The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) dedicates a Transformative Art Prize project by renowned artist Amy Sherald, in partnership with Station North Arts & Entertainment District. A large-scale version of the artist’s oil on canvas painting, “Equilibrium,” will be installed at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre, 5 W. North Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201, situated at the geographic center of the city. After the dedication, guests are invited to a brief reception at the Parkway. 

The original painting is in the permanent collection of the Embassy of the United States, Dakar, Senegal. Originally awarded in 2014, the Transformative Art Prize project is managed by BOPA and supported by Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development, Station North Arts & Entertainment District and Charles North Community Association. PNC Bank was a dedicated supporter of this project in 2014.  

About Amy Sherald:
Amy Sherald (American, b. Columbus, GA 1973, lives and works in Baltimore, MD) received her MFA in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art (2004) and BA in painting from Clark-Atlanta University (1997), and was a Spelman College International Artist-in-Residence in Portobelo, Panama (1997). Known for her stylized portraits of African Americans, in 2016, Sherald was the first woman to win the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition; an accompanying exhibition, “The Outwin 2016,” was on tour through August 2018. In February 2018, Sherald unveiled her official portrait of Former First Lady Michelle Obama, commissioned for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. Sherald has had solo shows at venues including Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, IL (2016); Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore, MD (2013); and University of North Carolina, Sonja Haynes Stone Center, Chapel Hill, NC (2011). A solo exhibition of new and recent works first opened at Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis, MO in May 2018 and will travel to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK, and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA. Recent group exhibitions include “Southern Accent,” Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC (2016), which traveled to Speed Museum of Art, Louisville, KY (2017), and “Face to Face: Los Angeles Collects Portraiture,” California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2017). Residencies include Odd Nerdrum Private Study, Larvik, Norway (2005); Tong Xion Art Center, Beijing, China (2008); Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD (2016); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New Orleans, LA (2017). Sherald’s work is held in the public collections of the Embassy of the United States, Dakar, Senegal; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; and Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, NC. Sherald is represented by Hauser & Wirth, New York.

Baltimore is one of 14 cities selected for the 2018 Public Art Challenge, part of Mike Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative. Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the 14 finalists who could receive up to $1 million each as part of the 2018 Public Art Challenge, a program that aims to foster creative collaboration, address civic issues, and support local economies through public art. More than 200 cities applied with proposals addressing a range of pressing issues and social themes such as community development, environmental sustainability, and cultural identity. Many proposals also address issues like displacement, immigration, natural disaster recovery, and public health and safety. Additionally, the proposals reflect a diverse use of artistic mediums including augmented reality, light installations, murals, and performances.

Baltimore, MD – Enhancing Public Safety by Reducing Violence: “The Baltimore Resurgence Project”

The City of Baltimore proposes creating a series of murals and sustainable landscape projects to address public safety in connection with Baltimore’s Violence Reduction Initiative. The proposed project will be a multi-sector collaboration between the Arts & Parks organization, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, and Baltimore’s Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice. Learn more here.

Image Credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies 

July 14, 2018 – Winner Announcement Ceremony for the 13th Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize – Mayor Catherine E. Pugh takes a photo with Christopher Bedford, Director, Baltimore Museum of Art, Ellie Sondheim Dankert, daughter of Janet & Walter Sondheim, Sondheim 2018 Winner Erick Antonio Benitez (Baltimore, MD), Jack Lewin, Group Vice President, M&T Bank, Donna Drew Sawyer, Chief Executive Officer, Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is proud to announce that Erick Antonio Benitez is the winner of the 2018 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at The Baltimore Museum of Art on Saturday, July 14. The five other finalists—Nakeya Brown, Sutton Demlong, Nate Larson, Eunice Park, and Stephen Towns—will receive a $2,500 honorarium established by M&T Bank in partnership with BOPA. Works of art by the winner and finalists are on view at the BMA through Sunday, August 5.

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After an extensive national search, Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts’ (BOPA) Board of Directors has selected Donna Drew Sawyer as Chief Executive Officer. Sawyer will succeed William “Bill” Gilmore who stepped down as CEO at the end of December 2017 after 37 years of leadership. BOPA, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3), is the city’s arts council, events center and film office.

Sawyer was unanimously recommended for Board confirmation by the BOPA search committee comprised of: BOPA Board members Anana Kambon (committee chair), Paula Rome and Sandy Hillman; and representatives of the broader Baltimore Arts community: Dr. Leslie King Hammond, Jeffrey Kent, Jed Dietz and Clair Zamoiski Segal. Koya Leadership Partners, a national executive search firm that works exclusively with mission-driven clients, was retained and managed the national search.

