In classic Smalltimore fashion, newly elected City Councilman Ryan Dorsey and his girlfriend, the artist Erin Fostel, were both born at Baltimore’s Sinai Hospital in November 1981. Their unacquainted mothers even shared a recovery room. The kids later crossed paths at St. Francis of Assisi in grade school, but wouldn’t meet again until 2014 after Erin randomly messaged Ryan on Facebook to thank him for leaving a nice note in her art show registry 10 years before. After they reconnected, they didn’t disconnect. Two years later, the couple, both 35, share a house in Mayfield.
I talked to them about work and love.
Erin, what makes you two work?
We are both independent people who are very passionate about our professional goals. Being in a relationship with someone who understands and respects that drive is incredibly important.
Ryan, how are you guys alike/different?
Neither of us would recognize boredom if it walked right up to us. We agree that Baltimore is the most awesomest place, but that it has a lot of serious problems, and that we can help make things better.
Erin, same question.
We both place a lot of value in a good sense of humor.
Ryan, you were formerly working for Soundscape, your family’s business. How’s the new job so far?
I love what I’m doing. I’ve never done anything so important, and nothing else has ever given me such a sense of purpose. There’s so much to be done every day, in terms of constituent service and advocacy for my district , continued relationship-building and trying to improve a city with a terrible history of discrimination and civil rights violations, insider politics, inequity and injustice.
Erin, what are your artistic plans for 2017?
I have three solo shows in 2017—at Terrault Gallery, Goucher College and Creative Alliance. So I am, and will continue to be, very busy working in my studio. I primarily work in charcoal and am currently making a series of drawings of Baltimore architecture, depicting buildings like the Clifton Park Bandshell and the old North Avenue Market. My life goal for 2017 is to carve out time to volunteer.
Ryan, what is it like newly living together?
My house has never felt so much like a home as it does with Erin in it. We are still both super busy, so we make plans to do things together and spend those few extra moments when we can. They’re the moments that make you late for work … but they’re worth it
Erin, how will you two spend Valentine’s Day? Is that a big deal?
Neither of us make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.
Ryan, you agree—no biggie?
Nope, I am special every day.
So, you’ll both stay home and make dinner or something?
[Erin speaking:] Since dinner at home is a rare occurence, that would be a special occasion!
[Ryan:] Okay, I’m looking forward to making dinner together.