The Year in Art
The year's past first Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays have been ridiculously event-packed. How to make it to all the openings, happenings, readings, performances, whathaveyous? And it was during just one such failed attempt to bop around town to four or 11 different openings that the thought flashed through the brain: Just when did Baltimore get so effing jam-packed with visual-arts events?
It didn't happen overnight, that's for sure. For what feels like forever under-the-radar DIY was the only vital thing going on around town. Recent years have witnessed a flowering of upstart galleries and spaces, our fair burg finally starting to gain the wall-space real estate commensurate with its artist population. We still have a ways to go--we need more galleries working with and for both clients and artists to bulk up Baltimore's middle ground between pants-seat guerrilla show and big-ticket museum show--but it feels that seeds for such are being sown.
More importantly, everybody--artists, curators, museums, gallery owners--are stepping their games up. Kudos to the American Visionary Art Museum's, Baltimore Museum of Art's, and Walters Arts Museum's continued strong, creative exhibitions--and much love for the BMA's Darsie Alexander, who is not only bringing strong work to the BMA but also adding a much needed sense of play to local contemporary art. The BMA's outdoor works during October's Free Fall Baltimore were a welcome visual feast, and anybody who welcomes the Lexie Mountain Boys to build human pyramids in the sculpture garden is A-OK by our books.
That eye on quality continued down to the smaller galleries and spaces. God bless Area 405, Current Gallery, Load of Fun Studios, Sub-Basement Artists Studios, and all that sail with them. Congrats, Jackie Milad, on taking over Goucher College's Rosenberg Gallery and continuing its fine exhibition runs. Cheers, city of Baltimore, for awarding $25,000 to the much deserving Laure Drogoul with the inaugural Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize at this past year's Artscape--now, please let us know that such a needed, juried artist's funding source is going to continue in some fashion annually. And to the late Peter Zahorecz, thanks for everything.
The most memorable show of the year, though, was also the most unusual show of the year. The Contemporary Museum's Headquarters marked a high-water mark for the quasi-political shows that have coursed through Baltimore over the past two years, and which continues with Re:location at the Contemporary right now. Whether or not these shows will yield vital art or politics remains to be seen; that they're sincerely trying to bridge the many gaps between local art and local activism is without doubt. Salud. (Bret McCabe)
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