Every week, City Paper is divided between coverage of news and the arts. Baltimore itself is divided in much the same way-split between the tragic world of crime and corruption; and the lighter, enlivening worlds of film, music, art, theater, and books. To some, it may seem trivial to devote so much space to the arts in a city where the murder rate regularly tops 200. But these dour-minded people would miss the point of art and our coverage of the arts in Baltimore: Every play that is produced, every art show mounted, and every book written is created in defiance of unemployment, in defiance of the murder rate, and in defiance, ultimately, of the mortality that will claim us all.
It is, in fact, art that allows us to deal with shut-down governments, inept politicians, gang-controlled jails, and heroin-dealing cops. The arts are no mere distraction, they are essential to the city, now, perhaps, more than ever, as the television and film industries have returned in force and the mayor and other public officials rarely go a week without talking about "the artists" whose "vitality" can help bring 10,000 families back to Baltimore.
City officials are probably a bit too hopeful in their "creative class" fantasies, but regardless of the economic impact of the arts, we spend as much time as we do following the creative life of the city because it is, in a very real way, the life of the city. Below, we've shared some of the cultural events that will remind us what it is to be human in the coming months. We also sat down with Julia Marciari-Alexander, the new director of the Walters, to reflect on the role of the museum in what she calls one of the most visually rich eras of human history. (Baynard Woods)