Baltimore’s art scene is, perhaps paradoxically, both celebrated and stealthy. A visitor with the right tour guide could leave the city thinking our DIY energy rivals that of Berlin or Brooklyn. Yet it’s more likely that someone can live here for years without so much as dipping their toes in the city’s alternative cultural offerings, especially the gamut of artist-run spaces that offer serious exhibition opportunities to an ever-expanding pool of artists.
A big part of that is visibility. So many of Baltimore’s best art spaces are politely folded into discrete storefronts and homes, tucked away on the third floor of warehouse buildings, or hidden down an alley. Another issue is timing. The vast majority of our best art artist-run venues are labors of love with irregular hours and shoestring budgets. A curatorial project might go on hiatus for a year or more, get gentrified out of their space, or dissolve with little or no warning.
Baltimore art is often less a collection of objects in places and more a collection of ideas or events at specific moments. Being in the right place at the right time is crucial to tapping into this city’s seemingly bottomless and oft-divergent veins of creative output. Artists have always shouldered much of the labor in presenting the work of their peers to the public and we want to recognize their efforts, especially in a city that needs more venues for artists to exhibit and opportunities to have their work viewed and collected.
With this in mind, the BmoreArt staff has put together a succinct list of ten reliable artist-run art spaces for anyone who wants to dig deeper into the city’s art scene. We tried to pick spaces indicative of Baltimore’s collectivist DIY spirit that one might not stumble upon casually, but that are professional enough to have regular gallery hours and that currently have shows on view. These spaces are distinct because they are run by artists—they are different from the commercial, collective, institutional, college, multi-use, or municipal non-profit art spaces that form an equally important part of the arts ecosystem here in town.
We’re just scratching the surface with these ten alternative art spaces, but we suggest you add them to your list of venues to check out in the next month, especially if you want a crash-course intro to the city’s artist-run art scene. For anyone wanting to know more about all the different galleries in Baltimore, check our online resource guide—it includes exhibition spaces and museums.
421 N. Howard St., Baltimore, MD 21201
Hours: Fridays and Saturdays, noon–4 p.m.
Current gallery space on Howard Street with director Michael Benevento
Current space team in the backyard, photographed for BmoreArt Issue 03 by Theresa Keil
In terms of both longevity and sustainability, Current Space stands out as a Baltimore success story. Current recently bought its own building and will be celebrating its 15-year anniversary in January. Offering Baltimore artists access to affordable studios and a darkroom as well as quality exhibition space, the artist-run endeavor has predictably seen a lot of participant turnover over the years. But the commitment and seemingly inexhaustible energy of its core members is impressive.
Director Michael Benevento (one of the founders since Current opened in a vacant building on Calvert Street in 2004) and associate director Julianne Hamilton presently run the space with You Wu, Brennan Cox, Emma Hill, Andy Shenker, Will Ryerson, and a revolving door of volunteers, studio residents, and other participants. It’s probably the best place in Baltimore for a newcomer to dive headfirst into the art scene.
Current’s storefront is about to be temporarily transformed into “The Gluegunheim” (get it?) in tribute to two other local DIY institutions: the Baltimore Rock Opera Society and Fluid Movement (longtime makers of wonderfully weird water ballet). That exhibition will serve as a bit of a retrospective for the performance collectives’ alt-craft aesthetic and will represent the Bromo Arts District in Light City’s Neighborhood Lights. Check out the opening reception on November 1 from 5:30–8:30 p.m.
See BmoreArt’s coverage of Current here.
235 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201
Hours: Saturdays 1–5 p.m. and by appointment
Resort gallery installation view of A Gentle Excavation, curated by Allie Linn
Installation view of Slow Drip: Adam Amram, Morgan Blair, Amy Boone-McCreesh, Michael Dotson, Rachel Hayden, Terry Hoff, and Cody Tumblin at Resort
Resort cheekily occupies the retro former storefront of a men’s clothing store downtown, carving out a crisp white cube for itself while preserving idiosyncrasies such as the tin ceiling and storefront awning. The gallery opened just last year, but already feels like one of the more mature artist-run spaces in the city, without sacrificing some of its decidedly youthful energy.