“We are thrilled to have a new CEO who can continue and enhance BOPA’s contributions to the Baltimore City community and region,” said Anana Kambon, chair of BOPA’s Board of Directors. “Donna has a strong diverse history in arts leadership, solid marketing and business acumen and a fierce commitment to equity and collaboration. Her talents combined with our impressive BOPA team will provide greater opportunities for joint programs, projects and partnerships with local artists, the City of Baltimore, funders, affinity groups and arts service organizations. We’re extremely excited about BOPA’s future.”

Hired as the Chief of External Affairs at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts in 2017, Donna Drew Sawyer previously held senior positions in the arts and non-profits sector including the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Arts and Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Chrysler Museum of Art and Sesame Workshop. Sawyer served on the Norfolk Virginia’s Arts Commission and helped launch the Virginia Waterfront Arts Festival as founding director of the Wilder Performing Arts Center. Also, she was managing director of the Marketing Services Organization, a collaborative arts marketing agency funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Sawyer has served on art panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and on the YWCA Board of Directors. In addition, Sawyer is a writer; her debut novel, Provenance, won the 2017 Maryland Writers’ Association Award for Historical Fiction and was a finalist for the same award at New York’s Harlem Book Festival.

“BOPA is a unique organization with a remarkable history. I am excited and so fortunate to be working with an incredible team of professionals in this new capacity,” Sawyer said. “BOPA’s mission is to make Baltimore a more vibrant city by promoting and supporting arts and culture. As a proud resident of Baltimore City, a writer who understands the exhilaration of the creative process and now, as CEO of BOPA, I can contribute to the vibrancy and the future of our city by helping to make Baltimore a unique and wonderful place to live, create, work and plan. I can’t think of anything better than getting to do that every single day.” 

In addition to her work in the arts and non-profit sector, Sawyer held senior advertising, marketing and promotion positions with Young & Rubicam Advertising and AT&T International.

She was an assistant professor of Communications and Journalism at Norfolk State University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New York Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Texas Southern University.

She and her husband, Bowie State University professor and author Dr. Granville M. Sawyer, Jr., live in Baltimore City. They have two grown daughters.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization which serves as Baltimore City’s arts council, film office, and events agency. By producing large-scale events such as Light CityArtscape and the Baltimore Book Festival, and providing funding and support to artists, arts programs and organizations across the city, BOPA’s goal is to make Baltimore a more vibrant and creative city. 

 

  1. What do you do as BOPA’s Social Media & Website Coordinator? My role as BOPA’s Social Media & Website Coordinator involves managing the multitude of BOPA’s social media accounts and websites. I create the content for our social media posts, including choosing the images and videos, responding to messages and comments and tracking our social media analytics to determine what’s working for our posts and what needs improvement. For our festivals, I am responsible for gathering social media volunteers to help our Communications Team with live updates. Additionally, I edit the content on all of our websites and coordinate any website changes with our developers.
  2. Where were you before BOPA and had you heard of BOPA before working here? Previously, I worked as a Human Resources Assistant at Notre Dame of Maryland University for a short stint, and prior to that, I worked in a couple of admin/communications-related positions. Through an internship at the Maryland Institute College of Art, I had the pleasure of meeting Dionne McConkey who told me about her experience at BOPA. I was immediately interested after hearing about BOPA as the producer of Artscape which is one of my favorite events. I became a social media volunteer for the inaugural Light City and now I’m incredibly fortunate to work here.
  3. Why is BOPA’s mission important to you?Baltimore is my home and I think BOPA’s mission is extremely valuable to the people who live here. We need to have events that cater to the arts and highlight the creative industry that exists in the city. To have access to so many free programming throughout the year is vital for us.
  4. What is the most challenging thing about your job?Sometimes, it can be a struggle explaining to others that my job is much more than just “sitting down and posting on Facebook all day.” It may seem like anyone can do it, but a huge part of my job is planning ahead and staying on top of so many deadlines. My position isn’t the typical 9-5. Social media is constant and I have to respond to comments or messages even during my time away from the office or weekends. Luckily, I have an extremely supportive team who works hard to assist whenever possible.
  5. What is something most people don’t know about BOPA or Baltimore’s arts community? I underestimated how much planning it takes to put on our special events and festivals. My initial impression, similar to others, is that events sort of just pop-up and happen. After spending time with the hardworking staff at BOPA, I know this is far from the case. It takes a ton of planning on our end to make all of our programming happen. I also didn’t realize how much BOPA produces and manages. We’re responsible for some great traditions in Baltimore and that deserves more recognition.
  6. Where do you see yourself in five years?  In five years, I hope to continue working in the communications industry, transitioning over to public relations. While social media has been an amazing opportunity to experiment and flex my creativity, I am interested in more PR work, specifically crisis communications. I also hope I am traveling internationally to see more countries.
  7. When you’re not working, where are some of your favorite things to do in Baltimore?  I love exploring Baltimore’s neighborhoods! It’s always nice to venture off and see a new location that you may have heard about but never visited. It wasn’t until after college that I went beyond the Inner Harbor to go to Federal Hill. As a lifelong resident, I stuck pretty close to my own neighborhood; so, I make an effort to see new areas in the city.

