xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

When will coronavirus be over?: 6 Baltimore artists reflect on what the pandemic took away

Mark Clarke, left, founder of The Gallery About Nothing and the Mini Hip Hop Museum and curator Maya Camille.
Mark Clarke, left, founder of The Gallery About Nothing and the Mini Hip Hop Museum and curator Maya Camille. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Hiking familiar trails. Eating out at favorite restaurants. The simple act of working with other people. Camaraderie.

These are some of the things that six people from Baltimore’s art and restaurant communities said they missed the most about life under quarantine. They likely seem familiar to many around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic takes more lives— by Tuesday afternoon over 300 in Maryland alone — with seemingly no end in sight. In times of duress, the hope that things can return back to normal keeps people going.

Advertisement

With that in mind, here are some of the things for which these creative class members said they’re yearning, as well as the first activities they plan to do once the pandemic clears.

Mark Clarke, left, founder of The Gallery About Nothing and the Mini Hip Hop Museum and curator Maya Camille.
Mark Clarke, left, founder of The Gallery About Nothing and the Mini Hip Hop Museum and curator Maya Camille. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Mark Clarke and Maya Camille, gallery and museum leaders

Founder Mark Clarke and curator Maya Camille operated their conjoined institutions, The Gallery About Nothing and Mini Hip Hop Museum in the Jonestown neighborhood, for nearly a year before COVID-19 hit. But they haven’t held a grand opening celebration yet.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“Hopefully, when they tell us we can go back outside, we can plan a really official, big old grand opening where everyone can come in, meet artists and buy art, and just have a really nice time,” Camille said.

In the interim, the gallery and museum had to deal with the monetary issues that artists around the city face now that they’re confined to their houses. Besides their business and regular programming, including hip hop-themed game nights and painting classes, the pair said they miss some treasured rituals. One involves the gallery team going out to eat after the events they host Thursdays through Sundays.

“We’re a family down there, so it’s really crazy to not have that kind of camaraderie in my life at all," Camille said. She added that she can’t wait to go hiking in places like Lake Roland in Towson without worry.

Asked what he’ll do first when the pandemic clears, Clarke said, “I’ll probably just go eat somewhere," and “I want to hop right back into having an event.”

Artist and educator Ashley Minner.
Artist and educator Ashley Minner. (Jill Fanon/Courtesy of Ashley)

Ashley Minner, artist and educator

Despite the loss of some art-related gigs, Ashley Minner’s life remains largely stable. She spends considerable time working on her dissertation in American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“Other people definitely have it worse than I do,” she said.

That doesn’t mean that COVID-19 hasn’t hit home. A class she teaches at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County had to move online. One of her students tested positive for the novel coronavirus. She’s scared for elder people in her life, who she feels don’t take the pandemic seriously enough. Still, her introverted nature eases the burden of sheltering in place a bit.

The first things she plans to do when it’s allowed: “Probably going out to eat pho with my husband. Going to shop and not having to do so in fear."

As a couple of trips she planned to take got cancelled, she said she looks forward to traveling again.

Ashish Alfred of The Alfred Restaurant Group.
Ashish Alfred of The Alfred Restaurant Group. (Kate Grewal/Courtesy of Ashis)

Ashish Alfred, restaurateur and chef

The namesake head of The Alfred Restaurant Group, which includes Duck Duck Goose in Fells Point and other properties in Bethesda, is clear in his recommendations for anybody concerned about their favorite restaurants.

“If people feel badly for us or want to help us, the best thing they can do is follow the rules...we want and desperately need to get back to work, and the longer people keep acting like this is an extended spring break, the longer that’s going to take for us.” he said.

Alfred has reason to be concerned. With the restaurant industry taking massive hits from forced closures, he’s had to defer payments on his car and insurance. He is also concerned for his group’s workers.

“I’m am looking forward to, the most, putting paychecks in the hands of my people,” he said. “And that’s not a PR answer, that’s a real answer.”

He added that he misses the “simple pleasures,” including getting a haircut, going to the gym and AA meetings. He also plans to hug his mother, who he said “falls into the category of people that’re most at risk for COVID," as soon as the pandemic passes.

Visual artist Shan Wallace.
Visual artist Shan Wallace. (Brittany Kellom/)

Shan Wallace, visual artist and educator

Before the pandemic, Shan Wallace had just launched a major exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, entitled “410,” highlighting her hometown. In the weeks since, she would have an opening reception and programming at the BMA’s Lexington Market outpost cancelled. Another show in North Carolina was rescheduled to next year. In spite of that, she directs much of her concern to the community depicted in her art.

“Not only are people dying, but a lot of black people are dying,” she said.

Wallace acknowledged that for her, personal and professional realms are not separate. She said she’s missing “being out in the streets for 12 hours a day, meeting strangers, meeting sitters [for my art] who essentially become family."

When the pandemic clears, she plans to immerse herself in the social and artistic world.

Joy Davis, director and curator of the Waller Gallery.
Joy Davis, director and curator of the Waller Gallery. (Joy Davis/Courtesy of photographer)

Joy Davis, gallery director

The director and curator of the Waller Gallery in Old Goucher worked from home for enough of her career that being confined there wasn’t the biggest deal. But the cancelled exhibitions and trips were.

Ironically, Davis said that she has more social time now.

“If anything, it’s forcing me to talk to people that I kind of put off, because I [didn’t] have time,” she said. "I actually have time to socialize.

That said, like other respondents, she said that she missed the social and community aspects of her work the most. She looks forward to doing that again and traveling again.

“Being in the space and working with the artists is something I’m looking forward to professionally,” she said. “Personally, it is going on vacation, actually being able to leave the state...being able to move about and feel unrestrained.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement