful performance space and bar out back, so on any given night it hosts a buzzy mix of artists in the main gallery and project area, as well as offering fashion shows, concerts, and high performing cocktails. 

Starting on April 20, the new exhibit in Current’s main gallery, Having a Body, features sculpture, drawing, and animation by Miranda Javid and Brendan Sullivan. Both artists work primarily in black and white sketches. Their drawings are poetically simple and rife with humor, reflecting the changing nature of the internal and external self. Expect exquisite animations where lyrical marks form writhing, wriggling bodies and beautiful, simply colored drawings that combine pattern, lithe brushwork, and enigmatic moments. An opening reception is planned for April 20 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

In their newly reopened Project Space, Current will simultaneously host the 2024 Baker Artist Award Finalist Showcase featuring visual and interdisciplinary arts award nominees including Sara Prigodich, Katie O’Keefe, Tony Shore, Schroeder Cherry, Andrea Sherrill-Evans, Bruce Willen, Pamela Woolford, Phylicia Ghee, Selin Balci, and Kelley Bell.

 

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