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Giving Up the Ghost: Brandon Morse at MAP

Giving Up the Ghost: Brandon Morse at MAP | Bmore Art | Rowan Fulton | October 19, 2015

Entering the darkened room, I am greeted first by a large-scale moving image, a panoramic abstract field of clear cyan and blood red. I watch explosions of circular pixelated particles tumble across an expanse of screen and aggressively scatter color. Taking a seat on an adjacent bench, I watch for a time, waiting for something different or big to happen within the dark red cascading forms. Eventually I realize that the projected film does not loop or repeat itself. It is not an animation, but rather a generative artwork, an algorithm-based visual piece designed to create anticipated, yet uncontrollable, results.

Brandon Morse’s “Giving Up the Ghost” is just one of many such simulations inTerminal Velocity, a solo exhibit at Maryland Art Place, yet it seems to hold court over the other works in the show. Its swell of colorful gradients in the background instantly recalls color field painters like Jules Olitski and Mark Rothko, and this abstract poetry, as well as its accompanying music–a persistent, ambient whir–decisively fills the gallery.

I eventually leave my seat and take in the rest of the show. Appropriately, the gallery is darkened to highlight a handful of medium-to-large-sized projections dancing across its walls. Within each digital simulation, there are controlled spaces in which particles move in both predictable and inconstant patterns, ruled by a combination of randomness and order.

In “At the Ramparts,” a projection installed in a cozy nook, tiny white bubbles pour gently over and around stationary pillars. The movement of the balls reads as chaotic, yet their paths are guided rigidly by the pillars, through which, as a rule, they cannot pass. The most blissful work in the show, it presents a detailed yet uncomplicated system that is accessible to everyone. This approachable quality is heightened by the careful symmetry in the composition, as well as its placement in a spot which subtly reflects the projection onto the floor beneath. The digital works in this show are theatrically installed and well executed to take advantage of cinematic strategies. Although entertaining and technically impressive, I still find myself wondering: what are these simulations really about?

Morse states an interest in generating simulations of “systems in flux…[through which] scenes of tumult, chaos, and entropy are portrayed,” which initially seems like a substantive idea, while remaining broad and vague. I want to attribute more to these systems; perhaps the particles falling across the screen in deftly choreographed patterns actually represent data, or bear some discernible connection to reality or nature? However you choose to approach them, the systems within which they operate are actually quite simple. It is easy to be absorbed in the beautiful intricacies of these pieces and awed by our own ignorance in the complication of their craft. However, beyond the abstract notion of chaos/ order inherent in their structure, I am suspicious of their attractive veneer and find myself looking for a more specific message.

Where this show truly succeeds is in creating a mood and absorbing the viewer. With the darkened environment and steady, ambient music, the viewer is effortlessly drawn into the theatrics at work, particularly with the larger pieces. I felt compelled as a viewer to spend a good amount of time with each piece and the progression from one to the next was natural and well-paced.

While navigating this show, I found myself questioning my own ideas of creative authorship. Where other visual artists may adopt a system within which they create, Morse’s creative process lies entirely in the design of his systems. This is not to say that Morse puts less thought into the production of these works than he should, rather that there is something lovely in the lack of control he is able to exert on the final product. After all, once the works are installed and running, and the artist leaves the room, he has no way of knowing exactly what they will look like or what they will do next. In this way the artist’s work becomes autonomous in a way most art cannot and this state of uncertainty, although designed around simple systems, becomes the real subject of this work.

Cybersecurity firm commissions work of art Baltimore | Stephen Babcock | July 27, 2015

Cybersecurity firm commissions work of art

Cybersecurity firm commissions work of art Ahead of its upcoming Women in Cybersecurity event, CyberPoint is teaming up with Maryland Art Place to find a piece from a female artist.

The latest call for artists in Baltimore came from perhaps an unlikely source. Downtown-based cybersecurity firm CyberPoint is looking to commission a new work from a Baltimore-based female artist around the theme of “creating connections.” While that could inspire visions of people-centered connections or internet connections, CyberPoint Creative Director Peter Kilpe said there isn’t a particular set of criteria the company is expecting.

“We’re interested to hear the artists’ perspective on the theme,” he said. CyberPoint is working with Maryland Art Place, whose headquarters is also located downtown, to put out the call to the art community and ultimately select the winning work.

