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An Interview with MAP Imprint Artist Nathan Danilowicz by Cara Ober

An Interview with MAP Imprint Artist Nathan Danilowicz

by Cara Ober | Bmore Art | December 13, 2013 

After holding its second annual IMPRINT competition, Maryland Art Place announced the 2013 winner: Nathan Danilowicz, a Los Angeles-based artist. The program was launched in 2012 to feature one contemporary artist through the sale of a limited edition of an inkjet print. Prints are sold through MAP and once the sales reach the edition of 100, they will no longer be available. 

Danilowicz’s pen and ink piece selected from MAP’s juried call is part of his Quaternities series, a body of work that includes over 1300, 3 X 3 inch, daily, geometric drawings. The images act as mandalas, or Sanskrit circles, and signify ritual and spiritual meaning for the artist. Danilowicz’s additional sculptures and paintings are all inspired by this series of small drawings.

Although it may seem strange for an LA-based artist to exhibit in Baltimore, Danilowicz has local connections. He earned a BFA from MICA in 2002 before moving on to receive an MFA from the University of California, LA in 2007. Since that time, Danilowicz’s career has progressed steadily upwards. He was a MacDowell Colony Fellow in 2009, with solo exhibits at RAID Projects, Latned Atsär, and Crisp London/Los Angeles. Numerous group exhibitions include shows the Hammer Museum, Torrance Art Museum, and Cal State University’s Luckman Gallery.

While at MICA, the artist studied art history and theory with T.J. Demos as well as poetry with John Yau. He has worked as a studio assistant for Jason Rhoades and later for Mike Kelley. More recently, he has collaborated on text/image projects with writer and theorist Lawrence Rickels as well as fiction writer Brian Evenson.

The annual IMPRINT series was launched last spring at MAP’s Out of Order benefit, but the edition will remain available for purchase for a year and featured in an online archive. Danilowicz’s print will be up at tomorrow’s Under 500 Fundraising Event at MAP, along with small affordable works by sixty local artists. After participating for close to a year as a MAP IMPRINT artist, Danilowicz agreed to have a discussion with Bmoreart about his work, the program, and the direction his career has followed since leaving MICA.

Cara Ober: How did you come to be aware of the Maryland Art Place Imprint Competition?

Nathan Danilowicz: I saw a posting for it on Facebook. Despite my mixed feelings about participating on that website, I do get a lot of my news from it, and that’s also where I learn about a lot of opportunities such as the IMPRINT competition. That being said, I generally keep an eye on what is happening in the Baltimore art scene. Since I lived in Baltimore for about 5 years, I still have friends who live there and MAP has had a strong presence in that city for a long time, so they deserve one’s attention.

CO: Since you’ve graduated from MICA with a BFA in 2002, what have you been doing and where?

ND: Right after MICA I moved to Miami and got into the art scene there. I know some artists who went to Miami’s New World magnet school for art. A lot of those kids move to Baltimore to do get their undergrad degrees at MICA. I ended up working for Frederic Snitzer gallery and I was in Miami for the first Art Basel Miami Beach. After living in Miami for a year I moved back home to focus on my grad school applications, to kind of fill out my portfolio.

I had applied to grad school during my final year at MICA but I was only accepted to one program, a creative writing program, but I didn’t really want to go there, so I waited. I had always wanted to move out west and I really liked UCLA’s program and faculty, so I decided to apply there. In the meantime, I moved back to Baltimore while I was waiting to hear back from the schools that I had applied to. I was working at the Baltimore Museum of Art on the grounds crew, and one day I got a call on my cell phone from Chris Burden and he asked me if I wanted to attend UCLA. I said yes.

CO: A decade later – do you have any advice for current MICA students or recent BFA graduates?

ND: Well, that’s a tough question because there are so many disciplines at MICA and everyone has different goals and aspirations. In general I would say be persistent and just keep exploring and making work. Also if you want to get anywhere you have to participate in the broader discussion and be a bit social. That does not come easy to a lot of artists, certainly not to me, but the idea that someone will stumble upon your brilliant work and come knocking on your door, well it doesn’t really work that way…. unless you’re Henry Darger, but then you’re already dead. Although that is not to say that just making art isn’t fulfilling enough. You don’t have to have a public profile if you don’t want one. It’s about doing what makes you happy. If you don’t feel comfortable going to all of the various social engagements, don’t go. Don’t put yourself through that.

CO: After you were chosen as the MAP Imprint Artist, how did this affect your career? What did the process entail?

ND: That remains to be seen. So far it has increased the exposure of my work in Baltimore, and MAP has made some sales of my prints, so that is good. MAP has a lot of programming so there is always a reason to go there. These kind of things- shows, awards, editions, events, residencies, are all notches on the belt. It may take months or even years for the bigger returns to come. That’s another thing for young people to remember- the relationships you build today might be fruitful many years down the road. A student who curates a show at one of the small galleries at MICA may one day be a gallerist or a museum director. Someone who bought one of my prints may buy one of my paintings a few years from now. Or maybe a writer, such as you, Cara, will come along and want to write about my work or interview me. One thing leads to another and it’s good to keep that in perspective and not expect the world to come to you all at once. Challenging work takes a long time to understand, and it may not be embraced until much later, but it’s usually the better work and the more fulfilling experience.

CO: Aww thanks! Was the experience of working with MAP a positive one? What are your opinions or reactions to the partnership?

ND: Working with MAP was great. They are really professional. The process was pretty streamlined and fluid. We discussed printing methods, sizes, edition size, pricing, all the boring details, but it was a really pleasant experience. It was the kind of thing where you could tell that they were working just as hard as you to complete the project.

CO: What are you currently working on in your studio and what are your upcoming projects or shows?

ND: I am working on large paintings. All of my paintings are based on my smaller drawings. It’s become very self-referrential, or all-internal as I like to refer to it. In fact, I recently completed a painting that is based on the drawing that MAP used for the edition. It turned out really great. I have some group shows coming up, a benefit auction at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and just today I learned that the latest edition of New American Paintings is on the newsstands, so to speak, and my work will be featured inside. It’s issue #109 Pacific Coast. I’m excited about that.


The 2013 IMPRINT Artist Nathan Danilowicz, is featured in New American Paintings Pacific Coast issue due out on newsstands this December/January. The Competition was juried by Janet Bishop the Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

To View Nathan’s profile click here.

IMPRINT is an annual program that was initiated by the MAP staff in 2012 as way to highlight one singular, specific contemporary artist each year that is excelling in their selected media. Every year, MAP’s Program Advisory Committee, Staff & Board of Trustees will collectively select one work of art, by one artist, to be reproduced and sold.


Jonathan Latiano Interview

by Dwayne Butcher | Visual Baltimore, November 7, 2013

This is the third in a series with artists participating in MAPs upcoming event. You can see more of Jonathan's work by visiting his web site.

Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 6:00pm Cocktails | 7:00pm Dinner & Program

Maryland Art Place (MAP) is pleased to announce the participating artists of its 2013 Annual Fall Benefit, the Starlight Dinner - highlighting technology and innovation in contemporary art. The dinner will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6 o’clock in the evening at the beautiful Thames Street Wharf building, located at Harbor Point courtesy Beatty Development.

The Starlight Dinner will feature the work of 15 “Art Stars.” These individuals were selected by MAP’s Program Advisory Committee, Benefit Committee and Staff based on one of two criteria; their relationship and history with MAP and/or their work that directly correlates with the use of technological methods and innovative ideology.  Artists’ Mina Cheon and Hasan Elahi have been invited as MAP’s special guests. Both artists produced solo exhibitions at MAP (Cheon in 12’ and Elahi in 13’) with critical acclaim and will be speaking the night of the dinner about their work and connection with MAP.

Collectively there are ten site-specific installations being presented through this benefit event in addition to special performances and a ‘Mistress of Ceremonies.’

Dwayne Butcher: Can you talk a little bit about how you got involved with MAP and this project?
Jonathan Latiano:  I’ve been a big fan of The Maryland Art Place, what the organization stands for and its staff for a while now. I first worked with them about two years ago when I participated in their annual academy show Young Bloods.  Since then I’ve stayed in relatively regular touch with them by going to their openings, participating in their fundraiser Off the Walls and having them down to my studio for critiques. When they approached me about participating in The Starlight Dinner they initially proposed to use my work only as a point of inspiration for the dinner’s dessert. As the weeks progressed though and I learned more about the uniqueness of the evening I pitched to them the much more elaborate installation that is now going forward for the event. The project that I am creating for them is a collaboration with the pastry chef David Brooks from the company catering the evening, Chef’s Expressions. Together we are creating an edible installation that is sculpted to appear to be scattering and reacting to projected light.

