"A Man, a Rooster and his Art Car" the best of Artscape 2008
Baltimore, MD - WOW, WOW, WOW! Artscape 2008, touted as the "Largest, Free Arts Festival", may have hit a home run this year by going back to some of the things that made it cool and adding funkiness along Charles St.! Maybe it was blessing in disguise when Artscape organizers had to figure out a way to accomodate everybody and everything when they lost that big vacant parking lot this year (you know, where the Food Vendors are usually found). Maybe it forced the Artscape cronies to finally think outside of the box but more importantly just to THINK. By pure accident or design, I don't know, but Artscape 2008 gets big thumbs up, it's a Baltimore thing again...
First off, the Artguy really is glad to see some of the familiar faces and their Artcars that made Artscape pasts so popular. Most Artscape visitors from even the furthest suburbs, probably associate Artscape with Artcars or vice versa. Artscape 2006 and 2007 each had their Art Car "snags". Do you remember this from 2006, "City Paper received a letter from Linthicum-based art car designer and visionary artist Conrad Bladey noting that, despite the fact that art cars had been officially eliminated from this year's official festival activities in favor of non-gasoline-powered vehicles, some art cars were indeed allowed to be part of the program." Baltimore CityPaper articles, The Final Tiff in the Great Artscape Art Car Altercation Of 2006 and Carless Culture and Doug Retzler. Nice idea, but who in their right mind would think up of such a scheme, c'mon, how on earth will a new electric, hybrid or whatever other than gasoline powered vehicle owners would turn their new shiny thing into an Art Car! This actually got a triple WTF rating back in 06. Read the articles, and you'll find out THEY still let in gas powered vehicles and never told the Art Car guys. We're just happy they're back!
The new area on Charles St between Mount Royal and North Ave's just rocked, like the old days, all day and through the night, fun fun fun. It's hard to describe the atmosphere, but picture this. You get to the intersection of Mount Royal Ave and Charles, look north on Charles and see art at work as far as the eye can see. First on the corner was the DJ Culture Stage AND Food Vendors, good combo, great dancin' crowd and awesome sounds. After you're finished there, you start walking up Charles, you pass a few vendors but they were set up maybe 2 to a "space", which I think brings back some sense of humanity into the process. It's nice to see 2 or more vendors sharing a space as well as the blistering heat and all with a smile. Another few hundred yards and you get to the Art Cars. Like I said earlier, happy to see the familiar faces and Art Cars back at Artscape en masse with plenty of new comers. Very thankful to the Artscape organizers for this.
After the Art Cars, you get to a section of "Performing/Performance Arts", but not the kind grandmother would get involved with. One could describe it as almost like a "petting zoo circus freak show", lots of different things and lots of interaction. Feeling like, a photo, it's there, gotta sing in a band, it's there, want to see some out-of this-world weird stuff in a jar of liquid, it's there, wanna see some spaceship, it's there and more! It was all there, and everybody was having a great time.
Next up on Charles, the UB Stage area. It calmed down a bit here. You could find the "healthier" food vendors, relax and listen to some groovy music on the UB Stage. But! But BUT BEST of all, if you wanted to see 2 of Baltimore's more fabled hangouts, all you had to do was look for the Charles Theatre on your right or step into the THE Club Charles on your left! AWeSOME!
So, I know what you're asking, "How 'bout the rest of Artscape?" The rest of Artscape can be best described as the rest of Artscape nothing noteworthy. Maybe too many "Sponsor Booths", you know which ones, the really realy big tents... However, I did find it rather odd not seeing an "almost Baltimore Icon in his own mind", Robert McClintock and his very distinct and very Baltimore art work. Nine years in a row Robert has applied, been accepted and hugely successful, but not a tenth, sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious to the obvious. If Robert McClintock's work was not judged to be in the top 5 of photographers at Artscape or in the top 120 or so artists accepted, well then, they either had a fool for a judge or they started using the Braille method of judging artwork.
I had a good time at Artscape 2008, can't wait to see if they keep going in this direction, or come up with that next BIG thing for 2009! Have a nice day...