The renovations to the BMA’s contemporary wing were completed a little while ago, but I still hadn’t had a chance to visit it. So when friends came up from Virginia for brunch, it was the perfect opportunity.
As part of its renovation, the museum commissioned Sarah Oppenheimer to create an Architectural Intervention. Oppenheimer’s design opens up unexpected spaces between the rooms and floors in the gallery. So that you catch yourself looking through one room and — through an angled opening — suddenly into another, or up two floors and into a mirror, through which you can see other people looking down and glimpsing you.
The response this elicits is fascinating. You experience a painting differently when catching it in this momentary, fragmented way. And there is also a surprised warmth in finding yourself looking at one another as fellow museum goers. Passing one Oppenheimer cutout, a little girl saw me, took a minute, and then waved. Later, when we looked down through a system of mirrors at another trio of adults, both our groups exchanged extemporaneous beams.
The BMA talks about its Oppenheimer work in art historical and communal terms:
“Applied to museums, Oppenheimer’s work reflects a rethinking of conventions for organizing art room-by-room according to time period and geographic location. New opportunities to see through architectural boundaries yield juxtapositions of objects that suggest the fluidity of art history. These unexpected gallery encounters also draw attention to the importance of a community of viewers in bringing the institution and its collections to life.”
My apartment has stacks of books next to the bookcase. Two Christmas cacti blooming on the window ledge. Music through the speakers of my television.
In it, I have now scrambled eggs, peeled clementines, layered sliced fruit in footed bowls. Run the dishwasher.
I live alone in this apartment with my book, the flowing generosity of friends (the pouring of tea, wine, the unpacking of boxes), and with my own future, which has been, all these months, like my book, waiting for me.
This month I moved into an apartment in Baltimore.
A couple weeks before my move, in the midst of packing boxes, I drove into the city for the Monument Lighting. For the past four years, I missed it because I had a graduate school class or had to teach, but it has long been one of my favorite Baltimore moments.
The first year I lived here, I went to the Monument Lighting with friends. That was the night that I first stepped into the the Belvedere Hotel, the night I learned about the wrought-iron boot scrapers that crouch beside the marbled steps of brownstones. It was one of the nights that immeasurably marked my belonging.
Now I live just a few blocks away in my own brownstone apartment. Here I’m starting my new year in this place that is my old friend, and my brave new Baltimore.
When I lived in Baltimore, these two signs were painted on the building directly opposite mine. The spacing I think is their genius: it takes an extra beat to read them, their form asks that you enact their meaning. For years, each morning when I left for work, I unpuzzled and repuzzled them. Take a Breath. Enjoy the Ride.
If you just stumbled across Saturday’s post and are disappointed to have missed the Smith Book Sale, I thought I’d pass along word of another used book opportunity in Baltimore. The Book Escape is closing its N. Calvert St. location (this is the bad news). They’ll be offering all their N. Calvert used book stock at $3 or less through March 28 (good news). Note that this only affects their N. Calvert location… their longstanding Federal Hill location is staying open (reassuring).
All this book-buying news has reminded me that I owe you another Bookstore Review soon. Maybe next week?
Have you ever been to the Smith College Club of Baltimore Book Sale? I’ve heard legends about it ever since we moved to Baltimore. And, unfortunately, until today, I’ve missed it every year. But I finally made it up there today, and it was a lot of fun. They host an enormous weekend-long used book sale at the Timonium Fairgrounds. Even at the end of a busy Saturday, their collection was still extensive, and very thoughtfully sorted.
If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, consider checking it out. You can learn more here.
(Image courtesy of the Smith College Club of Baltimore Book Sale Facebook page.)
When my husband and I first moved to Maryland, we lived just a few blocks from Camden Yards. During baseball season, we would stroll down the road from our apartment to catch an Os game after work or on a weekend afternoon. I can remember sitting out many rain delays in the upper deck, or watching the sunset reflecting on the Baltimore skyline.
Watching games at Camden Yards was one of the first things that made me feel rooted in my new home. I’ve talked before about my love of baseball. Camden Yards is particularly conducive to the kind of slow, democratic poetry that baseball germinates. It’s a neighborhood ballpark, nestled amid businesses, 18th century row houses, apartment buildings, and local pubs. It’s built on a human scale with an eye for detail, a deliberate thoughtfulness.
Camden Yards feels like a warm place, a part of a community. A place where it’s easy to belong.
The other night my husband and I went to our last regular season home game at Camden Yards. I am grateful for the pleasure of sitting in that ballpark and watching baseball regardless of whether the Orioles win or lose. But it’s been tremendously exciting to watch them win this season. I hope I get a chance to go back to Camden Yards again this fall. (We’ll see what happens tonight!)
* Note: the first two pictures are from our first baseball seasons in Baltimore back in 2004-5. The third picture is from the Orioles’ game against Toronto this past Wednesday.
On Saturday afternoon my husband and I went to one of our favorite Baltimore pubs. Mahaffey’s has a great neighborhood atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where people know each other, and frequently stop by just to chat with the owner.
Mahaffey’s also happens to have a revolving selection of outstanding beer, and the best happy hour special in Baltimore.
Later that evening, we walked into Little Italy and had dessert at Vaccaro’s. But I was too transfixed by my exquisite peanut butter gelato to remember to snap a photo. You’ll just have to swing by and try one.