Just say no
(Sun file photo)

One of Baltimore's best-known artists has launched a campaign asking people to skip Artscape, the city's biggest arts festival.

Robert McClintock wants people to "opt out" of the festival that starts tonight and runs through the weekend, a suggestion he's made repeatedly this week through email blasts and Twitter reminders.

"Opt out of Artscape," he says in one email. "Instead visit Robert McClintock Gallery in Fells Point."

The artist, who's known for his colorful, digitally reimagined photographs of the city, isn't shy about admitting he's got something of a grudge against the festival that's turned him down several years running. The show is juried so artists who want to show there have to be selected by a panel of independent judges.

This year he didn't apply, choosing instead to make a little statement. McClintock says the little statement isn't intended to hurt anyone's feelings but he doesn't seem particularly concerned that it might.

"Humbly, I'm probably the city's busiest artist, I'm probably selling the most art and I'm definitely an attraction there yet for some reason my art doesn't pass the muster," he says. "Why can't be I be the same as the sausage vendors that come back every year?"

McClintock said Thursday that he'd already been "blasted" for the "opt out" campaign -- and that was by one of his customers.

"They thought I was rude," he said. "Whatever."

Artscape organizers aren't thrilled about it either.

Bill Gilmore, executive director of the agency that produces the festival, the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, sort of sighed when asked about it.

"He's had issues with [the festival] on and off over the years," Gilmore said of McClintock. "He loves it when he's in and he doesn't when he doesn't get in."

All true -- McClintock will readily admit. He sold his work in Artscape for about a decade, made good money, and only wants back in. But, if he can't be there, he doesn't mind luring festivalgoers his way.

"They haven't been nice to me," he said of Artscape. "I have to defend myself... Maybe call me a crybaby. Maybe I'm being a baby about this but I have an ongoing concern here and I have bills to pay."


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