i’m just back from a long week in Baltimore. this year i made sure my summer visit coincided with ArtScape, the largest free art festival in America and one of my favorite summer events (besides thunderstorms and sailing at night on the Chesapeake Bay).
just to clarify – this art festival is no joke. it attracts artists from all over the country and sees upwards of 350,000 people in attendance. this year George Clinton, Michael Franti, and Shorty Trombone were headliners. there were also Symphony performances, professional dance troupes, very well organized roller skating street performers, experiential installations, skilled artisans, jewelry makers, potters, silk screeners, painters, illustrators, gourmet food trucks, etc, etc, etc..! this is not some craft show, this is serious business. and it’s all free and open to the public :-)
by some unspoken law of the universe, the weekend that ArtScape falls on always happens to be the hottest weekend of the summer. it’s the one weekend when hundreds of thousands of people pour out into the center of Baltimore to party together. and each year, after barely surviving hours in the sweltering sun, 98F with 95% humidity, we all swear off ArtScape for good. then the following year we’re right back out there doing it again. but who can blame us? it’s a damn good time! as soon as the music strikes up in the nearest outdoor arena, the crush of people just starts swaying in rhythm together. everyone is out to have a good time.
this year the theme was water (the irony was not lost on me). there were elaborately decorated misting tents, water-like installations and sculptures strung up all over the place, boxes of water being sold, a giant hammerhead shark constructed from plastic water bottles, art cars decked out with sea creatures and other water-inspired paraphernalia… WATER! it was a bit strange for me to see water being sprayed into the air and streaming down into storm drains, but i was told they’d already had too much this year. so far this year it’s been raining so often, they have more water than they know what to do with.
it was hot, humid and hazy, and we had some thunderstorms. but i got my culture fix. can’t wait to do it again next year :-)