Last night at the Baker Artist Awards opening reception at the Baltimore Museum of Art, two STYLE favorites, artist Jowita Wyszomirska, whose drawing work we featured last year in Portfolio, and creative writer Timmy Reed, whose short stories we’ve published in both of our annual fiction issues, presented recent work as b-grant prize winners. (Congratulations, guys!)
Wyszomirska’s new installation, “Accretion”—staged in honor of the event—achieves the effect of a storm or a swarm of feathers and clouds, of leaves and wings, coming for the viewer in one alarmingly, darkly beautiful swoop. Reed’s live reading of “Birds and Other Things We Placed in Our Hearts,” the story of two lovers with literal gaps to fill—or not fill—had the audience laughing and wistfully sighing together, seemingly in synch.
Mary Sawyer Baker prize winner Paul Rucker’s exhibit greets visitors upon entry to the designated Baker area. Warning: His mannequins decked in tidily tasseled and colorfully patterned Ku Klux Klan robes will likely take your breath and make you dizzy. The variety of the figures seems to say: Where racism’s concerned, trust no one. There’s really no way to do justice to the effect of Rucker’s several mind-blowingly provocative pieces in a quick blog entry. But if you’ve given a lot of thought to the uprising and the state of race relations in Baltimore—and the nation—in 2015, you’ll want to take an uncomfortable look at his entire array of (amazingly original/historically complex) pieces. Rucker played cello last night, extending another wing of his robust talent. To begin, as he riffed and traipsed his bow over strings, he played a recording of his elderly southern mother reacting negatively to the news that gay marriage was now an option, in her own lifetime. Rucker was using the sway of music to help us process the sad conundrum. In this moment, too, the audience seemed as one.
Other Baker Prize winners are, for 2014, Chris Bathgate, Brent Crothers and Todd Marcus, and for 2015, Eric Dyer and Wendel Patrick, whose live piano performance, a reinterpretation of “Imagine” by John Lennon, definitely cast a spell. Other b-grant winners: for 2014, David Paul Bacharach and Ed Gross, and for 2015, Renee Rendine and Dominique Zeltzman.