Few events held in Baltimore can top last week's All-Star baseball festivities. Yet the city is preparing for another big festival weekend. Unlike the All-Star glitz, it may not garner much outside attention but it is equally important.
We are talking about Artscape, of course. It will be held today through Sunday around the Maryland Institute's Mount Royal campus.
In the past 12 years, Artscape has developed from a crowded outdoor orgy of gluttony and music into a serious art event. Much of Baltimore's current interest in crafts, in particular, can be explained by their exposure and success at Artscape. That interest, in turn, has spawned an increasing number of craft shops and hobbyist organizations. For example, By Jove, a button collectors' club was recently formed here.
Since Congress has declared 1993 as the Year of the American Craft, it is appropriate that the largest indoor space, the Decker Gallery, will feature an exhibit, "Ornament: Interior, Exterior, Personal," consisting of crafts that are worn, used in the home or used as architectural elements.
"Realism: Psychological, Social, Lyrical" (Fox Building) will probe expressions of inner thoughts, social concerns and poetic vision. "Gods and Saints" (also in Fox) will reflect artists' religious and spiritual thoughts.
While these Artscape exhibits are certain to be mobbed this weekend, the good news is that they will stay open until Aug. 15. The main outdoor exhibit, "The Shadow of the Moon," will run through Aug. 8.
Many of the tens of thousands of metropolitan Baltimore residents heading for Artscape are likely to be satisfied with less demanding fare. There is plenty to be had -- from commercial vendors' exhibits and piles of comestibles to a menu of varied music. If Chaka Khan doesn't send you, maybe Norman Connors and the Starship Orchestra will. Or the Zydeco Cha Chas.
"One of the real and unique strengths of Artscape is that it brings together a wonderful, broad spectrum of the community in the celebration of arts," Maryland Institute President Fred Lazarus IV wrote recently.
"It provides small arts organizations with a forum to present their work to a large and diverse audience. It also provides visual artists an opportunity to have their work seen by people who otherwise would never see it."
So go, enjoy and be enriched.