DB: I know that you are working with Chef Brooks, but did they request new work in addition to the cake?
JL: As stated above, the idea of using my work as the inspiration for the evening’s dessert (a cake) was the idea from the very start. That was it though in the beginning, to just use my previous work as a template for the dish. A few weeks later, at one of MAP’s openings, the curators and I came up with the idea of me building one extra component to the cake. The major turning point though was when the staff at MAP had the other artists for the event and I down to the Morgan Stanley building (where the event is being held) for a site-visit. They brought us onto an entire unfinished floor of the building with the building’s engineers, there they said to us (and I’m not quoting them exactly here) “we want you guys to do whatever you want here, go nuts, get weird”, after that I was completely hooked. Chef Brooks is still baking the cake for the evening and from what I can tell he’s some sort of alchemist (the man does things with sugar that I’ve been trying to approximate in my studio for years), but since that site-visit I have designed everything from the foam models that the cake is based off of to sculpting the table and plate that the cake will sit on. MAP has really supported my work in the past and I think this is going to be the kind of opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, I am very happy and honored to work with them for this event.  

DB: Is it a challenge to work on this project creating objects that are not site-specific? Or is it not such a challenge?
JL: I actually am approaching this project as a site-specific piece. The placement of the installation is directly dictated by the fact that it is an edible dessert. The overall conceptual narratives of the piece are due to the fact that the event is at night. And since this is a MAP event I’ve taken the design of the cake from a past installation of mine;With Fond Regards from the Holocene Epoch, which was exhibited at MAP’s gallery for their 2012 Young Blood show.

DB: Speaking of which, how do you approach creating a new site-specific piece? Are you always working and thinking about things you would like to try or is the practice dependent on seeing a particular space first?
JL:  I am constantly thinking about different works that I would like to create and my studio is littered with drawings and descriptions of these hypothetical installations. It’s not until I have a specific space to work with that I begin to make the more creative and surprising decisions. This is most likely due to the fact that each space possesses unique problems or opportunities that force me to think outside of the white box I have constructed in my mind.

DB: Also, are the materials dictated when seeing a space? And what type of materials are you usually drawn to using?
JL: The materials that I use in my installations do tend to be dictated by the space around them. Specific materials do resurface throughout my portfolio though, such as salt, glass, and mirrors, these are a direct result of my interests in time, fragility and the viewer’s perception of the space around them.

DB: In your statement, you mention wanting to be an artist after visiting the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. Was there a particular diorama that stands out? And what is the best Natural History or Science museum you have seen? Any particular one on the wish list to visit?
JL:  I think I might need to go back and re-word that part of my statement because that was certainly not the moment in which I decided to be an artist. At that specific time that I cite in my artist statement I was around 7 years old and I’m pretty sure the career plan at that point was to be a “dinosaur scientist”. I mention my experiences at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences because it was my earliest memory of being truly moved by the formal qualities of time, form, narrative and materiality. Only with the 20x20 vision of hindsight can I say that it was the first time I really began to see the world through any type of artistic lens.

There was one diorama that absolutely stood out; it was a scene of a herd of buffalo roaming across the plains. This was not the first time I had seen this particular diorama and in the past I had always focused on the giant buffalo depicted, this time however I noticed a specific detail which was a tiny taxidermied mouse crouching under one of the leaves off to the side of the main scene. That idea of complete authorship and what it added to the narrative to the piece still sticks with me today.

I can’t say that there is really a “best” natural history museum in my mind, every one I’ve ever visited has it’s own charm and distinct feeling. There is a definite soft spot in my heart though for the American Museum of Natural History’s Oceanic Hall in New York City.

DB: Besides this upcoming project, what else are you currently working on?JL: In addition to the Starlight Dinner, I am currently working on my upcoming show at the Baltimore Museum of Art in February and a show at John Hopkins University in early spring.

Amy Boone-McCreesh Interview

by Dwayne Butcher | Visual Baltimore, October 28, 2013

This is the second in a series profiling the artists that are participating in MAP's Starlight Dinner.

Amy Boone-McCreesh and I exchanged several emails, which can be found below. See more of her work at

Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 6:00pm Cocktails | 7:00pm Dinner & Program

Maryland Art Place (MAP) is pleased to announce the participating artists of its 2013 Annual Fall Benefit, the Starlight Dinner - highlighting technology and innovation in contemporary art. The dinner will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6 o’clock in the evening at the beautiful Thames Street Wharf building, located at Harbor Point courtesy Beatty Development.

The Starlight Dinner will feature the work of 15 “Art Stars.” These individuals were selected by MAP’s Program Advisory Committee, Benefit Committee and Staff based on one of two criteria; their relationship and history with MAP and/or their work that directly correlates with the use of technological methods and innovative ideology.  Artists’ Mina Cheon and Hasan Elahi have been invited as MAP’s special guests. Both artists produced solo exhibitions at MAP (Cheon in 12’ and Elahi in 13’) with critical acclaim and will be speaking the night of the dinner about their work and connection with MAP.

Collectively there are ten site-specific installations being presented through this benefit event in addition to special performances and a ‘Mistress of Ceremonies.’

Dwayne Butcher: Can you talk a little bit about how you got involved with MAP and this project?
Amy Boone-McCreesh: I've had a relationship with MAP for a few years now. My first exhibition with them was part of the Young Blood show, which features the work of new MFA students annually, but I really got to know everyone during the Curators' Incubator program in 2011-2012. During this time I worked with MAP to curate an exhibition. I have found my experiences with MAP to be nothing but pleasant. They recently asked me to participate in the Starlight Dinner by creating centerpieces and I jumped at the opportunity. Because Interior Design is so interesting to me, this is actually a great opportunity to work in a way that I might not otherwise have done within my own studio practice.

DB: Did they request new work, previous work or left that completely up to you?
ABM: They requested new work, specifically for this event. I made a few prototypes with varying forms and colors. It was made clear to me that they wanted the work to maintain the qualities that are true to me, so I had a lot of freedom, which was great. It was also important that I made a relatively simple form that I would be able to reproduce, as there are multiples for all of the tables at the event. It will be interesting to view my work in this unconventional context, I'm really excited.

DB: How did you become interested in decorations and embellishments that occur in tribal and foreign cultures? Was this something that happened on a trip somewhere perhaps?
ABM: My mother is from England, so we traveled back and forth when I was younger. It wasn't the most exotic cultural exposure, but I think at a young age I had a heightened awareness that there are other people in the world that are expressing themselves visually in all different ways. I have also always been very attracted to holiday decorations, even the kitsch part. There's something very sincere about people "Decorating" whether it's for a ritual, ceremony, or even funeral. I think it wasn't until graduate school that I really started to explore these things in a world-wide sense. I think human beings' innate desire to decorate is also why design exists. We want functional objects to be more than just utilitarian, we also want them to speak to our aesthetic tastes.

DB: Speaking of which, are there any particular cultures decorations that stand apart from the rest? Or perhaps something you find fascinating you did not know about beforehand?
ABM: I am really interested in Chinese New Year and Mexican holidays, for aesthetic reasons. Someone recently told me about Pakistani Jingle trucks, which is a really interesting culture. I wouldn't say that I prefer one over another because for me, it isn't about what the decorations mean necessarily, it's just the fact that people all over the world, of all different social standings are using them. There is a great humble aspect and also a great power aspect to decoration. I recently visited Versailles, which was amazing and overwhelming. Versailles has stood for a long time and is preserved as a treasure, where as the birthday party decorations will usually just be thrown in the trash when the day is done. The word or idea of decoration sometimes coincides with pattern. This is also something I use in my work. Textiles and middle eastern rugs are very interesting for this reason, and they are often functional, which feeds into my interest in Design and Interior design.

DB: How do you approach a particular culture in how you create the work? Are the materials. colors and process dictated by a particular culture or event?  
ABM: No, I would say that I never follow one culture, or one event. My work is more about what comes out on the other end after being exposed to so many different things. I think that's really what any artist is doing. Our work becomes a visual regurgitation of everything we are processing. I try to stay true to my work so that is doesn't directly reference much of anything, but of course, influences are undeniable. I like to use second hand materials when working 3-D because there is an inherent history that comes along with them.

DB: I see that you were involved in the Emerge Art Fair in DC recently, how was that experience?
ABM: It was actually a great experience. It was the first time I had visited or particpated. I met a lot of new people, and it was interesting to see how everyone dealt with the unconventional exhibition space.

DB: Besides this upcoming project, what else are you currently working on?
ABM: I am working on a commission for the Art in Embassies program for the new U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico, which is a dream come true!

Amanda Burnham Interview

by Dwayne Butcher | Visual Baltimore, October 27, 2013

Amanda Burnham is participating in MAP's upcoming Starlight Dinner. Information on the dinner can be found below. Amanda and I exchange several emails about the event and her work.??

Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 6:00pm Cocktails | 7:00pm Dinner & Program??

Thursday, October 24 – Baltimore, MD: Maryland Art Place (MAP) is pleased to announce the participating artists of its 2013 Annual Fall Benefit, the Starlight Dinner - highlighting technology and innovation in contemporary art. The dinner will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6 o’clock in the evening at the beautiful Thames Street Wharf building, located at Harbor Point courtesy Beatty Development.??

