Tag: station north

MICA and Upward Mobility

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You know that parking lot right near where Mount Royal runs into North Avenue – the one behind MICA’s Commons building, with that big pink sculpture like a twisted metal flower and the beat-up half-pipe? Well it won’t be there much longer.

MICA is using the property to build another residence hall, which they’re calling “Commons II” (their naming meeting must’ve lasted all of 30 seconds). The school is pumping $16.5 million into the renovation, which will be able to house about 240 additional students.

The Baltimore Sun writes “The project represents a key part of MICA’s strategy under longtime president Fred Lazarus IV to extend northward and rejuvenate the North Avenue corridor by connecting Bolton Hill with the 100-square-block Station North Arts and Entertainment District to the east.” The expansion is probably as exciting for the area as it is for MICA – the school has played a huge part in making the Station North District what it is today, bringing art, college kids, and yes, a lot of money into the area.

Here’s to upward mobility, Baltimore!

 

 

Did Your High School Have Fashion Runways? Yeah, Didn’t Think So.

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When it opens in fall 2013, the Baltimore Design School might be the coolest high school in a hundred-mile radius. Don’t believe me? Consider this:  it will have built-in fashion runways.

The BMA’s Innovative Renovations

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Don’t get me wrong, I love my Matisses and Giacomettis, and who can’t stand in awe of El Greco or Rubens? Even the BMA’s Oceania exhibit is enough to put it on most art enthusiasts’ radars. (Those crazy little masks? You know you’ve always wanted to try one on.) But whenever I feel the urge to be there, it’s images of Rothko and DeKooning that pull me in. So it was an ugly surprise the last time I visited the Baltimore Museum of Art and found out that the Contemporary and Modern American sections have been closed for renovations.

The missing work is a gaping hole in Baltimore’s art-museum world. The BMA’s contemporary collection is the only one of its kind in Baltimore — we’ve now got to travel all the way to D.C. to find a Pollock or a Barnett Newman on view. That might raise some concerns about Baltimore’s proud position in the national art community, but I’m still basically just mad that I don’t get to lose myself in Rothko’s color washes.

Thankfully, though, Baltimore doesn’t have much longer to wait.  The contemporary wing renovation, part of a larger renovation process set to finish in time for the BMA’s 100-year anniversary (2014), will re-open fall of this year.

(See pictures from behind the scenes of the renovation.)

A recent BMA newsletter announced the wing will open its doors on November 17, and feature a number of new additions, like architectural renovations by artist Sarah Oppenheimer, which will connect the BMA’s Modern and Contemporary collections “through meticulously crafted sculptural forms placed in the floor, ceiling, and walls.”

A recent Sarah Oppenheimer work

Other highlights the newsletter mentions are:

  • An exhibition of eight large-scale color photographs by South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa.
  • An exhibition of drawings by artists including Lee Bontecou, Philip Guston, and James Rosenquist.
  • A new site-specific work by acclaimed Baltimore street artist Gaia. (The guy responsible for Station North’s Open Walls program.)

All in all, the BMA is shelling out $24.5 million for the renovation. Let’s just hope they keep the Rothkos up.

Don’t Miss the Open Walls Project: Finale Celebration Tonight at Station North

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You’re driving down East North Avenue and just as you take the left onto Charles you look up and whoa! Huge mural. It’s a man lying on his side, fetal position, pulling off a mask that spirals away from him into a bright tangle of color and shapes. It must be 25-feet tall, and more than twice that long. All of a sudden the empty lot becomes a stage, a vantage point, somewhere to stand and take in the art. Sure it’s still dotted with empty cement buckets, and Doritos bags roll through like tumbleweed, but these things seem to matter less now.

The piece, recently completed by Argentinian artist Ever, is one of the most visible of 23 murals in Baltimore’s Open Walls project, which spans through Station North. Open Walls is an achievement in many senses – not only are the pieces artistically significant in and of themselves, they also represent a major collaboration among some of the foremost contemporary mural artists in the world, and a media success within and outside of the city. As a Baltimore native and resident, though, the most important part for me is their psychological impact, the way they transform the spaces they overlook. I wanted to see some more, so I rode around the area for a while.

Station North: Is It Brooklyn Yet?

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Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

For many locals, the term Station North, Baltimore’s officially designated Arts and Entertainment District, still draws a blank. Understandable really, because other than Joe Squared, the popular pizza and live music dive on North Avenue, what is there to see? But ask Charlie Duff, the charming and voluble head of non-profit development company Jubilee Baltimore, and you get a vivid picture of a neighborhood on the move.

“Baltimore is the number one city in the country for attracting young, educated kids over 25,” Duff begins, citing a USA Today  story about top metro areas attracting 25-34 year olds.  Between the percent change from 2000 to 2009 (we’re fourth), and the actual numbers, Baltimore does come out on top, and its vibrant arts and music scene is the most cited reason. The epicenter of that scene is Station North, where studios, theater companies, galleries, bars and clubs are coming up from the underground into the light of North Avenue, inviting comparisons to the arts scene that has revitalized large parts of Brooklyn, NYC.

Lost City Diner is Actually Open, Actually Serving Milkshakes (For Real This Time)

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The diner at the corner of Charles and Lafayette Streets in Station North stood vacant and papered-over for so long that its long-promised opening started to seem like an impossible dream. Which was heartbreaking, since it’s the perfect spot for a diner — and, in a city that sorely lacks late-night greasy spoon-type spots, a boon for anyone craving fries and a milkshake after midnight. “The Lost City Diner is lost,” moaned Baltimore Magazine a year and a half ago.

But despair no longer, residents of Station North — or patrons of the Charles & Everyman Theatres (right across the street), or the Club Charles (practically next door), or fans of the once-great Zodiac Restaurant. The Lost City Diner is actually for-real-this-time open for business, and it looks great. The walls are lined with blown-up versions of pulp novel covers, the counter is fully of shiny milkshake-making implements, and the whole place has a rosy glow that makes you want to hunker down with a cup of coffee.

From what I hear, the long-delayed opening had something to do with a liquor license, and (for now at least), Lost City is BYOB. Price-wise, with  $10 burgers and $15 entrees it’s not really serving up cheap eats. But with a long list of special milkshakes/ice cream sundaes and the powerhouse force of Joy Martin (owner of the Club Charles) behind it, we’re not complaining.

Photo by Flickr user Charlemagne OP

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