Though the cold weather has arrived in Baltimore, Station North A&E District is full of activity.  The most recent programming at Penn Station Plaza is the Bmore Flea market.

Photo credit: Bmoreflea

Bmore Flea is a juried selection of arts, crafts, antiques, vintage clothing, jewelry, hand made products, food and bar.  Just in time for the holiday season, Bmore Flea takes place every Saturday in November from 10am-4pm at Penn Station Plaza, at the foot of the Man Woman Statue.  The market is free and open to the public. Bmore Flea is another example of the ways in which public space can be temporarily activated with minimal alterations to the physical fabric of a given site.  The market also shows the networking opportunities for small businesses and artists made possible through small repetitive events.  With more than fifteen vendors each week, there is a wide selection of goods for market goers to peruse.  To keep things fresh, the Bmore Flea organizers rotate vendors to mix up the selection, and to encourage vendors’ individual followings to attend the events, building the larger Bmore Flea audience.  The diversity in vendors is also beneficial in that by having vendors from the Station North businesses as well as businesses from other areas of the city, new retail opportunities are delivered to shoppers, and vendors are able to extend their own professional and client networks.

Since hiring Director Priya Bhayana, the Bromo Tower A&E District is on its way toward building and strengthening its identity. The Bromo Arts District sent out its first e-newsletter on November 8th, representing an important step in creating a more robust promotional strategy for the district and the many organizations and individuals it supports. Creating a centralized location for information about events and opportunities in the district will generate interest in visiting the Bromo Tower District, foster a sense of community and cross-promotional efforts, and highlight the district’s diverse range of cultural offerings.
Three landmark intersections in the Bromo Tower District will soon receive customized crosswalks (one being installed today!) designed by local artists, thanks to a project coordinated by the Mayor’s Office, Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and the Department of Transportation.  Intersections and mock-ups below:

Eutaw and Lombard
“the hopscotch”, designed by Graham Coreil-Allen to be installed in front of the Bromo Seltzer Tower

Eutaw and Baltimore
“the monster”, designed by Nolan Cartwright and Carly Bales adjacent to the Hippodrome and Everyman Theatre

Eutaw and Fayette
“the zipper”, designed by Paul Bertholet being installed today in front of the Hippodrome Theater

In real estate news – two buildings, 407 and 409 W. Baltimore St – spanning 12,500 sf – were purchased in early November with a planned investment of $1 million to redevelop the properties for retail and residential use. Interest in investing in these properties was fueled by the successful redevelopment of other along the now high foot-traffic block, and proximity to the Hippodrome, Everyman Theatre, and University of Maryland. Read the full article here!

Next year Transit plans to bring three European artists over to Baltimore for a 6-week-long residency from January to June 2014 to work together with the local community. Highlandtown A&E District has selected mmmm…, a group of artists from Spain, for the artist residency in its district. Mmmm… has been selected based on their intensive work with communities here in the U.S., plus the interactive, playful quality of their previous projects, which reflect the values and goals of the Highlandtown A&E District to create a vibrant community where neighbors feel safe to communicate with each other and have fun at the same time. A first conversation with mmmm… already took place via skype about how mmmm… might work with the Creative Alliance and Southeast Community Development Corporation. The basic idea is recreating a bus shelter on a busy crossroad that resembles a theatrical stage where the passengers could playfully interact with each other while waiting for the bus.
Also, first permits for new lighting were approved by the City (this new lighting was requested by residents because the corner, which features a bus stop, is too dark; this lighting will also light up a new mural, recently selected by a group of Highlandtown artists). Highlandtown has also received and reviewed submissions for a new mural that will go on a wall behind a bus stop (another request from residents). The selection committee included Highlandtown residents and artists. Highlandtown says: “We’re not revealing the winner just yet! We’ll keep that for December’s post”.
The Highlandtown A&E District keeps on showing spirits when it comes to gathering its community. In mid-October the Kickoff Party for the Arts District Open Studio Tour took place in the midst of the Highlandtown, a street being transformed into a bustling night time party. Shops and galleries stayed open late to feature local artist work, food and wine from local business was featured at many locations, and drummers and dancers paraded along Main Street. Beginning of November two main streets were transformed into an outdoor movie area and street party outside the Patterson Theater.  One corner was focused on family fun with a projected movie, popcorn, and hula hoops. Stilt walkers, jugglers, hula hoopers, and fire performers created a magical spectacle on site. Jugglers and hoopers taught children new tricks, which inspired an impromptu youth performance!

One lesson learnt this time is to be persistent. Getting an answer about permissible improvements in public spaces isn’t always easy. Follow up with multiple calls or e-mails (respectfully!) because eventually you will get an answer!

