Arts & Entertainment
Cool shit going down at this year’s largest free arts festival, July 15-17
Published: July 13, 2011
Really, there’s a whole bunch more of everything that’s not mentioned here. Whether you just stumble into Artscape or plan a route, it’d be a damn shame to miss.
Compiled by Andrea Appleton, Michael Byrne, Anna Ditkoff, Joe Marinelli, Emily Schiller, and Shane Souther.
We don’t envy Artscape’s sonic curators. The feat of preparing an extensive program of sounds to serve a large-scale event boasting one of the most extensive cross-sections of Baltimore imaginable is a mighty one indeed. College favorites G Love and Special Sauce and Matisyahu get top billing on the main stage (Saturday night and Sunday night, respectively). The “festival stage,” meanwhile, traffics in a bunch of everything from Telesma’s new new-age groove to Big Daddy Stalling’s blues to ace MC E Major, sandwiched in the middle of everything. The 1982 stage is a whole lotta, yes, 1982 with alternating karaoke segments, DJs, and, finally, a grand finale of special effects set to the top 10 songs of 1982.
As per usual, the most interesting stuff happens at the Artscape fringes. The DJ Culture Takeover inhabits the Metro Gallery Friday and Saturday night with highlights ranging from excellent Baltimore house export Karizma to club classic Scottie B, dubstepper Joe Nice, funk maestros DJ Exclaime and Landis Expandis, awesome club goofball Jon Kwest, and much more. Also: air conditioning! High Zero’s future-music program Exotic Hypnotic returns once again, though now dubbed Worlds in Collusion due to some sort of copyright dispute, at the University of Baltimore Student Center. Check out Will Redman pushing the boundaries of classical music to improv magma and back again, the Baltimore Westsiders Marching Band, banjo innerspace traveller Nathan Bell and folk explorer Liz Downing’s Spaceships and Insects project, instrument inventor and craftsman Neil Feather, the Wrhatnala USA Gamelan Ensemble, and psych pummel from Horse Lords. Find also a light-show-plus-future-music performance from Andy Hayleck and Dan Conrad, Indian classical music from Soumya Chakraverty, and, yes, more air conditioning.
If that’s not enough, find a free program at the Meyerhoff on Saturday afternoon when Peabody hosts Lee Mills, recipient of the BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellowship, for his debut public concert at 2 p.m. conducting a concert by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; mutant opera from Rhymes With Opera and barbershop tunes from the Heart of Maryland Chorus at the Corpus Christi Church; organ concerts like all over the city; and Aida Opera of D.C. with A Tribute to Singers of Color at 8 p.m. Friday and Opera Vivente’s tribute to Julia Child, Bon Appetit, 1 p.m. Saturday, both at MICA’s Brown Center.
Artscape brings some great artists to Baltimore, but if you’re looking for some hometown flare, there’s plenty of local talent ready to show their stuff. MICA displays its best work at its Decker and Meyerhoff galleries with the 2011 Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize Semifinalist Exhibit opening Friday. Then, MICA students show that art has a serious message, with Loss and Consequences: The Drunk Driving Project in the Urbanite Artscape Tent. But hold on to your wallets, the real danger may be the MICA Art Market: Special Edition, a three-day sale of locally crafted goods in the Brown Center’s Leidy Atrium.
“Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Sit and ponder Lewis Carroll’s timeless—and answerless—riddle in Artscape’s Rabbit Hole at Pearlstone Park (on Preston Street between Cathedral and Howard streets). Disposable picnic blankets and plentiful shade will be available to all. “In past years there haven’t always been places for people to just relax,” says visual arts coordinator Jim Lucio. “[The Rabbit Hole is] a nice mix of art and leisure.” Wander through sculptures and sound installations loosely based on Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and get an up-close look at a tot-sized housing development made of repurposed plastic playhouses known as “Wonderland Estates.” Junk hauler and exhibit sponsor 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has been collecting used playhouses and distributing them to local artists for the past month in preparation. In the spirit of all things miniature, the first annual “Mini Prix,” featuring kids racing on pedal-powered art cars, will wind through the park. And, Lucio says, Rabbit Hole visitors will likely be able to hear music from the main stage. Sadly, Jefferson Airplane isn’t on the bill.