The commission, which totals $750 for the original work and license, is designed to foster a connection in itself. The work will be unveiled at the company’s Women in Cybersecurity reception on Nov. 19. It’s an invite-only event that’s designed to connect women who work in the field. At last year’s event, the original work of winner Claire Girodie was on display and each attendee received a signed, limited edition print. “We couldn’t think of a better way to support emerging artists,” Kilpe said. 

The deadline for artists is Saturday, Aug. 8.

Full Article 

Artscape Week: Baltimore Gallery Highlights

Art F City | Michael Anthony Farley | July 23, 2015

Phew. Our weekend spent at Artscape was exhausting. Before the insanity began, a plethora of exhibitions opened in the week leading up to the festival (mostly on the westside of Downtown), and we only got a chance to breeze through a fraction of them. Here’s a very-briefly-annotated round-up of highlights:

Thursday night, Randall Scott Projects (216 w. Read St.) opened Untitled no. 6 (on view until August 8th), a group show featuring work by Stephanie Barber, Ryan Hoover, Sondheim finalist Benjamin Kelley, and Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann. The highlight here was “Horizon,” a washed-out video playing in the back room. It’s a composite of amateur vacation films from the midcentury edited by Stephanie Barber. The artist’s mother worked as a housekeeper for a wealthy family in the Hamptons where she found the films after the couple passed away. Overall, the piece has an eerie, dream-like quality—hints of canned experiences come in and out of focus as tourists cross a North-African dune on horseback, for example.

That same night, Young Blood (until August 22nd) opened at Maryland Art Place (218 W. Saratoga St.). The exhibition is an annual survey of recent graduates from Maryland MFA programs. This year had a strong selection, with work from Amanda Agricola, OluShola A. Cole, L. E. Doughtie, Alex Ebstein (who, deservedly, seems to have work/curatorial projects EVERYWHERE in Baltimore right now), Rob Hackett, Magali Hébert-Huot (also showing at Open Space), and Christine Wolfe Weller. Below are the highlights:

Can we reiterate how awesome these are? Alex Ebstein cuts up different-colored yoga mats and reassembles them into “paintings.” The more I think about these the more I like them—really, “spiritual” concerns aside, aren’t yoga and (acrylic) painting pretty much just about struggling to make our bodies less clumsy as they interact with a surface of complex hydrocarbon polymers?

Full Article with Photos

Highlights from Young Blood at Maryland Art Place

Bmore Art | Amy Boone-McCreesh | July 21, 2015

Highlights from Young Blood at Maryland Art Place

It’s the time of year again when Maryland Art Place hosts the annual Young Blood exhibition, a reliable and exciting show that introduces the city to recent MFA Graduates from the Greater Baltimore region. As a once participant in the Young Blood show myself, I’m excited to continue the exposure of Baltimore’s newest MFA members. For it’s seventh rotation, MAP offers a mix of artists from MICA, University of Maryland and Towson University. The show runs until August 22, 2015.

Alex Ebstein, Towson University: Ebstein’s deceptively simple pieces are actually hand-cut pvc yoga mats. The works read as paintings with texture and operate like collages. The compositions bring to mind those of the late Matisse cutouts. Simple organic and geometric shapes still manage to represent the depiction of space, feeling both landscape and still life. The exploitation and deliberate placement of ready-made yoga mat textures and colors lead to convincing yet comical references to the body and it’s relationship to the two-dimensional picture plane.

Amanda Agricola, MICA: The Love Bed by Amanda Agricola was created using a topographic visual study of language, specifically the word love. The linear imagery is carved into foam, offering an interactive space where participants can literally fall into love (by laying on the bed). Agricola likens the carved blocks of the bed to a puzzle, much like the act of figuring out love itself. The Love Bed is part of the Bed Island series and comes complete with a sandy room, ambient blue lights, and a robotic female voice that will speak to you during your stay. Agricola also presents a funny and convincing pamphlet, selling spectators on the positive impacts of interacting with The Love Bed.

