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the street festival called artscape

Artscape 2001, where art becomes you!

The Pit Beef Crew at the Festival called Artscape 2001The Pit Beef Crew at the Street Fair called Artscape.  According to Artscape officials in excess of 1.5 million attended this years Street Fest, we say, mmmm, wait a minute.  If you break that down into hours of operation, 70,000+ people were coming and going every 60 minutes during the Street Festival!  Considering the Baltimore metropolitan area only has a population of 2.5 million, that's quite a claim.  I'm a realist and it just cannot be that in excess of 1.5 million attended this years Festival.  Think about it, if you are local, you know the new Ravens Stadium holds 78,000 people and if you have been there for a game, you know there is absolutely no way that many people can move in and out of the Mount Royal area on an hourly basis.  Have you been to any sporting or outdoor event that draws in excess of 75,000 and seen the difficulty of moving that amount of people into and out of a limited area.  Plus, the MTA Light Train (subway) ran through dropping off passengers every 10 to 15 minutes but each train can only hold a MAXIMUM 1,500 riders, then top this off with the very, very, very limited public parking available during the festival and you come to realize the numbers just can't add up or as they say in Louisiana, "THAT DOG DON'T HUNT".  (I guess the vendors will be paying a bundle next year, considering this years attendance) Food for thought...

  • to put it in perspective, each and every child, woman and man residing in the City of Baltimore would have to bring 2 friends that live outside the city in order to come up with the 1.5 million at Artscape
  • did you know the United States National Parks Service stopped estimating crowd sizes after the Million Man March a few years ago.  They estimated roughly 450,000 people attended the rally (arial photographs were used along with other techniques).  The organizers threaten to file a suit because they felt in excess of a million did attend the rally...
  • the historic and cool oasis in the middle of Artscape, the Mount Royal Tavern said, "this was the busiest year ever..."

The Street Fair called Artscape.Baltimore Sun Section E 7/13/2001 Headline: "ARTSCAPE'S LANDSCAPE REMAINS CLUTTERED... It's hard to sort the good from the bad and the interesting from the indifferent at the festival's exhibits." Sun Art Critic Glenn McNatt.  Can you believe a local writer would even think let alone say something that might be critical of a local celeb, talent or event!  We stand up and salute Mr McNatt for his insightful article and throwing a "semi hardball" every once in awhile (we're still waiting for that fast ball down the middle). 

Mr McNatt's article is like a breath of fresh air on an otherwise still and festering landscape.  It was a surprise to read an article about locals that was not somehow twisted and convoluted to make a faltering event acceptable and just part of the M.O.  Mr McNatt goes on to write, "I think Artscape's organizers need to thoroughly rethink the whole way they conceive and design their shows.  As things stand now, there always are too many different artists working in too many different styles on the same wall.  And the level of quality, even among works by the same artist is shockingly uneven."

On the other hand, City Paper Vol. 25 No.29 July 18 - July 25,2001 excerpt: "Variety Show: This year's Artscape exhibits span the region and run the gamut of media, material, and presentational style" ... "This year's Artscape consisted of thematic group exhibits so clearly defined that they're encapsulated by single word titles." City Paper, Arts & Entertainment writer Mike Giuliano.  It's a very interesting article covering just about all the art exhibits off the main site found around the city of Baltimore.  Mr Giuliano goes on to say, "After wearing out a lot of shoe leather seeing it all, you're apt to conclude Artscape 2001 was better planned than many past editions of the 20-year-old-event."  Here's were we agree with Mr Giuliano, you have to travel to many places, some far away to see all the exhibits and the main obstacle is you never hear about this stuff ahead of time to make any sensible plans.  I kept my eye out for the schedule of events and as usual the earliest you'll only find the program is the first day of Artscape.

Art Clocks and Left Overs by Randall Gornowich
Where's the Art, it was everywhere but so insignificant compared to the entertainment.  It's kind of sad that places like School 33 Art Center or Maryland Art Place (among others) may actually be looking at Artscape as their time to shine. 

    re: the past festivals
  • Last year we thought the "viewing stations" were getting quite boring and should probably be replaced with something new.  This year instead of viewing the assemblages through a sheet of plexiglass, you were forced to wait in line and view the art through a peep hole.  Problem was, whether it was through a sheet of plexiglass or peep hole, the same art is the same art is the same art...
  • I could not tell if there was a theme to the outdoor art this year. (past 2 years they had the 100 sq ft and 20 pedestals/sculptures)  However, it has become increasingly obvious that for some strange and unusual reason, the the same art by the same artists goes from the outdoors, to the indoors with a slight "twist in the middle", but is the same piece.  The sad part is the Artguy knows some of these people and their art, and if this is the best of the local talents, SOL Baltimore you gotta a ways to go.  To answer the question, does Artscape use the same "group" of artists in some of their "fine arts" exhibits, the answer is undeniably yes!!!
  • The Art Cars were bigger and better than ever this year.  After nearly being shut out at last year's Artscape for being "too outsider", they were back in full force.

We can't complain about the Street Festival called Artscape.  If you're looking for a bit more balance in art and entertainment, you can try the annual Columbia Festival of the Arts held every summer in Columbia Maryland.  It runs for a couple of weeks and they have quite a line up to entertain even the most bored mind and the setting is very relaxed.  However it's not free, there's a small admission charge but it's well worth it.

Our Take: It's the best Street Festival in the area hands down, no question about it and the best part is it's free!!!  Food, drink and free entertainment.  By entertainment we don't mean Billie Jo and cuz Sally doin' a sing along, check out the program it starts with Motown legend Smokey Robinson and ends with 'say it ain't so', a real artist, Ray Charles.  In between, Junior Brown, Koko Taylor, Hugh Masekela, Arturo Sandoval and to close the event salsa legend Ruben Blades.  That's just a fraction of the musical entertainers at the Street Festival, so when you complain about where's the art, about 1.35 million people will turn around and ssshhh you. 

Our Summary: I could never criticize someone for not being able to tell the difference between a frog and a toad.  In my eyes they are almost the same, if it looks like a frog or a toad, jumps like a frog or a toad, and slimy like a frog or a toad, it probably is a frog or a toad.  the street festival formerly known as artscapeBut, I would have a problem with anyone that could not tell the difference between a frog and turtle.  They look different, they move different, and they do not share many things in common, even a 2 year old would notice.  Maybe 20 years ago Artscape was about the burgeoning art community in Baltimore.  Today, Artscape is no longer about that part of Baltimore.  Artscape is about the diverse entertainment presented annually for 3 days and 3 nights in July.  It is an awesome block party that tons of locals look forward to every year.  But do not mistake it for what Artscape was suppose to be, let's start calling it by its real name, the STREET FESTIVAL FORMERLY KNOWN AS ARTSCAPE.

YWFN, we will see you next year...
Artscape 2002 - Creating Harmony by Tony Walker

Food Scape 2001
Artscape 2001 Pictorial (August 20)
much more about also see Artscape 1999 - Present et al
Your Comments Welcome

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