The legal dispute between the City of Baltimore and the couple who created Light City appears to be coming to a close.
Eight local artists or artist teams have been selected to take part in Neighborhood Lights, the community-based artist-in-residence program for the second annual Light City festival.
With Thanksgiving come and gone, you’ve probably seen neighbors putting up Christmas lights and decorations. You may have even had the chance to see the opening of Hampden’s dazzling light display on 34th Street this past weekend. Even so, one could argue the holidays won’t have officially arrived until the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon has been lit up this Thursday night.
The battle between the creators of Light City and the city over the vibrant event’s intellectual property rights has taken a new turn. Brooke Hall Allen and Justin Allen on Friday responded to a city lawsuit, filed last month, with a countersuit accusing the city of fraud, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy, among other claims.
Baltimore’s arts council is suing the couple who planted the idea seed for the festival that lit up Baltimore and brought hundreds of thousands to the Inner Harbor this past spring.
If you’ve been walking around town lately, you might have noticed that Baltimore’s street crossing have gotten a little more interesting. Last week, the city converted the crossings near the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower into a giant hopscotch game, while the crossing at the intersection of Fayette and Eutaw streets now looks like a giant zipper.
Captain Isaac Emerson, the inventor of the Bromo-Seltzer headache remedy and builder of the iconic Bromo Seltzer Tower on Baltimore’s west side, was said to “interest himself thoroughly in everything tending to advance our city, and [be] a patron of all worthy enterprises seeking to push Baltimore to the front.” So I bet he would approve of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts’s push to make his horizontally-challenged building the centerpiece of what would be Baltimore’s third arts and entertainment district.
The Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District would cover 117 acres on the west side between Park Avenue and Paca, bounded by Read Street on the north and Lombard on the south. Within the district qualified artists as well as building owners could apply for tax breaks.
Currently known as the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, the structure has already been repurposed. Artists rent out studios on several of the Tower’s 15 small floors and show their work in a monthly open house. The Tower is also home to the monthly poetry reading, Benevolent Armchair.
Now, arts and nightlife are probably not enough on their own to save a struggling city, but it’s certainly more pleasant than some other remedies. And it would be nice to see some support for the Hippodrome and Bromo Seltzer.
Maryland economic development officials should make a decision on the neighborhood’s arts and entertainment designation by June 1.