Tagged: Baltimore

It’s called an art festival, but it’s really a big party. Artscape is Baltimore’s big summer weekend of arty displays and free performances. It’s worth the trip for me to ride the MARC train, especially since it drops you off at Penn station, smack in the middle of the event. If you can ignore the standard-issue carnival food vendors and tents from corporate sponsors, there’s a lot to discover.

Artscape 2014
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Artscape 2014

Dozens of hand-made human-powered vehicles meandered the streets of Charm City this weekend, veering through sand, mud, and even plunging in to (and out of) the harbor. The Kinetic Sculpture Race is an event unique to Baltimore, and a perfect fit for Charm City. Its sponsor is the American Visionary Art Museum, itself a perfect fit.

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Inside Homecoming Queen Fifi

This year I took advantage of MARC’s new weekend service to travel from DC. It’s a much cheaper alternative to Amtrak, but the earliest you can arrive at Penn Station is 10:05am. That was too late to make the opening ceremony on Federal Hill, so I took the 11 bus straight to Canton Waterfront Park. The stop before Penn Station – Baltimore’s main train hub – is the West Baltimore stop, which is technically closer to Federal Hill than Penn Station, but the neighborhood is bombed-out without the best transit options. » Continue Reading…

The Kinetic Sculpture Race is a mobile art display as only Baltimore can do it. This past weekend, 37 teams built vehicles powered only by their own legs. The creations had to traverse 14 miles, up and down hills, not to mention a plunge into the Baltimore Harbor, through a sand pit and even a mud pit. The American Visionary Art Museum guides the event, now in its 15th year. The morning starts with a raucous blessing of the pilots, after which the teams runs down the grassy slope of Federal Hill and climb aboard their vehicles to start their journeys. These photos show some of the creative entrants I saw as I followed the race through Baltimore.

2013 Kinetic Sculpture Race
Get Tanked in Federal Hill
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It’s always a treat to see Baltimore’s creative community in action. Artscape is a weekend of artistic madness that takes over several streets. I took the MARC train to Penn Station, which is right next to the festival; you can see the Ferris Wheel as the train approaches the Charles Street bridge. At last year’s Artscape I was introduced to the awesomeness that is the Baltimore Rock Opera Society; thank the Party God they returned, this time with their Monster World show. The highlight of the show was seeing Mr Boh (the mascot of National Bohemian beer) brought to life, and then seduced by a giant bag of Utz potato chips (recalling Smyth Jewelers’ iconic billboard of Mr Boh proposing to the Utz girl). But the most astoundingly absurd piece of imaginative theatre was the AutoSpa. Organized by a group of artists from Pittsburgh, the 15-minute experience required three people to enter a car which was driven into a tent, where actors treated the car to “an entire body treatment.”

The Iron Lady
“Face Forward” robotic head, by Christian Ristow

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