Who makes this possible?

Artist/District would not be possible without the dedication of creative people and the generosity of donors. Artist/District is a program of the Baltimore City

Foundation, a 501c3 fiscal sponsor. Donations are tax deductible.

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2019 Sponsors

Doreen Bolger

Friends of Ryan Dorsey

Harris Jones & Malone LLC

Frankford Towing

Henderson-Webb Inc

Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott

Arthur and Rona Rosenbaum

Zekes Coffee

Frank Boston

John Prugh

Stanley Fine

Artist/District 2019 Grant Recipients

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AARON WRIGHT

Aaron is a rapper that goes by the moniker RoOK (roh-okay). His origins in making music began in the 6th grade during a poetry class, however, he never took writing seriously until the 8th grade when he listened to The Coolest by Lupe Fiasco. This song inspired him so much that he started writing his own verses. By his freshman year of high school, he had written his first original song. Aaron continued to work on his craft throughout high school and by his admission to the University of Maryland, College Park, he had already released a few songs online. It was at the University of Maryland, where Aaron started the music club, the “MD Hip-Hop Collective” where he was able to host a benefit concert at the student union. Aaron withdrew his Junior year and began working in retail full time. However, the experiences in organizing and collaboration he gained at UMD proved invaluable in his future musical career. Tired of hearing the negative perception of Baltimore from outsiders and recognizing the tremendous creative power of the artists in the city, Aaron launched his own label “O-Bay Entertainment” in 2017.

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BRIDGETT SULLIVAN

A Lauraville resident for over 30 years, Bridget Z. Sullivan received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her MFA from Towson University. For the past seven years she has served as the President of Hamilton Arts Collective and as the Curatorial Director of Hamilton Gallery, a 501.3c non-profit art center located in the Hamilton-Lauraville Mainstreet commercial district in NE Baltimore.  Sullivan has participated in group and solo art exhibitions since 1986 including exhibits at MaxGallery, School 33 Art Center, MAP, Load of Fun Gallery, Make Studio, and Jordan Faye Contemporary all in Baltimore, Maryland; Greenbelt Art Center, Greenbelt, Maryland; Adkins Arboreteum, Ridgely, Maryland; Delaplaine Art Center, Frederick, Maryland; Ruby Art Collective, York Pennsylvania, and WomanKraft Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. On two occasions she has been selected to participate in the National Park Service Artist in Residency (AIR) Program– in Acadia National Park, Schoodic Peninsula, Maine and in Catoctin Mountain Park, Thurmont, Maryland.  Sullivan has been awarded 2 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist’s Grants, and her work has been featured in AfterImage: Inklight, and URHere Journal of Creative Geography. Sullivan’s work is a crossing of mediums (digital photography, drawing and painting) that explores nature with a combination of reverence and intimate expression. The images survey natural elements from many angles and distances. These depictions are enhanced and abstracted by painterly additions of color and text. The rich natural images converge with gestural strokes and emotive language that allows the viewer to engage with the greater implications of the pristine subjects. Sometimes these embellishments are delicate; sometimes they obliterate the subject into a space of wonder. Sullivan’s artistic process begins with photography and sustained observation of Nature. She collects images on long walks in natural settings. As she makes her way through Nature the place and the images reveal themselves to her. She is not the usual hiker. She gets lost along the trail, moves at her own pace and becomes absorbed in her meditative act of photographing the forest surrounding her. Each of Sullivan’s photography expeditions net several hundred photographs of the details of forest. The environment presents itself at every turn. Over time Sullivan reviews the images and reflects on their visual and symbolic significance as they relate to her personal investigation of life and death and the human experience of moving through periods of health and illness. She takes care to research and identify the flora in her photographs recording notes on the unique qualities of the subjects she has photographed. Often she incorporates her naturalist’s notes in the final piece as handwriting in the work or works the information into the title of the piece. In the studio she reviews and prepares the images for printing. Once she arrives at an image she prints it and then draws, paints and writes on the print with pastel, acrylic ink, oil or encaustic paint. The result depicts the push and pull between humans and their visual digital realm–it is the meeting of hand rendered mark making and digitally produced images. As an artist and educator Sullivan is investigating and inventing new methods of art making with contemporary tools. Sullivan plans to use the Artist District grant to complete a new body of large scale mixed media work that she plans to exhibit at Hamilton Gallery. 