Each year, School 33 Art Center seeks to highlight the arts in Baltimore’s unique neighborhoods through the Open Studio Tour Community Spotlight Award, which supports neighborhood kickoff events in selected communities. This year’s Community Spotlight is Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood. On Friday, October 6 at 6pm, the Youth Resiliency Institute will host an artist reception featuring a number of Cherry Hill-based artists. A panel discussion focused on the intersection of community self-determination and the arts as well as equitable access to the arts in Baltimore City will follow. This free event will take place at the Cherry Hill Community Center on 2700 Spelman Road. We interviewed two artists participating in Friday’s Community Spotlight event, Mighty Mark and Dallas the Dollmaker, about their work and the arts in Cherry Hill.

CLICK HERE to view the Cherry Hill Kickoff event page.

And learn more about School 33’s 2017 Baltimore Open Studio Tour on our website: www.school33.org

 

MIGHTY MARK

Photo courtesy of Mighty Mark.

Born and bred in Baltimore City, Cherry Hill-native Producer and DJ Marquis Gasque AKA Mighty Mark, is the new torchbearer of the urban dance music genre known as Baltimore Club Music. Successfully bridging the gap between the intensity of old school club music and the futuristic style of the new school, his crisp production serves up unexpected but delicious combinations of urban vocals and chants, 80’s synths, 90’s drum samples and heavy booming 80s. These elements melt into thumping bass lines, making your pulse race and your body move. Each carefully crafted track is an individual work of art.

Mighty Mark’s original releases and remixes receive frequent airplay via Rinse FM, BBC Radio and Radio One FM Stations and with each release his fanbase increases as people catch on to the wave. With recognition and features via respected publications such as Complex, Vice/Noisey and Earmilk, the future is looking bright as Mark continues to DJ in Baltimore’s most popular venues, create club anthems and curates music on his label Zoo On Mars Entertainment.

Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do and how you got into producing music?

I’m Mighty Mark, mostly known for Baltimore Club Music but also hip-hop, R&B, all kinds of styles of music. I’m from the Cherry Hill area, right down the street from this recreation center where we are now. I’ve been producing since about 2006, when I was in high school. When I was living in Cherry Hill I used to volunteer here at this recreation center with Ms. Shirley [Foulks] of the Youth Resiliency Institute, so I used to go in the computer lab and make music and beats with the kids and make club music with them. I used to help run the after school program Monday -Friday and then during the summer I helped with the summer camp for 5-6 years. I’ve seen a lot of the kids grow up and get jobs and some go off to school.

What does being an artist mean to you?

Being an artist has changed a lot even since I first began. In my music, I try to be true to myself and not follow trends. I try to give back to the community whenever I can, and also have culture surrounding my music. It’s not a gimmick, there’s always something more behind it. Even in the tracks that you see people dancing to, there’s really something deeper behind them as well. If I go to work, I work at Comcast, so if I’m really mad about something at work I go home and make a track. It might end up sounding angry or something, but it’s really a way to relieve the stress as well. Being an artist just means really expressing yourself on a musical level.

Do you think that working with the Youth Resiliency Institute has influenced your art?

It definitely has, because I’m more of a sponge—I like to have people around me when I’m creating. I’m not the type of person to say “Hey I came up with that, it’s all my idea.” And the youth always know what’s fresh and hot. I’m 28, so I’m getting old, but they’re something like 14 or 15 years old. When I started producing I wasn’t even making club music until I got to the recreation center—started seeing the kids dancing to it and playing it at parties and that sort of thing. That actually got me into Baltimore Club Music—this neighborhood right here.

How would you describe the arts community in Cherry Hill?

There’s not necessarily a place for artists here to gather, but there is a lot of talent here. And people find out how to make things out of nothing. There are a lot of skilled dancers and people that go into modelling and more, so the arts help to bring the community together. But we definitely lack in resources for people to gather, as well as basic tools—computers, microphones—things that people would need to record. But the arts may keep some people off the streets for a few hours and prevent them from doing things that they don’t want to do.

Would you describe this community center as a place where people come together?

Yeah! So the community center has always been a place to gather—it’s probably one of the longest open community centers in Chery Hill. Especially with Ms. Shirley [Foulks], she’s always had her doors open for anyone to come in—even just after school when you’re hungry she’d provide you snacks and anything of that sort–probably coming out of her own pockets.