The Starlight Dinner will feature the work of 15 “Art Stars.” These individuals were selected by MAP’s Program Advisory Committee, Benefit Committee and Staff based on one of two criteria; their relationship and history with MAP and/or their work that directly correlates with the use of technological methods and innovative ideology.  Artists’ Mina Cheon and Hasan Elahi have been invited as MAP’s special guests. Both artists produced solo exhibitions at MAP (Cheon in 12’ and Elahi in 13’) with critical acclaim and will be speaking the night of the dinner about their work and connection with MAP.

??Collectively there are ten site-specific installations being presented through this benefit event in addition to special performances and a ‘Mistress of Ceremonies.’??

Dwayne Butcher: Can you talk a little bit about how you got involved with MAP and this project??
Amanda Burnham: I was chosen to do the inaugural piece for MAP's "IMPACT" program earlier this year. "IMPACT" is a public art program - artists are periodically selected to create large scale, temporary works for locations throughout the city that are not thought of as arts destinations, the goal being to bring a wider audience into contact with contemporary art. I did my piece at the Towson Town Center, and it was a really terrific experience over all. Anyways, that's how I got to know the folks at MAP, and I guess they liked what I did enough to invite my participation in the Starlight Dinner benefit.

DB: Did they request new work, previous work or left that completely up to you?
AB: They left it up to me. I'll be making a new piece specific to the site. As it happens, though, most of my new work is at least partially comprised of old work - my installation pieces are always temporary, and I generally re-use the paper components from past works to construct new ones, albeit recontextualized and otherwise transformed. For me this is both practical and conceptually consistent, since the urban environments that interest me are themselves the product of continual change, repurposing, and reuse.

DB: How did you begin working with large scale paper installations and wall drawings?
Did this happen the same time your interest in working with the idea of cities.
AB: I began making large scale paper installations as a way of addressing the same subject matter (cities) that I had been for quite some time via small works on paper, but with the idea of (hopefully) establishing a more physical relationship between the viewer and the work through the increased scale and three dimensional moves. I had been making the smaller scale drawings for several years prior, though.

DB: Speaking of which, how did working with the idea of cities first come about?
AB: It came about when I moved to Baltimore, which I did seven years ago. I came for a job (I teach art at Towson) and didn't know the city or anyone in it at all. It was pretty lonely, and I was initially kind of a hermit. I had a great apartment on the 7th floor of a building on the outer edges of Mount Vernon, though, and this apartment had numerous windows facing south. I could see giant swathes of the city from this vantage, and they were pretty interesting swathes. I spent a lot of time studying the view, and eventually started making tons of drawings of various aspects of it. It was very "Rear Window".  Anyways, at a certain point I began to want to get closer to what I was seeing and was thus drawn out of my apartment and all over. This took over my practice. For a number of years, I spent a lot of time in traffic medians and wherever else I could feasibly linger with a bunch of drawing supplies and simply documented things that interested me.

DB: How do you approach a particular city you are working with? Do you simply walk around a particular city until you are inspired by something?
AB: Walking around different areas is best - the speed of walking affords an awareness of things unseen at car speed; I'm definitely interested in the difference, though, and sometimes have made drawings that try to point that difference out. I'm a runner, and that's a great way to get to know a place, too - you cover a lot more ground a lot faster than walking, but it's still a direct encounter that fully exposes you to non-visual aspects of a setting as well as more fully revealing the visual (unlike driving which is totally hermetic).  Making drawings on site is best but not always possible, so I always have a camera and sketchbook on hand.

The process for me begins this way even with my installation pieces, even though they are very subjectively rendered and organized. Making lots of literal documents (drawings, photos) helps me internalize forms that I will later draw in the abbreviated manner that is generally typical of my larger works.

DB: Why are the paper scraps important to the work and how do you amass so much paper!?
AB: The idea of things being layered and pieced together is important to me. I see this city, and really all cities, as these giant ad-hoc organisms - collectively authored, chop-a-bloc, joints exposed - an ongoing melange of edits, adjustments, negotiations. I hope to suggest that with the deliberately collage-y, visually dense, maximalist aesthetic of my drawings.  I also love paper and what it does when treated as an object - the shadows it casts, the way tears and cuts are line. Most of the paper I use is really cheap stuff - low grade drawing paper that comes in rolls, kraft paper, packing materials. Boxes. That's important because I'm not rich, but also because I see it as conceptually significant - resourcefulness is an ethic I sometimes see evidenced in the forms of the city, and it's one I really respond to. I want my drawings to embody this by adding up to something bigger and more elaborate than you might expect from something made of such everyday materials. I want to make something special out of something crappy, and I also want the drawings to feel somewhat fragile (which they are) - like they could blow away in a moment (which they could). This is a feeling I also often have about things I see in the city.

As mentioned earlier, I habitually reuse pieces from previous works. I save boxes and kraft paper from shipments (mine or reclaimed from the hallways at school - it's amazing how much of this stuff one can get their hands on - I'm always getting a shipment from Amazon of, like, a package of replacement x-acto blades, and it invariably comes in a box sufficient for a tv with 5 yards of paper wound around it). I enjoy how these materials change simply through the act of being tacked up and torn down repeatedly. It gives them character.

DB: Besides the upcoming Starlight Dinner project, what else are you currently working on?
AB: I've done installations in the past month and a half at (the) Ohio State University, Marshall University, and the Governor's Island Art Fair, and am presently planning installations at Washington & Jefferson University and Northwestern for early 2014; so that work definitely continues. I've been very invested since the summer in a different body of work - very large scale (40" x 60") ink drawings. These are also cityscapes, but largely imaginary - they enfold details from observable reality but in extremely subjective ways (much like my installations). I haven't shown them much yet, but I'm really excited about them.

What is the Point of Juried Exhibitions?

A Reaction to MAP's Regional Juried Show

by Dwayne Butcher | Bmoreart, September 30, 2013

Really, what is the point? I have been asking myself this question for some time now in regards to juried shows. They almost always require an entry fee, which I consider nothing more than a tax on the artist. For their current Regional Juried Exhibition, Maryland Art Place required a ten-dollar application fee. Hosting institutions rarely cover the cost of shipping the artwork, but some will provide return shipping costs. MAP required the artist to deliver the work and in some cases, install it as well. Perhaps it is fortunate that it is a regional exhibition, where submitting artists had to be a resident of Maryland, Delaware or Pennsylvania because it is pretty damn expensive for an artist to ship a properly packed, insured and framed 16" x 20" piece across the country. So, proximity in this case is key. Oh, and no artists from Delaware were selected.

When one considers the above information it should come as no surprise that a vast majority of artists who respond to juried calls for entry are recent graduates, low-level and low-volume artists, or, for the most part, just really bad artists, with mid-career and established artists not even considering submitting for such an exhibition. In general, what you end up with is a hodge-podge mess of an exhibition with low quality work where the mediocre pieces unfortunately rise to the top as standouts.

However, in this case, Maryland Art Place and Kristen Hileman, Curator of Contemporary Art at the BMA and juror for this exhibition, have managed to put together an exhibition that is an exception to this rule.

According to Hileman,"the exhibition is first and foremost a survey of contemporary artists from our region." When she began to narrow down the list of selected artists, she found several specific commonalities between works in the show. Hileman stated that it was "refreshing to encounter many works that didn't seem to take themselves too seriously." It seems that Hileman responded to works of art in which "the artists truly seemed to be enjoying the process of working with their materials and not necessarily delivering a heavy-handed message in some dry manner."

The latter is definitely the case with this exhibition. As Art Critic Dave Hickey championed in his essay Frivolity and Unction, "art is a silly and frivolous thing to do." When artists realize that what we do is, in fact, silly, the whole world is a better place, where we can sit back, relax, and enjoy ourselves, without worrying about heavy-handed messages. Sometimes we need a little fun in our lives to make it through the day. The viewer is confronted with such frivolity at the front doors of the Maryland Art Place.

George Belcher's Wraith is a playful maquette-sized piece reminiscent of Louise Bourgeous's Maman installed on the grounds of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa, Spain. Belcher has created a spray-painted steel bow-tie version of that monumental spider that sits like ribbon, wrapping around an invisible present. Instead of an emotion like dread, from a fear of spiders, or awe from the sheer size of Maman, Belcher offers us a whimsical piece that would be at home as a character in Tim Burton's animated tale A Nightmare Before Christmas.

An example of an artist that seems to be enjoying the process of working with materials is Tamar LaPierre. She, a female clown-like figure made of expandable foam and spray-painted with random patterns in varying colors, fits perfectly into the "new casualist" approach discussed by Sharon L. Butler's Brooklyn Rail article. Unlike some casualist practitioners, LaPierre's work is not a passive aggressive incomplete, but takes this approach to a higher level. There is an intentional messiness about the work, a controlled chaos. Although LaPierre's loose methods appear to be playful, the message of the piece is anything but. It comments on the objectification of women and society's unattainable rules for what is considered beautiful.