Contemporary Director Deana Haggag said it best with her facebook post, “big high five GBCA!”.  Her comment came in reference to the news that the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, with start up funding from the Robert W. Deutsch Foudnation was opening up a new artist project grant program. These grants are going to be a great stepping stone for artists to take on significant projects in the public realm and community level and we cannot wait to see the impact they will have across Baltimore. We commend GBCA for this great new program. Artists can find more information on the program or to find out how to apply on the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Website.

Mid-September the Bromo Tower A&E District hosted the panel discussion The Future of the Howard Street Corridor. On September 17, 2013 city development leaders from Baltimore and representatives from HafenCity and IBA Hamburg (Germany) met at the Zion Church of the City of Baltimore to discuss ways of improving the Howard Street corridor. Prior to this discussion, the exhibit Building the City Anew: Imagining Tomorrow’s Hamburg, focusing on the redevelopment of two neglected neighborhoods in the city of Hamburg, opened at the University of Maryland School of Architecture on September 16, 2013 and was displayed through October 7, 2013.

Moreover, one day before the panel discussion the German urban development delegation was guided through the Bromo Tower A&E District to get familiar with the infrastructure of Howard Street, in particular its transportation hubs and cultural institutions. The gleaned insights from this tour gave valuable input for the discussion on Howard Street the following day on how to regenerate the Howard Street as a transit corridor, by means of art and urban design initiatives. After a brief presentation of HafenCity and IBA Hamburg the forum began amongst the invited panelists and was followed by a short Q&A. The representatives from the two city government agencies in Hamburg made the following recommendations:

1. Create an agency in charge of managing, implementing and realizing improvement plans!
2. Set a time limit for realization!
3. Urban design guidelines should prioritize architectural excellence and quality experiences for pedestrians.
4. Start small and act quickly!
5. Invest in public space and civic initiatives to promote change!
6. Enable small projects and/or divide large-scale projects into smaller pieces!
7. Financing is a challenge: Create a solid financing plan!
8. Make artists a permanent element of the urban development initiatives!

The video documentation of this panel discussion can be found here. Visit the TRANSIT – Europe in Baltimore website for more detailed information on this topic. The exhibit Building the City Anew: Imagining Tomorrow’s Hamburg will open on November 14, 2013 at the UDC CAUSES in Washington, D.C. and can be seen until December 6, 2013.
The Bromo Tower A&E also announced the hiring of the District’s first director, Priya Bhayana. She will be in charge of advancing and promoting the interests of arts venues, retailers, and other key stakeholders within this district. More on that announcement is here.

After three successful Creative Placemaking workshops with residents, the Highlandtown A&E District is currently in the project planning phase and negotiates contracts with artists and contractors to implement the many projects recommended at the workshops. These workshops would not have gone so smoothly without the help of its many talented volunteers, including the Highlandtown Main Street Design Committee. Along with the planning these projects, Highlandtown held two outdoor parties and built a temporary outdoor park to keep the good humor and spirit. On September 6 and October 4, 2013 Highlandtown brought the party in the Creative Alliance outside with performances from Charm City Roller Girls, stilt walkers and light projections. Also, bus stops were transformed into a fun seating area with plants, lights, Adirondack chairs, and bistro tables. Later on in September, the A&E District partnered with local business. On September 20, they partnered with the local business Baltimore Threadquarters to build a community park in two parking spaces as part of Park(ing) Day, a national event where citizens transform parking spaces into temporary parks. The day was capped off with an outdoor BBQ and music. Since the project TRANSIT was kicked-off, three new businesses have opened along Conkling Plaza, one of Highlandtown’s targeted public spaces. They were working with these merchants on Placemaking projects, like the gallery tour in October which displayed artwork from local artists not only in the district’s galleries, but also in these recently opened businesses.

On September 29 100 quilts were displayed at Penn Station Plaza in the Station North A&E District as a part of the the Monument Picnic, organized by FORCE. Prior to the event, FORCE and CONGREGATE partnered to host quilt making workshops with congregation members at the Spiritual Empowerment Center as a way to provide community support for survivors of rape and abuse. As the first leg of its historic project, FORCE hosted the picnic at Baltimore’s Penn Station Plaza, allowing visitors to interact with the quilts, read survivors stories and join in a community of support. 
The event generated positive press for the project and Penn Station Plaza, including an article in the Baltimore Times, was listed as a Top 10 Event to attend by HUGECITY Baltimore, and generated many social media posts.
This event was a program of Congregate: Art+Faith+Community, an exhibition and series of programs that creates shared experiences for faith-based congregations and artistic communities within the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. The exhibition was curated by the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Curatorial Practice MFA class of 2014. The event was also made possible by Station North Arts & Entertainment District.

The insight gleaned from the panel discussion on The Future of the Howard Street Corridor demonstrates the importance of learning from other cities, in particular from countries other than the US, and their best practices when it comes to urban revitalizing strategies and initiatives. However, the question is to which extent are cities of different countries, with different forms of municipal government comparable and its strategies applicable to each other?

 

Thursday, November 14, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Keck Center, 500 Fifth St., N.W., Room 100
A reception follows from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

No charge. Registration and photo IDs required.
American Sign Language interpretation provided
Metro: Gallery Place or Judiciary Square

Register at https://nov14daser.eventbrite.com/

The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC) at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences co-present a DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) exploring the topic of drones. This special event is organized in conjunction with the exhibition “Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen,” on view at the CADVC Oct. 24, 2013 through Feb. 22, 2014. For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/cadvc/

DASER will be moderated by JD Talasek, Director, Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences, with Missy Cummings, Visiting Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, the Duke Institute of Brain Sciences, and Director, Humans and Autonomy Laboratory, Duke University, Durham, NC; Marko Peljhan, Artist, Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, Director Systemics lab, MAT/ART, University of California, Santa Barbara; Peter Singer, Director, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.; Opening remarks by Niels Van Tomme, Visiting Curator, Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Join the DASER Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/218532914912236/

Follow the Twitter Discussion with #DASER https://twitter.com/search?q=%23DASER&src=typd

Watch the Live Webcast http://www.cpnas.org/events/webcast-information-instructions.html

DASER is co-sponsored by Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS) and Leonardo, the International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology. DASER foster community and discussion around the intersection of art and science. The thoughts and opinions expressed in the DASER events are those of the panelists and speakers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the National Academy of Sciences nor of Leonardo.

 

 

Take Part in the

Black Friday Weekend Holiday Bazaar

at the Eubie Blake Center, 847 North Howard Street

Sunday, December 1 – 1 – 6pm

Contact Cheryl Goodman at 410-370-8994 to secure a space

 

In the past month the foundations were laid for one of the main projects of Transit – Creative Placemaking with Europe in Baltimore: the European Artists’ Residency. One of the overarching goals of Transit is bringing together local and European artists, and community groups to explore together how three selected transit hubs in the three Arts & Entertainment (A&E) Districts of Baltimore are used by the public. Based on the outcomes of this cooperation the invited artists will create some artwork that will be installed in each transit hub.
The proposal deadline for the EU artists’ Transit projects was September 6. Proposals from Austria, Spain and the United Kingdom, were submitted and are currently being evaluated by a jury of representatives of EUNIC D.C., the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, and the three A&E Districts on the following criteria:
• Artist’s qualifications as demonstrated by past works and professional track record;
• Quality of the proposal based on artistic excellence and innovative approach, viability of the plans and suitability to the brief;
• Demonstrated experience of delivering work in the public realm.The Bromo Tower A&E District, for example, has formed an Arts Advisory Committee of district artists and stakeholders to review the submitted artists’ proposals. ArtPlace funds will be applied towards the implementation of the concepts developed by the artists in residence.The Highland Town A&E District is currently seeking additional funds to hire a Baltimore artist to work with the European artist. The selected European artists that will come to Baltimore for a 6-week-long residency from January to June 2014 will be notified in fall 2013.

The biggest development for the Transit project in the Bromo Tower A&E District in the month of September was The Future of the Howard Street Corridor panel discussion on September 17 at the Zion Church of the City of Baltimore. The panel gathered city development leaders and IBA Hamburg representatives, and HafenCity project experts to discuss the ways of improving the Howard Street Corridor. In the process, the panel used the successes (and failures) of Hamburg’s HafenCity project as a reference point. Upon completion, HafenCity, Europe’s largest inner-city development project, is expected to add 12,000 residents, along with restaurants and bars, cultural and leisure amenities, retail facilities, parks, plazas and promenades. HafenCity has set new standards for ecological sustainability and mixed use development in an urban area. HafenCity project leaders first conducted a walking tour of Howard Street, and participated then in a panel discussion with their Baltimore development counterparts. For more information about this panel discussion, visit the Transit website!

Earlier this summer Highlandtown A&E District held three well attended community workshops to gather ideas from community members for the Creative Placemaking projects around its three transit stops. These recommendations will be implemented in the form of public art, lighting and seating. Soon two calls for artists will be disseminated: one for sculptural public seating near the transit stop Conkling St. & Eastern Ave. and the second for a mural next to a transit stop at Eastern Ave. & East Ave. A Transit Steering Committee is currently being developed in the Highlandtown A&E District that intends to include Highland town residents from many backgrounds in the design process of the Transit project: refugee artists from the Baltimore Resettlement Center, immigrants from Highlandtown’s global community as well as teens and adults of many races, ethnicities and ages. Also, the Creative Alliance is working on new European programming – to further deepen the transatlantic dialogue.

