Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cultural Containers

Baltimore's Round Robin Tour earns approval from New York magazine.

Last night, a group gathered for the third in a series of monthly design conversations in Baltimore. The topic for the evening was "cultural containers" and several speakers spoke about ways to engage city spaces through art and architecture. One of the topics was the recent Baltimore Round Robin tour, which included several bands and performers from Baltimore going on the road around the country (their show earned them a slot in New York magazine's coveted Approval Matrix).

Nancy Haragan of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance was there and we spoke about the new Baker Artist Awards. Artists are able to nominate themselves for this new annual award, which includes the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize, a juried award, and the Baltimore's Choice prize, which will be decided by those of us voting for the artists on the Web site.

What's so exceptional about this, is that anyone can self nominate and you are not limited to specific mediums. Artists of all stripes are able to submit by uploading images of their work to the Web site. The juried award is going to be somewhere in the $20,000 range, and as many as three artists could earn this significant prize. The Baltimore's Choice winners will get up to $5,000.

The site itself is remarkable for the fact that it has become a virtual gallery of work from area artists. You can browse through hundreds of entries and see an incredible wealth of new work in the city. Organizers have also invited local curators to create their own online exhibition galleries, so people like Darsie Alexander of the Baltimore Museum of Art (soon to be with the Walker Center), Ellen Lupton of MICA, and Jed Dietz of the Maryland Film Festival will be culling images and picking their favorites.

I browsed through some of the entries this morning and a photo series by Joseph Letourneau caught my eye. Called Last Supper, the artist took a series photographs of "my dinner lovingly prepared on a mousetrap every night for a month," he writes.

Penne Bolognese with garlic bread from the Last Supper Series by Joseph Letourneau.

Nancy tells me that there will be a virtual press event about the Baker Awards on their Web site on November 18. Be sure to post your work and to visit the site often.