Artscape offers icy cool culture for a sweltering Baltimore weekend

The temperature in Baltimore has hovered around the ninety degree mark all week and with heat indices pushing one hundred that can only mean one thing — it is time for America’s largest free arts festival – Artscape.

The popular three-day festival always seems to bring with it the blistering weather; however that does not stop the 350,000 or so art lovers who attend the annual event. For most who make it out, parasols and bottled water will offer some degree of relief. But for others, a full slate of indoor activities will assuage the faint of heart.

The Baltimore Post-Examiner surveyed Artscape’s many air-conditioned offerings. Here are some of the highlights and the locations of the cooler attractions:

The Brown Center
1301 West Mt. Royal Ave.

The Brown Center will feature an interesting array of music, storytelling and film.

Saturday – 2:00 p.m. and again at 5:00 p.m., Lyric Opera of Baltimore will present Viva Verdi!  Guiseppe Verdi is considered the most influential composer of operas of the 19th century.  To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, Lyric Opera of Baltimore will present a concert of some of Verdi’s most famous works.  LOB Artistic Director James Harp will accompany the program of arias and ensembles featuring soloists Natalie Conte, soprano; Carla Dirlikov, mezzo soprano; Adam Russell, tenor; Kevin Wetzel, baritone; and the Lyric Opera Campers.

Sunday – 7:00 p.m., it’s Monica Lopez-Gonzales – Jazz Meets Film. Jazz musicians will improvise a live soundtrack to six black and white short films by visual artist Mónica López-González. Each film is eight to 10 minutes long and characterizes one of the six universal emotions (anger, anxiety, disgust, happiness, sadness and surprise).

Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
1212 Cathedral St.

The BSO Academy Festival at Artscape will feature live performances by musicians from across the country. There are two soul-stirring performances.

  • Saturday – 2:30 p.m., with the full orchestra.
  • Sunday – 3:00 p.m., with the more intimate small chamber ensembles.

Theatre Project
45 West Preston Street

Friday – 4:00 p.m., G. Davis Productions – Mama’s Girls. Five sisters from five different cities come together to figure out a way to take care of their mother. This funny, yet touching, story of sisterhood will tickle your funny bone.

Saturday – 6:30 p.m., Circus of Wonders – Cirque Internationale. A phantasmagorical display of seasoned circus performers in a show created just for Artscape. Witness aerial dance, sword swallowing, mysterious escapes and feats of magic beyond your imagination!

Saturday – 11:00 a.m., Dances Around the World features the sparkly fabulousness of the Aubergine Dancers as they present belly and folk dances from America, Egypt, India, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey.

Sunday – 2:30 p.m., Charm City Movement Arts – Cirque De Charme. Children of all ages will enjoy this entertaining and contemporary style of circus developed in France. Juggling, wire-walking, clowning and acrobatics merges theatre and dance with a healthy dose of strength and physical virtuosity.

Corpus Christi Church
110 West Lafayette Ave.

The Corpus Christi Church hosts eleven assorted concerts throughout the weekend ranging from organ concerts and New Wave Singers to a cappella Renaissance music. Patrons can enjoy the varied talents of local and visiting musicians in the beautiful Corpus Christi Church sanctuary.

Friday – 5:30 p.m., Larksong A Cappella Ensemble will present The Beautiful Languages of the Renaissance. A cappella arrangements of Renaissance music will ring through the Corpus Christi Church as the ensemble (dressed in royal Renaissance costumes) performs madrigals and motets in English, German, Italian, French and Latin.

Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric
110 West Mt. Royal Ave.

Artscape celebrates dance from around the world with dynamic performances by renowned artists and dance companies.

Friday – 6:00 p.m., and again at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, Taikoza highlights the thunderous rhythms of the ancestral Japanese Taiko drums and the magical sounds of the bamboo flutes. This exciting group draws from Japan’s rich tradition of music, dance and colorful costuming to create a highly visual experience.

University of Baltimore Student Center
21 Mt. Royal Ave., 5th floor

For something a bit more eclectic (even by Artscape standards) High Zero Foundation presents Worlds in Collusion – 24 hours of mind-bending, thoroughly air-conditioned performances by Baltimore artists, including the traditional, the experimental, and the just plain strange throughout the festival weekend.

  • Friday – 2:00 p.m., Alexander Trust Found. Sound electronica with ethereal melodies
  • Saturday – 1 p.m., Frontier Dentists. Old-time music on modern, self-built instruments
  • Sunday – 2:00 p.m., Mole Suit Choir. Crooners from a spiritual micro-planet near Saturn
  • Sunday – 4:00 p.m., Driven Women. An old-time music trio featuring banjo, fiddle and guitar.

Single Carrot Theatre
1727 North Charles St.

Single Carrot will showcase of some of Baltimore’s greatest theater, dance and music groups and artists. They will also be staging some kid-friendly fare for the popsicle crowd.

Friday and Sunday – 2:00 p.m., Single Carrot Theatre presents Rumpled – An original children’s show. Rumpled is a fractured fairy tale of Rumplestiltskin. Audience participation, improvisation and hilarious action sequences will keep young and older audiences alike enthralled with this reinvented classic.

The Charles Theater
1711 North Charles St.

The Maryland Film Festival presents free short films, from dramas to comedies, throughout the festival weekend.

Friday – 7:00 p.m., Shorts at Artscape Opening Night. This year’s edition of Maryland Film Festival’s popular Shorts at Artscape launches with short films curated by programmers of the International Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Hosting the films will be Clermont-Ferrand’s Xavier Fayet, who has been a member of the festival’s selection committee since 2009.

Many more art full events may be found for those looking for an escape from the summer heat. Not surprisingly, our choices for best bets feature poetry and burlesque.

University of Baltimore Student Center
21 Mt. Royal Ave, 5th floor

Saturday – 12:00 p.m., Adam Robinson of Publishing Genius Press curates poetry from Baltimore and beyond. The featured readers for this literary happening include John Dermot Woods (of Brooklyn, NY) who will preview his new short story/comic book – Activities. Joe Hall, who left Baltimore to pursue his PhD in poetry, will also be reading from his new book – The Devotional Poems. And local mainstay Stephanie Barber will be sharing some of her poetry and prose. The Night Moves author hasn’t read in Baltimore in a while, but Barber can always be counted on to do something fascinating and fun.

Yellow Sign Theater
1726 North Charles St.

Friday – 9:00 pm., Twisted Knickers Burlesque celebrates Artscape with a trip back to the days of legal absinthe and the miniature artists of the Moulin Rouge. The title of this high-kicking homage is “La Belle Époque” and will feature the ooh la la talents of:

  • Tapitha Kix
  • Bj NouVeau
  • Ruby Rockafella
  • Cherie Sweetbottom
  • Chérie Nuit
  • Bunny Vish’us
  • Maki Rolle
  • Kitty Bermuda
  • Dainty Dandridge

Hot Todd Lincoln is la présentateur of this delightful Parisian affair. Le chaton de la scène est Mlle Valeria Voxx.

Doors at the Yellow Sign Theater open at 8:00. There is a charge for this event: $10 in advance and $15 the night of the show.

Artscape runs from Friday July 19 – Sunday July 21. A complete schedule of events and information about planning your visit (including road closures) may be found at the official Artscape website.