Culture

Synchronized Swimming + Film Noir + Baltimore = ?

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I don’t know how many murder mystery/synchronized swimming performances you’ve seen lately, but I tend to believe Fluid Movement when they claim that this weekend’s Mobtown Murder Mystery will be “the greatest water ballet thriller in many years.”

If you’ve got an out of town visitor staying with you for the weekend, this is pretty much your ideal event. Your house guests will be able to appreciate how talented, imaginative, and just plain weird Baltimoreans are. Next week they can slink back to Boston or Houston or Toronto or wherever, and tell all their friends about the “live film-noir inspired daytime synchronized swimming extravaganza!!!” they saw performed in Baltimore.

The relevant details:  the show will splash your way this weekend (Saturday, July 23 at 3pm and 5pm; Sunday, July 24 at 5pm and 7pm) at Druid Hill Park Pool; it’ll repeat next weekend on Sunday, July 31 (5pm and 7pm) at Patterson Park Pool. Tickets cost $10. But for the full-immersion experience, consider attending the Benefit Show on Saturday, July 30 at 6pm (also at Patterson Park Pool):  you’ll get to watch the show, plus enjoy a pool party with food, drinks, and general silliness. That one costs $20, and is well worth it.

Lax Movie "Crooked Arrows" Starts Filming Aug. 1

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Cinema’s latest underdog movie is sure to lure many lacrosse-crazed Baltimoreans.  “Crooked Arrows,” which starts filming August 1 in the Boston area, tells the story of Joe Logan (Brandon Routh, Superman Returns), a young Native American trying to modernize his reservation while winning his father’s approval.  The perfect way to do both, it turns out, is coaching the reservation’s lacrosse team.  Joe leads the boys to success and brotherhood, culminating in a final showdown against rivals at a private school, where they compete for the state title. 

In early daysproducers faced the perplexing problem of finding actors who could play both lacrosse and convincing roles.  This summer, open auditions for “Crooked Arrows” were held in Hempstead, NY, Norwalk, CT, Summit, NJ, and of course, Baltimore. At callbacks in Syracuse and Boston, two teams were selected and former Hopkins lacrosse star Jameson Koesterer and Onondaga native Neal Powless started coaching the ersatz teams this week.

The championship game will be filmed August 13, so lacrosse fanatics interested in roles as extras should consider a trip to Boston next month.  Producers promise the appearance of lacrosse “celebrities” (perhaps Ken Clausen? or Connor “Con Bro Chill” Martin?) and other goodies at the end game finale. With sponsors like US Lacrosse, Inside Lacrosse, Reebok and assorted beverage, automotive and apparel partnerships (read product placement), you can bet the freebies will be worth the trip.

The premise of the movie begs a few questions about the state of lacrosse today.  The sport originated with Native Americans, but over the decades has practically become a symbol of elitism and exclusivity.  “Crooked Arrows” could critically examine this issue of origin versus elaboration.  On the cultivated green grass and million-dollar turfs of East Coast prep schools, lacrosse has become a cultural juggernaut, an undeniable force whose influence has spread far beyond the boundaries of the field to play a role in everything from clothing to college choice. Despite all that it has become, lacrosse’s creation came hundreds of years ago on the vast plains of an untouched America. So to whom does the sport really belong?  Maybe “Crooked Arrows” will settle the question once and for all. 

I Love City Life: But Do I Know City Life?

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Fun-snacks-and-ice-cold-drinks-aplenty bash to beat the heat: Live Baltimore hosts an “I Love City Life” happy hour this evening to say thanks to folks who’ve sported the local city-life-loving slogan on bumpers or license plates.

Jot down the details: 6 to 8pm at Gaslight Square, 1401 Severn Street.

Maybe you recognize the widespread yellow sticker but don’t know that the message links to Live Baltimore, the only organization dedicated to marketing Baltimore as a terrific and affordable place to live, with the two practical goals of repopulating the city and increasing its residential tax base. (If you didn’t know the sticker matched the nonprofit, you’re not alone!)

Baltimore City native Carolyn O’Keefe dreamed up the saying to express her true satisfaction with life in the city. She created a bumper sticker and awarded it to friendly people she met–at gas stations, groceries, wherever. New face by new face and neighbor by neighbor, O’Keefe spread her pro-city message. Since 1999, when O’Keefe donated stickers to Live Baltimore, the nonprofit has proudly touted “I Love City Life” as catchphrase, theme song, and battle hymn.

