Baltimore’s art scene is defined by collaboration. Wherever you turn, artists seem to be working together concocting some mad scheme, creating a new work, or founding a new gallery or performance space. And yet, all this collaboration never equals conformity. The Annex Theater may be working with the EMP Collective to start a whole new strand of performance spaces on North Howard Street, but each of these venues remains fiercely independent, like the rest of the artists in town. With cheap warehouse space, a top-notch art school, and a low cost of living, Baltimore’s art scene is poised to grow bigger . . . and weirder.
The Walters Museum
600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, thewalters.org
The Walters is so beautifully curated and thoughtful in its historical explorations that we would almost pay to get in—but we like it even more because it’s free. Whether it’s life-sized Christs, Egyptian basalt statues, or the “Chamber of Wonders,” there are few things in Baltimore that match walking through your favorite collection here.
830 E. Pratt St., (443) 263-1800, rflewismuseum.org
This museum dedicated to African-American history packs a punch: Located in a big, striking building that’s hard to miss, it puts on politically charged shows such as “For Whom It Stands: the Flag and the American People.” Located near the Inner Harbor, Little Italy, and Harbor East, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum makes it worth taking a break from frivolity.
10 Art Museum Drive, (443) 573-1700, artbma.org
The BMA houses a prestigious collection of post-impressionist art and is especially renowned for its stock of Matisse paintings. This year, a Renoir stolen in the 1950s was returned to the museum with much fanfare. The reopened Contemporary Wing also houses an impressive array of current work.
800 Key Highway, (410) 244-1900, avam.org
Inside and out, the American Visionary Museum is a sight to behold, but be careful not to scorch your retinas—the mirror- encrusted exterior gives way to an equally dazzling collection of weird and ingenious artworks from American artists who lack a formal education in art but came by eccentricity naturally. Its gift shop follows the same formula of sincere strangeness, and is itself worth the price of admission.
Art Centers and Galleries
405 E. Oliver St., (410) 528-1968, area405.com
At this former factory, it has the space for large sculpture installations and gatherings, so you’ll often find large-scale interactive projects at Area 405 going on in here. Run by Stewart Watson, one of the city’s best artists, 405 offers a true sense of Baltimore’s art scene.
Baltimore Jewelry Center
3600 Clipper Mill Road, (410) 235-5871, baltimorejewelrycenter.org
In January, the educators and artists of the Baltimore Jewelry Center will be moving to a new space in the long-dormant Centre Theater building on North Avenue. As they help to renew the historic space, they will also be working to keep the craft of jewelry-making alive in the community, offering resources and workshops throughout the year.
C. Grimaldis Gallery
523 N. Charles St. #1, (410) 539-1080, cgrimaldisgallery.com
A big-named gallery with high-end artists—one of the few places in town to attract serious collectors.
Creative Alliance at the Patterson
3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org
With its historic marquee, the Old Patterson Movie Theater in Highlandtown is actually the headquarters of the Creative Alliance, a busy factory of artistic activity encompassing several gallery spaces, a performance stage, community workshops, and an artists residency. They’ve even got a well-appointed bar—a good place to start if you want to get to know the Alliance.
3000 Chestnut Ave., Studio 214, goyacontemporary.com
Take a drive (or better yet, a bike ride) down scenic Falls Road to the Mill Centre, an impeccably revamped sawmill complex housing the Goya Contemporary Gallery, which may be Baltimore’s closest thing to a New York gallery.
Guest Spot @ the Reinstitute
1715 N. Calvert St., (718) 541-9672, guestspot.org
Curator Rod Malin moved this gallery from his Fells Point home into the Station North Arts District with a radical idea. In addition to curating a wide variety of shows, Malin hopes that the Guest Spot can provide a kind of alternative art education with programming, lectures, and students.
Maryland Institute College of Art
1300 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 669-9200, www.mica.edu
It’s hard to miss the big, bold architecture at the top of Bolton Hill that makes up MICA, Baltimore’s youthful artist farm from which the majority of the momentum behind the Station North Arts District spills forth. Check out some of the dozens of galleries and studio spaces on campus during the academic year to see what sort of artistic broth is brewing in America these days.
1511 Guilford Ave., B303, springsteengallery.com
The brightest light in Station North, Springsteen Gallery changed the expectations for art galleries in the CopyCat building. Its pristine white walls host some of the city’s most adventurous artists such as Seth Adelsberger, Alan Resnick, and Lesser Gonzalez-Alvarez.
