Oh Hon . . . You must go to Baltimore!

Admittedly, I was on the fence about the upcoming American for the Arts conference in Baltimore the weekend of June 26th since it followed right on the heels of the CraftSummer class and due to my arrival at midnight on Friday, I had already missed John Waters and Arianna Huffington, BUT, Saturday I was able to get in some sessions and do some networking for what I’m calling the not-dead-yet future arts administration minor as well as AFTA’s Art Education network that’s a good resource for me as a teaching artist. And, one of the best things about the AFTA conferences are their “ArtVenture” tours, and I got the one I wanted, Contemporary Baltimore where we went to BMA, the Contemporary Museum, and Maryland Art Place.

However, I will say that the best part of the weekend started when my friend Susan, an arts foundation director from CO, and I got together on Saturday night. Even though I see Susan infrequently, she is the only person besides my husband that I travel very well with – she’s fun, smart, and always up for something. Here’s a glance at what we did, or 24 hrs in Baltimore.

Next to NYC, Baltimore has my favorite Little Italy. Susan and I ate lobster ravioli at this place with a great bottle of wine suggested by our cute waiter Rocky.

After dinner, Susan and I went to Vaccaro’s, one of my favorite places ever. I’m not ashamed to say that when in Baltimore, I am usually able to reach my goal of eating at Vaccaro’s at least once daily.

Whenever I visit a larger city, I try to go to the most renowned Catholic church. This time, it was Baltimore Basilica of the Assumption, America’s first cathedral at approximately 200 yrs old. I lucked into going to their Latin Mass which I’ve always wanted to attend one, just was never able to (Latin Mass’s are pretty rare in the Bible Belt, go figure). Here’s some images of the church – I was really surprised at how it was Neoclassical in design rather than the Gothic that’s more standard.

After that, a very gracious lady gave a fellow conference goer and myself a ride back to the Inner Harbor area (the Basilica is up from the Inner Harbor of Charles Street, fyi), and I walked around the area towards the American Visionary Museum. If you haven’t gone, the AVM is one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. One might think that I’ve had my fill of outsider art being in close proximity to the Kentucky Folk Art Center and all related outsider art stuff, but I love it. It probably doesn’t hard that there’s some affinity between style and content (mainly all things glittery with a tendency towards OCD) with outsider art and my own. Here’s some images of only the outside of the AVM (interior photography is unfortunately not permitted).

It’s a hike from the AVM back to the aquarium side of the Inner Harbor, but it can be done (I had that lobster ravioli to work off from the previous night . . . ) Some views of the Inner Harbor:

That afternoon, Susan and I met up and went to Hampton, the neighborhood whose patron saint is John Waters (the place was used as the location for at least one Waters movie – “Pecker”). If I moved to Baltimore, I’d be living here.

Cafe Hon!

Some other random Hampton sightings . . .

After the Hampton adventure, we went to Fell’s Point where there are lots of great restaurants and bars, and awesome people watching. Dinner that night consisted (rightly so) of hopping from restaurant/bar to the next, sitting outside to gawk. When you live in a small rural town, anything different to look at is downright entrancing.

Susan and I couldn’t resist the siren song of BAR even though it was supposed to be an early night (with an early flight the next morning). We ended up at Harry’s Bar (on a side street in Fell’s Point) – it nearly could be the setting for the next Jim Jarmusch movie.

All in all – Baltimore was a hoot. Pete and I will definitely have to go when there’s no professional obligation involved. Next trip is up to Columbus and Cleveland – Unknown Hinson is playing @ Ruby’s (Summit Ave, Columbus) on Friday, August 20th. It’s a must see!

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