Up, Up and Away
Fletcher M. Gregory, Jr.
While it's comforting to know that the Baltimore Museum of Apathy is finally evolving into a more contemporary animal with its "Cram Sessions," when will this institution ever acknowledge Baltimore artists (Arts & Entertainment, March 10)? Like the other four museums in the city, the BMA continues to snub local talent. And people wonder why B-more artists flee to New York City and the more cosmopolitan Delaware (laugh, but it's true--Delaware loves us) to look for representation. (Ask a Baltimore artist what that word means in this city and you'll get a blank look.) I guess my beef is that in a city the size of Baltimore, there's not much respect for local artists in general.
Yeah, we have street galleries, but how often do BMA folk get out to see local exhibitions? And what happened to the BMA biennial? New York-hearted Grace Hartigan aside, I counted one Baltimore artist in the contemporary wing of the BMA (Tom Miller furniture by the door near the Dan Flavin), and in the BMA photo exhibition there were zero locals--no Joe Kohl (Maryland Art Place, School 33), no Chris Myers (C. Grimaldis Gallery), no Laura Vernon Smith (this year's Maryland Arts Council grant recipient). Instead we got a shabby, condescending show of big-name talent (one Brassaï, one Robert Frank, one Diane Arbus, et cetera) set up like a yard sale.
With all the photographers in this town, it's a shame that the head of the BMA's photo department can't find a baby sitter long enough to go to any local photo shows. I'd also venture to say that the BMA's photo department probably has acquired very little modern Baltimore talent for its collection. Perhaps the local buying public is not adventurous or educated enough to risk investing in Baltimore art outside of droopy-eyed digital dogs and those goddamn watercolor tug boats, but if there were more support from the invisible art gods of Museum Drive, maybe things would be different. But I hope that with yet another imported curator (the Contemporary, too), the BMA will truly become the contemporary voice of local art.
And while CP's art coverage is eons ahead of that A.P./L.A. Times wire whore, The Baltimore Shame, when will you guys publish an art issue as big as your Big Music and Big Book issues? It's rather disconcerting that artists and some galleries (did you know there's a Fells Point gallery that actually sells Dali, Warhol, Calder, and Rosenquist?) have to come begging (and e-mailing and e-mailing) for coverage while writers and musicians sit back and wait for their annual CP editions. And no, your yearly bitch about Artscape doesn't count!
Yours with (some kind of) manifesto in hand,
Could you please explain to me your cover illustration featuring a balloon reading p.o.w.s for kerry (Feb. 25)? This makes no sense to me. What P.O.W.s? Iraq? Vietnam? World War II, like my father, a prisoner in Stalag Luft III and Stalag VII A? P.O.W.s are not a voting block like a union. Besides, Kerry was not a P.O.W. He is a Vietnam veteran, so "Vietnam Vets for Kerry" or "Vietnam Vets Against the War for Kerry" would make sense. But not "P.O.W.s for Kerry." Did the illustrator mean VFWs? Shouldn't your editors have asked these questions?
I thought I might have missed something about P.O.W.s and Kerry so I checked your article for a mention. Nope, nothing there. I specifically checked the section on Kerry's foreign policy (which is a misnomer since he's voted against every weapon and weapon system since entering the Senate) and nope, nothing there either.
"P.O.W.s for Kerry" is just out of left field. As a commentary, it's irrelevant. As satire, it's baseless. If it's an over-the-top joke, it's not funny. I know at your paper it's a badge of honor to insult sacred institutions, but this time you've gone too far.
Correction: Jefferson Jackson Steele took the photograph of Sallyann Jennings that accompanied last week's Charmed Life (March 10), not the mistakenly credited Sam Holden. Sorry, JJ.
Editor's note: This issue marks the return of Media Circus, our biweekly squint at Baltimore's print and broadcast follies, which now continues in the hands of new ringmaster Brendan Coyne. Turn to page 12 for the first installment.
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