Christine Wolfe Weller, Towson University: Christine Wolfe Weller is a fibers artist with a recent focus in crochet. All of the works shown at MAP are representations of animals and her human associations with each one. Through a laborious crochet process, Weller walks a line between craft and horror, showing a wolf eating itself, and a dismembered bear. The repetitive fiber processes, like crocheting, offering Weller a meditative experience that result in recognizable imagery with a sobering undertone.

L.E. Dougthie, MICA: Working only in black, white and grey, Doughtie presents a mixed media installation that feels organic in creation while staying anchored through formal organization. Using a combination of two and three-dimensional works, along with black paper, the installation feels playful and non-precious. The work teeters between a space that has appeared naturally and one carefully curated by the artist’s hand.

Magali Hébert-Huot, MICA: Hébert-Huot creates works that play with the tropes of architecture and how it operates within a culture. Using images of churches, log cabin references, and columns, Hébert-Huot presents a fractured look into gender and construction. The corner of a log cabin structure created with pink and yellow foam sits helplessly in the gallery, void of use and heft alongside screen prints with graphic interventions on top of iconic church imagery. Both the two and three- dimensional works reference the process of building, often ending in futile results.

OluShola A. Cole, MICA: Olushola Cole, also known as Pirate Jenny, uses the influences of history, time travel, and personal experience for performances and other multi-media outlets. Cole states that the alter ego comes from Kurt Weill’s song, Pirate Jenny. In the past, Cole has performed live, through radio, and video. At Maryland Art Place Cole presents a few wearable pieces that are used during a performance of writing on the walls and the physical embodiment of pirates and slaves.

Rob Hackett, University of Maryland: Rob Hackett defies gravity with four geometric wooden structures, tethered by metal cables in the middle of the gallery space. The pieces feel light and organized despite their obvious physical weight. There is a visual tension that’s wrangled by the minimal aesthetic of the repetitive works. The warmth of the wood and lights within the Maryland Art Place gallery allow the work to exist outside of the often cold, harsh imagery associated with minimalist works. The staggered pieces also offer interesting views, depending on the positioning of the viewer within the gallery space.

MAP’s Program Advisory Committee (PAC) curates Young Blood, an annual exhibition of works by recent Baltimore-area Masters of Fine Art graduates. The exhibition includes emerging artists from area colleges such as Maryland Institute College of Art and The University of Maryland College Park. Since 2008 this program has continually brought recent graduates together to make new connections and present special selections from their graduate exhibitions. According to MAP’s former Program Advisory Chair, Cara Ober, “After achieving their Masters the next most important step for young artists is their professional debut in a reputable professional gallery.” Since 2008, Young Blood has provided a meritorious exhibition experience for over 45 artists.

This years Young Blood Artists are: Amanda Agricola, OluShola A. Cole, L. E. Doughtie, Alex Ebstein, Rob Hackett, Magali Hébert-Huot, and Christine Wolfe Weller.

Full Disclosure: Author Amy Boone-McCreesh is a member of MAP’s PAC, the group that curates this exhibition. For this reason, this article is not considered a critical review, but informational in its content. She is a Baltimore-based artist and professor.

Full Article with Photos


This is your brain on art: Maryland Art Place exhibit Baltimore | Stephen Babcock | January 28, 2015

This is your brain on art: Maryland Art Place exhibit

“On the Mind” features four artists exploring the intersection of neuroscience and creative expression.

For Mónica López-González, creating art and analyzing data aren’t on opposite sides of the brain. Instead, they’re part of the same project.

López-González is well-acquainted with the aesthetic, creative side. She’s a classically-trained pianist who studied at Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Conservatory. She also a photographer, playwright and filmmaker.

It’s in her work as a cognitive scientist, however, that art becomes data.

López-González uses that data to consider a question that could have implications for explaining how the brain works: “What’s happening in the brain while we create something new and different that’s artistic?”

"Magicalness in cognitive terms means unexpected, surprising, spontaneous — and it's totally measurable."

To gather the data, López-González provided musical ensembles with a movie and a play — both of which she made. In both cases, the “entire score was improvised live in the moment,” López-González said.

The “data” from those performances will be on display over the next two months as part of an exhibition at the Maryland Art Place (MAP), Titled “On the Mind,” the show will be the first since renovations were completed at MAP’s first-floor gallery on the west side of downtown Baltimore. The contemporary art-focused organization moved from Power Plant Live! last year, marking a return to a space it occupied from 1986-2001.

