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What They're Wearing: MAP's Great Gatsby Fall Benefit

What They're Wearing: MAP's Great Gatsby Fall Benefit

Cara Ober, Bmore Art | December 2, 2019

How many sequins can Maryland Art Place (MAP) reasonably fit into one art gallery? The answer is: more than you’d expect. The Great Gatsby, the theme of their recent fall benefit hosted Saturday, November 9, 2019, inspired headdresses, vintage gowns, feathers, and a lot of fabulous jewelry. The 2nd Tri-Annual Maryland State Artist Registry Juried Exhibition was on the walls, and the night included food, drinks, live music, and fashion, as well as live performances by artists Stephanie Barber, Dominique Zeltzman, Shonita Johnson, Ceylon Mitchell, and Nicoletta de la Brown in the cabaret along with David Page’s performance piece in the main gallery.

The historic Baltimore arts organization was founded in 1981 by a group of artists in conjunction with the Maryland State Arts Council who wanted to create a platform for contemporary artists in the region through a dedicated venue and access to professional information. “The bigger institutions were not showing much interest in living artists at that time,” recalls MAP Executive Director Amy Cavanaugh, who has held the position for the past eight years. “And contemporary artists in the region were looking for professional opportunities.”

Founded as a nonprofit and incorporated in 1982, MAP mounted a series of exhibitions and programs in temporary locations, including a Critics’ Residency program, a public art program in conjunction with the Market Center Development Corporation, and Diverse Works, the first performance residency for interdisciplinary artists. The organization mounted five major exhibitions in 1984–85 in a variety of spaces while searching for a permanent home.

In January, 1988, MAP purchased the 20,000-square-foot Beaux Arts building it now occupies at 218 West Saratoga Street in the Bromo Arts District, taking a major step toward financial stability and cohesion in programming. Although MAP rented a gallery space in Power Plant Live from 2001–2014, the performance component of their programming, the 14 Karat Cabaret, continued to showcase an ongoing series of music, dance, film and video in the basement of MAP’s West Saratoga Street space.

The cabaret is being renovated and MAP plans to open the fully operational bar and music venue in the fall of 2020, but it will be partially open in the next six months while they continue to raise capital to finish the project. “MAP’s cabaret is actually a big part of Baltimore’s performance art subculture and has a rich history,” says Cavanaugh. “It was the home of Organic Soul and the 14 Karat Cabaret run by Laure Drogoul for over 20 years, which served many of Baltimore’s marginalized LGBTQI artists and performers. It was the first place that Annie Sprinkle performed, and at that time her work was not considered art by any standard.” Cavanaugh says that they have discovered a number of 1980s performance posters and is organizing an archive around them. “We want to preserve this cultural heritage and create a space open for bands and experimental performances,” says Cavanaugh, a cellist and performing artist herself.

For their fall benefit, MAP opened up almost every floor of the 5-story building including the cabaret, creating opportunities to interact with the creative individuals and organizations that now occupy the building. “At our events, we always want to raise funds and awareness about MAP,” says Cavanaugh. “But we also wanted our guests to realize how many different creative entities occupy our building so people could explore  and learn more about us and our tenants.” Current occupants include the Lineup Room, a hip-hop event using the cabaret for Bmore BeatClub, co-produced by Eze Jackson; Terrault Gallery; fashion designer Bishme Cromartie; and a number of artist studios.

The nonprofit organization heading into a capital campaign to update and maintain the entire building, including the roof, and the Fall Benefit, as well as their upcoming Under 500 holiday art sale on December 14, are opportunities to support MAP’s ongoing mission and to assist in their efforts to renovate this creative hub. “People don’t always realize we are much more than a first-floor gallery space,” says Cavanaugh. “Our building is huge and a highly diverse community in every possible way, but it requires a lot of maintenance.”

Cavanaugh says that she is proud that MAP has been able to host a thriving group of creatives, now and over the past 40 years, and is fulfilling their original mission better today than ever before, still running the MD State Artist Registry for over 20 years and serving between 500–600 artists each year. Their annual Under 500 is scheduled for December 14, and it’s one of Baltimore’s better art sales of the year. Cavanaugh says they have approximately 50 artists and 90 works of art selected, and will publish a finalized list on Tuesday.

