For all of its present-day economic issues and social challenges to overcome, Baltimore in 2017 faces no shortage of creative voices, particularly in its black communities. Next weekend, the Baltimore Museum of Art is providing a platform for those voices to convene and share their recipes for success.
On Saturday, Feb. 11, the BMA will host “Creativity Exchange: Intersections Between Black Artists and Black-Owned Businesses.” Organizers have centered the five-hour event around a workshop about the connections between branding and storytelling and a panel discussion featuring several of the city’s most successful black art entrepreneurs. Amid the day of exploration, career advice and networking, Baltimore’s black artisans will also be selling goods at a craft fair in the museum.
The Joshua Johnson Council and MICA’s Business of Art and Design Master of Professional Studies Program are sponsoring the event.
Myrtis Bedolla, the owner of the nationally acclaimed Galerie Myrtis, is one of four entrepreneurs slated to participate in a panel discussion that day. Bedolla has owned and operated her gallery since 2006. She moved her business from Washington D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to her present space in Old Goucher in the summer of 2008.
Baltimore has served her well. Over the years, she has provided countless showcases for the city’s wealth of black talent, including the multi-artist show “To Be Black In White America” from summer 2016 and Stephen Towns’ ongoing Nat Turner-focused time portal of an exhibition, “Take Me Away to the Stars.”
“Moving the gallery to Baltimore is one of the best business decisions I’ve made,” she said. “I was immediately embraced by the art community.”
Geographically, Baltimore is an excellent place for a black art entrepreneur to run his or her own business, Bedolla said. “Given my proximity to MICA, Washington, D.C. and New York, I have access to an extraordinary pool of artistic talent which allows me to be very selective,” she said. “For artists, it makes for a very competitive field.”
Joining her on the panel will be Pierre and Jamyla Bennu, who run the Exittheapple art space and Oyin Handmade in Barclay (and were once dubbed the “Coolest Black Family in America” by Ebony magazine) and Jay Jacksonrao, who runs media firm TNP Studios. The quartet will discuss their work, project development strategies, their past struggles and the “challenges and opportunities unique to black business owners and artists in Baltimore,” according to a release from the BMA. The panel starts at 2 p.m.
Prior to their discussion, the Creativity Exchange will also feature a storytelling- and branding-focused workshop called “Finding Your Niche,” starting at 12:30 p.m. Heather Bradbury, director of MICA Open Studies’ master of professional studies program, will lead workshop participants in exploring the art of storytelling and how it ties into communicating one’s brand and connecting with customers. (Hopeful participants can email [email protected] or call 443-573-1836 to RSVP.)
“Creativity Exchange: Intersections Between Black Artists and Black-Owned Businesses” runs from 12-5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 10 Art Museum Drive, on the Johns Hopkins University campus. Click here for more information.
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