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What's Up Magazine

Art with Attitude

Jan 13, 2011 12:31AM ● By Anonymous


Community outreach is a big part of the Contemporary Museum’s ambition, desiring to take on projects and exhibits that foster collaborations with local artists, curators, and Baltimore residents. Located just three short blocks from the Washington Monument, as well as the Walters and Peabody Conservatory, the museum has thrived in its current location. This year it is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a series of exhibitions, called Project 20, stretched out over 15 months and running through March 2011. “Unlike the Walters Art Museum, Visionary, or BMA, the Contemporary Museum is devoted solely to the art of our times,” explains Museum Executive Director Irene Hofmann. “The museum commissions significant artists from all over the world to come to Baltimore to produce new artwork. Often their art engages with facets of Baltimore history and culture, addressing many of the complex issues that we face in our lives today.”

Opening May 6th and running through July is Bearing Witness, curated by Exhibition Development Seminar students at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), under the mentorship of art historian Jennie Hirsh and Hofmann, featuring the work of artists Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry. A husband and wife team who have worked together since 1998, they were selected as solo exhibitors by George Ciscle, the Contemporary Museum’s founding director, one of 20 guest curators for the Project 20 celebration series of programs and exhibits. An interracial couple, McCallum and Tarry work in a variety of media that includes sculpture, painting, photography, and video and use large-scale public projects and performance venues. Previous solo exhibitions have incorporated the words “Endurance,” “Witness,” and “Silence” into their title. Seeking to create a dialogue concerning issues of race and social justice that take place in communities past, present, and future, the exhibit will reach out into the community by including additional venues for displaying McCallum’s and Tarry’s work. While the Contemporary Museum will be the primary exhibition site for Bearing Witness, MICA and various museums and galleries have been invited to also exhibit works by McCallum and Tarry as they relate to those institutions’ collections and missions. Potential sites at press time include the nearby Walters Art Museum, along with Maryland Art Place and the Maryland Historical Society.

Relatively new to the cultural scene, some locals have never ventured inside the Contemporary Museum. Hofmann says visitors can get the most out of their visit by “coming to the museum with an open mind realizing that our artists often employ in their art the materials and technology that is a part of our culture, such as photography, video, cell phones, computers, and so forth.” The celebration of its 20th anniversary is an opportunity to entice new visitors to learn about “contemporary art.” A visit to the museum just may challenge your previous conception of what defines the term art.