After an arduous journey full of political scandal and a series of would-be headliners, Artscape is finally here. I want to sidestep all that controversy, though, and say this: Baltimore artists deserve everything. Artists show us who we are — for better and for worse. They bring us joy, and they help us dream. When the lockdown stage of the pandemic hit, bringing shows, concerts, and exhibitions to a complete halt, local artists were deeply affected, and many are still recovering.
They still need much more support and respect from Baltimore’s electeds and leadership. At the same time, it has been nice to see so many performers, DJs, and other artists excitedly sharing flyers for parties and shows happening around Artscape.
It feels right, given this moment, that the city is honoring legendary artist André De Shields. The 77-year-old grew up here before going on to win countless awards and break through a remarkable number of barriers. He is simultaneously otherworldly and completely approachable. And he will be honored on September 21, just as Artscape activities are kicking into high gear.
“I left Baltimore in 1964,” De Shields told me when we spoke earlier this year. “And it’s always been essential to what I do in my life and in my career that people understand that I am who I am because I was made in Baltimore.”
September isn’t just when Artscape returns, it’s also National Recovery Month. To honor this occasion, writer Bry Reed reviewed Helen Elaine Lee’s “Pomegranate.” The book tackles the subjects of addiction, recovery, and incarceration with care.
Also in this issue, Baltimore Courtwatch pushes us beyond the criminal justice fantasy we are given into a reality that is actually far removed from anything that could be called just. We have more images created by young Wide Angle Youth Media participants. Dominic Griffin reviews Michael Jai White’s “Outlaw Johnny Black,” Iya Osundara Ogunsina has our October tarotscopes, and we have a poem from Writers in Baltimore Schools participant Brayan Orozco.