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Baltimost: Devin Allen

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Devin Allen
Credit: FJ Hughes

Devin Allen

West Baltimore photographer Devin Allen has achieved many accomplishments over the past four years. He joined Under Armour as a staff photographer, traveled to Asia on multiple occasions to photograph NBA star Steph Curry, became the first Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship recipient and published his debut photography book, "A Beautiful Ghetto," among other things. In May 2015, following the Freddie Gray uprising, Allen became only the third amateur photographer ever to snag the cover of Time

Since gaining national attention, Allen has used his resources to donate more than 400 cameras to young people here in Baltimore, as well as New York and Oakland--all while conducting free workshops where he teaches them how to use the cameras, and how to digest life and convey their emotions through photography.

"I wanna make sure that all my notoriety and the doors that I opened don't shut behind me," he says. "I just wanna create another outlet for these kids to express themselves."

He adds, "It's very important to show the kids that you can be from Baltimore and be extremely successful."

Allen jumped off of the porch in 2019. He showcased his first solo exhibition, "Spaces of the Un-entitled," a mix of photography, installation and performance. He sold prints of his photographs for the first time. He gave a keynote address at the 2019 Gordon Parks Foundation Gala, in front of an audience that included some of Allen's favorite artists: Amy Sherald, Kehinde Wiley and Black Thought.

And he is currently exploring a new medium: painting.

Looking forward, Allen wants to photograph high-end fashion, collaborate with designers and be a part of exclusive series of events such as New York Fashion Week.

"I want to show the world that I can shoot about anything if I put my mind to it. I want to build more installations, more performances, and I want to be known for these things and not just be considered a one-trick pony. People will try to put you in a bubble real quick. But I'm an artist. I don't have a ceiling."

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Baltimost: Dovecote Cafe

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Photo via Dovecote Cafe/Facebook.

Dovecote Cafe

Dovecote Cafe sits in the middle of the block in Reservoir Hill, surrounded by brownstones and jubilant neighbors. When you walk inside, the walls are covered in art, the aroma of fresh coffee and handcrafted food hits you in the nose and the feel-good music is always on shuffle. There is no feeling that you'll receive inside of Dovecote Cafe that you have not felt on the streets of Baltimore.

Cole, one of the owners, says the name--a reference to medieval bird houses as well as harmonious gathering places--"was reflective of the physical energy of the space but also the way we think about the space as a sanctuary."

Cole and wife Aisha Pew, whom Cole calls "the most brilliant woman I've ever met in my life," moved from California to Baltimore to build the cafe. They shared a vision "of stopping gentrification and having a conversation with young black folks about what does it mean to claim your city before it is taken from you," Cole says.

"We were hoping, building and dreaming on vibrant spaces where Black people can be free and engage with each other in new and imaginative ways."

Cole and Pew opened up an artist residency this year called "House of Sedulo," where six artists were chosen to stay at a house on the other side of the neighborhood rent-free. They have the opportunity to create, host events inside of the house, or the cafe, and are also able to make money while doing so.

In the past, I've visited Dovecote not only for its food and drinks and mesmerizing aesthetic, but also creative writing workshops and live performances, and to just be among the good vibes of the staff and customers. 

The cafe is all about "reimagining Black possibilities," Cole says, and one way to bring that to fruition is by "creating space for our community to be together. To find spaces of Black joy, and connection. Ensuring that Black artists, makers and creatives have the room to build those spaces is so essential to our vision."

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