On the opposite side of a casualist approach, but still fun, Kyle J. Bauer's work possesses a minimal and meticulous aesthetic. I laughed out loud when I first saw Composition I 953 because it reminded me of an awesome croquet set. Bauer, a member of Baltimore Clayworks, created the three cylindrical componenets of the piece through porcelain slip casting, and then inserted them horizontally into a bright blue wooden base that only adds to the game-like quality. With the brightness of the colors and slick plastic feel of the piece, Bauer encourages the viewer relate to the work with childlike wonder and to reminisce for an easier, playful time, when people fell into one of only two categories: Lego or Lincoln log. With Composition I 953, it is obvious Bauer was definitely a Lego kid.

An equally compelling minimal piece in this exhibit is Ben Piwowar's B.R., a reclaimed furniture element that leans against the wall of the rear gallery. While looking at the work, I could not help but consider the similarities to Virginia Overton's work at Mitchell-Inness; Nash's booth at the Freize Art Fair in May. Overton also uses reclaimed materials whose orientation is only slightly altered, but on a much larger scale. I always enjoy work such as Piwowar's and the seemingly effortless way the pieces are installed. Where Overton questions they way we perceive the space objects are installed, Piwowar seems to want the viewer to focus on the reclaimed objects themselves. This contemplation leads the viewer to think about the history of such pieces and our connection to them.

So, what is the point of juried exhibitions? We'll probably never know. However, MAP's 2013 Regional Juried exhibition is an opportunity for the emerging artists in the region to experience professional exhibition practices and to expose their work to a museum curator. The exhibit is also a chance for a curator to enjoy immediate results from a decision-making process, instead of the normal two to three year process of most museum exhibitions. The show allows the viewer to see a regional community of emerging work selected by a qualified juror in a professional exhibition space, without the sterile and overwhelming vastness that major contemporary art spaces often have. The Maryland Art Place and Kristen Hileman provided a credible purpose in this juried show.

The Regional Juried Exhibition at Maryland Art Place will be up through October 26, 2013.

* Author Dwayne Butcher is an artist, curator, writer and chicken-wing connoisseur that recently moved to Baltimore from Memphis, TN. To see his work and curatorial projects visit his website, and follow him on twitter @dwaynebutcher.


By Maayan Jaffe | Baltimore Jewish Times, September 4, 2013

IMPACT, a unique and site-specific public art program developed to extend contemporary art to communities in the greater Baltimore area, opened last week at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills Jewish Community Center. A public reception was held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 29.

A local artist collective, Global Humanity Now, has been selected for this summer’s IMPACT project. GHN is comprised of artists Remina Greenfield, Janina Anderson, Janet Hong and Gabriel Quick. Their artwork installation, “Return,” was designed specifically for the JCC’s courtyard and is comprised of a woven fabric that will extend over the courtyard of the building, creating a pseudo canopy.

According to a release, “Return” is a metaphorical network, illustrating the dynamic relationship between individuals and the community they comprise. The title “Return” is derived from Holocaust survivor Leo Strauss’ essay “Progress or Return” (1952).

Return in Hebrew is teshuvah (often also translated as repentance), and the timing of the exhibit coincides with the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The 10 days between the two holidays are known as Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, the 10 Days of Repentance.

Young Blood at MAP

By Xavier McNellage | Bmore Art, August 30, 2013

This year’s annual Young Blood exhibition at Maryland Art Place offers up a diverse selection of artists from various Master of Fine Arts programs throughout the Baltimore area. This show included a healthy mix of performances, installation, painting, and video all worthy of discussion amongst all who visit. Young Blood 2013 features work from Jordan Bernier, Katja Toporski’s, Benjamin Andrew, George Belcher, Seung-Beom Cho, Laura Payne, Di Fang, and Jascha Owens. All of the recent MFA graduates attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) or Towson University, with none present this year from UMBC or University of Maryland College Park.

One major theme that ran through the majority of the work is the idea of repetition. The pattern-based work of Jascha Owens is an obvious example. Three small paintings on panel, each about 12 by 12 inches in size, adorn the second room of the gallery. His work is located next to a rousing video by artist Di Fang, so a gallery visitor may overlook Owens’ work initially, but I assure you this is only due to placement. When encountered properly, these small painting demand attention. Each employs a dual color scheme in a complicated reiteration that appears both meditative and perplexing. Although the subject matter is formal and abstract, the pattern becomes tactile and the viewer joins the artist’s endeavor, following brushstrokes as if we were making them ourselves. It’s oddly satisfying.

Repetition is abundant in the work of the Seung-Beom Cho, though in this case it serves a more spatial means. Adjacent to Owens’ works, a large un-stretched canvas repeats a pattern of tightly joined spikes in oil stick. The shapes appear to be applied through a stencil, furthering the theme of pattern, and the relation of the mark to the canvas size creates a spatial effect. Showing great restraint, the space itself is described in the most minimal of means, as if the artist stopped each piece at the exact point where space can be imagined by the viewer but also negated.

Cho’s sculptures discuss space much more readily, since they actually inhabit it. Though in this sculpture an optical illusion plays with the idea that pattern can just as easily negate space as instigate it. The “spikes” that are depicted in the drawings inspire uneasiness in the viewer, but in the context of three dimensions they take on an air of actual danger. These sculptures are rendered in steel, and the medium adds a sense of danger to the work as well, so the “spikes” further the desired effect. The three dimensional work allows for less formal understanding of Seung-Beom Cho’s work and the viewer is able to experience the work more subjectively.

In George Belcher’s paintings the idea of repetition is less evident, despite its display as a field of small, similarly composed paintings. Belcher’s work is exploratory, and the artist works in oil on canvas in an achromatic theme, mostly shades of gray and white. These paintings, titled the “O” series, each explore shadows or remnants of certain objects or patterns. It is a tantalizing, ephemeral idea to explore and Belcher exploits it to the fullest extent. These works are haunting and mysterious, even more so because of the cold and scientific method in which Belcher’s examination is conducted. Or perhaps this coldness is precisely what Belcher is examining? Many of Belcher’s images are recognizable either as graphics or forms, but viewed as such, the images instead operate more as a reduced form of visual language. The incorporation of oil paint into this equation is questionable, but the process of painting renders the graphic images as more tactile, and less sterile. This medium allows for the images to be read concurrently as personal exploration and scientific examination, and muddle the dichotomy between visual and verbal language in a compelling way.

Although repetition stands out, there are a number of other ideas explored in the exhibit, like Di Fang’s video pieces that accept narrative as an integral part of the video-as-art making process. In video work this is a given, but what is so interesting about Di Fang’s video, “Hit Me!” is the acceptance of a linear narrative, rather than an abstract one. A man on screen walks down a Baltimore city street. A camera pans and follows him while a voice-over monologues. It is not so much what the narrator says as how voice is used that intrigues me. Every few minutes the man on screen stops and begins to dance while various songs play. This exchange between an apparent internal monologue and extroverted physical movement emerges as the focus of the piece. Then there is the evolving narrative, in which dance and pure music video visuals take over at the end. Flashing lights and bright colors fill the field of vision and club music pumps through the speakers. Unlike a lot of art videos, there is a clear progression, a beginning and an end. As the narrative advances, the viewer is encouraged to leave the safe space of content watching and take the artist’s request seriously to dance in the gallery.

As a whole, Young Blood 2013 contains some of the more potent pieces of artwork in Baltimore City right now. The work displayed is mature and well made, as to be expected from recent graduate students. I will be visiting again before the exhibition ends in September.

* Author Xavier McNellage is a 2012 MICA graduate and a Baltimore based painter and sculptor.

Delayed Arrival

By Ian McLean Davis | Bmore Art, June 6, 2013

Oasis Places, the current exhibition at Maryland Art Place is the 10th Anniversary iteration of “Curator’s Incubator,” a professional development program for emerging curators. Initially established by former & long-time MAP Director Julie Cavnor, the prerogative of the program is to give local artists and curators the opportunity to develop exhibitions with the support of professional advisors in an established gallery. This year, the featured curator is Jeremy Stern, Assistant Director of Baltimore’s C.Grimaldis Gallery and Creative Alliance artist/resident. Per Stern’s published statement for the exhibition, the four artists included in this exhibition are united by the goal to “create space by transporting the viewer through their practice.” He further explains, “The artists achieve this through the audiences’ engagement with their artwork, making the space of the artwork a place.”

Stephen Bradley and Nicole King’s documentary project “Place Immersion: Mapping Baybrook” is installed in MAP’s entrance gallery. The subject of their project is the South Baltimore neighborhood of Baybrook, adjacent to Brooklyn and Cherry Hill. Long ago, this part of the city was a destination for the middle-class, but now it’s one of the poorest areas of the city. The components of the Bradley and King installation serve to teach viewers the neighborhood, comparing it’s past and present states through found objects, video, digital projections and source recordings.

Mounted on the wall are a series of poster-sized photos representing Baybrook’s history contrasted with contemporary aerial photographs of the neighborhood. In another component of the installation junky relics, new and old, are arranged on tiered shelves like living room tsotchkies. Here discarded scratch-off tickets, packaging garbage and broken antiques are displayed as evidence of a community disregarded. What Bradley and King attempt to do is restore the area with value by teaching its history.