It’s the latest curatorial project from powerhouse artists and gallerists Alex Ebstein (an occasional BmoreArt contributor who previously ran the nearby space Phoebe) and Seth Adelsberger (with whom Ebstein founded their first gallery, Nudashank, a decade ago). The two have spent the better part of those 10 years not only advancing their own careers, but the Baltimore art scene as well—bringing much needed critically engaged artists and group exhibitions to the city as well as promoting Baltimore artists to larger audiences. If Baltimore has felt more a part of the “Art World” in recent years, Ebstein and Adelsberger are two big reasons why.
They’re presently showing three artists spread over two exhibitions: James Williams’ multimedia installation Color of the Day in the storefront project space and Ocarina of Time featuring Mary Anne Arntzen and Ryan Browning in the larger gallery. All three artists playfully blur the lines between depth/flatness and the graphic/painterly, and are on view until November 2. Stay tuned to Resort’s upcoming shows: at some point in mid-November they’re opening a solo exhibition of local visionary filmmaker/animator/photographer/illustrator Karen Yasinsky and it’s sure to be strange and wonderful.
Follow BmoreArt’s coverage of Resort here.
218 W. Saratoga St., 3rd Floor, Baltimore, MD 21201
Hours: Saturdays, 1–5 p.m.
Become Again install view featuring work by Mandy Chesney, Nick Simko, and Jasjyot Singh Hans at Terrault Contemporary
Objects of Desire: Amy Boone McCreesh in collaboration with Jess Hammer at Terrault
Terrault is one of many artist-run galleries that budded in the fertile ground of the Copycat building, but has since graduated to its current digs above Maryland Art Place. Its small, loft-like exhibition space packs a big curatorial punch—hosting a mix of tight group exhibitions and solo or two-person shows featuring mostly young, emerging artists from Baltimore and beyond.
Founded by painter Brooks Kossover out of his studio in 2014, Terrault grew under the nurturing of artist/organizer Carlyn Thomas, who took over for Kossover as he focused on music and eventually moved to Los Angeles. She now leads a small and dedicated crew of volunteers who take pride in the diversity of the gallery’s roster as well as its “particularly playful… mix of fun, risk-taking professionalism.” We couldn’t agree more.
What’s on view: Zevel, a solo show of photographer Zachary Z. Handler’s kitschy still-lives, through November 23.
Follow BmoreArt’s coverage of Terrault here.
1758 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217
Hours: Wednesday 5:30–8:30 p.m. and Saturday noon–4 p.m.
First of All, Farewell, works by Melissa Webb and John Ralston at Cardinal (photo by Michael Bussell)
Ada Pinkson, “Landmarked,” part of Hidden Paths at Cardinal
Cardinal offers artist studios and a sunny gallery situated in a quirky storefront on a quiet block of Bolton Hill. It’s notable for being a space whose projects always seem to invite some sort of participation beyond the act of viewing. Founded by artist/arts administrators Alexander Jarman and Ariel Cowan in 2017, Cardinal describes itself as “an arts space that’s never sure of itself.” In its brief run, that ethos has resulted in a lot of programming that falls outside of the usual domain of what a gallery does—various projects have seen Cardinal take on the role of indie record store, “protest banner lending library,” and currently a home base for artist tour guides to lead visitors around the surrounding neighborhoods.
This project, titled Hidden Paths, wraps up on November 8 with a guided walk around Druid Hill Park’s public works by artist/urbanist Graham Coreil-Allen. It starts at 7 p.m. and leaves from 2600 Madison Ave., about a 15-minute walk from the gallery.
Follow BmoreArt’s coverage of Cardinal here.
16 W. North Ave., Baltimore, MD 21218
Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, noon–4 p.m.
Singular Space by Liz Donadio and Shannon Collis at ICA Baltimore
HaHa: Rachel Debuque at ICA Baltimore
The ICA is probably one of the best examples of artist-run initiatives filling an apparent void in the city’s cultural scene. This artist-centric institution came about when Lou Joseph wanted a space to host a retrospective of his own work. He “sort of as a joke” created the Institute of Contemporary Art Baltimore to host it. But other artists’ and visitors’ reception and willingness to donate time and money turned it into a pretty convincing, high-functioning ICA.
