Sunday, May 12, 2013
Screen Painting Baltimore 2013
Painted window screen, Baltimore
Painted Window Screen, In situ, Baltimore
I made my first real trip to Baltimore this past week, staying with a good friend in his row house in the Federal Hill district. We made a trip to the American Visionary Art Museum, a museum for folk and outsider art that I've wanted to visit for years. Among the many wonderful things I saw was an exhibit of screen art, a way of painting on window and door screens so that from the street you see a scene(usually bucolic), but from the inside, you have an unimpeded view out, privacy, and ventilation. The art was not my favorite kind of folk art, but I was touched by the artists and the movement(which has largely died off, but is still an important part of Baltimore's art scene).
The row houses, 12 feet wide and sharing the walls of the row houses next to it, open directly onto the street with only a stoop to step down from. The front room is separated from the sidewalk by brick and glass; no lawn, no fence, no yard, no porch. The screen art is a brilliant way of providing privacy and comfort and at the same time offering up the magic we need and love so much--images that speak to our fantasies and desires, in this case rivers and waterfalls, trees and mountains, swans and elk, lighthouses,small snug bungalows. For me personally, it was an enforcement of all that I believe in as an artist: a strong and vibrant community of artists and art that matters. So often in the world of contemporary art I feel so much isolation and loneliness that it did my creative soul great good to find art that had such a clear and comfortable place in the world.