MAP reopens in new space

Gallery: Maryland Art Place is back for more after its move into the Power Plant Live complex.

April 27, 2001|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

Maryland Art Place, Baltimore's premier independent nonprofit art gallery, celebrates its reopening tonight with a gala reception in its new $600,000 exhibition space at the Inner Harbor.

MAP had taken a six-month hiatus to accommodate a move from its old quarters in West Baltimore.

The new exhibition space, at 34 Market Place, is in the former Brokerage, a complex of restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment that is part of the newly renamed Power Plant Live.

At approximately 4,200 square feet, MAP's new gallery is actually slightly smaller than its old digs on West Saratoga Street, but it occupies a single floor rather than two, and it has more wall space to hang exhibitions.

"Our move gives the gallery a much better location that will enable us to mount more ambitious shows and appeal to a wider cross-section of people, including the 18 million people who visit the Inner Harbor each year," said MAP director Jack Rasmussen. "Plus, this space was designed to be a gallery, whereas our old space was designed to be an appliance store."

For its debut, MAP is presenting an adventurous group show on the theme of history and remembrance. Titled "Remembering the Present," the show includes works by Clarke Bedford, Sam Christian Holmes, Michael Platt, Jann Rosen-Queralt, John Ruppert and Jeff Spaulding.

MAP was founded in 1981 by a group of local artists and art activists who wanted to create a venue for contemporary art that didn't fit into the existing system of commercial galleries and museums.

"A lot of the art of that time was not object-oriented," Rasmussen said. "It was conceptual art, or performance art or installation art. As a result, either it wasn't salable enough for the commercial galleries, or the artists weren't dead enough for the museums."

Mary Ann Mears, a sculptor who was among the original group of MAP founders and later served as president of its board, said one goal was to raise the visibility of Maryland artists and bring experimental work to local audiences.

"Its original purpose was as an exhibition venue for Maryland artists that was not a sales venue," said Fred Lazarus, president of Maryland Institute, College of Art, who helped organized the committee that did the original feasibility study that led to MAP's creation.

MAP's first building was a temporary space in the Candler Building on Market Place, a block from its current location. But the gallery was forced to move to Saratoga Street when rents near the harbor rose sharply.

"MAP lost some of its visibility when it moved to Saratoga Street," Lazarus said. "Hopefully, some of that will return now that it's coming back to its earlier location." Rasmussen, director of MAP since 1992, said the cost of moving and renovating the new space was being financed by a capital campaign that so far has raised about $500,000 from private donors. The gallery has a budget of $500,000 a year, which supports its exhibition and performance programs, a slide registry for Maryland artists and a staff of six people.

In June, the gallery will mount "Invented Objects/Imagined Spaces," a show of works by artists who create imaginative environments in a variety of media. Later in the year, the gallery will hold its annual benefit exhibition and auction and present a series of one-person shows.

"This is part of [MAP's] long-term plan for developing a level of sophistication that is very difficult for institutions that support contemporary artists to achieve," said Leslie King Hammond, dean of graduate studies at MICA. "It's an extremely exciting addition to Baltimore."

Tonight's reception, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., is free and open to the public. Call 410-962-8565.

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