In the intervening years, they’ve developed thoughtful exhibitions through studio visits, assisting emerging and mid-career artists with professional development resources and exposure. For beginning collectors, their Flat Files program is indispensable—offering a well-curated selection of affordable works on paper. The ICA has even put together its own list and map of recommended art spaces in the city which is free to pick up from their North Avenue headquarters.
BmoreArt recently reviewed painter Sue Crawford’s solo show of textile-like compositions, Lines Are Feeling Too. ICA will soon be opening a collaboration with the Pigment Sauvage Art Residencies, showing the fruits of a cultural exchange between Montreal and Baltimore artists.
Follow BmoreArt’s coverage of ICA Baltimore here.
212 McAllister St., Baltimore, MD 21202
Hours: Thursdays and Saturdays 1–4 p.m. or by appointment
MIMEOMAI: Paintings by Tim Doud at MONO Practice
Transom: Alex Paik at MONO Practice
MONO Practice is one of those singularly “only in Baltimore” places that will make you fall in love with the wild potential of this city all over again. Where else in the East Coast megalopolis can you walk five minutes from an Amtrak station, turn down a forgotten-looking alley, and find yourself across the street from a working farm in a carriage house, lovingly and meticulously carved into a minimalist live/work studio for an artist and gallery?
Founded by painter Ruri Yi, the space focuses on abstraction and reductive artworks. Neighbor and fellow artist/gallerist Rod Malin serves as co-director. Malin’s also the founder/director of nearby Guest Spot, and the two spaces will be cohosting their next project together, an inter-city collaboration with Tiger Strikes Asteroid NY titled Expanded Dialogue. The project will open at Guest Spot on November 8 from 6–8 p.m. and November 9 at MONO Practice from 1–3 p.m.
BmoreArt recently reviewed Tim Doud’s solo show MIMEOMAI, which flirts purposefully between graphic abstraction and representation of textiles.
Follow BmoreArt’s MONO Practice coverage here.
1715 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202
Hours: Wednesdays 5–7 p.m. and Thursdays 1–4 p.m.NOT ON VIEW: Works by Conrad Bakker, Eric Doeringer, Noah Fischer, Kang Seung Lee, Antoine Lefebvre, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Paul Soulellis, with selected materials from THE REINSTITUTE Research Archive & Library, including books, texts, and ephemera by John Cage, Juan Caloca, Sylvia Federici, Coco Fusco, the Guerrilla Girls, Martin Herbert, David Horvitz, the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, Miranda July, Sister Corita Kent, Zoe Leonard, Mess Hall, Occupy Museums, John O’Connor, Press Press, Public Collectors, The Reinstitute Press, Gregory Sholette, Temporary Services, W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), Kara Walker, Caroline Woolard, and more at Guest Spot at the Reinstitute.
DIRTIER WORDS: works by Robert Attanasio, Marta Buda, Karen Mainenti, Joe Nanashe, Michael Scoggins, and Allison Wade at Guest Spot at the Reinstitute
Guest Spot at The Reinstitute is the brainchild of artist Rod Malin, who in 2011 relocated to Baltimore from New York specifically for the project after founding and directing Brooklyn art space Transmitter. The Reinstitute, which Malin opened in 2013 after purchasing the Calvert Street rowhouse, offers short-term artist and curatorial residencies, exhibition space, a research library, and even a “self-accredited PHD.”
Guest Spot has been closed for renovations, and we’re excited to see it reopen. For the grand unveiling, Malin has partnered with both Transmitter’s NYC neighbor Tiger Strikes Asteroid and the aforementioned Mono Practice a block away. Their multi-venue exhibition Expanded Dialogue opens here on November 8 from 6–8 p.m. and will feature artists living and working throughout the Northeast corridor: Kat Chamberlin, Brian Michael, Doreen McCarthy, and Giulia Piera. We can’t wait to see what they’ve done with the place!
