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Man’s Best Friend…Hiking Edition!

Towson University student Ben Gilbert shares with us his lifestyle of hiking with his dog, Sammy. He informs us how they began their hiking hobby and why they will continue to go on adventures and encourage others to do the same.

Mini Document About Towson Student and His Dog Taking an Adventure

Celebrate heritage with art!

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One of the many Mexicantown murals. Photo by jm3 on Flickr at https://flic.kr/p/8yRRcj 

Anyone who enjoys murals would surely enjoy paying a visit to Detroit, specifically Mexicantown. The Detroit News recently published an article regarding Mexicantown celebrating Cinco de Mayo through the use of public art. While Detroit is becoming known for their murals, it is no surprise that they went above and beyond to celebrate this holiday. Michael H. Hodges, a news and fine arts writer, attended the event and described how the, artwork consisted of murals up, “along West Vernor and Springwells, Lisa Luevanos’ viaduct mosaics, and ordinary wrought-iron gates of unusual delicacy and detail throughout the district.”Every year on May 5th Mexicantown, Detroit, celebrates annually to act as a constant reminder of how magnificent Mexican culture is.

While this years Cinco de Mayo celebrations included a creative contest which acted as a way of encouraging and motivating guests to come out and see the murals and other beautiful artwork, like Mary Herbeck’s whimsical, inlaid-ceramic chairs on Vernor near Casper. While I keep mentioning celebrating this holiday, it is importat to know what exactly the Mexican are celebrating. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated both here in the US and in Mexico because of when the Mexican army fought and won against the French army back in 1862 on none other than May 5th. To show off Mexican culture, what better way to celebrate than with art?

While Mexicantown celebrates with their many murals and festivities, Baltimore also partakes in celebration each year. The Creative Alliance program sets up a celebration annually which consists of music, food and of course, artwork! This year they celebrated by inviting people to come out and create beautifully crafted piñatas that represent Mexican culture. They also had food tasting of different types of Mexican food to celebrate their culture and introduce Americans who may not be familiar with the culture.

Aside from celebrating this holiday, the Creative Alliance is a program that brings forth people with artists from different cultural backgrounds to show off their art and participate in the events. They also include education programs that help individuals to engage in the creative process. They support and encourage local artists, and even try to promote these artists in Baltimore and hope that they will act as positive role models. The Creative Alliance is great for finding a sense of community and they always try to include anyone in the general public to come out and celebrate different heritages and cultures through the wonder of art.

The Creative Alliance partakes in exhibitions, music festivals, film festivals, art and workshops events, residency programs, community outreach programs, youth education and of course special events such as the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The existence of this program is such an important part of Baltimore as it is created to inform and teach others about art in all forms.

The festivities and celebrations of the Creative Alliance are located at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore MD 21224. This program also has an internship program which is quite handy especially for local artists trying to get their name out there and make a career of themselves, this is a great place to start. Or even if you are just a fan of art, you can check out their website to find out when they will be hosting more events.

How does art impact us?

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Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD. Photo by Sarah Stierch

Typically when you see or hear about a library you don’t think of it as public art. Recently, however, many libraries are seeking out artists to help them paint walls, create murals and art in general to welcome people in and make the look and feel of the library more friendly and welcoming. Recently, the Dallas Public Library committee set out for new artists to hire them to paint trash cans and walkways to create a friendly atmosphere especially towards children.

I may be the only one who thinks this way, but personally I have always associated libraries with a sort of strictness and blandness, not so much as colorful. Teresa Gubbins, the journalist who wrote the article about Dallas’s public library who are looking for artists, described how the prize money for these artists is a whopping $2,000. This is a great deal especially for artists who may not be professionals because it will be a great location to show off their work and be recognized by anyone who visits the library. The Dallas Public Library and the Office of Cultural Affairs staff will be choosing the artists in the near future to determine whose art will be recognized.

Likewise, Baltimore’s Public Library, The Enoch Pratt Free Library, also decided to reinvent their walls with art. The Enoch Pratt Free Library took applications from local artists to hang art up on the walls and renovate the design of the library for a more modern and appropriate feel. This library first opened to the public in 1900, so needless to say it was time for a change. The renovation started in 2016 and has been upgrading ever since, including interior design and public art hanging on the walls and in every room.

You may be thinking, how does the art actually make a difference though? Well, I had the same question myself, so I decided to take a friend to this library and ask their opinion on how the art made a difference. I asked Towson University student, Jason Hopkins, his thoughts on the hanging wall art and design.

Me: “Did the art you saw on the walls create any type of atmosphere?”

Jason: “It definitely created a more lighthearted mood, especially in the kid sections. It created a warm and friendly environment, which I think is what they were going for here.”

Me: “Would you say the art was a key component to bringing in new visitors?”

Jason: “I would probably say that the art wouldn’t necessarily be the one and only reason for why people would visit the library, but I would say rather that the art would definitely be a reason for people to keep coming back. If there was no art hanging on the walls, the building would be boring. But with the art, you always have something to look at and admire.”

Me: “Do you think every library should consider taking in local artists to renovate the walls?”

