Artscape a festival of song

Fest: With likes of Dionne Warwick and Ashford & Simpson, music will be a plus at `2000 minus 1' party.

April 30, 1999|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,SUN STAFF

Some people claim that Artscape -- Baltimore's summer festival of the arts -- was always ahead of its time. So perhaps this year's theme is fitting. It is "Artscape 2000 minus 1," and it's scheduled to take place July 9-11.

This year's musical lineup, some of which was released yesterday, includes Dionne Warwick, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Ashford & Simpson with poet Maya Angelou, the Temptations, Kirk Whalum and Cyrus Chesnut.

As usual, the free festival will highlight this year's local Billie Holiday contest winner, Elaine Foster. Other local acts include Ruby Glover and the Morgan State University Choir.

The festival, held on and around Mount Royal Avenue near the Meyerhoff, the Lyric and the University of Baltimore, has always been known for its international flair, and 1999 -- or 2000 minus 1 -- is no different. One of the outdoor stages and Langsdale Auditorium at UB will feature the international music of China, India and Russia, as well as dance performances representing countries from around the world, including Africa, Korea, Spain and Germany.

"This year is especially special to us, because it is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mayor's Advisory Committee for Art and Culture," says Claudia Bismark, the director of development and marketing for the committee.

The festival will bring in more literary notables this year, including novelist Albert French, poet Julia Kasdorf and nonfiction writer Gus Russo.

For those who like their words with a little edge, two poetry slams will be a part of the action.

And yes, Artscape is about art. There will be juried art for sale by 50 craftspeople and by 50 artists who create two-dimensional work.

This year there will be "houses" as works of art, Bismark says. "The 100-square-foot houses -- there are six -- are by architects and artists."

Everyone can relate to a house as a sanctuary, an investment or a place to work and live, she says.

The "houses" will be too small to actually walk into, but people will be able to walk around some of them.

"These will be sprinkled across the festival site," Bismark says. "They will run along Mount Royal Avenue from one end of the festival to the other."

"It's the best summertime tradition in Baltimore. I hear that over and over and over," Bismark says. "It has been lively and informative and incident-free. It is a unifying summertime tradition."

If you've tried driving to the festival in the past, you understand the wisdom of considering public transportation, such as light rail. The three-day festival typically draws about 1.5 million people. For updates, go to http: //www.art scape.org.

Pub Date: 4/30/99

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