The Metro Gallery
1700 N. Charles St., (410) 244-0899, themetrogallery.net
The Metro Gallery is a combination bar/performance space/music venue/art gallery: one of many versatile social spaces quickly becoming characteristic of the Baltimore arts scene. And it’s located a short walk from Penn Station on a buzzy upper block of North Charles Street.
Platform Arts Center
116 W. Mulberry St., (443) 717-1099, platformbaltimore.com
Opened by a MICA student this spring in a repurposed rowhouse downtown, the project is characteristic of Baltimore’s regenerative energy and is loyal to its emergent artist population, offering studios and gallery space to foster the vibrant work of some of Baltimore’s youngest professional artists.
School 33 Art Center
1427 Light St., (443) 263-4350, school33.org
There’s always something different going on at this Federal Hill space. The brick-and-brownstone building is home to ever-changing gallery shows and studio and classroom space for artists and the community.
The Windup Space
12 W. North Ave., (410) 244-8855,thewindupspace.com
Primarily a music venue/ bar, the Windup Space also hosts a wide variety of art shows at its David Lynch-inspired Station North location.
1900 St. Paul St., theacmecorporation.org
Named for the Looney Tunes’ fictional manufacturing business, the Acme Corporation always courts failure. So far, however, they’ve done nothing but succeed with wildly ambitious productions, such as a 24-hour version of Samuel Beckett’s “Play.”
1 W. North Ave., (585) 750-4635
The Annex Theater brings experimental and collaborative efforts to a former fried chicken joint on North Avenue, which also serves as the home of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. It’s looking to buy a space in the old vaudeville district on Howard Street, so look out for its new digs.
Baltimore Theatre Project
45 W. Preston St., (410) 752-8558, theatreproject.org
The Theatre Project hosts an art gallery and many of the city’s other companies, such as Iron Crow, as well as out-of-town companies, the High Zero Festival in September, and original productions.
700 N. Calvert St., (410) 332-0033, centerstage.org
Under the leadership of Kwame Kwei-Armah, Center Stage, Baltimore’s premier theater, has only gotten better as it moves in the direction of Baltimore’s more experimental theater companies while maintaining its consistently high production value.
307 W. Baltimore St., empcollective.org
The EMP Collective is a group of young talented artists who not only put on great shows but also hold screenings, arts shows, and more in their EMP multi-use arts space. Like Annex, they’re looking to buy a spot on Howard Street, so look out for even more ambitious programming.
315 W. Fayette St., (410) 752-2208, everymantheatre.org
Last year, Everyman moved to a beautiful historic building near the Hippodrome. The new space has only increased the ambition of this crew, who can be credited with helping to jump-start Station North. Company member Bruce Nelson is always astounding.
Fells Point Corner Theatre
251 S. Ann St., www.fpct.org
Coming off a great season which ended in a bang with Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” this is a theater whose production value and acting far exceeds its small-time historic firehouse venue.
(443) 475-0223, glassmindtheatre.com
Glass Mind Theatre is inventive and ambitious with works ranging from the ancient Greek to the contemporary—but always with an underground Baltimore slant.
Interrobang Theatre Company
Interrobang is a brand-new company formed from a group of UMBC graduates who also worked on the recent web-based TV series “BFA,” about a bunch of young art students starting a theater company.
This oft-praised purveyor of self-styled “queer theater” strives to entertain, promote discussion, and become a mainstay of Baltimore’s LGBTQ community with its performances.
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard St., (443) 844-9253, singlecarrot.com
Single Carrot Theatre has moved into a new space, a former auto repair shop now converted into a black box, but retains the same ballsy productions as always, though now it has more space to work with.
1823 N. Charles St., (443) 874-4917, strand-theater.org
Although its theater venue is closed as its leaders “search for a new home,” this female-oriented theater company will continue with its dynamic performances.
817 St. Paul St., (410) 752-1225, spotlighters.org
Continuing the vision of its previous matriarch, Audrey Herman, Spotlighters Theatre brings a jam-packed season including “Rocky Horror Show” (Oct. 17-Nov. 9) and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Mar. 27-Apr. 19).
Vagabond Players Inc.
806 S. Broadway St., (410) 563-9135, vagabondplayers.org
The oldest continually operating little theater in Baltimore is, in its 99th season, the last of its kind.