The vast scale of Artscape can be intimidating for festival vets and virgins alike. Let us be your guide with our picks of must-do Artscape events throughout the weekend. And yes, this is just the tip of the arts fest iceberg.
Maybe you've been lucky enough to see one being driven down the street — elaborately decorated cars, not just painted with stunning images and colors, but often festooned with other, more 3-D materials, such as bottle caps, the occasional head, even a giant octopus. Feel free to admire the cars as well as the artists brave enough to drive them. The cars are scheduled to arrive at Artscape around 11 a.m. Saturday (they'll be arriving via a caravan starting at the American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, around 10:30 a.m.), then remain on exhibit on the Charles Street bridge, south of the 1700 block of N. Charles St., throughout the day Saturday and Sunday (some will be there all day Friday too). Plus, an Art Car lounge, made from recycled auto parts, will be open 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, offering the chance to meet and talk with the artists.
Sure, George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic should be music enough for anyone, but they're just the beginning when it comes to the Artscape 2015 lineup. Other headliners on the main stage, 1400 Cathedral St., are Michael Franti & Spearhead (7:30 p.m. Saturday) and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (6:30 p.m. Sunday). Live music is scheduled for throughout Artscape, from not only the Main Stage, but also regional talent performing from the Johns Hopkins University Station North Stage, Charles Street and North Avenue, and the Sound Off Live! Festival Stage, Mount Royal Avenue and Mosher Street.
"The Wire" may have been only a TV show, but what that show meant to its cast is very real. "Wired Up!," presented by ReWired 4 Change, the nonprofit founded by "Wire" actor Sonja Sohn, will include a 30-minute original work featuring actors from the show — including Dominic West, Michael Kenneth Williams, Wendell Pierce, Seth Gilliam, Chad L. Coleman, Larry Gilliard Jr., Andre Royo, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jaime Hector, Tristan Wilds and Felicia "Snoop" Pearson — paying tribute to "voices from inside the Baltimore Uprising, and to what remains — hope, power and strength." Tickets are free, but limited and you must register to attend at wiredup.splashthat.com. 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. rewired4change.org.
Located off Charles Street, south of Penn Station, this revolving wheel offers not only a cool ride on what will likely be a hot day (it's always hot at Artscape!) but also an elevated view of the surrounding area that's unavailable the other 362 days of the year. Ride tickets are $6.
Artists' Market and Artist-Run Art Fair
More than 100 artists (picked from nearly 400 applicants) will participate in the juried Artists' Market, offering visitors the perfect opportunity to not only see lots of cool stuff, but talk to the men and women who created it, and maybe buy a piece or two for their living rooms. Booths are set up throughout the festival area. The Artist-Run Art Fair, in the parking garage at 1714 N. Charles St., features installations from 19 Baltimore-area artists and arts nonprofits — some seriously wondrous and visionary art, displayed in an offbeat venue that will never look funkier.
Artscape After Hours
For those whose stamina will allow, here's a chance to Artscape till you drop. Look for music, comedy, and just general partying, 9 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at and in the neighborhood surrounding the Johns Hopkins University Station North Stage, Charles Street and North Avenue. Includes DJs spinning live music from the stage, comedy via LOL@Artscape at the Artscape Playhouse, 1727 N. Charles St., and performances by the Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS), including its salute to Ocean City, "Brocean City," in the 1700 block of N. Charles St. For a full schedule of Artscape events, go to artscape.org.