Each month, Alloverstreet feels just as much like a party as it does an art walk. You wander around galleries and artist-run spaces in Station North (most of them clustered in the Copycat, though the nearby Gallery CA, Area 405, Guest Spot, and others often participate too) and you graciously accept the free Bohs and Franzia from the spaces that offer it (but drop a dollar or two into their jars, please, this shit ain't free). And you try to look at the art and watch the performances and then, at a certain point in the evening, you give up on that a little and just wind up hanging out with the people around you.
That's partly what it's about anyway—the whole experience is the art. In an interview for Bmore Art this past summer, Kimi Hanauer, who organizes Alloverstreet (and who recently joined Station North Arts and Entertainment District as its program director), talks about how it fits into her personal art philosophy which involves democratizing art, breaking down hierarchies, being a "blob," and making viewers become more active participants in art, instead of passive onlookers. "[Alloverstreet is] something that's alive," she says in that interview, "so it's always changing and is always a reaction to something; not only to the site but also to my own frustration with inaccessibility of many art happenings and events."
Last month's Alloverstreet was more somber than usual; it happened just a day after someone vandalized Copycat resident artist Pablo Machioli's huge statue of a pregnant black woman, "Madre Luz," whose fist is raised in power. Delaney Cate, a member of La Bodega Collective and a friend I met at MICA, took me over to the big, empty loading dock near the F side staircase, where the statue was sitting when it was vandalized. She pointed out the residual blue spray paint on a nearby column, where it looked like someone had wiped their fingers, and she pointed out the security camera, noting that the vandal must have lived in the building and known where the camera was. We talked about how messed up and sad the whole thing was, how it wasn't just that someone's sculpture got messed up, but it was really an act of hatred and violence.
Hate, racism, misogyny (you name it) exist in every social circle, even in communities full of artists who ought to be on the same page with this stuff. But for every shitty person, it seems there are one or two dozen others who want to make things better for everyone. And that feeling is especially strong at this month's Alloverstreet (which is also its second birthday), as many of the participating galleries and spaces are hosting shows that are specifically geared toward solidarity with La Bodega Collective and creating safe spaces for people of color.
Friday's festivities begin with a happy hour at the Station North Tool Library, an inimitable and very affordable resource for people who need or want to build things, from 5 to 8 p.m. The art walk goes from 7 to 10 p.m., so you've got plenty of time to drop into every space on the lineup, including the ones outside of the Copycat, such as Noah Hall's solo show at Gallery CA and Justin D. Strom's mixed-media work at Space Camp (presented by ICA Baltimore) on North Avenue.
Terrault Contemporary's "Special Combo" features more than 15 artists, and was juried by a fierce trio of Lu Zhang from the Contemporary, Amy Cavanaugh-Royce of Maryland Art Place, and Doreen Bolger, formerly the director of the Baltimore Museum of Art. Around the corner and all throughout the first floor of the Copycat Building, Labbodies (CP's 2015 Best Mad Scientists) will be staging "Existing Resistance," featuring performances by "black identified female bodies" all night.
Also on the first floor, in its gallery space, La Bodega hosts "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!" with performances and installations by collective members in response to what happened to Machioli's sculpture. Ballroom Gallery, on the second floor of the B side, shows its support of Machioli with a big showcase of his work in "Organized Chaos/Caos Organizado." "Idols" at the Lighthole gallery, on the fourth floor of the B side, will feature works by five artists as well as "exclusive interviews" with Machioli and Nakia Brown—the writer whose poetic responses to the vandalism of "Madre Luz" were torn down shortly after she pasted them up in the Copycat. The Min Museum, on the fifth floor of the A side, "will open its doors as a place of response, healing, and resistance to micro and macro aggression(s)" with priority given to people of color and people who are oppressed.
There are also performances on the fourth floor of the C side in the C-4 Gallery, as well as something called "Jim Bowie has Ebola," with work by Donald Deasley that involves a Tastycake Truck on Oliver Street and Guilford Avenue.
After you check out all of that, head west a couple of blocks to the Station North Arts Cafe where the great Amy Reid of Chiffon and experimental hip-hop artist Greydolf will be performing until midnight.
Did I mention that Alloverstreet is always free? There's clearly a lot to see but don't worry, there are always maps. And if you lose the map, well, you can always just reach out and ask somebody for help. Talking about being a "blob" and democratizing the art community is great in theory, and Alloverstreet starts to show us how it works in practice in this particular place.