Vic Yambao and Rachel Lefkowitz attended the same art school years ago in Boston, and on Saturday they were together again to draw inspiration from the streets of Baltimore.

The old classmates were among the crowd that braved the 100-degree heat for the city’s annual three-day Artscape. Featuring an artists’ market, live music, food and interactive exhibits, the event, now in its 38th year, is billed as the nation’s largest free outdoor arts festival.

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“I like to see creativity,” said Yambao, 36, an artist who lives in the north Baltimore neighborhood of Tuscany-Canterbury. “It just makes me want to create more, too.”

Lefkowitz said she enjoys the festival as a way to support local artists — she purchased a T-shirt and a couple of prints — though weather always seems to be an issue. She skipped last year’s Artscape because it was raining.

“I wish it would be in the fall, to be honest," said Lefkowitz, 37, of Dundalk. “People would be more comfortable.”

Organizers have said the event is unlikely to move to a different season because summer is when the festival venues, such as the University of Baltimore and the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric, are available.

“I like to see creativity. It just makes me want to create more, too.”


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But they advertised ways to cool down this weekend despite the sweltering weather, including a variety of indoor events, like dance performances and a showcase of video games.

Some people splashed in water from a city fire truck and others stepped inside air-conditioned MTA buses, which were parked to use as cooling stations.

Temperatures had climbed into the upper-90s by the afternoon, peaking at 100 at the Maryland Science Center in the Inner Harbor, as crowds wandered through the festival spanning 14 city blocks. Some festival-goers dabbed sweat off their faces with handkerchiefs, cooled themselves with cardboard fans or carried umbrellas to block the sun.

On Charles Street, onlookers cheered on a flash mob organized by the nonprofit Dance Baltimore. One of the dancers, Maxine Stitzer-Hodge, said afterward she loved taking part and was looking forward to watching an indoor performance later in the day.

“It’ll be air-conditioned," said Stitzer-Hodge, who is in her 70s and lives in the western Baltimore neighborhood of Dickeyville. “It’ll be great.”

Anita McLean and Cedric Emery of New Haven, Conn. were in Baltimore for McLean’s 40th birthday celebration.

Emery, 42, said he enjoyed the vendors and the orange astronaut sculptures placed around the festival. The “Sydmonauts” installation by Amigo & Amigo commemorates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and was originally commissioned by the Sydney Festival in Australia.

“So far, it’s good — a lot of stuff to see,” McLean said. “It’s just really hot.”

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