Galleries to go Artscape: Festival organizers are thinking outside the box to bring more works to more people.

July 14, 1998|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,SUN ART CRITIC

Artscape tries to do better every year. "We try to open more spaces to art and get more art into them," says Gary Kachadourian, Artscape's visual arts coordinator.

So this year, he's come up with the idea of "10 Viewing Stations," art shown in portable boxes modeled on, of all things, the Spot-a-Pot portable outdoor toilets seen every year at Artscape.

Ideas come from anyplace. Of the idea for the boxes, Kachadourian says, "It came partly from watching Spot-a-Pots arrive and seeing how fast they could be put in position."

The "Viewing Stations" are 10 plywood boxes, each 35 inches square by 7 feet tall, which will be placed along the Mount Royal Avenue corridor where Artscape takes place Friday through Sunday. Each will contain the work of one artist.

The boxes will help solve one of Artscape's perennial problems: "It's an experiment in getting art where the public walks," says Kachadourian.

Each year, the Maryland Institute, College of Art opens the galleries in its buildings along Mount Royal Avenue to Artscape shows. More than a million people turn up during the free festival, but many never venture into the galleries at all. They stick to the avenue, jostling one another, noshing, gathering for the pop concerts.

There's always an outdoor sculpture show, but the viewing stations will allow for the showing of work that's less hardy than outdoor sculpture has to be. This year the boxes will contain paintings, by artists selected by guest curator Symmes Gardner, himself a painter.

The boxes, fabricated by Artscape personnel, are currently in the artists' studios and will be moved to the site of Artscape by Thursday. Each has a Plexiglas skylight and a panel cut into the front for viewing.

The artists can hang art on one wall or all three and even put something on the floor. They can paint directly on the walls, but since the boxes stay with Artscape for re-use, maybe they won't. It's up to the artist.

Artscape, the annual extravaganza of visual art, music, literature and food, presents more art, by more artists, than anything else all year.

This year the 10 "Viewing Stations" artists are among almost 200 in eight shows at the Mount Royal corridor, Maryland Art Place and City Hall Courtyard galleries. Then there are 100 more in the outdoor arts and crafts market at Pearlstone Park, where artists sell their work from booths.

New shows this year include "Artists in the Empowerment Zone." Baltimore's empowerment zone, the recipient of a $100,000,000 federal grant, includes six "village centers" where 72,000 people live and work. This year, any artist who lives or has a studio in one of the centers can show work in the City Hall Courtyard galleries.

Artscape personnel searched for as many artists as they could find in the zone. They found 53, but they haven't closed the door. "If somebody tells us they're in the empowerment zone and want to be in, we'll tell them to get down there," says Kachadourian. "But they won't get in the catalog."

Between 1978 and 1982, Kromah Gallery in the 1200 block of Druid Hill Avenue showed the work of many artists, most of them African-American. Some have gone on to become well known, including Oletha Devane, Robert Houston, Penny Potter, Elizabeth T. Scott and Joyce Scott, and the late Carey Beth Cryor and Gerald Hawkes. "Kromah Gallery Revisited" brings together the work of about 45 of the Kromah artists in the first floor gallery of the Institute's Fox building.

On the second floor of the Fox building will be "Advanced Notices," a show that, artist and curator Valerie Maynard says, centers on the theme of how the show's 23 artists see where we as a society are going in the future.

"Modern Mummeries," a 14-artist show in the Institute's Bunting Center, focuses on costumes. It includes actual costumes plus videos and still photographs showing costumes in performance.

Returning shows this year (with different slates of artists, of course) include Artscape Annual, the regional juried show, at the Institute's Mount Royal Station gallery and at Maryland Art Place. It includes 31 artists, some represented by multiple works.

The annual outdoor sculpture show contains works by nine artists in the Mount Royal Avenue corridor. And the fifth-annual car show will feature nine art cars at the Edgar Allan Poe Plaza at Mount Royal and Maryland avenues.

Artscape art

Where: Mount Royal Avenue corridor between Lafayette and Maryland avenues; Maryland Art Place, 218 W. Saratoga St.; City Hall Courtyard Galleries, 100 N. Holliday St.; Pearlstone Park at Preston and Cathedral streets; and Maryland Institute, College of NTC Art Buildings: Fox and Bunting buildings at Mount Royal and Lafayette avenues and Mount Royal Station building at Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street.

When: Festival runs Friday, 5: 45 p.m. to 10: 30 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10: 30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 10: 30 p.m. Most art shows continue after the end of Artscape: "Artscape Annual," "Kromah Gallery Revisited," "Modern Mummeries," "Artists in the Empowerment Zone" and "Outdoor Sculpture" through Aug. 9; "Advanced Notices" through July 26; after Artscape, "10 Viewing Stations" will be moved to Maryland Art Place and shown through Aug. 9; "Art Cars" will be shown through Artscape weekend only.

Call: 410-396-4575 or visit http: //www.artscape.org

Pub Date: 7/14/98

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