Looking forward, MAP is planning a woman-centric exhibition in early 2020 called Merkin Dream, using humor and fashion to explore women’s private rituals, grooming, shaving, sexuality, and identity. They are planning a fashion show along with the exhibit, and a number of discussions around the merkin (for those who don’t know, this is a wig designed for the pubic area) and its use by sex workers from the 1450s, to its height of popularity in the 1700s. “We are curious to explore the reasons that this particular item exists and its uses,” says Cavanaugh, adding that they are looking forward to incorporating women’s voices around fashion, advocacy for gender parity, and advocacy for sex workers.

At MAP’s event on November 9, we didn’t spot any merkins—among the guests or performers—but we do look forward to photographing the upcoming exhibition and fashion show. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of guests at MAP’s Fall Benefit by E. Brady Robinson. (Cara Ober)



Kevin Lynch, | July 2, 2019

Maryland Art Place (MAP) has partnered with the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBG), the Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI), Fusion Partnerships, and Weller Development to curate the newly-established “Hanover Street Gallery: Reframing Pathways,” an outdoor gallery space on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (Hanover Street Bridge) façade. MAP curated 24 works of art created by “a diverse group of living artists with artworks primarily centered around abstraction, expressionism, and pattern & design.”

The Hanover Street Gallery presents replicated and enlarged original works of art printed on vinyl that are up to 12 ft. high. The pieces are not permanent, and will likely last about six months. The works were installed on the base of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Bridge over this past weekend in time for the 4th of July festivities on the Middle Branch, including the Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival. The process of getting the vinyls on the bridge involved using an adhesive and blow torch.

“Tombstone information” is available for each artwork so that visitors will have access to information such as the medium of the original artwork and the artists’ names. The Cherry Hill side of the bridge uses a replicated painting detail from artist Dirk Joseph for the 10 archway columns under the bridge. Hanover Street Gallery artists include: Ernest Shaw, Will Shanklin, Se Jong Co, Sarah Tilton, Ben Marcin (C. Grimaldis Gallery), Emily Uchytil, Katty Huertas, Elli Hernandez, Alfonso Fernandez (C. Grimaldis Gallery), Magnolia Laurie, Rene Trevino, Karl Connolly, Jenee Mateer, Minas Konsolas, Timothy J. Horjus, Amy Helminiak, Terence Hannum, Jowita Wyszomirska, Dirk Joseph, and Trace Miller (Goya Contemporary).

All the artists are Maryland residents and received a licensing fee for their works.

MAP Executive Director Amy Cavanaugh told, “the hope is that every year there will be new works by new artists. In my opinion we can do more with even more time. We know the process now and can get ahead of it with bigger and bolder art projects down there in the future.” She noted that she’d love to see some digital installations on the bridge in the future.

The project was cleared by the Baltimore City Department of Transportation which owns the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Bridge and Weller Development which owns the adjacent land on the Port Covington side of the bridge.

Cavanaugh hopes the Hanover Street Gallery will be a draw like any other fine art exhibit and will be enjoyed by those already visiting the attractions around the gallery.

“To work on a such truly collaborative and equitable project with the Youth Resiliency Institute, Maryland Art Place, and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership has been very rewarding,” said Weller Development founding partner Marc Weller. “Being able to create new opportunities for area artists while beautifying our public spaces is a top priority for our team as we work to build Port Covington. We look forward to supporting many more projects like this one in the years to come.”


Not just for Valentine's Day: Baltimore exhibit showcases romantic, poignant — and sometimes heartbreaking love letters

Mary Carole McCauley | Baltimore Sun | Feb 13, 2019

More than 70 years ago, a young soldier was separated from his sweetheart by an ocean and World War II. He imagined the two of them gazing at the same constellations from different hemispheres, and wrote her the following lines:

”What are you doing tonight? How about a date? I’ve rented a moon, a beautiful night, a sky full of stars just for the two of us.”Those charming words have been copied on to a sheet of paper by the Baltimore artist Peter Bruun. Above them, Bruun created a watercolor sketch of blue and black and dark purple lines that loop and swirl and are exuberantly entangled. The result is just one of an array of romantic, poignant — and sometimes heartbreaking — artworks on view in “Beyond Beautiful: One Thousand Love Letters.”

Because of its size, about 650 letters (roughly 250 aren’t on view, and Bruun expects to complete the final 100 later this year) are spread between two Baltimore galleries, Maryland Art Place and Area 405. The letters are organized into eight themes: family, poetic expressions of love, romantic love, letters written to deceased loved ones, self-love, letters about the barriers to love, letters to folks struggling with addiction and a miscellaneous category. The exhibits are free and Bruun also has organized a no-cost, public event tied to each theme.