You’re probably imagining a room full of gaming consoles and televisions, each screen dedicated to some mainstream video game like “Call of Duty” with hoards of teenage gamers huddled around. Yes, inside the Pinkard Gallery there are plenty of video games to play and a section of classic arcade games from the past. But what makes Gamescape more than a free version of Dave and Busters is the exhibition of game developers and concept artists who showcase the creative processes, developmental strategies, and troubleshooting that culminate in the finished product of a video game. And if you want to give it a go yourself, drop the sticks and pick up a pencil and paper. Gamescape also features workshops with local professionals who offer advice on how to succeed in the video-game industry.
Over the past month, a group of students from Morgan State University’s Bachelors of Science in Architecture and Environmental Design program have transformed a dark, dim, 40-foot-high shipping container into a sustainable and adaptable structure. It’s constructed from 85 percent recycled and reclaimed materials such as pallet decking with plywood for flooring and steel window frames. After Artscape, LightBox will become a workshop and studio space for Morgan State’s program at the Loading Dock on North Kresson Street. Featuring passive solar design that uses solar energy to keep it warm in winter and cool in summer, LightBox highlights some of the issues facing architectural design moving forward into a sustainable future.
Art Gallery Network
Whoever said looking at art never pays needs to listen up: Artscape has developed a fun trivia game, with a wicked prize, to reward folks for supporting local galleries and exhibitions. Eleven galleries have been given a question to hand out to everyone who visits during their opening receptions. After the participants have visited a variety of galleries and answered all the questions correctly, they will be put into a raffle to win a new iPad 2 with a custom Artscape skin. No catch, no small print to read. All you need to do is come out and enjoy the different art shows. For a list of all the participating galleries, go to artscape.org.
Looking at art is hungry work—what, you thought you could feed your soul without your stomach getting jealous? Luckily, Artscape is known almost as much for its food—see Foodscape—as it is for its art and music acts. This year, Charm City Hospitality—the sole food purveyor at the ’Scape—is promising more ethnic food, more beer for sale at food kiosks, and food trucks on Charles Street. Local artists will provide signage and the whole food extravaganza is going to be as green as you feel after hours drinking under the Baltimore summer sun by using renewable fuels and compostable plates, utensils, straws, and trash bags. At least you’ll be able to feel really good about the overpriced burger you’re eating.
Fine art and music aren’t the only kinds of culture being offered this weekend. There’s also plenty of theater. Friday is heavy on the improv. Strand Theater kicks off the make-it-up-as-you-go-along shenanigans with a workshop at Theatre Project at 3:30 p.m. followed by an ’80s-themed improv performance at the 1982 stage at 4 p.m. (Strand’s improv hits the 1982 stage again at 6 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.) Drop Three promises to name drop your favorite childhood toys in its ’80s improv at Theatre Project at 6 p.m. followed by Baltimore Improv Group at 8 p.m. If you want to learn how to turn your life story into a funny or poignant—ideally both—tale, stop by the workshop led by Stoop Storytelling mavens Laura Wexler and Jessica Henkin at noon at Theatre Project on July 16; at 5:30 p.m. Single Carrot Theatre performs Rumpled, an unorthodox retelling of Rumplestiltzkin.
Between the pop-up dance performances and the ’80s theme there is bound to be plenty of dancing all weekend long. For those of you who just can’t wait for a semi-spontaneous dance number to materialize, there are some scheduled performances worth checking out. Effervescent Collective, the mad genius behind a gender-bending rendition of Dirty Dancing, moves it at the fifth floor of UB’s Student Center at 4 p.m. Friday as part of High Zero’s Worlds in Collusion. On Saturday, Baltimore’s own Nicolette LeFaye and Synergy Movement Theatre take to the 1982 stage at 3 and 7 p.m. with an original ’80s-punk-inspired ballet called Fearless.