A Baltimore-Themed Dollhouse, Complete With Drugs, Guns, and Prostitutes

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All photos via Grace Shaw
All photos via Grace Shaw

This has to be the second-most inventive/creepiest dollhouse I’ve ever seen (read about the undeniable best, also in Baltimore, here):  a small scale replica of a Baltimore rowhouse in a, shall we say, seedy condition, complete with a DEA agent out front, guard dogs inside, and a “stoned naked guy in the tub.”

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According to Virtual Dollhouse, Grace Shaw’s husband gave her a Baltimore rowhouse-themed dollhouse project for Christmas 2005. He joked that she should make it into “a crackhouse” instead of a standard, drug-free miniature environment, and Grace went to town. Unsatisfied with just one model, Grace bought another and turned it into a “house of ill repute.” When a third rowhouse kit wasn’t available, Grace built one herself, modeling it after a bar/adult bookstore.
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While I admire the care, attention, and wit that went into Grace’s tongue-in-cheek interpretation of the traditional dollhouse — no doilies and tiny candlesticks here! — something about it also make me bristle a little bit.  (I was all ready to dismiss the project as racist, until I noticed that half the dolls involved, like the “stoned naked guy” mentioned above, are white.) There are, after all, urgent and pressing problems facing our city; it feels kind of funny to gawk and laugh at a jokey interpretation of real poverty. Or maybe I’m taking this way too seriously?

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In any case, Shaw is selling her dollhouse for $6500. For not that much more, you could buy your very own full-size vacant property

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The painted screens are a nice, subtle Baltimore touch!
The painted screens are a nice, subtle Baltimore touch!



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11 COMMENTS

  1. I would be interested to know how the artist knew what the inside of one of these places looks like in real life, or whether she just went with stereotypes.

    • Stereotypes would not exist, if there were not people perpetuating them. Unfortunately. They are exaggerations of reality. You don’t know what this woman does, but what we do know is that she is creative enough to not be spending her time writing quips on blogs in judgment of others. It’s a piece of social commentary, and like you, the author jumped to conclusions for a second…until she “noticed” the color of the skin on most of the dolls.

      If you don’t like something, then change it. Internet comments are not the place do do this.

  2. I think it’s possible that the artist is a big fan of The Wire, in which case, her renditions are pretty tame. It seems it gets harder and harder to have a sense of humor, or perhaps, a sense of the absurd, without being labelled insensitive. I bet David Simon would buy one?

  3. I think it’s fantastic — the level of detail is amazing, right down to the painted screens! Kudos to her for taking a negative and turning it into something interesting and creative.

    • This is actually entirely accurate to my neighborhood. Clearly she wasn’t aiming to do the worst part of the city ’cause that would be barren and aesthetically unappealing. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. 🙂

  4. This is great work, but not all that accurate. Two of the houses should have been boarded up, with a notice warning that they are to be condemned.

  5. “There are, after all, urgent and pressing problems facing our city; it feels kind of funny to gawk and laugh at a jokey interpretation of real poverty. Or maybe I’m taking this way too seriously?”

    You are 1000000% taking this waaaay too seriously, sweetheart. It’s a quirky art project. This neighborhood looks almost identical to mine, and I wouldn’t consider myself impoverish. There’s far worse areas she could have done, but even if she had I don’t think it would change how “offensive” the piece is.

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