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Three Baltimore artists take it to the street

Jamie Grace Alexander, an activist and street artist, created a street mural on N. Charles Street which reads: BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER. A large group of volunteers executed the mural design, which stretches from 22nd to 23rd Street.
Jamie Grace Alexander, an activist and street artist, created a street mural on N. Charles Street which reads: BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER. A large group of volunteers executed the mural design, which stretches from 22nd to 23rd Street. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

You needn’t visit a gallery or head to a concert hall to experience great art in Baltimore. Quite a bit of it will actually sneak up on you in the midst of a stroll or drive past your favorite park, landmark or street.

The city’s street artists, working across mediums, capture the DIY and sometimes hard-scrabble nature of life in Charm City by taking their creativity outdoors in the absence of many indoor gathering spaces.

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Here are three who appeared on our radar this summer and who you can look forward to enjoying in the months ahead.

Jamie Grace Alexander

Artist Jamie Grace Alexander has created one of the city’s biggest and most visually arresting pieces of public art: a mural along the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Charles Street that reads BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER.

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Alexander, who uses they/them pronouns, designed the mural as part of a bigger collaborative project with Baltimore Safe Haven, an organization working with and for transgender people in the area. They said that the mural’s location is a major locus of the city’s Black trans population, hence its placement.

“It’s also a workplace for a lot of Black transgender women,” they said. “As well, trans women are hypervisible in that space. Because it’s so well known and understood as a trans area, trans people in that area are subject to additional violence [from police and street harassers].”

Mural on Glover St. near the north side of Patterson Park by Mowgli, that reads "BLACK LIVES MATTER."
Mural on Glover St. near the north side of Patterson Park by Mowgli, that reads "BLACK LIVES MATTER." (Sameer Rao/The Baltimore Sun)

Mowgli

You’ve probably seen Mowgli’s work at a number of places. In non-COVID-19 times, you might’ve seen the artist, whose real name is Steve Moffett, 32, selling his wares at events like Artscape or WTMD radio’s First Thursdays concert series.

Without those outlets, you can instead see different versions of his mural celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement in several places, including N. Glover and Baltimore streets on the north side of Patterson Park. More are slated to go up around the city, including in Hampden and other to-be-determined locations, according to Mowgli.

You can also see one of his works using similar themes, particularly the Black woman at the center of them, in an assembly of Black Lives Matter-inspired works on the southern greenway of Patterson Park along Eastern Avenue.

The Concert Truck

Look for it while strolling around your neighborhood: a truck that opens on one side to show one or two musicians seated at a piano, busting out classical masterpieces.

As it turns out, you need not a seat at the Meyerhoff (not that you can get one now, anyway) to experience classical piano music. You just need to come across the The Concert Truck. The truck was converted by award-winning pianists Susan Zhang and Nick Luby, both 31, into a mobile recital hotspot.

While they don’t always post where they’ll play, part of the joy is stumbling across them when you least expect it. That said, they sometimes post info on their Facebook or other social media platforms. They recently played at the Light City festival and recently did a surprise show in Patterson Park. They plan to do a small tour of parks in Baltimore this fall, but are figuring out the safest way to execute it because of the pandemic.

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