THE big and beautiful news on the local art scene this spring promises to be the Walters Art Gallery's addition of an Asian art museum. Considering the increasing role in the world economy played by Asian nations, Baltimoreans wanting to learn more about the visual art of these cultures have not had many opportunities to do so. That's about to change in a splashy way.
Of other exhibits coming to local museums and galleries in the months ahead, a couple of the most promising involve photographers who question the nature and methods of their medium, while another potentially stimulating exhibit involves artists who question the relationship between today's headlines and today's art.
Baltimore Museum of Art
Jan. 29-March 24
This exhibit features 15 contemporary artists who use photographs, photograph-based prints and installations in ways that speak to their heritage and to the possibilities of photography. If you think there is only one way to take -- or make -- a picture, this exhibit will prompt you to reconsider that snap judgment.
Mike and Doug Starn
Baltimore Museum of Art
Feb. 17-April 21
These identical twin brothers, who jointly make photographic assemblages, will have an exhibit of their work since 1986. Born in 1961, these art world Wunderkinder were known as the Starn Twins when they appeared in a public program at the BMA in 1989. Now billed as Mike and Doug Starn -- or is it Doug and Mike Starn? And which is which? -- they do all the things you're not supposed to do with photographs: rip them up, cut 'em to pieces, then paste or tape them back together. Their photo-assemblages layer images from art history and sometimes from their own lives.
"News as Muse"
School 33 Art Center
Feb. 9-March 22
Artists who create news-inspired art are the subject of what by definition will be a topical exhibit, "News as Muse." Curator Mark Barry has brought together a real mix of local artists and nationally recognized ones working in various mediums.
The Walters Art Gallery, Hackerman House, May 5. The Walters Art Gallery has a May 5 public opening planned for its converted, historic Hackerman House, which will be a museum for Asian art. Built in 1850 in the Greek Revival style, Hackerman House is adjacent to the Walters' 1904 building. The mansion has an Elizabethan-style library with ornately carved mahogany paneling, and an impressive Tiffany skylight atop the central staircase. Best of all, many Asian art objects that have long been in storage for lack of exhibition space will now have grand quarters.