Projected large to a wall is a slide show of family vacation photos dating approximately 50 years past. The images erratically jump forward and back, controlled by a motion sensor which reacts to activity in the room. It’s hard to not be taken by the scenes shown here – a 1960’s view of vacation travel saturated with aesthetic styles that have been co-opted by the contemporary nostalgia of “retro.” Bradley, a multi-media artist who resides in this South Baltimore neighborhood, paired for this project with King, a sociologist focusing on American Studies. Here, Stern’s “transporting the viewer through practice” idea is represented strongly through a clean, organized and professional presentation of ideas and content.

In the second gallery, the purpose and message of sound installations by Katherine Bennett are murkier. The room is nearly completely dark, sparsely populated with hushed lo-fi sounds and subtly blinking lights. The three works presented in the space each have the potential draw on our curiosity, drawing us into their fuzzy electronic mystery, but presented together here, they become vague and confusing. “Aural Outpost” lines the wall to the left. Six small woven cocoons contain LEDs, which pulse softly in response to intermittent sounds from speakers shrouded within. Black wires lead down from there to computer components on the floor which power and feed the electronics. Similarly, small speakers and blinking LEDs dangle like vines in the middle of the gallery and connect to black box computers at the bottom of a nearby wall. This installation is titled “Then Ether.” At the far end of the gallery is “Sonic Webs”, a network of monofilament hung as a matrix a few feet below the ceiling. The network supports soft fiber batting “clouds,” a few of which cradle police scanners, which quietly squawk and blink.

All three of Bennett’s works feature a well-crafted, minimal aesthetic and re-located sounds to re-define the gallery space. While the pure technology of hanging speakers and lights are an elegant solution to create an environment with their sounds, the fuzzy pods and synthetic clouds feel out of place, an attempt to pretty up the electronics, without adding salient content. Two works are intended to be interactive, but how they function is unclear. With “Then Ether,” audio is fed by a large database of recordings that visitors can contribute to through the microphone of an intercom box. Smartly, the piece doesn’t parrot noises immediately back to visitors, but, on the other hand, this delay of response can be frustrating because the lack of immediate cause-and-effect (“Am I doing this right?”). In the middle of one wall, a cheap doorbell button is installed and emphasized with a spotlight. I pushed it, but saw no immediate effect. (“Does this thing work?”). I’m still not sure what it was meant to trigger.

Overall, the room is subtle but confusing because each of the works utilize such similar elements. Despite the vast gallery, the three works blend into each other. Unfortunately, this presentation undermines the artwork, highlighting their similarities and weaknesses in a way that isolated presentation would not. While I suspect the darkness and vagaries are intended to transport visitors through a transformation of the gallery space, the lack of boundaries between the projects confuses and frustrates, keeping us firmly present.

Neil McDonald contributes a game to Oasis Places. In the back of MAP’s galleries, small cards explaining the game are fanned out on tables for visitors to take. The directions for “Wanderers & Ghosts” establish a series of improvisations with the intent of sparking uncommon interactions between strangers. The framework is complex, but clearly presented. Each card offers character traits, as well as a series of “past/present/goal/visual” cues such as “granddad’s ranch” (past) and “get right with god” (goal). Props and places round out the categories. In a nutshell, the game’s purpose is for participants to “meet strangers; say memorable things.”

In the context of curatorial statement of the exhibition, this piece aims to create a new place through activity – creating miniature dramas between strangers. This core concept has roots in theatre, but also references how we often develop rote personas for specific social situations. The point of the game is to break out of those roles and treat conversation as a creative process. As a gallery installation, “Wanderers & Ghosts” fails gracefully. Walking into the gallery, sets of game cards are arranged on high-top tables dressed with black tablecloths. That’s about it. This simple installation reads as over-confident at best, and lazy at worst. Unfortunately, the cards alone are not enough to initiate excitement for the game. A dramatic and expository explanation of the rules and examples of the theatre in action would have better engaged visitors. As presented, the game requires too much of potential participants to spark an improvisatory performative experience.

K. David Fong’s light-based sculptures are the prettiest works in the show. Fong’s works uniformly function as illustrations of the “infinity box” illusion. This is created when a 2-way mirror is faced against a 1-way mirror, with lights along the sides illuminating the space between. The result is a window through which viewers see a recursive reflection which seems to stretch into an infinite tunnel. Fong is a studio assistant to Baltimore-based artist Chul Hyun Ahn, whose work relies on the same illusion, but with otherwise different materials. Ahn generally uses warm bare light bulbs and industrial materials to give his work an assembled look. Fong’s aesthetic is modernist: fabricated and cleanly designed. Particularly, the floor pieces offer something different.

Here, the mirrored cabinets are shrunk down to black cubes, shoebox-size and mounted with wheels which allow them to glide around the exhibition area like “mouse droids” on the Death Star. There was no indication that these were intended to be interactive. Despite this, I found myself casually tossing the boxes around the space like soccer balls. They rolled smoothly, gently bumping into each other like remote-control cars. Unfortunately, the mirror-illusion only works if the viewer is standing at a 90-to-75-degree angle from the mirrors, so in these pieces, the effect is fleeting and easily missed. As they roll away, their visual power quickly escapes. In the center of the room, two metal portals are hung, each housing a variation on the illusion. Here, the mirrors are set at angles that curve their illusory tunnels around disappearing corners. Each window hangs against each other with a symmetry that connects their tunnels to form an implied donut shape.

Of all the work included in Oasis Places, Fong’s is the least on-message. According to curator & artist’s statements, Fong’s work was included in the show because it is meant to inspire contemplation. This word is used often in art history, tied to the concept of the sublime; it implies transcendence. These sculptures don’t do that. While they are smoke-and-mirrors magical, the effect is less transcendent than bewildering, and ultimately, self-satisfying in figuring out the puzzle. Beyond that momentary mystery, they are beautiful but offer little in the way of transportation or a reason to linger on them.

All the artwork presented in Oasis Places is sophisticated and intelligent. On paper and in concept, each has the potential to fulfill the curator’s vision for the exhibition. Unfortunately, as presented, none of it quite sticks together. Consistently, the ambition of the curator sacrifices clarity, undermining the successes of individual projects. Where the work is intended to transport the viewer, more often, it activates analysis.

Oasis Places runs at Maryland Art Place through June 22, 2013.  Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 5pm.  (410) 962-8565

Author Ian MacLean Davis is a Baltimore-based artist and instructor.

Art of Darkness: Nathan Danilowicz

by Jason Ramos, New American Paintings |  June 3, 2013

Tucked away in a former dental office and Rastafari community center between West Adams and Culver City, artist Nathan Danilowicz has been busy.  The rooms of his studio space seem like dark altars in reverence to forces both ancient and modern, where the conceptual strategies of painterly abstraction are reclaimed as the spells and invocations of a lost age.  These tattered, rune-inscribed veils are the latest product of Nathan’s inquiry into how sci-fi shamanism, ritual, and the occult share more than just superficial affinity with many of the modalities and practices of modern and contemporary painting.  These new works along with some others will be exhibited later in June at Eye Heart in New York, a new alternative space in Chelsea, in a two-person show with painter Jani Benjamins.  Nathan’s live-work space also doubles as Latned Atsär, where he has curated group shows and exhibited his own projects since 2010.  Add that to the fact that Nathan also works full-time for one of LA’s major commercial contemporary art galleries, and the real magic trick is how he, like many artists in Los Angeles, manage to juggle it all. - Jason Ramos, Los Angeles Contributor

Transmodern Festival Celebrates 10 Years

Transmodern Festival Celebrates 10 Years in Charm City

by Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post | May 2, 2013

How does a local arts festival get to be 10 years old without anyone in Washington having heard about it? By taking place in Baltimore.

Okay, okay, so some of the District’s cool kids already do know about the Transmodern Festival, which opens today and runs through Sunday at multiple venues in Baltimore’s Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District. But it’s still pretty much under the radar of most non-hipster Washingtonians in a way that Saturday’s annual Kinetic Sculpture Race no longer is. That’s probably just the way the festival’s organizers like it.

This year’s edgy celebration of avant-garde, experimental and otherwise hard-to-define-let-alone-describe art, music, performance and miscellaneous weirdness includes an “olfactory seance“; an inflatable outdoor sculpture installation on the theme of female toplessness called the “Breastival Vestibule“; and a performance by the Baltimore band the Snails (pictured above), who describe their sound as “Teletubby reggae pop.”

The festival takes place in and around Maryland Art Place’s satellite gallery at 218 W. Saratoga St. (home of MAP’s 14 Karat Cabaret) and the Current Gallery, located a short distance away at 421 N. Howard St. You’ll find a full schedule and additional information here.


30 Creative Minds Interview

30 Creative Minds Under Thirty Interview with Michelle Gomez

by Jill Gordon, Bmoreart | April 30, 2013

THIRTY is a series of monthly talks featuring emerging Baltimore artists under the age of thirty. According to Maryland Art Place, all thirty participants use a diverse range of creative practices, from visual art to performance, curatorial, community art, design, film, photography and technology to create visual experiences. Participants of THIRTY were selected either through open call or by invitation. Energetic, fresh, in-progress, and authentic, these talks have been well received to standing room only audiences. I recently caught up with co-producer, Michelle Gomez, to discuss the program.

