What is there not to do at Artscape? With so much music, art, humor, creativity, film, and dance (not to mention the food), it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the nation’s largest free arts festival. Which is perhaps how it should be; for many, the best way to experience Artscape is just to show up and wander, see what strikes your fancy.
Still, maybe a little planning is called for. Here are five Artscape 2018 experiences you don’t want to miss.
In addition to TLC, two headline acts will be performing the beat that Artscapers will be dancing to this year. On Saturday, reggae stalwarts Toots & The Maytals will take to the MICA Main Stage, 1400 Cathedral St., at 7:30 p.m. And on Sunday, the festival will close out with a 5:30 p.m. Main Stage appearance by blues rocker ZZ Ward.
Squonk Opera’s ‘Pneumatica’
Throughout Artscape, at 1704 Charles St., live, loud original music will accompany fan-powered figures, including 40-foot-high Lady Pneumatica, that will be billowing all over the place. Word is Lady P will be breathing steam and waving her upraised arms in the air. Plus, some of the Squonkers will be in costumes inflated like blowfish, accompanied by “wild guitar and bass riffs.” Seriously, how can you not want to see this?
The Baltimore Improv Group, operating out of their theater at 1727 N. Charles (comfortably within Artscape’s footprint), will be offering free improv workshops throughout the festival, plus free shows at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. And that’s in addition to LOL@Artscape, with 20 local and regional comics inducing laughter at the BIG Theater during Artscape After Hours, 9 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Checking out Artscape can be a sprawling experience, but this could help lessen the exhaustion considerably. Throughout the festival, free pedicab rides will be available along Mount Royal Avenue, from Lafayette Avenue to Maryland Avenue. Enjoy letting someone else do the hard work.
Remember last year’s Artscape theme, “Camp Artscape: Adventure Awaits”? Well, there’s no overriding theme this year, which has let artists loose to try their hands at pretty much anything. Among the more intriguing possibilities: “Trash-scape” (Charles Street Bridge north of Penn Station), an “evolving street performance” surrounding a sculpture made of recyclable material; “Headspace” (Pearlstone Park, 1001 N. Howard St.), a giant head people can walk through and engage with people on the outside; and “Screen Station” (1700 Charles St., west side of the street), a do-it-yourself screen-printing experience from Baltimore Youth Arts, where visitors can print messages dealing with youth advocacy, justice and the justice system.