The Baltimore Series
Baltimore isn't a city. Baltimore is a whole person. She wheezes and groans, and fills the air with home cooking and bus fumes. She's the ex you can't stay away from even though she broke out all of your windows. She wears no makeup to hide her flaws, and she's more beautiful because of it.
As an Outreach Worker, I spend my days in the darkest parts of Baltimore City. Stomping through the woods, navigating alleyway drug holes and climbing under the bridges, I'm in those shadows every day.
But the universe makes sure there's balance in all things.
So there's plenty of beauty buried beneath all this dust. There are flowers growing in the corners of those back alleys
"The Baltimore Series" of paintings is a celebration of light, and its relationship with the dark. The paintings are my reminder to myself, that one can't be without the other. There are no straight lines in real life. There's only light and darkness and color.
The only lines are the ones we imagine.
Baltimore wakes up slow. At 5 AM, The streets are mostly stationary shadows; hard angles that cut through alleys and spill across empty streets. The shadows that move fast or slow are either dope fiends nodding off in corners, or public transit commuters hustling downtown to get to work; halfway through their journeys from West Side or East Side already.
There's a good breakfast spot on Sharp street, right near the DOC and MCVET. Most people don't go there, and I'm glad. The left turn from Fallsway , heading towards downtown always catches my attention. I don't know where the light comes from at that time of the morning. It's the first of the sun and the last of the moon, and the lights from the city that reflect it all. Who knows. This is Baltimore. She generates her own light even when there's no apparent source.
Baltimore , however flawed, is held together by forward momentum. On its best days, Baltimore is a downhill unicycle; face forward, always wobbling. COVID was the pothole at the bottom of the hill.
While rich in culture and historical significance, the Johnson Square/ Greenmount West neighborhoods still suffer from the affects of redlining , the 1968 riots, and decades of neglect. But the people are the heart of this place, and the richness of the culture still flows deeply through these dark alleys and abandoned buildings.
The Belvedere Hotel looms over 20th century progress like a giant wedding cake left on the counter for too long. This turn-of the century building is characterized by it's Beaux Arts style of architecture. The heavily sculpted details over roofs and doorways , once a brilliant white, are now a buttercream color. Bits of paint are flaking off of the rooftop , and they look like old frosting.
This isn't a painting about The Belvedere Hotel though.
Dating back to the mid 1800's, this neighborhood has grown and changed with the city. Behind it all, however, remain bits of history. History that is revealed in the alleys, behind the facades of once grand mansions, and beneath the sidewalks. The Belvedere Hotel remains though.
Peeking over the shoulder of lesser structures, reminding us that the past can also fit very well in the present.
West Baltimore Street & Park Ave