JG: Tell me about your inspiration for THIRTY. 

MG: The program, THIRTY: 30 Creative Minds Under 30 was inspired by the creative minds that make Baltimore so cultured. It’s the people who take time out of their busy lives to make artwork, curate exhibitions, plan great programs, build darkrooms, empower youth, and do community organizing. A lot of them don’t get paid for what they do; they do it only because they want to give back to their communities using their creative and artistic skills. They are the young movers and shakers that make Baltimore such a unique and exciting city to live in!

I am so honored to be a part of this community and they deserve a public platform to not only present their final work, but to talk about their processes, their inspirations and the creative chaos that occurs before the final outcome of their projects. It is a chance for creative minds to talk about why they create and why it matters. Not only does THIRTY promote their work to a wider audience, this program also provides mentorship to the lecturers and the opportunity to network with artists outside of their respective field, allowing for them to support each other and possibly collaborate.

JG: How did you choose the participating artists?

MG: We created a THIRTY committee of Program Advisory Committee members who were heavily involved with shaping this program, this included Briony Hynson, Joseph Letourneau and myself. We suggested some artists to invite and MAP also sent out a call for applications. The selected artists had to be under the age of 30, live and work in Baltimore and have a strong portfolio. MAP did not limit this opportunity to visual artists but also wanted to invite creative minds who use a diverse range of creative practices, from visual art to performance, curatorial, community art, design, film, photography and technology. We also considered whether or not the artist has had many opportunities to present their work. We thought this program would be a great way to provide the opportunity to promote their practice and grow their network.

JG: What common threads do you notice between the participating artists, other than their age?

MG: Every program reception features three creative minds. We tried to group artists based off their themes, processes, and goals and of course had to juggle everyone’s schedule for availability. For example, the upcoming THIRTY program on May 15 will include Charlotte Keniston, Rebecca Chan, and Ginevra Shay. These three creative minds all love Baltimore and work directly with communities throughout the city.

Charlotte is an activist and community artist who works with under served populations, she did a project called “Food for Thought” that raised awareness about food inequality and it’s impact on urban neighborhoods. Rebecca is wonderful! She is the Program Manager for Station North Arts & Entertainment District (SNAED). She makes all the programs that happen in SNAED possible such as Open Walls and the upcoming Artists and Neighborhood Change Conference taking place June 20 and 21. Ginevra Shay has a heart of gold and is an extremely talented curator who organizes exhibitions at Current Space and is the genius behind the development of photo darkrooms, classes, and programs at Current Space. On top of that, she also manages to keep up her own personal studio practice as a photographer.

On June 12, three sculptors/installation artists will be featured in THIRTY: Jim Leach, Kyle Bauer, and Michelle Dickson. Through these groupings, we hope that the artists can be inspired by each other’s talks and get to know each other’s work on a deeper level. I would love to see them collaborate too… just imagine what Charlotte, Rebecca and Ginevra can to together if they all envision a common goal! All of the selected creative minds are amazing and I am so proud of them!

JG: What is the reciprocal benefit of these talks for participating artists and non-artist audience members?

MG: The artists gain an opportunity to talk about their work in public, helping them develop professionally and to help shape their ideas in a concise matter. I believe these talks give them a chance to critically think about what they are doing and why, which allows them to focus on what’s most important to talk about within a 10-15 min presentation. The audience and guest panelists also challenge them with questions in the end. Hopefully this experience somehow influences their next project or helps them to solve a problem by giving them clarity and a sense of purpose.

The audiences get to learn about the arts in general and get to hear from the artists themselves about their processes and reasons for creating. This program is meant to educate, and in the end, everyone walks out of MAP learning something new. One of my friends told me that a guest on the March 6 opening was so impressed with the talks by Emily CD, Ashley Minner and Mia Weiner, they said, “Wow, how come I didn’t know about Ashley Minner? She is doing incredible work, I wish I would have known about her sooner!” That’s the kind of feedback I hoped for… that feeling of excitement, surprise or awe! Those are the feelings that inspire people to follow their own path.

JG: How is MAP involved in helping the artists craft their presentation?

MG: The MAP staff and selected mentors attend a THIRTY mentoring session with a large group of the participating speakers. Each of the participants answer prompted questions that consider them to critically think about their processes, who their audience is, what they want their audience to experience out of their work, why they create, and whether or not they see their practice as a business. We then give feedback and suggest what the artist should emphasize in their talk and answer any questions. If the artist wants to send us their PowerPoint prior to the talk, we are open to giving them further feedback and support.

The next THIRTY talk featuring Charlotte Keniston, Ginevra Shay, and Rebecca Chan, will be held on Wednesday, May 15th at 6pm at Maryland Art Place.

Author Jill Gordon is an urban explorer, artist, and writer. She is a member of Mother Made Baltimore, and can be contacted at

MAP’s 30 Under 30

By Liz Harby, What Weekly | April 18, 2013

Art can be many things. It can be a snapshot of its creator and his or her world. It can discuss meaningful issues about one’s society and culture. It can capture a moment in time. In a broad sense, it can define an era; in a smaller sense, it can signify a moment in the individual life of its creator.

Maryland Art Place’s THIRTY: 30 Creative Minds Under 30 magnifies all these different ways of looking at art. By showcasing 30 different artists in the Baltimore area—all under 30 years old–it captures different styles, techniques, ideas and lives. Each artist honored as one of the elite 30 is completely unique, yet all represent young, developing artistic minds in Baltimore. For the local art lover, it absolutely can’t be overlooked.

In a nutshell, THIRTY is a series of monthly talks honoring Baltimore’s finest artists under 30 years old. At each event, three of 30 artists present their work, leading discussions on everything from specific techniques used to wider-range sociological issues presented in their works. Most astoundingly, though, is the wide range of different genres of art exhibited in these talks. From painting and photography to film and large-scale mural art, these 30 young artists represent the diversity of the Baltimore arts scene today.

According to Michelle Gomez, member of the Program Advisory Committee at Maryland Art Place and founder of the THIRTY talks, the variety of different artists represented was intentional: “I wanted to create a program that not only brought younger artists into Maryland Art Place, but also provided a public platform for young creative minds to talk about their processes, their inspirations and the creative chaos that occurs before the final outcome of their projects.” Gomez, a recent MICA grad, was instrumental in choosing the artists honored, largely selecting them through a thorough application process. These artists had to have a strong work ethic, an impressive portfolio and the passion that made them stand out among Baltimore’s growing arts scene.

For these young artists, THIRTY also means the ability to showcase their work—sometimes for the first time. “We thought this program would be a great way to provide the opportunity to promote their practice and grow their network,” said Gomez, adding “[THIRTY] provides mentorship to the lecturers and the opportunity to network with artists outside of their respective field, allowing for them to support each other and possibly collaborate.”

Not only does THIRTY bring together artists of different genres, it also presents artists at varying degrees in their careers. Some are already well-established local entrepreneurs, while others are still knee-deep in study at universities like MICA. One current undergraduate student and THIRTY honored artist, Alicia Ciambrone, is well on her way to a successful career as a multi-talented fine artist and writer. Recently presenting at the April 10th THIRTY talk, Ciambrone spoke passionately about her innermost creative processes. “When I listen to other artists speak, I’m most interested in the sources they draw their inspiration from,” reflected Ciambrone. “I hope the audience reflect[ed] on what in life sparks their interest and how they put that interest to use.”

Another THIRTY artist, Jim Leach, will have a much different approach during his talk on June 12th. This local sculptor and installation artist is anxious to allow the audience to interpret the meaning behind his work, rather than plainly telling them what to look for. “I hope to provide an art experience for the viewer that goes further than just viewing images and hearing me talk about my work,” said Leach. In this way, he hopes that some audience members may reconsider their preconceived notions about modern art. “I grew up in a culture and in a societal context that was not hesitant to say, ‘I don’t understand modern art.’ I hope that for the people in attendance, I can help to show them that art is obtainable for everyone, regardless of the degree of their access.”

Each THIRTY artist was scheduled by Maryland Art Place to speak alongside other artists that may influence them in some fashion, allowing for collaboration and a deeper intellectual dialogue. Two artists chosen to speak on May 15th, Rebecca Chan and Ginevra Shay, are a good example of this precise planning. Chan, the Project Manager for Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc., projects her passions into preserving the Station North District’s historically vital arts scene. Just as she does in her career, Chan intends to discuss the importance behind preserving public art, architecture and built environment, “and the ways in which these elements shape our experience and attachment to [Station North].”

Equally passionate in her field, Shay is the Founder and Head of Photo Programming of the Current Space Community Darkroom. A freelance photo archivist and artist, she will speak about the value found in art collaboration within Baltimore. “Art isn’t about being this esoteric or exclusive thing. People are what make an art scene. I hope individuals are inspired to get out and engage with the Baltimore arts community, as I’ve been inspired to do so,” reflected Shay.

