The Mail: 10/21-10/28

Soderberg's "art Nazi mentality"

Brandon Soderberg's review of the Baker Awards recipients (Feature, Oct. 14) seems so tunnel visioned as to be useless. It appears his own disposition as to what art is permitted to express must follow his dictates or shouldn't sully the hallowed halls of the BMA. Obviously the lesson of meeting a work of art on its own terms without entering one's own biases is lost on him. Such descriptors as "terrible," "too sincere," that one particular artist is "the worst of the winners," and about a particular piece by this same artist ". . . it's possibly the worst piece of art I've ever seen in a museum of the BMA's caliber" do nothing but express his own form of art Nazi mentality and do nothing to open doors for the viewer. He goes on to compare the artists across genre, which seems just plain stupid. Try comparing Klee to Vermeer and see how far you get. Some artists have a political/social aspect to their expression, and some do not. It is not a requirement for the art to be of worth. Not content with mean-mouthing the artist's enough earlier in his "review," he decides one last kick to the head is necessary at the end of the article, referring to two of the artists as ". . . heady, no-stakes conceptual dweebs . . ." who should ". . . pull their heads out of their asses. . . ". Wow, now that's enlightened writing. As far as art criticism goes, this review can be best summed up by the reviewer's initials: BS

Dan Herman (not just another dweeb artist)

Baltimore

Looking for more in the Autograph Playhouse story

What the heck is up with Mia Loving's story (Feature, Oct. 14) on the Autograph Playhouse in Old Goucher?

I live very close to the theater and was disappointed that the space seemed to rise and fall so quickly. I've only heard rumors about its demise, and when I saw this article I was expecting to learn more.

This was a very poorly sourced article, which does not even mention that there are new owners of the theater (coincidentally it's a theater technology company, which, judging by its website, has a completely white staff [Ed. note: Figure 53 is the company]). It also failed to give those who apparently denied the former theater owner funding a chance to respond. It would have been really nice to have that information.

I get and agree with the writer that this town has a real issue with supporting arts endeavors owned/operated by people of color, but this article did not even get close to proving that.

I applaud the City Paper for at least attempting to cover race and the arts, as I believe that it has really failed to do so in the past. But this story is so weak that it makes the editors look like they are shoehorning stories into the publication so they can check off some diversity box on a form somewhere.

Andrew Waldman

Baltimore

Open Works organizers respond

I read with great interest your piece "SCUM (Segregated Communities and Upward Mobility)" in the Arts Issue out Oct. 14. However, I wanted to clear up some misconceptions presented in the article about Open Works, the makerspace being developed on Greenmount Avenue. Your article dismisses the project as a "big idea" without any substance behind it. To the contrary, we have been working on the ground in Greenmount West and Johnston Square for two years now developing partnerships with community groups, universities, youth education programs, public schools, government agencies, and the maker community. At our community groundbreaking event on Sept. 22 (which you didn't cover), 22 of these community groups participated. In partnership with Open Works, these community organizations and others will help us offer low-cost youth education and workforce development programs alongside our membership opportunities, which will be available at a variety of price points.

Our mission is to help break down many of the barriers you rightly describe in your article; to criticize it without knowing the facts is misleading to your readers. We look forward to serving our neighbors and the city at large.

If interested, I welcome the chance to sit down to have a deeper discussion, and will happily put you in touch with any of our community partners.

Mac MacLure

Managing Director, Baltimore Arts Realty Corp.

From the Web, Facebook, and Twitter

"Billie Taylor's Autograph Playhouse saga illustrates where city support ends for black-owned spaces"

I was very closely involved in the historic, insane, last-minute, truly epic effort by city officials, theater companies, volunteers, and other folks to help the owner pull this incredible theater out from a death spiral.

There's quite a lot more to this story, and very different reasons for the failure of the organization than what this article would leave a reader to believe. You might want to dig a little deeper and ask some other people who were involved before drawing conclusions on why it collapsed.

—"theaterguy," Oct. 14

@theaterguy: Dig a little deeper? Um, you say you were "closely involved," yet even though you are commenting anonymously just like me you fail to provide any facts that counter this article, and you most certainly could. How about speaking the heck up and instead of being ridiculously vague. Otherwise, this is the story that has value. I too was aware of this history and lived one block away at the time and, while there's always more to say, everything in this article is true!

—"bmorehuman," Oct. 15

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