Public murals are one way Baltimore artists are increasingly exposing the masses to their work, but on Saturday at the Johns Hopkins University, painters shared more than that — they showed how art is made.
More than 40 painters spent a warm, sunny day putting brushes to canvas across the Hopkins Homewood campus. Art fans and passersby alike watched as Joe Giordano captured the beauty of a sun-stained tree canopy against a sculpture's bright red spikes, or as Chrissy Howland transformed a swing set and buildings into an electric abstract landscape in bright blues and yellows.
"This isn't how I usually work, but it's fun to do," said Howland, an artist who recently returned to Baltimore after a stint in France. "It's such an isolating practice to be a painter."
The event aimed to highlight how, over recent decades, the arts have permeated a Homewood campus better known for engineering and science. The "Plein Air Paint Out" marked the Homewood Arts Workshops' 40th Anniversary.
"We just want people to know that we're here," said Craig Hankin, the art workshops' program director.
Former Maryland Institute College of Art President Eugene "Bud" Leake founded the program in 1974 after retiring from his post at MICA and becoming Johns Hopkins' first artist in residence. At that time, the workshop sessions were not for credit and simply gave students, faculty and even their spouses a studio for a creative outlet, Hankin said.
Now, while the campus still doesn't offer an art major — the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute remains the center of most creative pursuits at the university — students can earn an art minor through the workshops.
Many of the program's current and former students joined well-known local artists in sharing their creative process with passersby Saturday.
"This is so fun; I feel like I'm being myself," said Davina Park, a junior in the university's writing seminars program and an art minor, as she captured a lone tree on a hill in Wyman Park Dell.
Some stopped to take in the painting before going about their business sunbathing or reading, while others made a point to visit the event.
For Chad Dawson, an artist and musician who goes by 83 Cutlass, it was a chance to show his 9-year-old son, Dafi, artists at work.
"I think it's good just to show people how art comes about," Dawson said. "He sees the finished products, but he never sees the actual process."
Paris Warfield of Ruxton read about the event in the newspaper, and the frequent supporter of local artists and collector of their work made a point to come.
"This is really quite something," she said, awestruck after watching Giordano and Paul Napoleon Moscatt paint the canopied Baltimore Museum of Art sculpture garden. "We just have a lot of local talent."
Elsewhere, artists including Raoul Middleman, Bill Tamburrino, Deena Margolis, Helen Glazer and James Hennessey painted alongside students, capturing a rust-colored interpretation of University Baptist Church on Charles Street, a clear blue sky highlighting the cupola of Shriver Hall and the morning sun's glow against Homewood House.
Though it was an unusual exercise for many of the artists, it was for a good cause. At the end of the day, the paintings were gathered and auctioned at a cocktail reception for supporters of the program and local art. The proceeds went to the workshops, which Hankin said is being renamed the Center for Visual Arts to better reflect how the program has grown.
Giordano said although he doesn't typically make a point to open his creative process to others, the "paint out" gave visitors a chance to appreciate what it entails.
"I hope to expose people to what I'm doing in galleries," he said. "But there's a certain educational aspect to it, I think, understanding a little bit what a painter does."