As different as they may be, Ciambrone and Shay share a definite appreciation for the preservation of Baltimore’s artistic past. Shay’s thoughts on the ever-changing world of photography will likely be addressed during her talk. “Digital art…is really en vogue right now, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped screen-printing or painting. These processes, like analog photography, are just as viable as ever, and if we don’t maintain the resources to continue practicing them…we could lose them forever,” said Shay.

Once a month until the end of this year, these passionate and influential young artists will be graciously speaking to the community about their work. Ciambrone said it best: “We may be young, but we have a whole lot to say to Baltimore and to one another, and much to gain in the process.” Be sure to visit the Maryland Art Place website for the list of scheduled THIRTY talks, including those speaking next on May 15th at 6pm at Maryland Art Place within the Power Plant Live! complex.

Towson-themed wall landscape

Towson-themed wall landscape brings colorful art to the mall

Local artist paints mural as part of Maryland Art Place IMPACT program

By Jon Meoli, The Baltimore Sun | April 8, 2013

A local artist is adding a bit of hometown flair to the new luxury wing of the Towson Town Center mall. Amanda Burnham, a Hampden resident and an associate professor at Towson University, has spent the past week installing a full-sized drawing installation on a large wall in the Crate & Barrel Court of the mall, using images from downtown Towson to populate her painting.

On Friday, April 5, Burnham, who fit in about six hours of work during the week as she balanced the project with her class schedule, said the installation couldn't have been going better.

"I applied to this because it just really fit well for the kind of work I do," she said. "I really enjoy working in non-gallery settings, because I like them to be interacted with by people who might not go to a gallery. I'm really excited to be doing this."

The installation is part of the Maryland Art Place IMPACT program, which aims to bring more art into public spaces. Her painting incorporates the buildings, streetscapes and structures she sees every day in Towson.

"I actually haven't done an installation in Towson before, that was another appealing thing about this," she said. "Towson is a big part of my life, so I'm very familiar with all of things I see around here every day."

The drawing installation, which is painted onto papers of different size, color and texture, will be very familiar to Towson residents, though Burnham said she delights in making the buildings less identifiable and have people still recognize them.

In her early version, which she said would be heavily edited with other colors and added layers as her work progressed, the Towson landscape was eminently familiar.

"I have ideas of what specific components I want," she said. "Crosswalks, I knew I wanted that to be a big motif because I like how they look from a patterning standpoint."

Additionally, she planned to use awnings and storefront windows, but said much of the installation was being planned as she painted.

Burnham, a Toledo, Ohio native who got her bachelor's from Harvard and a Master of Fine Arts from Yale, moved to Baltimore to work at Towson after she graduated from Yale in 2007.

She said she has found inspiration in Baltimore's diverse landscapes and architecture.

"That's what draws me to cityscapes and streetscapes," she said. "I'm not the type of artist that's very happy doing a narrow slice … in terms of subject matter. I'm so enamored with so many things, and getting to represent that and working with the city is a great opportunity to have it all."

Nancy Siegel, chair of the Towson's Department of Art and Design, said such a high-profile installation is a great opportunity for both Burnham and the department she represents.

"For the college and university, it's wonderful to have someone with Amanda's talents here," Siegel said. "For the local community, it's wonderful we have a local artist that's readily engaged in the community and wants to take her art beyond the academic walls."

Public art, Siegel said, provides an outlet for people to see art in a different way and can start conversations that otherwise never would have occurred.

"I think Amanda is an incredibly talented artist, and also, very much engaged in bringing her work to a wide audience," Siegel said. "Her themes are readily accessible as they are artistically challenging. They give us much to think about, and equally important, much to talk about."

Burnham's installation will be completed by Monday, April 8, and an opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17.

Ten Pieces of Art I Would've Bought at MAP's Out Of Order

by Cara Ober | Bmore Art, April 7, 2013

It is true: MAP’s annual hang-it-yourself fundraiser is a mixed bag at best. The cavernous space was chock-filled this year, literally, from floor to ceiling, with artwork from artists of all ages, backgrounds, and interests. Work varied from traditional figure drawings, to prints, abstract paintings, and mixed media sculptures, with a predilection for bloody eyeballs, goth pinup girls, and anything Natty Boh (see pics below – yes that is someone bidding on the ‘Boh Scream’ ).

This year’s OOO brought in almost 100 more artists than last year, close to 400 in all, proving that this inclusive, introductory annual show is highly valued by the local community, and even more than in the past. The party was packed and buzzing with excited artists and patrons, and it seemed that more bidding was going on than in past years, possibly due to strategically low prices, with one giant photo priced at $1. (I think it was bid up to 40 bucks.)

While this type of show is heavy on novice artist cliches, there were hidden gems in the mix if you choose to sift through it all, and the prices (sorry, commercial galleries – I know this hurts you) cannot be beat. There are a LOT of terrific art bargains here, and, had my 13-year old cat not needed copious veterinary interventions last week, I probably would have bought something. Or, multiple things.

Below are my TOP TEN wish purchases, in no particular order. That is, these are the works of art from this year’s OOO that I would have bought, had I had the funding.

1. Dawn Gavin’s mixed media piece in yellow and brown with collaged map fragments

2. Joyce Yu-Jean Lee’s Vanitas Still Life Photo

3. Rachel Bone’s Blue Patterned Kitty Print (above shark circle)

4. Jeffrey Kent’s Sculpture made with books and African figurines/ bookends

5. Marian April Glebes’ ephemeral drawing – hers was priced quite affordably, but someone else got to it first!

6. Mina Cheon’s Addressing Dolls Print

7. A Large, Digital Print of Chimpanzees eating a human leg, Chimp Attack by MICA student Alex Curtis.

8. Tony Shore’s ‘Release the Hounds!’ print (yes – I made up that title) with fancy, marbleized matting

9. Ian MacLean Davis’s linear color abstraction (at bottom center)

10. A collaged digital print by Jared Ragland, a DC-based artist. Sassy and political in soft, sepia tones.

Additional Party Pics below…


Like/Dislike with Ashley Minner, artist

By Colleen Jaskot, b the site | March 5, 2013

Describing herself as a community artist who makes art for social justice seems fitting for 29-year-old Ashley Minner, who not only works in various mediums but also consults, writes grants, teaches, speaks and serves on boards for several arts organizations and projects.

This stems from her growing up in the Lumbee Native American community, where Minner said she learned to "help out and give back whenever possible." One way she does this is by facilitating an after-school art program for Native American girls.

Born, raised, and currently living in Dundalk, Minner's art includes artist books, prints, mixed-media drawings and some fiber pieces, focusing much of this work on addressing issues of injustice the Lumbee community. One of these main injustices is lack of recognition, she said, so her art includes projects like oral histories of elders and others she grew up with as a reminder of their "rich cultural legacy."

Minner will be one of three speakers at 6 tonight at the Maryland Art Place for the first night of their monthly THIRTY: 30 Creative Minds Under 30 event, which features talks from young Baltimore artists (for more, see page 52). At the event, Minner will speak about her work and how she's "making it" as an artist. First though, she spoke with us about her love of breakfast and shared some words of wisdom from her kindergarten teacher.

Worst pet peeve? It's a tie between litterbugs and people who let their dog off the leash in Patterson Park.

What song are you hating/loving right now? Currently stuck on Professor Longhair's version of "Junco Partner."

Last concert/gig you went to? Barrio Fino and the Beast in Portobelo, Panama. Before that, Monchy y Natalia at Coco Cabana in Hyattsville.

Your worst habit? Texting and driving.

Three words to describe your art? Collaborative, clean, deliberate.

Trend that has exceeded its natural lifespan? Poverty!

Last movie you liked/disliked? I loved "Life of Pi."

Is there a certain piece/project you're working on right now? I'm working on a series of portraits of friends from Panama.

TV shows you can't get enough of? I don't really watch TV. If I do, I'll watch an episode of "Gunsmoke" or "Bonanza," "Sanford and Son," "Pawn Stars," "Moonshiners."

Last great meal you had? I made myself breakfast yesterday, which is all I ever really want to eat: grits, eggs, bacon.

Favorite and most loathed fashion statements? I like it when people of culture incorporate their traditional wear into their contemporary style.

Favorite place to get a drink in Baltimore? Charro Negro.

Favorite medium to work with as an artist? Right now, pencil or charcoal.

Best advice you ever got? "Always be kind and loving." — Mrs. Berger, my kindergarten teacher

Favorite thing about Baltimore? Definitely the people. It's a city full of characters



Thirty young Baltimore artists discuss their work and ideas

Artist Mia Wiener embroiders provocative images on white linen because she's fascinated by the intimate nature of textiles and by the way that most people take them for granted.

Emily C-D creates collages in her native Baltimore and also in Mexico from materials that other people throw away: discarded newspapers, bottle tops, string, and old pots and pans.

And Ashley Minner crafts nearly life-size portraits of Baltimore's Native-American Lumbee community that revel in the beauty and strength of the people with whom she grew up.

The women are part of the generation that will determine the form that the visual arts will take here in the future and are being highlighted in "Thirty: 30 Creative Minds Under 30," a group of 10 gallery talks sponsored by Maryland Art Place. The trio have been selected to present their artwork in the debut presentation on Wednesday; the remaining nine events will take place roughly once a month.