Station North A&E, Inc. (SNAE) has taken on the role of activating the plaza of Penn Station, Baltimore’s primary transportation node. The plaza favors automobiles, and is uninviting to pedestrians. Through tactical installations, placement of street furniture, and artistic activation, SNAE is attempting to use its ArtPlace funding and other funding to reengage the public at Penn Station plaza. Several events have been held at the plaza, which have drawn thousands of participants. Recent plaza updates include:
• Baltimore City began providing free public WIFI in Penn Station plaza during August 2013;
• Thanks to a partnership between the Mayor’s Office, the Parking Authority, Amtrak, and SNAE, with funding provided by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Penn Station Plaza now features attractive tables, chairs, and umbrellas;
• Interboro Partners, a Brooklyn-based planning and design firm, ran a charette to solicit ideas for their public installation at Penn Station plaza, scheduled to be installed fall 2013;
• On September 20th, SNAE will partner with the Gathering and Baltimore Innovation Week to present an evening of food trucks, music, drinks, and adult games at the Plaza.
(Above two photos courtesy of Theresa Keil)

Another achievement is that the Transit logo designed by the Spanish graphic designer Marta Cerdà has received great appreciation  by the Computer Arts magazine, which featured it on its September cover and in a several pages long interview with Cerdà. Computer Arts is one of the most important international magazines on graphic design.

One important thing one should always keep in mind is involving the community. It does not only help bringing together many different perspectives around a given topic, but also increases the acceptance of projects and planned city developments in a neighborhood. The updates, especially on the Bromo Tower and Highlandtown A&E Districts, embody this effort and are good examples of many different stakeholders with different backgrounds coming together to learn from each other and advance similar goals, such as the promotion and development of arts and the economic development in a district.

The focus of Bromo Tower District’s ‘Transit’ project is Howard Street. Once a bustling corridor of large retail stores, many of buildings along Howard Street now sit vacant. Hope is strong that the newly-designated A&E District will spur neighborhood growth. Howard Street’s light rail line, a major north/south commuter option, passes by the Station North A&E District, through the campus of the Maryland Institute College of Art, and terminates adjacent to a MARC (commuter train) station at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Re-imagining the corridor (how it is used by riders, how it integrates into tHoward Streethe community, and how it is viewed by community residents and businesses), is an opportunity to mobilize urban planners, architects and artists, and engage community residents and businesses, to strategically transform the transit environment in the District. Utilizing ‘Transit’ the Bromo Tower District will create an accessible, unique, arts destination, and supply opportunities for dynamic and participatory arts experiences.

With those goals in mind, in the spring of 2013 The City of Baltimore, the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts in collaboration with the Baltimore City Department of Transportation released a call to artist or artist team to assist with the replacement of old crosswalks within District. The goals of the project were to:  install crosswalks that were distinctive and artist designed, but also compliant with traffic and safety regulations; and to improve the pedestrian experience, give better definition to downtown’s Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District, and add an additional public art experience in the City’s third Arts & Entertainment District.

The response to the RFP from the local arts community was extremely positive, and the District received approximately 50 complete proposals. Of course as with any project that engages the arts community, exciting and unexpected proposals are presented. This number was narrowed by a panel of community and city agency stakeholders to four designs. One for each crosswalk slated for renewal.

Bromo Seltzer Tower - Baltimore Maryland

Once selected, the District hoped that the designs would be installed by August 2013. After all, the stakeholder group had included members of the arts community and District residents, a public art project manager, as well as officials from the lead agencies responsible for project installation. As the project began to proceed, it was soon realized that subject matter experts  would also need to be engaged if the project was to move forward, including those specializing in the materials use and installation (for Thermoplast in particular) and traffic safety for pedestrians and vehicles. For all your due diligence, public projects involve a village of participants. Some you will seem obvious, others make themselves known as the project moves forward.
Additionally the initial goal of the project was to include 10crosswalks within the District. As plans moved forward, the projects total budget, which seemed robust at the outset, was consumed by costs to prepare the street for installation (an anticipated cost) and a Maintenance of Traffic cost that is associated with diverting traffic during the installation of any street construction (unanticipated). As with any public art project, be prepared to make necessary modifications to the budget, and perhaps even the projects scope.
The project moves forward, in spite of those challenges, in a more scaled version. Installation is set to conclude October 2013, in conjunction with Arts and Humanities month and will include a community event in the Bromo Tower Art & Entertainment District.