“For many years I have been using art as a community building tool and as a way of bringing people together around issues and ideas,” said the 55-year-old artist, who divides his time between Baltimore and Maine. “Ultimately, this project is about healing.”

Bruun is the founder of the Baltimore-based New Day Campaign, which mounts public art projects that tackle the stigmas surrounding mental illness and substance abuse, but this show is unrelated to that organization.

“I have two letters to drug courts,” Bruun said, “because the courts provided a structure that allowed the writers to get out of their bad way of thinking.”

The artworks are quirky, idiosyncratic, surprising. There’s a letter from a sexual assault victim to the long-dead grandfather who abused her. There are love letters to social service organizations, to spiritual entities and even to branches of government.

“I do believe, my dear man,” one letter reads, “if you were a country, I would display your flag high and sing your anthem with pride!”

There are letters from children (“thank you for getting me shoes and hats”) and Bruun’s research produced previously published letters from such famous folks as first lady Abigail Adams, anthropologist Margaret Mead and the artist Frida Kahlo, who wrote: “The hollow of your armpits is my shelter.”

Amy Cavanaugh, executive director of Maryland Art Place, said she didn’t have to think twice when she was approached about becoming the lead host venue for Bruun’s project.

Immersing herself in the artworks was for her like walking into a shaft of sunlight in a dark room. Cavanaugh, the mother of an 8-year-old son, is going through a divorce after 18 years of marriage. She said the letters and drawings perfectly captured the mix of emotions she’s been experiencing.“I thought about how many other women are in their 40s and are the parents of young children and are dealing with divorce and still feeling love for their exes,” she said.

“Everyone has had a personal experience that will resonate with this show.” Cavanaugh said Bruun’s deceptively simple abstract drawings don’t merely illustrate the content of the letters — they enhance them.

“His lines really do speak to the narrative in the letters,” she said. “It’s pretty much a miracle.”

Though many letters refer to tragedies, nearly all are honeycombed with tenderness. Viewers may come away feeling calmer and more peaceful. That’s no accident; the exhibit represents the artist’s attempt to heal himself after the death of his eldest daughter, who died at age 24 from an overdose of heroin and cocaine. The show contains three letters written to Elisif Bruun by her father, including one composed during a period when he was temporarily caring for the pet she named “Ludacat.”

“I love your cat,” Bruun wrote, “silent, mysterious, furtive, loving, vulnerable, dangerous.”

As her father describes her, the beautiful Maine Coon’s personality was similar to his owner’s.

“Elisif was magnetic,” Peter Bruun said. “She didn’t care what anyone thought. Her hair was always changing color. She’d wear caution tape from construction sites.”

The phone call that Bruun received in 2014 telling him that Elisif had died flung the artist into the emotional equivalent of outer space.

“When something like that happens the old rules no longer apply,” Bruun said. “You give yourself permission to do things you never would have done before. My relationships transformed and became somewhat unconventional.”

For example, he became chastely obsessed with a young prostitute who reminded him of Elisif, and allowed her to live temporarily in his home.

That period was exhilarating, Bruun said, but also bewildering.

“I found myself three years later needing a ballast in this confusing ride,” he said. “I literally woke up one morning and thought, ‘I’m going to create a thousand drawings inspired by love letters.’ With this project, I could explore all the different ways that love manifests itself. I could use it to almost normalize my experience.”

He began soliciting love letters in 2017, first from friends and family members and then from participants in art workshops he conducted for youth development and drug programs. Bruun put out an online call for submissions through the Bruun Studios newsletter he founded, and Maryland Art Place also made an appeal on Twitter.

Most of the letter writers live in Maryland, but Bruun said he has received notes or emails from as far away as California, Arizona and Canada.

It’s probably a good sign, he thinks, that he’s starting to look forward to finishing his thousandth drawing and wrapping up the project. It’s an indication that “Beyond Beautiful” has served its purpose and that he’s ready to move on.

“This project has carried me through two confusing years,” he said, “and it has allowed me to understand that there is no normal in love.”

The project also has solidified Bruun’s connection to his eldest daughter. The interview for this article was conducted on Monday, the fifth anniversary of Elisif’s death.

“I did a Facebook post today,” Bruun said, and then spread his arms to gesture around the room. “I spoke of her being in the air all around me. Five years later, she is still here.”

If you go

“Beyond Beautiful: One Thousand Love Letters” runs in two locations through March 10: at Maryland Art Place, 218 W. Saratoga St., 12 pm to 4 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, and at Area 405, 405 E. Oliver St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays



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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