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JamCram '92 arts festival celebrates giving, receiving


Today, in a huge old warehouse on the forgotten side of Russell Street, hundreds of people from the far side of art in Baltimore will come together to raise money for handicapped and retarded children.

Publicity for the JamCram '92 arts festival heralds it as "a celebration guided by the simple idea that giving and receiving are the same things."

It will cost you $4 to get inside, with money raised promised to Camp Raven, a summer camp for kids with severe disabilities held at White Oak Elementary School in Parkville.

Tiana Diaz, who established Camp Raven last summer, is hoping that today's festival will raise enough money to provide transportation for the kids and young adults attending this summer's camp.

"I believe that artists put the public in touch with reality, the poets and song writers put people in touch with their joy and pain," said Ellen Dontigney, one of the festival's organizers and a veteran of unusual parties for worthy causes. "This benefit reflects that. These kids are really hurting. They need help."

Once inside the Paradox, an after-hours dance club that donated its 13,000 square feet of space for the festival, patrons will be confronted by more than 30 "art installations," the term for such spectacles as mannequins bolted to TV sets painted with flames and mounted on trash cans.

Much of it will simply be weird -- deliberately so, often desperately so -- but the organizers want to reach people beyond their usual circle of friends and competitors for whom such art and music is as common as Norman Rockwell.

A young man who plays in a band called Whips and Furs and identifies himself only as Bean explains: "An important part of this festival is that this is not a museum. The artists and poets and musicians will all be here. If you've got the gumption, you can grab somebody by the arm and say: 'Now what the heck is this supposed to be?' "

That could be a popular question today.

Other attractions include a 4-foot pyramid you can sit down in, an "installation" of neckties and a sculpture of television sets.

"It will be dark and heavy, light and mysterious," said Karey Riley, curator for the show.

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