This week, the Gallery at Essex is debuting the latest exhibit, “Charm CityScapes,” which features artists who look at Baltimore architecture and how the city’s design can influence the stories of those living here.
“Charm CityScapes” is made up of seven different exhibits, each providing a unique perspective of Baltimore with artwork from artists Tiffany Jones, Julia Kim Smith, Patrick Joust, Greg McLemore, Rebecca Mutz, Dominique Zeltzman, and Dan Schlapbach.
Jones, a visual artist who received her BFA in photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art is revisiting “The Greatest City,” an exhibit spotlighting Baltimore’s ironic motto as the greatest city in America. The exhibit itself combines the imagery of Baltimore with the sounds of the city as local residents share their stories through audio recordings overtop of Jones’ artwork.
“In 2011 'The Greatest City’ was introduced. A project that addressed the irony of public city benches branded with the slogan, ‘The Greatest City in America.’ They lined the streets of West Baltimore, an area hindered by a reoccurring cycle of poverty, violence and drugs, while shedding light on the voices of the youth who illustrate an alternative perspective,” Jones said. “Revisiting this project in 2015, I go ‘Beyond the Bench’ in the same neighborhoods to expand the series in the wake of recent events that re-ignited discussions of violence and drug problems in Baltimore.”
Dan Schlapbach has assembled tin type photographs using a wet plate collodion process to explore a wide variety of subject matter and settings including Greenmount Cemetery, the chaotic construction on Eutaw Street, and the crumbling grandeur of the Mayfair Theater on Howard Street.
“The slow, methodic wet-plate process influenced my aesthetic concerns and compositional techniques,” Schlapbach said. “Instead of rapid-fire, instantly composed digital photographs, the resulting wet-plate images are more deliberately composed, carefully examining the history, culture and nuances of Baltimore streets and its citizens.”
With “Waiting for Something to Happen,” Dominique Zeltzman has created an exhibit which juxtaposes the drama of a potential crime with the monotony of the everyday routine. Zeltzman uses the periphery of Baltimore City surveillance footage in a video installation, scored by the artist’s mother with dementia telling stories of the neighborhood in the ‘40s and ‘50s. The artist and her daughter are also reading excerpts from an interview with the criminal defense attorney who supplied the footage.
“‘Waiting for Something to Happen’ creates an immersive and dizzying illusion of being at once voyeur and the focus of the circling camera,” Zeltzman said.
“Charm CityScapes” will be featured in The Gallery at Essex until December 2. A closing reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on December 1. Students are invited to come and mingle as well as speak to the artists behind each unique exhibit.