"For a while, we've really been wanting to do a speaker series that includes not just Baltimore artists, but also curators, conservators, art historians and creative mind," says Sofia Rutka, the gallery's program manager.

"We can do only about eight or 10 exhibitions a year, and we were trying to find a way to showcase more artists. Baltimore has a lot of excellent creative minds who don't have as much of a platform to talk about their ideas as they should."

More than 100 painters, sculptors and conservators applied, and that group was winnowed down to the 21/2 dozen who program organizers thought would be especially articulate and provocative.

Participants were told that they would talk for about 10 minutes apiece and then field questions. To get their creative juices flowing, coordinators posed such potential topics as: What is the relationship between your art and business? Who is your audience? And how do you relate to current trends in the art world?

Weiner, for instance, has sewed since she was a child. Though she knew at an early age that she would become an artist, she initially assumed she'd create primarily in more traditional genres.

Eventually, she realized that her most satisfying times were when she sat down with an embroidery needle and a pattern of her own devising.

"Fiber art hasn't always been the most respected medium, partly because women did it and partly because it was associated with domestic tasks," she says. "It wasn't until the 1960s that it started being collected in museums."

For her talk on Wednesday, Weiner will display a series of nude portraits of conjoined couples. The artist first sketched from live models and then used black thread to embroider the images onto white linen panels that are about three feet high and five feet wide.

"I'm particularly interested in textiles because they surround us," says the 22-year-old, who will graduate in May from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

"We cover our bodies with them every day. Our curtains, napkins and our carpet are all textiles. They are very, very intimate objects that hold their own history and memory. And it's such a loaded history. There are issues of gender and of colonization. Entire economies are based off of textiles and trading."

Like Weiner, the artist who calls herself Emily C-D tries to get people to take a new look at materials so familiar and mundane that they're easily overlooked. But she doesn't care if the result of all her hard work vanishes overnight. In fact, she expects it to be destroyed.

"I'm a mixed-media and community artist, so a lot of my work is ephemeral," says the 29-year-old collage-maker, a Baltimore resident. "I might build a giant sculpture of metal and wood and old furniture by the side of a street, but I don't expect it to be there in a year or 10 or 20. What's important is the action of doing it, not that it lasts."

Emily C-D divides her time between Baltimore and Mexico and finds that her projects in cities thousands of miles away influence each other. When she speaks Wednesday at Maryland Art Place, the artist will describe workshops for children that she conducted in Mexico City and Oaxaca.

"I taught them to make instruments out of abandoned materials," she says. "We made one-string guitars from two-liter soda bottles, and maracas from papier-mache and bottle tops, and then we followed up the workshops with a public performance.

"In Mexico City, the children performed in a black-box theater on the instruments they'd made. In Oaxaca, we made this large, colorful snake from plastic bottles and paraded it through the streets. Then we threw the bottle snake into the river, ran after it, pulled it out and threw it back in again."

When Emily C-D is in Baltimore, she and Minner occasionally cross paths. Not only are both women community artists, but both graduated from MICA in 2005. Unlike Emily C-D, the 29-year-old Minner has dedicated her life to working with one population in particular: Baltimore's Lumbee community.

Minner's community art takes a variety of forms. For instance, the artist conducts a grant-writing workshop for girls ages 5 to 11. The kids decide which projects to pursue, write their own grant applications and secure their own funding. The largest donation they've received so far is $3,000 from the Baltimore branch of Youth As Resources.

"They're very impressive and skillful young ladies," Minner says. "They can explain to you the difference between making a decision by consensus and by voting, and why achieving consensus is better."

At the other end of the age spectrum, the artist has recorded a series of audio histories with the Lumbee elders who first moved to Maryland from North Carolina after World War II.

And she's excited about a series of 30 life-size portraits of people in her own generation that she and photographer Sean Sheidt created together.

Minner told her subjects to wear whatever clothes they felt the most comfortable in. When the artist's neighbors and friends arrived at the studio, they filled out surveys designed to elicit positive thoughts about themselves and their lives.

Sheidt photographed them in a golden light meant to impart a superhero glow, and Minner added text taken from the surveys to the finished portraits. They called the result "The Exquisite Lumbee Project."

"The most important thing to me in the work that I do is to help people see the divinity in each other and in themselves," Minner says.

"I want people to realize that we're all precious and we're all going to die. So, it's important for us to love each other and lift one another up."

If you go

"Thirty: 30 Creative Minds Under 30" begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Maryland Art Place, 8 Market Place. For information, call 410-962-8565 or visit

Hasan Elahi meticulously documents life

Artist Hasan Elahi meticulously documents life after FBI investigation

University of Maryland professor to open exhibit in Baltimore

By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun | January 22, 2013

A rumpled pile of sheets. A Bloody Mary on an airline tray. Bags of mustard greens from a Korean grocery store. Gas station pumps, battered street signs, a steamed crab.

These are among the everyday images encountered by artist and University of Maryland, College Park professor Hasan Elahi. For the past decade — since he was detained by the FBI at an airport — Elahi has meticulously compiled tens of thousands of photos of each stop he makes in his day.

Rather than shy from government attention, Elahi embarked on a self-surveillance project. He maps his location on a website, along with photos of beds on which he has slept, lots where he has parked and meals he has eaten.

"I'm telling you everything and nothing simultaneously," said Elahi, who is opening an exhibit Thursday at Maryland Art Place in Baltimore. "It's a code you have to crack. You really have to re-enact the role of the FBI. In the process, I'm hoping that the viewer realizes that he or she could just as easily be the subject."

Elahi, 41, who heads College Park's Digital Cultures and Creativity program, had explored digital images in his work long before he says he was interrogated by a federal investigator in the Detroit airport. But that encounter drove him to delve into the issue of eroding privacy in an era in which our moves are tracked by surveillance cameras and broadcast on Facebook and Instagram.

Since then, his work has captured international attention. He has presented at TED Global, where leading thinkers gather in what's billed as "the ultimate brain spa," and the World Economic Forum. Stephen Colbert called him "my favorite terrorist" and said the sound of his name "makes my heart go up one terror alert level."

Elahi isn't sure what caused the FBI to flag him. Born in Bangladesh, he moved to New York City at 7 years old and became an American citizen. Perhaps it was his name, his Muslim faith or the fact that he emptied a storage unit on Sept. 11, 2001.

But as Elahi filed through customs on his way back from an art exhibit in Amsterdam in June 2002, he said an agent's eyes grew wide as he scanned Elahi's passport. The customs agent whisked Elahi through a labyrinth of white hallways to an Immigration and Naturalization Services detention center. Elahi said an FBI agent questioned him: Where had he been and with whom? Who paid for his trips? When had he last visited a mosque? Had he moved explosives out of a storage unit?

Elahi scrolled through his Palm Pilot, showing the agent records of meetings, gallery visits and talks. After several hours, he said, he was allowed to fly back to Tampa, where he was living at the time. But there was no way to guarantee that he wouldn't receive similar scrutiny on future trips. Since he was not charged with a crime, he says, there was no document to show that he had been cleared.

"Once you're in the system, you're in," he said. "It's incredibly disturbing when a country, particularly your own country, uses discrimination as a basis for an investigation."

For six months, Elahi says, he was required to check in with FBI agents in Tampa. He would update them on his travel and his work. After Elahi passed nine lie detector tests, he said the agents told him that he would no longer need to report to them, although he still found himself occasionally stopped at airports over the next few years.

A spokesman for the FBI's Tampa office declined to comment.

Elahi's website,, grew out of these meetings with and emails to FBI agents. He decided to flood them with information and, in the process, create art.

"When I started this project, I was really trying to understand what had just happened," he said.

For much of last week, Elahi's website showed photos and a map of the Power Plant Live complex, where he was setting up an exhibit at Maryland Art Place.

Inside the gallery, workers balanced on ladders as they hung black orbs studded with small screens from the ceiling. Elahi, a graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan who taught himself computer programming, tapped on the laptop that will enable his archive of some 45,000 images from the past decade to flash on the screens.

Constellations of larger screens hang on the walls, including six that project images from the Baltimore Street police station across from the gallery.

Amy Royce, executive director of Maryland Art Place, said the "idea of being watched and watching others" should resonate with viewers, particularly those who feel they have been unjustly accused.

The exhibit, "Thousand Little Brothers," examines what happens when people turn the camera on the many manifestations of "Big Brother" that mark 21st-century life.

"Big Brother doesn't like all these Little Brothers looking at it," said Elahi, noting several incidents in which citizens have used hand-held cameras to document government abuse, beginning with the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police in 1991.


Our Mission

Maryland Art Place (MAP) inspires, supports, and encourages artistic expression through innovative programming, exhibitions, and educational opportunities while recognizing the powerful impact art can have on our community. MAP creates a dynamic environment for artists of our time to engage the public by nurturing and promoting new ideas. MAP has served as a critical resource for contemporary art in the Mid-Atlantic since 1981.

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