This past Friday, June 5th, as part of the Artscape Gallery Network, The Top of the World Observation Level at the World Trade Center Baltimore hosted a free opening reception for the new exhibition, “Shared Visions: Artists from the World Art Center,” co-curated by father-son duo Allyn Harris and Ed Harris. It was a beautiful afternoon in downtown Baltimore, so I decided to make the 10 minute trek from the BOPA office on East Baltimore street over to the World Trade Center after we closed up for the day. Click through to see more photos of the exhibition and read my brief interview with Ed Harris, co-curator and artist featured in this exhibition.
Upon entering the World Trade Center, I was directed by a kind security guard towards an elevator that would zip me up to the 27th floor observation level where this exhibition is on view. When I exited the elevator, I was awe-struck by the panoramic view of the Baltimore Inner Harbor on all sides of my vision. However, I was even more awe-struck by being surrounded by beautiful paintings!
This exhibition represents a variety of artists part of the World Art Center network, which is a New York based organization catering mostly to Chinese artists to help them establish themselves and develop connections around the world. Co-curators of this exhibition, Ed and Allyn Harris, stand out on the exhibition listing as the only two participants who are not Chinese. Curious about how this exhibition came to be, I was lucky enough to speak to Ed Harris about curating this exhibition, as well as how he got involved with the WAC and the other artists in this exhibition in the first place.
Ed introduced himself as a Baltimore-based abstract painter, and he explained that he first got involved with the WAC through Zhe Chi Zhu, a fellow artist featured in “Shared Visions,” who he originally met during a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Despite their initial language barrier, they connected through their artwork and eventually Zhe Chi introduced Ed to other World Art Center artists, who he also became friends with. Eventually, Ed joined the WAC and partnered with BOPA to put on an exhibition representing the diversity of artists within the WAC. Indeed, I was surprised by the variety of paintings I found at this modest-sized exhibition of painted works. You can find anything from traditional Chinese style ink paintings on silk, to contemporary style abstractions echoing a more Western, modernist aesthetic. I think that the diversity Ed and Allyn were able to represent through their choice of artworks is an unexpected and strong part of “Shared Visions.”
According to Ed, the hardest part about curating this exhibition was making sure, in a group exhibition situation, that everyone’s artistic practice was well represented – which, could mean including 1 piece for some of the participating artists, or for some others, up to 3. The main issue was that there was “too much beautiful artwork to choose from.” What a great problem to have as a curator!
In any case, it was a lively and exciting opening exhibition, and I’m so glad I got to attend. If you’re in the Inner Harbor, definitely try to stop over – even if contemporary Chinese art isn’t your forte, you can’t beat the Top of the World view of downtown Baltimore. This is just one exhibition of many upcoming Gallery Network shows to get everyone excited for Artscape! Stay tuned.
“Shared Visions” is on view June 5 – September 13th, 2015, featuring the works of Ed Harris, Allyn Harris, Chengju Li, Shuchun Liu, Dongsheng Lu, Liangang Sun, Moheng Tao, Heizi (Yafeng Wang), Xiaotang Wu and Zhechi Zhu.
Full information about this exhibition, including gallery hours and admission pricing, is available here.