Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announced the return of Artscape, America’s largest free festival of the arts, on July 17-18 from 12-10 p.m. and July 19 from 12-8 p.m. centered on the 1200 block of Mount Royal Avenue and the 1400 block of North Charles Street. Artscape features visual art exhibits both on- and off-site; incredible live concerts on three outdoor stages; a full schedule of performing arts including dance, opera, theater, fashion and film, interactive family fun projects, children’s entertainers; and a delicious international menu of food and beverages available throughout the site.
Performers on the Main Stage in 2009 include legendary singer Dionne Warwick July 17 at 8 p.m.; the progressive band Cake July 18 at 6:30 p.m.; funk, rock and soul group Robert Randolph & The Family Band July 18 at 8:30 p.m.; and pop and R&B crooner Robin Thicke July 19 at 6:30 p.m. The Festival Stage is the home area’s top local bands such as The Cheaters, Bio Ritmo and Whop N The Global Soul Revue. With support by the Baltimore Blues Society and the Baltimore Jazz Alliance, the Charles Street Stage hosts jazz and blues groups including Matt Wigler, Felicia Carter Quintet and Todd Marcus Orchestra.
The expansion onto the Charles Street Bridge and into the Station North Arts & Entertainment District continues in 2009 with a new “Midway II” exhibition offering performances, installations, sculpture and other art forms that create an alternative carnival midway. DIY highlights the Craft Mafia and other do-it-yourself crafters. For the first time, the Maryland Film Festival presents free shorts inside the Charles Theatre. Also, tickets will be available for purchase to the theater’s regular scheduled movies.
New in 2009, festival-goers are encouraged to bike to Artscape and park in the new Bike Parking Zone sponsored by the University of Baltimore located at Maryland Avenue between Oliver Street and Mount Royal Avenue. Volunteers from the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee will be on hand to organize the zone and offer giveaways. In addition, the new Baltimore Free Bus Shuttle will circle the festival site to help guests to get to various areas throughout the event.
The Lyric Opera House is the home of Dance at Artscape. Performances include the Acrobats of China and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.
Artscape Visual Arts presents on- and off-site exhibitions showcasing a diverse group of talented painters, sculptors, “art car” designers and more. As visitors walk throughout the festival, works of outdoor sculpture will be on display. The 16th Annual Art Car and Other Wheeled Vehicle Show, consisting of a mix of new cars and old favorites, returns to Charles Street. The artwork of the $25,000 winner of the fourth annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize will be on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the semi-finalists show takes place at the Maryland Institute College of Art galleries. The Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize, a fellowship for artists working in the Baltimore region, helps support the creation and development of new work.
The Artscape Artists Market has a wide selection of the best crafts and fine arts for browsing or purchase. More than 100 artists’ work display and sell glass, ceramic and wood items; drawings, paintings, sculptures, jewelry and photography.
Artscape’s Target Family Art Park, located in Pearlstone Park, has interactive arts and crafts projects. The park opens from 12-6 p.m. The Pearlstone Park is located across from the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
Talent competitions have become an important part of Artscape. The 20th annual Billie Holiday Competition and third annual Cab Calloway Competition takes place July 19 at 12 p.m. in the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, located at 1212 Cathedral Street. During the competitions, singers compete for top prizes and honor jazz legends Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway. Plus, jazz bands battle it out in the second annual Chick Webb Jazz Combo Competition July 18 at 3 p.m. in Everyman Theatre on the 1700 block of Charles Street.
In Fashion at Artscape, the five designer finalists take to the runway in the Sew Me What You Got Competition, presented by IKEA Baltimore July 19 at 6 p.m. Throughout the weekend, fashion lovers can shop for unique handmade items and watch fashion shows in this couture-filled area at the University of Baltimore’s Gordon Plaza at Mt. Royal and Maryland avenues.
Theater productions are the star of the Play’s the Thing, located at Theatre Project, 45 West Preston Street. Several of this year’s shows honor Edgar Allen Poe and Baltimore’s Nevermore 2009 Celebration with programs in recognition of the famed writer and poet. Theatre Project box office opens two hours before each show; limit four free tickets per guest.