An artistic feast for the eyes, ears

Artscape offers fun, music and a walk on the creative wild side

July 11, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,SUN STAFF

People crowded around Dan Lohaus yesterday, asking all sorts of questions about his Toyota pickup truck decorated with 53 televisions -- some tuned to the women's World Cup soccer game -- and more than 400 remote controls that was parked at Mount Royal and Maryland avenues.

"What's the score?" they wondered. "Do you have cable?"

The Brooklyn, N.Y., resident, who uses the television sets to run his own game shows in New York's Times Square, is one of hundreds of artists exhibiting their work this weekend at Baltimore's 18th annual Artscape along Mount Royal Avenue.

A dozen art cars were on display, including a turquoise Mitsubishi with a roof covered in action figures and Happy Meal toys, and a prehistoric cruiser with a striking resemblance to cartoon character Fred Flintstone's car.

"Artscape 2000 minus 1," as it is being billed, boasts paintings and sculptures, arts and crafts dealers, food and big name musical performers. And admission is free.

As Elaine Foster, winner of Baltimore's Billie Holiday singing contest, took the stage at 12: 30 p.m., gray clouds and the threat of rain kept the crowd size low.

By 3 p.m., the sun broke through and a crowd estimated at 75,000 danced to the Latin, rhythm and blues and zydeco bands playing simultaneously on stages scattered around the festival grounds.

Claudia Bismark, spokeswoman for Artscape, said she believes 1.5 million people will attend the festival by the end of the weekend, most of them coming to see each evening's headliner.

The Temptations drew "over a quarter of a million people" Friday night, she said, adding that she expected as many to hear the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Dionne Warwick last night, and Ashford & Simpson as they collaborate with poet Maya Angelou tonight.

While the afternoon's musical performers, including singer Patti Austin, drew large crowds, 9-year-old Porsha Johnson and big brother Bruce Dunams, both from Southern California, were more entranced with artist Kevin Walsh, who was painting an elephant onto a 10-foot-tall mural.

"She's an artist," Dunams, a recent graduate from George Washington University's business school, said of his sister. While they watched Walsh paint purple toenails onto the pink elephant, Dunams bent down to discuss painting techniques with the girl.

Walsh, who calls himself "Mr. Mural," is painting a three panel mural based on the theme of unity in Baltimore. By late yesterday, he had painted two mermaids holding hands and a giant pink elephant wearing glasses.

He says he plans to add a jazz singer, a glass of beer, some Maryland crabs and some stars to line the bottom of the piece.

"It will come along as the whole Artscape comes along," he says. "I want it so people will see something that changed when they come back the next day."

Walsh, a Pikesville resident, was one of the few artists creating work at the festival. Most work was for sale, or awaiting comments from passers-by.

Ann Davidsen, a Baltimore book designer, circled "Bozo Prison," a giant metal work by Baltimore artist Laure Drogoul.

The 25-foot-tall, evil-looking clown is one of the six large outdoor works based on the theme of home and hearth created for this year's festival.

The clown is made of black metal covered with colored metal strips and wears a bow tie and buttons. The work comes complete with a tiny door and black wooden bench and at its base reads "Reception Diagnostic Classification Center."

Davidsen squinted up at a clown's sinister smile and said the piece was "making fun of our corrections system."

But she said she was more impressed with the size of Drogoul's piece than the theme -- and she was curious how the artist got it to the festival.

Pub Date: 7/11/99

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