July 19, 2011

Art imitates foreclosure


Photo by Justine Maki


Colleague Justine Maki deserves brownie points, and actual brownies, for her dispatches about the lighter side of real estate. She's told us about an amusing open house and an auction of (not actually) a park. Today she returns for a guest piece about an unexpected bit of art:



When Steve Kilar wrote what journalists would call a "scene" piece about Artscape on Saturday, he included a little tidbit that Real Estate Wonk readers may find particularly funny:

The children moved on to a series of painted play houses, the plastic type from big-box stores for back yards. But these had been decorated in a variety of styles, fantasy versions of homes one might see driving around the city. ...
"He's especially taken with the little HUD home over there," Becky said of Will, who was playing in a small house plastered with foreclosure signs and a splintering pressboard roof. There was even an empty liquor bottle outside to complete the picture.

Artscape is known for displays that push the limits of taste or offer commentary on current events and society. The playhouses were generally brightly colored and inviting and surrounded by hoards of kids in various stages of exhaustion. The foreclosure house, as you can see in the photo, wasn’t exactly inviting though it was smack in the middle of the "neighborhood." When I stopped by, no kids were paying attention to it (but it also lacked an open door).

The very idea of a foreclosure among the castles and other playhouses made me think of that axiom "art imitates life" — in this case, not in a cheerful fashion.

This was the only foreclosure or housing-related display I came across at Artscape. Anybody see anything else?



Thanks, Justine!

If you'd like to write a guest post -- either to share expertise or to share an interesting housing-related personal experience -- please drop me a line. Details here.

And if you've got questions you'd like to see a guest poster address on another subject, ask away right here.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Architecture/art, Guest post, The foreclosure mess

November 29, 2010

Your pick for the symbol of Baltimore


Photograph of the Washington Monument by Baltimore Sun photographer Gene Sweeney Jr.


The ayes have it: Your pick for the symbol of Baltimore is a landmark with a name that makes most Americans think of an entirely different city.

The Washington Monument, built between 1815 and 1829 in the city's Mount Vernon neighborhood, actually predates the better-known obelisk constructed in George Washington's honor in the city that bears his name. Baltimore's arguably cooler Washington Monument was the most popular choice in the (far from official) Wonk poll, with 21 percent of votes cast.

Second: The star-shaped Fort McHenry, of national anthem fame, with 17 percent of the vote.

The Bromo Seltzer Tower came in third, with 13 percent, followed by the Natty Boh brewery building, at 11 percent.

The various choices -- there were more, including Camden Yards (10 percent) and the National Aquarium (9 percent) -- were all suggested by readers.

One that wasn't on the poll but proved a strong write-in candidate was the Domino Sugar sign, which got 10 votes -- about 4 percent. (To put that into perspective: the Battle Monument, which is actually on Baltimore's flag, got 2 percent of the vote.)

Several readers wrote in the rowhouse, which is certainly vintage Bawlmer. "Especially one that is covered in formstone," wrote Pete from Highlandtown.

And one person (or perhaps not a person?) wrote in the Male/Female sculpture, that much-maligned bit of public art at Penn Station.

A separate poll asked you what you thought of the metal sculpture proposed for the redevelopment of Westport in Baltimore, the news item that originally started this discussion about symbols. Thirty-one percent dislike the sculpture, 30 percent can take it or leave it, 22 percent hate it, 13 percent like it and the rest -- about 3 percent -- love it.

That's a thumbs down from just over half and a thumbs up from 16 percent, with the rest saying "meh."

Thanks for playing, folks. That was fun. Care to start a debate about the symbol of Maryland?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Architecture/art

November 19, 2010

Vote on the symbol of the Baltimore region



Developer Pat Turner's idea of putting a 236-foot-tall metal sculpture in Baltimore's Westport community to create a "symbol" of the region a la the Eiffel Tower got you all thinking about what art or architecture symbolizes Baltimore now.

I've put all your suggestions in a poll. Vote on your favorite:

And weigh in on the proposed Westport sculpture (pictured above):

Continue reading "Vote on the symbol of the Baltimore region" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Architecture/art

November 18, 2010

Skyscraper art in Westport?

A Baltimore developer wants to put a 236-foot-tall "illuminated metal sculpture" in Westport, colleague Ed Gunts reports.

To put Pat Turner's proposal into perspective: It would reach as high as his Silo Point condo tower and, he says, would be one of the tallest works of art in the country.


"We want the sculpture to be the center of attention of the project," he told the [city's Public Art Commission]. "We're redesigning the project around the sculpture. It does for Baltimore what the Arch does in St. Louis. It would become a symbol of the region."

More details here.

What do you think the symbol of the region is now, in terms of either public art or architecture? Could we use something new?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 1:00 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Architecture/art
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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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