Is there anything you want people to think about coming into the panel discussion that will take place at Friday’s kickoff event?

I really want parents or even leaders of the community to understand how important artistic outlets and artistic recreation can be for a child, as well as just how important music can be and how it can tie in to brain development and brain stimulation as well. Not even just music, any type of art. I feel like the arts have kind of taken a back burner. So even if you have the ability to put your child in a piano class or take them to a dance class—something of that sort. Even if you know how to dance and want to come here to volunteer, really if you have any artistic skill and you’re not just using it for yourself, you can share it with the world and share it with the kids as well.

Cherry Hill just had their inaugural Cherry Hill Festival recently, and now you’re having this neighborhood spotlight event. Do you see these as a way to kick start some of these conversations?

I definitely do. That was the first annual Cherry Hill Festival. I had the opportunity to DJ and my artist, TT the Artist, had the opportunity to perform. And during my set I brought two artists, who were born and raised in Cherry Hill—during my set they performed songs that I produced. I definitely think that it’s a step in the right direction and I think it’s going to be something big going on for years to come in Cherry Hill.

www.mightymarkadventures.com

www.goldroom410.com

https://www.facebook.com/iammightymark

Twitter: @iammightymark

Instagram: @iammightymark

 

DALLAS THE DOLLMAKER

Dallas the Dollmaker with his Demon Series at the Cherry Hill Community Center.

When Dallas the Dollmaker met me at the Cherry Hill Community Center to do this interview, he was kind enough to bring along a suitcase full of his creations to show me in person. There had to have been at least thirty dolls in that suitcase, each designed and created with great attention to craft and detail and each with its own intricate back story. The collection of dolls that Dallas brought with him was his Demon Series, and he tells me that his next series will focus on Angels. It is hard to describe the feeling of picking up each of Dallas’s dolls, one by one, and marveling at its features while hearing from the artist about how he designed and crafted it, which found materials he used, and how its character fits into the fantasy-based world that he has created.

Attendees to Friday’s Community Spotlight Event will have the opportunity to meet Dallas, view his artworks up close, and learn more about the Demon Series. In addition to creating these works, Dallas is also a skilled photographer and writer. The artist also works with young students through summer programs and workshops, teaching them the art of doll making and inspiring their creative practices.

How did you first become involved with the Youth Resiliency Institute?

I first got involved this summer. I was introduced to them by Ms. Stewart (one of the many case workers at Cherry Hill Homes–she is so awesome, I love her so much) and I honestly didn’t know I would even be a part of anything that they were doing. I was just told that they needed help with the Cherry Hill Art & Music Festival. So I thought that meant helping them with set up and if they might need anything made, but I had no idea that I would actually be in the festival. I had the chance to put my art work on display as well as show children the creative process that goes into my art work. That is how I became involved with YRI and I hope to continue to be involved with them and work on more projects as well as events.

Can you tell us how you began creating your dolls? 

I got started creating dolls in middle school when my art teacher, Mr. Walter, was showing us how different cultures make toys and gave the class a project to make our own dolls. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I was determined to make one that was presentable. We had a week to turn in our finished project, so I worked really hard and it payed off because when it was my turn to present what I made my teacher was blown away. It was just something that I ended up loving and thought it was great way to bring my creations to life.

What is something that you think is special about Cherry Hill?

Cherry Hill has it’s good times and bad, but what I think what make is special is how close the community is and how some of the older kids and adults look after the younger kids to make sure nothing happens to them. I find that to be very cool.

Is there any advice that you would give to a young artist?

Always stay true to who you are and love what you do.

What are you most looking forward to during the kickoff on Friday?

I just hope everyone is super pumped because I want people to feel the energy in the room and to have a great experience.

 

2016 Open Studio Tour Highlight: The Foundery
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Can you tell us a little bit about The Foundery?
The Foundery is an industrial-grade makerspace equipped for woodworking, metalworking, blacksmithing, textiles, 3D printing, Computer Design, and CNC machine work. We will teach you how to use machines and then give you access to them!

We wanted to create a space for Baltimore’s vibrant maker community. We offer a broad range of mediums so that there is something here for everyone.

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What is something that is unique about this space?
We have a full blacksmith shop that we offer classes on. We also have large-scale production CNC machines that allow you to really crank a product out.
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What is one thing you love about being in Baltimore?
We love Baltimore. It was born from industry and we take great pleasure in honoring that heritage – by crafting more makers right here in South Baltimore.

What are you most excited about for this year’s Open Studio Tour?
We are excited to meet new people and show them what they can learn!
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Visit The Foundery, located at 101 W Dickman St. in Port Covington, on Saturday & Sunday, 10am-3pm! There will be workshops and demos on both days for visitors.

View The Foundery’s Website