Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia Art

by Ann Erskine


Baltimore Exposure: An Art Show in Office Buildings!


As part of the revitalization efforts in Downtown Baltimore, a program has been initiated to display local artists' original artwork in the street-level windows of vacant buildings and in the lobbies of selected office buildings. The program, called Baltimore Exposure, is being facilitated by a local curator and by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore (DPOB) which is a non-profit, area improvement corporation. The local BOMA (the Building Owners and Managers Association) is lending support through publicity and donations of manual help. The program is made financially possible by grants from the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture and the Maryland State Arts Council. There will be an opening reception, July 6, 2000, to coincide with the Downtown Spring Festival and the work will remain on display until sold or until building development plans change.

Displayed artwork will improve the appearance of the Downtown area and maintain a pleasant image. It will distract from the negative effect of vacant spaces and empty windows. It is hoped that the artistic works will encourage passers-by and downtown employees, who may normally not be artistically influenced, to appreciate the work of local artists and to consider the role of art in everyday life. It will offer an opportunity to artists for exposure and possible sales.

To precipitate the art show in April, a "call for artists" was published by a local arts organization, the Fells Point Creative Alliance, and by an on-line arts service, FINDART. Twenty-five artists responded for 10 available positions. During May, the curator selected from bios and samples of artwork the ten artists who would be exhibited in Baltimore Exposure. The Planning and Urban Design Manager of DPOB, Marshall Snively, contacted the buildings managers of five class A office buildings. He proposed the art show and finalized spaces within each building that could be used for exhibits. The curator then contacted the building managers to have selected artists approved and to establish the necessary display techniques and equipment.

During June, the artists themselves were responsible for providing wire, nails, etc. in exchange for a stipend. All artwork is for sale and any sales are coordinated by the curator. Each building has a display of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional work. Where possible, there is artwork displayed in vacant, street level store windows.

The artists will be present at the reception to discuss their work and to meet with the community. After the reception, the work will remain on display and it is hoped that passers-by and downtown employees will appreciate and inquire about the artwork. The desired audience includes tourists visiting the downtown area, employees working in and around the buildings there and residents who utilize the services of businesses in the downtown area.

To publicize the Baltimore Exposure Art Show, copies of the project proposal were distributed to local politicians, grant makers and newspapers. A guest list for the opening reception included local businesses, neighborhood activists and local politicians. Invitations were mailed and at the reception there will be a map available. A press release was also issued by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.


Read more columns on Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia Art by Ann Erskine in Resource Library Magazine

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/2/11

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