Baltimore art spaces continue to impress


New York Magazine's star art critic Jerry Saltz recently wrote a much-buzzed-about piece on the "Death of the Gallery," ("Baltimore and the so-called death of the gallery," Arts and Minds, April 6), but the fact of the matter is that here in Baltimore, where we've never had the stretch limos and rich dealers, we have more galleries than Saltz could shake a stick at.

Last week saw the birth of Springsteen, a new gallery opened up in the Copycat Building (1511 Guilford Ave., B303). Run by Amelia Szpiech and Hunter Bradley, the gallery came out of the gates with Dust-Off, a strong showing by local artists, most of whom are somehow engaged in the difference or distance between the digital world, products, and, perhaps, the possibility of authentic experience. Especially notable is Nick Vyssotsky's "Untitled (Weed)," which is a fake pot plant in a glass cube filled with Mountain Dew White Out. Perched on a metal stand at eye level, it almost looks as if the plant is cast in some kind of milky, semen-looking plastic. But as you step around the floor, the bubbles rise, burst, and regather, and then you notice the liquid shift, dangerously close to spilling over the edges of the lidless cube. Milton Croissant III's CARTOON POEMZ series is also quite interesting in the way the works blend cartoony images, 1980s-looking poster art, and high-art ideas like cubism into a coherent whole. (Szpiech and Bradley said they are planning a solo show of Croissant's work.) Through May 3, with closing reception.

Around the corner at Area 405, we find On Loan: FORMALITY, a huge regional show of student work juried by occasional CP contributor and longtime Bmoreart critic Cara Ober. The scope of work is stunning-ranging from Holden Brown's extremely realistic projected image of a window ("Window") to Erika Diehl's roughly beautiful oil-paint abstractions ("Seven Chinese Gardens" and "Southern Sink") to Samantha Rausch's breathtaking mixed-media installation ("Lux Aeterna")-and makes it clear that there is no dominant style or overwhelming fad among young artists in the Baltimore area. The show not only gives us hope for the future of art in the area, but it makes a strong case for the present, since almost none of the work comes across as juvenilia. In fact, not all of the artists are young. Raphael Warsaw, who has five finely controlled striped paintings, is in his 70s. Ober will give a juror's talk on April 20 at 1 P.M.

And it is not just warehouse spaces making the room for art. Jordan Faye Contemporary continues its impressive run since moving to Mount Vernon with Captured Temporal Beauty, a show of paintings by Sunny Gibbons, and digital print, silk screen, and collagraph works by Michelle Dickson, who took a dyed wedding dress and documented it as she left it outdoors during a Massachusetts winter and then used encaustic, collagraph, or silkscreen to create palimpsests with the image. Through April 27.

All of this may be evidence, as New York punk-icon-turned-author Patti Smith recently pronounced, that no one who is young and broke and wants to be an artist should go to New York, where it would be all but impossible for galleries like Springsteen to spring up.

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