Jason: “Oh for sure, I think that goes everywhere. Whether it’s your work place, the doctors office, the dentist, anywhere, you will always find art hanging on walls. Sometimes, I think, most of us don’t realize how different the world would be without just little framed art or paintings on walls. When children walk into the dentist scared and nervous, seeing a drawing or painting of a giraffe helps them calm down and make it seem as though they aren’t in such a scary place after-all. Art creates a warm environment, and without it in public locations, the world would be a boring place.”

After speaking with Jason about our visit, he made some interesting points about art that hang on walls in our everyday lives. Even in the halls of Towson, the University we both attend, you will always find forms of art as you walk around. Bland walls would create bland moods, but art spices up your life in ways you may not realize.

Light up your night at Light City!

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Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a well known spot for tourists because of the events that take place now and again. Recently, Baltimore started a new tradition, called the City of Lights. Devin Bartolotta, a reporter for WJZ’s radio station, went to report about the event to give more insight about this new tradition.

The City of Lights started three years ago and is booming with more than 470,000 people  in attendance. What is it you ask? Light City, in my own words, is a place to walk around and view beautiful and abstract art sculptures, creations, music and more all for the public to see for free. Bartolotta explained how Light City brings thousands upon thousands of people together to celebrate art, innovation and creation as there is always something cool to look at every time you turn your head.

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There are so many different attractions, specifically 21 new light installations. Each attraction is created by a different artist, and each artist that was able to show off their work was hand-picked by the staff who run this event themselves. All you have to do is apply online to see if you can present something interesting to get selected to show off your art. The event’s theme this year was called, “More Love, More Lights” which spreads such a positive message to inspire everyone to attend and appreciate the art and light displays.

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This annual event happens every year in April, so in case you missed this years weekend of lights, there’s always next year! As I mentioned, this years show started April 14 and ended the 21st. Of course I just had to go to experience it myself and I can tell you first hand that this is an event you’ll want to check out, no matter your age. It would be a great place to visit if you are travelling or coming from out of state because there is just so much to do with different food venues and art attractions as well as the bands that make appearances to perform and the merchandise you can purchase to promote the event and show you attended.

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Baltimore’s Office of Promotion and The Arts (BOPA) produces Light City each year. BOPA is a non-profit organization that takes part in Baltimore’s art council, film office and events agency and on behalf of all the attendees of Light City, I speak for them when I say they really put together something special here.

BOPA has awarded more than $2 million back to local Baltimore artists since the festival’s inception and last year created $44 million in economic impact with one billion media impressions for Baltimore. They give local and not-so-well-known artists a chance to be heard and for so many to see their hard work and creations. To show support of the event and be a part of the excitment, more than 60 buildings surrounding the Inner Harbor participated by putting up different lights on the outside of their windows and walls which you can see from miles away. Every year the event gets bigger and better, so make sure you don’t miss the next one!

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Graffiti Alley or Rally?

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It’s no surprise that graffiti can be seen in one of two ways; street art, or vandalism. Everyone interprets it in a different way. Now obviously since spray painting curse words on a work building is not what most would consider art, laws have been established of where it is legal and illegal to do so. For example, Byron Bay (Australia) is known for their overwhelming amount of street art and murals. However, Byron Shire News indicates the graffiti is currently on lock down as the Council’s Public Art Panel created a new Draft Public Art Policy . This policy basically says they are now banning street art in mural form and only accepting art in sculpture form. Banning graffiti art raises much controversy because it is close minded to the fact that some people wish to express their art abilities through murals on walls for the public eye to see.

Similarly, Baltimore, MD holds laws against graffiti and murals on walls as it is considered vandalism. You can get up to three years in prison and receive a $2,500 fine for spray painting on basically every corner of the city. Except one. Graffiti Alley is the only place in Baltimore where graffiti is legal and encouraged. As a result of allowing one corner of the city to be “vandalized”, Graffiti Alley has turned into one of the best hotspots of Baltimore where many people go to take artsy pictures with colorful backgrounds.

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Many local photographers will use this location as their setting due to the overwhelming amount of art that has been created on the walls by a plethora of people. In fact, when I was there for just a short time of 10 minutes or so, several people were out taking professional pictures, and three people were in the makings of creating more graffiti art. It is a place to express yourself and show off your art abilities without worrying about getting in trouble with the law.

When visiting Graffiti Alley, the colors were so vibrant that it creates a warm and welcoming environment. If you actually take the time to look at the paintings, it is so much easier to appreciate the work that went into it and the creative ideas behind it. Even just visiting the alley for a few minutes will open your mind to new ideas and get your creativity juices flowing. It is perfect for taking awesome pictures with such a fun background.

Before the alley was created with such amazing art work, the alley was known as one of the most dangerous alleys in Baltimore with many shootings and scandals. However, when graffiti became legal in this alley, the entire atmosphere completely changed and there has not been any recent crimes in the alley since. This just proves the power art has over people and places.

The best thing about the alley is that if you are planning a trip to walk around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Graffiti Alley is just 10 minutes out! The location of Graffiti Alley can be found on Google Maps here. The best way to describe the location is across from Baltimore’s Motel 6 and next to the United Sanitary. It’s a great spot to appreciate some free art and take perfect pictures.

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