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DAVID FISHMAN

David Fishman has a B.A. in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. His writing has appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, on the Lucky Peach website, and elsewhere. David lives in Baltimore with his wife and daughter, and works as a Senior Programmer / Analyst at Johns Hopkins University Press. David writes poetry in both form and free verse. He describes his poems as trying to reconcile the odd contradictions of life while walking the boundaries between the commonplace, the weird, and the impossible—all in the pursuit of truth and beauty. David does most of his writing on a laptop that is dying, and so he will use some of the grant to replace it. He also plans to use it to pay for childcare to create more writing time, which has been limited since his daughter was born.

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JUAN VAZQUEZ

Born and raised in Baltimore and a native of Hamilton for over thirty years, Juan became interested in music while rummaging through his older sister’s record collection and listening to her albums.  Among the stacks of vinyl he found The Beatles, the group he credits with changing his life.  He loved the music and everything about them; and he’s certain his life would have been much different without their influence. Juan received his Associate of Arts degree from Essex Community College, A Bachelor of Music Degree from Towson State University, and a Masters of Percussion Performance   from the Boston Conservatory of Music.  He served as Principal Percussionist with the United States Navy Band in Washington, DC from 1988 until retirement in 2014. As a member of the Navy’s premier performance unit, The Concert Band, Juan has performed throughout the continental United States, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria and Italy. He has performed at the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, Carnegie Hall and Arlington National Cemetery. During his twenty six years with the band, he has had the honor of performing   for five presidents and numerous members of the Congress and Senate. Prior to joining the Navy he taught at the Peabody Preparatory, Friends School and privately in his home. He also performed locally with the Baltimore Symphony, Annapolis Symphony and the Maryland Symphony.  Juan  started  playing  drum set with local rock and roll  cover bands in his teenage and young adult years and believes he  “played in every bar and night club in Baltimore; most of them are gone now but I have great memories of a vibrant live music scene in the City.” After retirement Juan chose to show his appreciation for music education and pay tribute to The Beatles, selecting eleven songs from the catalog and arranging them for vibraphone. Most published music for this instrument is of a classical nature, or jazz arrangements of music written for other instruments. Juan felt that new vibraphone arrangements from compositions by one of rock’s greatest groups would attract a new audience to the instrument.  These arrangements are designed for college students and professional percussionist for performances at concerts and recitals. Juan’s dream has long been to bring the vibraphone and Beatles music to a larger audience.  This grant provides the resources needed to create and develop a YouTube page which can showcase the arrangements and professionally transcribe and print the sheet music of the eleven arrangements.  Ultimately, Mr. Vazquez hopes to have the arrangements published and this grant will help provide the needed resources. Juan fully realizes he has been blessed to be able to do what he loves for a living, and that none of this is possible without those who help shape and guide us throughout our lives. Giving back helps nurture the next generation of artists. Currently Juan serves as a volunteer Team Leader for AARP’s Experience Corps. He and his team of volunteers serve as mentors, Literacy Trainers and assistants at the William Paca Elementary School in Baltimore City. Mr. Vazquez is grateful for this opportunity which would not be possible without the vision and   generosity of Ryan Dorsey and his staff.