The work that will be displayed at the show is also reflective of a return, of sorts. In the 1950s, scientists began using art-based research to study how the brain works. It fell out of vogue for decades as technological advances emerged at rapid-fire pace. Recently, however, there’s been a new recognition that studying the creative process can lead to a better understanding of cognitive processes.

In the four artists in On the Mind, there’s proof that the art world has an active place in this ongoing study, too.

Those looking for the way to build a bridge between the two worlds need look no further than López-González. As comfortable in the lab as she is behind the camera, she had a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and is also on the faculty at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). By turn, her works of film and theatre come with a data analysis of the improvised musical scores.

To the 31-year-old, art represents a chance to get out of the lab, and experience the brain working in real-world scenarios.

“In the lab it’s full of controls,” she said. “If you start constraining it, are you really studying creativity? Creativity is all about something unexpected — that magicalness. Magicalness in cognitive terms means unexpected, surprising, spontaneous — and it’s totally measurable.”

To take those measurements, she divided her film into chapters that would reflect six universal emotions: happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger and disgust.

The improvised scores represent the data. López-González analyzes how various musical elements such as tempo, tone and rhythm play out in the presence of different emotions. She’s looking for similarities or differences between the emotions that could lead to a unified theory that would answer the question: “What type of information is the mind putting together to get to the product of improvisation?”

Even more implications for how the mind processes and uses art can be found in the work of two other artists. Lee Gainer’s acrylic paintings reveal varying interpretations of memories, and how they look when they appear on canvas.

In turn, Nancy Andrews’ work also looks at memory, albeit very painfully. The artist developed post-traumatic stress disorder after her stay in a post-operative ICU in 2006. During the dark hallucinations, it was art, including music from an iPod, that helped her to heal.

“A friend of hers brought [the iPod]. It helped get her out of this state she was in, and helped change her whole trajectory,” said MAP Executive Director Amy Cavanaugh Royce. “Music was a huge part of Nancy’s recovery, and also the artistic process.”

Now, Andrews is spreading the word about the effects of PTSD through the art she created to explore the effects of her experience. She’ll have drawings on display at the show. On Feb. 25, her film, On a Phantom Limb, will screen in conjunction with the exhibition at MICA.

While the exhibition examines the brain from many sides, the work of each artist also nods to how little we know about the workings of the mind. Photographer John Malis perhaps drives home the point most emphatically by showing depictions of the physical brain itself.

In photographing slides from a 100-year-old archive from St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., Malis found the limits to what you can tell about the brain just by looking at it.

“The people that he’s spoken with have said, ‘You really can’t even tell what was wrong with the person,’” Royce said. “Even with all this visual information that we have, there’s really no way to even explain what was wrong with them.” The statement lead this reporter to blurt out that there was still so much about the brain that we don’t know.

“Gosh, we know nothing, really,” López-González said.

On the Mind runs from Jan. 22-March 14, at Maryland Art Place (218 W. Saratoga St., Baltimore). Weekly gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 12-4 p.m.

BmoreArt’s Best of 2014: Ian MacLean Davis’s Top 10

Ian Maclean Davis | Bmore Art | December 29, 2014

Best Gallery Homecoming: Maryland Art Place

Established in 2012, the Bromo Arts & Entertainment District in Westside Downtown Baltimore launched on the hardscrabble backs of Current Gallery, the H&H Building gallery venues, and other artist-run spaces on Franklin Street that have invigorating the area with arts activity for years (Hippodrome Theater notwithstanding.) This year Maryland Art Place finally divested itself of the beautiful, but awkwardly corporate home at Power Plant Live! on Water Street and returned to 218 West Saratoga St. where they previously resided from 1986-2001.

This year, major renovations of the ground floor main space (bye-bye awkward closet in the middle of the room!) and further construction in the upper floors for offices and new tenants – including Jordan Faye Contemporary – have the potential to gift the Bromo District with an institutional anchor space for flourishing arts events and public programming in the neighborhood. Renovations aside, the staff of MAP has proven itself committed to working with neighboring independent galleries and BOPA to promote arts in the district.

Welcome back! You’re looking good and I’m excited to see how your programming and presence continues to transform in the New Year.

Read the full article here:

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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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