Tonight’s happy hour will help raise awareness for the Baltimore Grand Prix, which takes place Labor Day weekend, September 2-4, and marks the first time the “Festival of Speed” has zoomed through town.

“We created this event to celebrate a marriage – of city lovers and car lovers,” said Live Baltimore Executive Director Anna Custer-Singh. “This happy hour is intended to thank all of our license plate holders and raise awareness of a new Baltimore tradition, the Baltimore Grand Prix.”

A 10 dollar cover charge includes appetizers and drinks from Dogwood, Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, live music, and a shot at two Grand Prix tickets.

(Those who own an “I Love” license plate get free admittance!)

Online pre-registration is encouraged.

Matthew Porterfield Wows with Photo-Mosaic

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Matthew Porterfield is primarily known around Baltimore for his films. His first feature, Hamilton, which he wrote, directed and edited on 16mm film, was released in 2006. Metal Gods, his second feature script, won the Panasonic Digital Filmmaking Grand Prize at IFP’s 30th Annual Independent Film Week in 2008. You may remember the recent ado about his latest film, Putty Hill, which was much acclaimed and shot entirely in Baltimore.

His vivid and massive 72-photo installation, Days Are Golden Afterparty, is assembled from pictures taken with a cellphone, printed at 20″ x 30″ and hung in a grid. A video montage of many of the same photos plays on a television monitor.

Matthew Porterfield is the winner of the 2011 Sondheim Prize. His photo-installation is on exhibition at the BMA until August 7.

Sartorial Baltimoreal: Artscape Edition

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The most fun thing to do at Artscape is to wander around and stare at other Artscape attendees. While the heat reduced some visitors to hot-weather basics (tank tops, shorts, and flip flops), other Baltimoreans used the event to showcase their personal style. A few of our favorites below.

Photos by Liz Donadio; style spotting by Donna Sellinger.

Donte Williams: “I just woke up and threw stuff on!”

Jen Tydings of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society: “I’m just doing a Viking thing today.”

 

Tyrone Powe:  “I felt like I ran out of clothes, so I just threw on anything. I knew that jewelry would help me out.”

 

Angelo Thomas is a stylist at Matthew John’s Salon.

What Hath Rachel Rotenberg Wrought?

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Rachel Rotenberg thinks of her sculptures as stories told with wood. Frequently augmenting the wood with vines, Rotenberg creates an aesthetic world populated by sensually curving surfaces, intriguingly formed negative spaces, and forceful volumes.

The artist begins her process by drawing shapes in a sketchbook. She then builds from those drawings using sticks of cedar lumber. With a variety of machinery—hand and power tools—the wood is cut, glued, clamped and sanded. She then applies stains and colors to the finished pieces.

As abstract as they are, Rotenberg’s sculptures have a classical quality: They achieve humanist textures and contours that overcome their materials. The inviting curvaceousness of the final product belies the intensity of a process that has Rotenberg cutting, gluing, clamping, and sanding.

Though it would be difficult to extract a literal narrative from the pieces, the pieces do suggest the existence of a story beyond the sculptures themselves. It stays just beyond the viewer’s reach as he attempts to understand the inexplicable forms.

Rachel Rotenberg was a 2011 Sondheim Prize finalist. Her sculptures are on exhibition at the BMA until August 7.

Louie Palu Brings the War Home in Photographs

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For the past five years, Washington-based artist Louie Palu has focused his photography on the war in Afghanistan. Embedded with American and Canadian military units in Kandahar Province, Palu has followed troops through ground and air assaults, and has documented the precarious balance of life and death as they coexist in medical units.

Palu has also photographed the lives of Afghan civilians, producing a powerful range of images that reflect the tragedy and inhumanity of war.

Palu’s photographs have a strong journalistic sensibility. Titles are plainly descriptive; simple, stoic compositions allow the depicted human drama to speak for itself.

Louie Palu was a 2011 Sondheim Prize finalist. Twenty-four of his photographs of Afghanistan are on exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art until August 7.

Same-Sex Portraiture: Art for Equal Rights

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Katherine Meredith, a professional portrait painter from Baltimore, recently raised over $15,000 on Kickstarter.com in support of her ambitious series entitled Partners, in which she uses classical portraiture technique (think of strikingly realistic family portraits you’ve seen in the fanciest drawing rooms) to depict same-sex couples.

