Jack Livingston talks to Ric Royer, a performance artist, curator, and writer, about the new LE MONDO project on Baltimore’s West Side

In the early nineteen nineties I worked for DiverseWorks in Houston Texas. DiverseWorks, like numerous young art spaces around the country, was an artist run alternative organization dedicated to presenting work that challenged the art world. It was one of the most exciting and demanding jobs of my life. DiverseWorks started as casual idea between friends that then came to fruition, eventually on a large scale. Its formation was the work of an enthusiastic and, at times, naive collective, but the overwhelming support of the community made it the success that it was and remains to this day.

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Ric Royer and Carly J. Bales.

On Baltimore’s west side there is an arts district not yet as solid as the city’s much-heralded, now increasingly institutionalized Station North. The Bromo Arts District is anchored along Howard Street and a central spot for up and coming arts expansion, with much the same energy as the early days of DiverseWorks.

Besides the official Bromo Arts District employees, projects in this area are overseen by bevy of energetic people and offer many other options besides the city’s older established alt spaces. There is the long running Gallery Four, the appropriately named Current, the irony-laden Freddy, the collective Open Space, young and energetic Platform Gallery, the new hyper EMP Collective and more. Not far away on Saratoga Street, housed inside Maryland Art Place, is the godmother of the new West side scene: the long running 14Karat Cabaret.

Enter LE MONDO—a collective proposal of EMP Collective, the Annex Theater, and Psychic Readings.

LE MONDO hinges on the acquisition of three long unoccupied but promising buildings on Howard Street across from Current Gallery. Over time and working collectively, the goal is to create a large multi-purpose arts space where each organization can occupy and present work. The plans also call for a variety of other community components and it is a big proposal—but these are determined artists with a big vision. The buildings are solid but need an enormous amount of work.

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On Saturday, January 31, Carly J. Bales of EMP Collective and Ric Royer of Psychic Readings gave a power point presentation to the community based on what they knew so far and their plans for the future. They were seeking input. Forty people showed up and the ball is rolling. More community meetings are in the works, as there are a number of different issues surrounding the project.

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Ric Royer, a performance artist, sly raconteur, and savvy curator, had moved away four years ago and this was a loss for Baltimore. While he continued to do well with his performance work in NYC and elsewhere, his soul seems Baltimore bound. Now he has returned with new determination and a plan of action with LE MONDO.

Ric took time to answer my questions on the busy Saturday, January 31 morning at Bales’ home, where the two were frantically prepping for the fast approaching presentation. He provided an insightful interview about the LE MONDO project and also filled in his activities for the past four years and why he has returned.

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Rear building view.

Third floor facing back.

Third floor facing back.

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Second floor of second building facing towards the front.

Second-Floor of building-looking out on Howard Street

Second-Floor of building-looking out on Howard Street

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Third-Floor if the second-building looking at the front.

Looking down Howard towards buildings.

Looking down Howard Street  towards building project.