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Public Artist

Talking Artscape, murals, and moving on with BOPA's Gary Kachadourian

Frank Klein
Gary Kachadourian says he does some of his best thinking--and drawing--on the bus.
"Trash Container," one of Kachadourian's series of life-size prints he draws on paper then enlarges to mammoth scale.
A detail of "Motors Installation," a collection of doodle drawings Kachadourian has been creating since he was in junior high school.
Frank Klein

By Tim Hill | Posted 8/12/2009

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CP: If you can look back to 1987 and the city's art environment--what changes have taken place?

GK: (pauses, thinks) Everything changes, but it's pretty much always artists making art. There are big changes [within] that. When I started, the kind of core mass of artists were in their early to mid-30s, which is the post-World War II baby boom, and now you're looking at artists who are the children of the post-World War II baby boom. The core mass of artists now are like 23 to 28, probably. About five or six years ago it started to transition, because the people that were really active started to have kids and have bigger jobs, and if they were making art they didn't have a lot of time to push it.

City-wise, like I said, it's always artists making art. There were really good artists making art then, and there are really good artists making art now. Are there more [now]? Maybe a little more. However many people graduate from MICA is largely how many artists there are in Baltimore, or some ratio thereof.

CP: Baltimore used to be a place where it was a great place to live because it was very cheap. It may not be that so much anymore, but it seems like a pretty fertile environment for artists still.

GK: It stays fertile. I think it's, uh . . . let's see, how do you say that? (pauses) I'm trying to think if I am supposed keep it super positive or just kind of, "I've lived in Baltimore too long." (laughs)

It's been super-fertile lately for music cause people have figured out it's a great base to tour from. But it is totally dependent on touring--if you don't tour, it's not going to be as fertile. For the visual artists, I think there's still that trick of figuring out how to make it that way. For the visual artists, still the biggest single strength is you have a lot of new talent appearing every year because you have a major art school at the center of the city, and you have a city that's pretty open and loose so you can do a lot of different things. So it's a good place to experiment, it's a good place to meet up with other people.

It's also beneficial partially because of its failings. Because there's no art market here, there's really no competition for the dollars among the artists, so they actually tend to be more supportive and more interested in just seeing stuff happen, instead of thinking, Wait a minute, man, I gotta corner this for myself because there's actually money to be made. Largely you're doing art in Baltimore because you wanna make art.

It's always been a good town that way, but it was a good town when I started, too. It's a different core group of artists, but some are still doing heavy stuff. Somebody like Laure Drogoul was kind of at the peak of her output in '87 and still is at the peak of her output in 2009.

How has it changed? It kind of stays the same.

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