Follow BmoreArt’s Guest Spot coverage here.
Images courtesy of Guest Spot and BmoreArt
2420 Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21218
Hours: Friday and Saturday, noon–5 p.m., and by appointment
Lawrence Burney, “Roun’ the way: now, then, next” from Dispersive Archives
Opened in 2018, Waller Gallery supports Black and brown artists through exhibitions, talks, readings, and various other programming. Curator/director Joy Davis conceived of such a space in 2017 and got to work renovating the first floor of her Old Goucher rowhome and turning it into an exhibition space. The first show opened in April of 2018 with Nia Hampton’s photographs of Afro-Latinx communities in her solo show Drapetomania. (Hampton is also a BmoreArt contributor.) Waller Gallery has hosted six exhibitions since then, with solo exhibitions by Joaquin Esteban Jutt, Gerry Mak, Markele Cullins, as well as a few group shows.
Currently on view: Open Doors, a collaborative show with Make Studio, and Let the Dead In, featuring photographs, projections, and audio by Saida Agostini “to explore the mythology of black and brown bodies in Guyana.”
Waller’s upcoming events include a talk with painter Jerrell Gibbs, curator Tiffany Auttriana Ward of Mare Projects, and Davis about “The Importance of Black Run Artist Spaces” on November 2, 6–8 p.m. and a closing reception for the current show.
Follow BmoreArt’s Waller Gallery coverage here.
Images courtesy of Waller Gallery
2701 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. or by appointment Installation view at St. Charles Projects’ What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding, with works by Zoë Charlton, Sarah McCann, Cara Ober, Nickola Pottinger, Ben Quesnel, Cecilia Terlizzi, and Stewart Watson
Installation view of Christine Stiver: How Many Nipples Does a Horse Have?
Artist Dominic Terlizzi launched St. Charles Projects four years ago in a midcentury modern office building shared with Foundry Architects. The locale is a bit of a surprise in its context—as if a little piece of Glendale, CA had drifted into Victorian Charles Village. And finding one of Baltimore’s best galleries nestled in an office always feels like an unexpected joy. One huge upside of sharing the space with another creative business is access: the work is viewable whenever the architects’ office is open, making St. Charles Projects one of the only “9-5” art galleries in the city.
In terms of curatorial ethos, the gallerist has a penchant for work that’s both visually striking and critically engaged. Terlizzi has struck a nice balance of solo and group exhibitions presenting Baltimore-based artists in dialogue with the larger art world, out-of-town artists whose work speaks to a Baltimore sensibility, and ex-Baltimoreans enjoying success in other cities.
St. Charles is presently showing Caleb Kortokrax’s solo show Hand Eye, a suite of gorgeous trompe-l’œil paintings that combine Renaissance techniques with contemporary subjects and materials. Think realist renderings of day-glo collages and iPhone photos, all faithfully depicted in buttery oil paint.
Follow our St. Charles Projects coverage here.
Tucked into an 1870 Bolton Hill row house, Project 1628 is open by appointment but keeps a regular exhibition schedule. The gallery is owned by Marcia Hart, who also runs a furniture making workshop in the basement where she makes sleek custom pieces in wood and steel.
Project 1628 has a clean but charming vibe, and feels similar in many ways to Marianne Boesky’s former 64th street gallery housed in a 19th century New York brownstone. High ceilings, wood floors, original fireplaces, and natural light offer a casual and personal space for the artwork to breathe and for groups of people to gather in an intimate setting.
According to Hart, “The purpose of the gallery is to bring fine art and social interaction together in a setting where relationships and artistic exploration take precedence over commercial interests.” The gallery shows a range of artists who work in diverse materials and genres and seems open to working with emerging and established artists. Their website offers an archive of past exhibitions and one can sense a consistent aesthetic and commitment to artists in the regular offerings at the space.
Upcoming: Courtney Banh, Busy Susan [cotton rope coil / objects and interactions], with an opening reception Sunday, November 10, 2 p.m.–5 p.m.
Additional writing by Rebekah Kirkman and Cara Ober
Featured image: The back courtyard at Current Space