“There’s this youth culture that is really, really powerful and really, really strong, but what it does is it really discards people once they reach a certain age. I actually think that people are so powerful and interesting – women, especially – when they reach my age. We’ve got so much to say, but popular culture is so reductive that we just talk about whether we’ve got wrinkles, or whether we’ve put on weight or lost weight, or whether we’ve changed our hair style. I just find that so shallow.”
–Annie Lennox, who turned 60 on December 25, 2014.
After a discussion of Annie Lennox’s quote and others, we at BmoreArt decided that too often, we think and focus on today. We forget just how important the past is in creating the foundation for the present. In looking for historical records about our local cultural legacy, we have realized that the past, even the recent past, is not well documented. The few print magazines and newspapers that are left offer a broad and mostly shallow focus and online coverage is primarily concerned with the present and subsequently, younger artists.
In our recent experimentation with audio interviews with artists of a certain age or experience level, we discovered when engaged in comfortable conversation with some guiding questions, they not only talk of today and themselves but reveal an astonishingly rich past. These conversations included many other collaborators and various culture shifts, with a focus on the people and situations who led the way; not only other creative practitioners but administrators working within the context of differing times, as well as differing locations in Baltimore. These discoveries have not only changed the way we think about building a creative life and career in Baltimore, but have caused us to view established entities and organizations in a new and more empathetic way.
With this in mind BmoreArt will be increasing coverage that includes historical reference and documentation, starting by dedicating a year to the production and publication of the bi-weekly podcast Conversations, where we interview those who have made significant contributions to the arts and culture of the Baltimore region in various ways.
In so many ways, Baltimore’s art community is exploding with exponential growth, and, thanks to several strong college arts programs in the area, much of this expansion is happening within communities of 20-somethings. There’s so much energy and enthusiasm with a growing number of artists keeping studios, founding exhibition spaces, and creating cultural projects in Baltimore, but those 40 and older seem to be disappearing.
When you consider why Baltimore’s art landscape skews so young, one reason is that secure, professional jobs for the 30 and over crowd, complete with regular hours, benefits, and security, are few and far between. Despite the difficulties in doing so, there have always been a group of stalwart individuals who have chosen to build their lives in Baltimore and have made significant contributions to the cultural landscape.
Conversations: A BmoreArt Podcast Series proposed by Cara Ober, Jack Livingston, Benjamin Levy (we miss you, Ben Levy!!!), Lauren Van Slyke, Dwayne Butcher, Rebecca Juliette, and Jermaine Bell has been funded by The Warhol Foundation, administered as a Grit Fund Grant from The Contemporary in Baltimore.
This new series will feature 26 bi-weekly episodes coordinated by Managing Editor Jack Livingston with a diverse group of artists, curators, collectors, and administrators who have made significant contributions to the arts and culture of Baltimore. By chronicling the lives of these individuals, the podcast will examine their goals, strategies, and struggles in shaping the culture of the region from the past to present.
BmoreArt has long been dedicated to creating opportunities for professional growth and exposure for area artists, as well as cultivating relationships between the art community and a larger general audience, and this is an unprecedented opportunity to continue this work.
Each episode will be made available for free on the BmoreArt website, and though our sound cloud channel where it will be downloadable. After broadcast it is to be stored and cataloged online on BemoreArt.com. Digital copies provided to the Pratt Library for archival purposes and future indivual access by the public. We have been considering this project for some time and are looking forward to producing these episodes with great anticipation.
The history of Baltimore arts and culture and those who made it is quickly forgotten. It is a rich history with various groups and movements that have shaped the Baltimore we live in today, and our goal is to illuminate many of the significant hallmarks of a collective past.
Authors Cara Ober and Jack Livingston are really looking forward to releasing our first Podcast this Wednesday !