Friday marks the official return of Artscape to Baltimore. After a few fits and starts, including scheduling conflicts and covid delays, the nation’s largest free arts festival will resume this weekend. It has been over three years since the last iteration of the festival.
In the middle of its new location, The Station North Arts District, lies the B23 exhibition. This gallery is the centerpiece of the reimagined event highlighting unknown to legendary Baltimore area artists. The exhibition features hand selected Baltimore area artists at various stages of their careers.
“It’s about the best of Baltimore, for 2023,” proclaims senior curator of BOPA Kirk Shannon-Butts for WYPR. “It wasn’t a call for a specific theme, you have to be the best.”
B23 only accepted about a quarter of their applicants to be featured. Even with no requirements for style, there is a clear throughline of bright yellow within many of the pieces. Shannon-Butts thinks this represents a bright future, like the sun, for Baltimore artist recognition. The gallery, he hopes, will further what he is calling “The Baltimore Movement.”
“The Baltimore Movement is a movement of artists who are using their personal narratives, and putting them in form, whether it’s quilts, textiles, paintings, sculpture, (or) video,” Shannon-Butts explains.
Many of these mediums are represented at B23, resulting in a medley of different perspectives. A 30-second video homage to Trayvon Martin entitled Jumping Jack by Ann Stoddard grabs you as you enter the space. As you hook a left and move towards the back, there’s 2100 Ukrainian magazine pieces weaved together as an homage to an artist’s grandmother by Julianna Dail.