The Last Picture Show

October 28, 1992

What a pity that these recessionary times have meant bidding farewell to many old friends. Stores that have been part of Baltimore's fabric for 100 years are closing; familiar restaurants have been shuttered; art galleries have folded.

Among the season's major art casualties is the Life of Maryland Gallery, a novel exhibition space that has delighted local artists and aficionados for the past nine years. With the Baltimore Life Insurance Co. preparing to move to Owings Mills, the gallery at Baltimore Life's headquarters at 901 North Howard Street is holding its last show. More than 60 artists are featured in this finale -- the gallery's largest exhibit ever.

The disappearance of the Life of Maryland Gallery will create a painful vacuum in the city. That vacuum will be felt despite the fact that the gallery's insurance company patron promises to host exhibits in its new quarters in Baltimore County.

At a time when many galleries exhibit only the works of artists under one- or two-year contracts, the Life of Maryland Gallery was open to almost anyone. Since many exhibits were group shows, it was a venue that was able to give exposure to great numbers of local artists. Shows ran far longer than in commercial galleries. Participating artists were charged no commission on works sold. Corporate sponsorship meant good publicity. "They treated their artists well," said one exhibitor.

"The Last Picture Show" will run until Nov. 20 and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Between now and the closing, 16 artists are working on two murals that will change almost daily as they move toward completion. Art is alive!

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