North Carolina painter Hal Boyd stages his second painting exhibition at the Minás Gallery in Hampden starting tomorrow night at 7. The show runs through late November. Boyd, an abstract expressionist with a keen interest in psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literature, studied art and English in college, then worked for several decades as an advertising copywriter and ad agency head. I met him many years ago when I was living in San Antonio, Texas.
Baltimore-based painter Spoon Popkin often makes art from images she finds in life — like, for instance, the amateur, and often pornographic, cell-phone-cam self-portraits she surfed at Guys with iPhones (site contains mature content). Characterized by Popkin’s playful, free-flowing (but masterfully controlled) line, her recent “guyswithiphones” paintings (see two below) transform mundane men-in-undies pics into complex studies, which spur a dialogue that points Film 101’s “the gaze” toward fresh territory… And might also spur you to say, with a grin, “This came from that?”
We’re pleased to present writer Joseph Martin’s new Ivy Bookshop-sponsored column for the Baltimore Fishbowl, “The Lit Parade,” a celebration and thoughtful examination of the epic local lit scene that too often goes unreported, unread.
“For my dead dad” reads the dedication to local novelist Michael Kimball’s excellent new book, Big Ray (Bloomsbury) – a heavy, final-sounding thud of a phrase if there ever was one. And why not? After four novels stuffed with death, familial friction, and an almost scientific interest in the protocol for (and detritus of) relationships, Big Ray feels like the end product of a long, difficult birthing process, a merger between the post-suicide bricolage of 2008’s Dear Everybody (Alma Books) and the slow, procedural mortality of 2011’s Us (Tyrant Books). Like those books, Ray presents a precise catalog of mourning; skipping their likeable victims, however, the novel instead turns its fictive eye on an unsympathetic corpse – an abusive, selfish father – allowing Kimball to write with a previously untapped range of emotion and intimacy.
One of the things I love most about Baltimore is the fact that so many of its most interesting places are hidden from public view. Some of the city’s most charming venues, in fact, are the backrooms of stores, sometimes located up or down rear staircases. While most Baltimore residents know about the Owl Bar, hidden away behind the imposing front lobby of the Belvedere, other secret spaces are less well known.
A perfect example is An Die Musik, a classy little record store located at 409 Charles Street. Go to the rear of the shop, past racks of CDs and LPs, and you come to a flight of stairs; follow them up, and you’ll arrive at an intimate, comfortable concert space, home to a wide array of touring classical and jazz artists, as well as recitals by students from the nearby Peabody Institute. Minás Gallery on the Avenue in Hampden also hides a secret staircase. Go through the downstairs boutique that sells vintage clothing, accessories, jewelry and local crafts to a staircase at the back of the store, and emerge in a bright, pleasant gallery space also used for meetings, art shows, performances and belly dancing lessons.
Plenty of Baltimore bookshops hold readings, signings and other events. Not all of them have a backroom for the purpose. The coolest ones do. Atomic Books in Hampden stocks an inviting little bar hidden at the back of the store among the racks of LPs, a great venue for parties with an after-hours feel. Go through the mysterious red door in Normals Books and Records on East 31st Street, and you’ll come to the Red Room (now painted blue), a “laboratory for experimental cultural endeavors” which hosts sound performances, films screenings, lectures, and other eclectic goings-on.
Another odd and appealing space is hidden in the bowels of Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Cathedral and Read, opposite Milk and Honey. Ignore the dusty pews and stained glass windows, go up a flight of stairs to the side, and you’ll find yourself in an unusual venue sometimes used for music and theater performances. But my favorite secret space has to be Charm City Yoga’s Midtown location, at 107 East Preston Street, above Twin Diamond Studios. Slip through the door on Hargrove Alley painted with the elephant god Ganesh and follow the smell of incense up two flights of wooden stairs, and you’ll find two calm, well-lit yoga rooms where you can focus on inner peace. Namaste!