Issue 05 of the BmoreArt Journal of Art + Ideas Explores Diverging Conceptions of Beauty by Cara Ober

Beauty is complicated.
Beauty is polarizing.
Beauty is used as a weapon, especially  against women and people of color.
Beauty is radical self care.
Beauty is a dominant narrative of oppression.
Beauty is the sun on your skin, a breeze in your hair, the way the light filters through the leaves at dusk.
Beauty is suspect, a taboo in the art world, a sign of weakness or a lack of conceptual chutzpah.
Beauty is a democratic point of access to art and culture, an opportunity to develop a relationship with an artist’s ideas through direct visual means.

In our newest print journal, we asked a variety of Baltimore-based artists and creative entrepreneurs: What does beauty mean to you? What is its purpose and how can it be accessed? Who are the culture producers who explore and challenge the idea of beauty in their work? The list above represents just a few of the answers our team received.

Photo by Jill Fannon of Art Jewelry by Katja Topoorski

After spending six months with the notion of beauty, I can’t say I understand it any better than I did before starting this issue. However, it was such a pleasure to make that I don’t mind the ambiguity I still feel about the concept. The best part of making a new print issue, as an editor and publisher, is always the new artists and collaborators I work with, getting to know them and being blown away by the content they produce around a theme.

Issue 05 features visual and performance artists, as well as creative businesses and collaborative projects, all based in Baltimore. Featured artists include: filmmaker Margaret Rorison, fashion designer Bishme Cromartie, the Baltimore Concert Opera company, author Barbara Bourland, art jewelers curated by Shane Prada of the Baltimore Jewelry Center. It also includes the essence of a beautiful cocktail from The Bluebird’s Paul Benkert, abstraction and the sublime according to painters Carolyn Case and Dominic Terlizzi, Oyin Handmade mixtress Jamyla Bennu, three art-based publications, and superstar portrait painter Amy Sherald who broke the internet with her portrait of Michelle Obama.

Model Janae Edley wearing a Bishme Cromartie design at The Walters, photo by RaRah

This issue was an opportunity to publish the work of talented photographers, including Kelvin Bullock, Joseph Hyde, Rachel Rock, Justin Tsucalas, Olivia Obineme, RaRah, and Jill Fannon, whose take on Freakibana in conjunction with art jewelry is gleefully bizarre.

Writers include Bret McCabe, A.F. Oehmke, Mai Sennaar, Angela N. Carroll, Marcus Civin, Ellen Lupton, Arika Casebolt, Kerr Houston, and Rebekah Kirkman. We brought back our portrait series featuring ten Baltimore-based artists in  studios and local galleries, and were psyched to publish an illustration by Jasyjot Singh Hans, a recent MICA graduate who just had his work featured in the New York Times.

More than ever, I am thankful for the support received from local businesses, organizations, and institutions in their sponsorships and purchasing ads in our newest and most beautiful issue. I’m not sure if it’s clear, but this community of financial support keeps this magazine afloat and allows us to print it on the heavy-weight, decadent paper stock we’ve grown to love from Schmitz Press in Hunt Valley.

Our magazine release party is Thursday, May 10: 7-9 at the Engineer’s Club in Mt. Vernon, an otherworldly experience in historic grandeur. Our event sponsors are the Baltimore Concert Opera and the Engineer’s Club, with additional support from Glenfiddich, especially Tracie Franklin, Glenfiddich’s fantastic brand ambassador and passionate supporter of the arts, along with Pixilated, and Hotel Indigo. We especially want to thank the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation for their ongoing support for BmoreArt, without whom we would not exist.

After Thursday’s event, Issue 05 will be available at our website or through vending partners in the region (as soon as we can get them there!), including The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Ivy Bookshop, The Walters Art Museum, TROHV, Bird in Hand, Atomic Books, Area 405, Dovecote Cafe, Hunting Ground, MICA Bookstore, Modern Cookshop, Hotel Indigo, AVAM’S Sideshow, and The Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

The BmoreArt Journal of Art + Ideas is designed by Tony Venne and edited by Cara Ober and Bret McCabe, with proofing by David Crandall, Cassandra Miller, and Michael B. Tager.