Two years ago, Meredith was horrified when her Catholic high school refused to post in the alumni newsletter a birth announcement from a lesbian alum and her partner–she vowed to find a way to speak out for gay rights, and expressly gay marriage, through her artwork. Thus, Partners was born. (Because the gay and lesbian community has been locked out of portraiture’s rather straight-laced realm almost without exception, the tradition in which Meredith was trained, so refreshing portraiture of same-sex couples seemed the ideal way to send an essential message.)

“My portraits present proud, loving gay couples with no judgment, otherness, or exoticism,” Meredith says, in the short video attached to her Kickstarter campaign homepage. “A portrait is both a private study of intimate life and public statement of who you are; I believe who you love is who you are.”

Meredith worked professionally in New York and Los Angeles for many years–she now lives in Cockeysville with her husband and two young children.

“As a straight woman, I enjoy all the rights and benefits of marriage, and I think gay men and lesbian women should have the same rights that I do,” Meredith explains on film. “I’m hoping this exhibition will increase awareness even more and be another way to help move the needle toward equality.”

Work from the series is currently on display at Galerie die Botschaft at 1628 Bolton Street. Meredith has completed 10 portraits and plans to do about 10 more in the coming year; from there, she aims to take Partners, and its compassionate message, around the country. Visit Kickstarter to donate and learn more.

Same-sex couples interested in having a portrait painted by Meredith, as part of the series, may contact her at [email protected]

Mark Parascandola Documents a Cinematic Ghost Town

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Almeria, Spain’s desert landscape made it a popular site for film shoots in the 60s and 70s.  The city gave films like Lawrence of Arabia and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns their gorgeous, desolate atmosphere. Today, many of the movie sets still stand, albeit in various states of neglect.

DC artist Mark Parascandola, who has a family connection to Almeria, created a photo series of the city, documenting the movie sets and backdrops as they exist today, largely in ruins. The series also includes several images of newer constructions that have sprung up with Almeria’s major building boom during the past 10 years. Many of these buildings, including hotels and residential enclaves, have also been abandoned.

The color qualities and scale of Parascandola’s images suggest the cinematic context for which many of the structures were originally built. Indeed, the photographs could almost pass for movie stills. But the surface intensity of the images conjures a subtle narrative of Almeria’s boom-and-bust economic cycles.

“I am hoping to prompt people to wonder a little bit about why these buildings were abandoned,” Parascandola explains in an interview with Pink Line Project.  “We’ve all become accustomed to seeing images of empty buildings and foreclosed homes on the news. So perhaps viewers will make connections between the content of my photographic work and their own related experiences and stories closer to home.”

Parascandola was a 2011 Sondheim Prize finalist. Fourteen of his photographs of Almeria are on exhibition at the BMA until August 7.

 

Artscape Madness

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Unusually good, humidity-free weather brought out the crowds for one of the most fun and funky Artscapes ever. Check our photo montage.
Dance
Photo by Greg Dohler
Spontaneous line dancing on Charles Street.
Fortune Teller
Photo by Cindy France
Michele Kaiser of British Columbia, Canada, is ready for a day of fortune telling at her Gypsy Mermaid Caravan.
Dog Face
Photo by Cindy France
The new zoo revue? Dog-faced performance artists take a break in Pearlstone Park.
Whistles
Photo by Cindy France
The stylish Bumblebee and Earth blow their whistles on Mt. Royal Avenue.
Tammy
Photo by Greg Dohler
Tammy Faye Bakker celebrates Artscape’s 30th anniversary.
Human Resources
Photo by Cindy France
Festival-goers report to the “Human Resources” installation on the Charles Street bridge.
Photo
Photo by Cindy France
This photo by Joe Giordano hangs from the Load of Fun studio on North Avenue.
Solar Sounds
Photo by Cindy France
Craig Colorusso’s Sun Boxes, a solar powered sound installation, in Pearlstone Park.
BD Cake
Photo by Cindy France
Surprise:  An Artscape-goer gets a birthday cake at Melissa Webb’s mixed-media installation and performance piece, “Landing of the Magic Flight: The Mysteries of Memory.”
Rock Opera
Photo by Cindy France
The Baltimore Rock Opera Society belts it out on Charles Street.

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