2018 Sponsors

Friends of Ryan Dorsey

Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young

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Doreen Bolger, Harris Jones & Malone LLC

The Robert and Vivian Manekin Philanthropic Fund

The Pollokoff Family Philanthropic Fund

John M Prugh

Eric Bryant in memory of Eugene Bryant

Artist/District 2018 Grant Recipients

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Jackie Milad

A visual artist, 2018 Sondheim Semi-Finalist, and native of Baltimore City’s east side, Jackie Milad’s work has been focused on symbolism and hidden language that pulls from cultural sources from around the world. Jackie’s creative vision is a continuous narrative that combines her own cultural heritage with an irreverence towards her materials and process. No piece of art in Jackie’s studio is safe and elements of her work are frequently cut, collaged, and recycled into new stories and compositions. She will use anything within reach and considers herself a “visual omnivore” with all manner of paper, ink, paint, and graphite featuring prominently in her work. The iconography she uses; repeated, jumbled, reorganized, and repurposed, draws on her Egyptian and Honduran heritage to construct a language wholly her own in which old symbols have new life and meaning. Despite the historical and cultural significance of the symbols she uses, Jackie resists the urge to treat them preciously and instead calls attention to how we as a society decide what is worth saving and what isn’t. At her core is a question every artist asks, “Why can’t I just make my own rules?” Jackie Milad resides in the Mayfield neighborhood with her family. She describes the community as a hidden gem, a quiet place full of green trees that shares a connection with nature as well allowing access to the city. Even though she frequently exhibits her work across the country and beyond, Jackie still has to hold a full-time job outside of her studio hours. This confines her time in the studio to weekends and days off. Jackie describes it best herself, stating that “as a Baltimore artist, [she] can’t just exist as an artist”. The impact of the Artist/District grant, $3,000 over 3 months, will cover a multitude of costs every artist faces but few outside the medium understand. Jackie intends to use portions of the grant to document her work and ready it for exhibition, an expense every artist needs to account for in order to display and market their work. Jackie will also use a portion of the grant to cover the costs of childcare and babysitting, allowing her to spend more time in the studio preparing for a busy fall schedule in which she’ll be exhibiting work at School 33 Arts Center here in Baltimore. Jackie is currently working alongside the Artist/District program to identify ways to display her work and speak about the impact of the grant on September 30th. She will be joined by the other Artist/District lottery winners who will each present to the community and demonstrate the vibrancy of our arts community here in the 3rd District and throughout Baltimore.

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Chelsea Lemon Fetzer

Chelsea’s experience growing up as a mixed-race woman in the Midwest inspires her current novel. The narrative centers on a small Minnesota town juxtaposed from the perspective of African American characters living there more than a century apart in time. “I remember getting the message in grade school that Minnesota’s geography laid on the right side of history: the South condoned slavery once, the North, did not. But the North I knew called me the N-word a lot, plastered “Most Wanted” pictures of black men in my post office, sometimes spit in my hair. And I knew of a man named Dred Scott who had lived as a slave only 27 miles and one hundred and fifty four years from my hometown. When he sued for his freedom, he lost.  I wondered what was our history really? If unearthed fully, what perspective would it lend on the continuing confines Black Americans face? Can history be repurposed by us, reimagined into a vehicle for change? What would that vehicle look like?” Propelled by these questions, Chelsea began what would become several years researching the underwritten stories of African-Americans who lived as slaves in the Midwest, and imagining what or who else might have existed in the many blanks. As a fiction writer, she drew inspiration as much from the discoveries as from the “history-detective” process. Subsequently, her characters and their stories came to life. Chelsea Lemon Fetzer has been a resident of Baltimore City’s Waltherson neighborhood for the past five years and cites affordable homes, verdant green spaces, and close community as propellants for her creative practice. The connection to other creative individuals and the abundant quiet of the residential streets have made the area a welcome home for Chelsea and her family. The mother of two children under 6, Chelsea’s greatest obstacle is carving out consistent time to write and research, especially required by a work of historical fiction. The impact of the Artist/District grant, $3,000 over 3 months, will cover the costs of childcare and enable Chelsea to use her time effectively in the writing and editing of her most recent draft. Chelsea’s own experiences in motherhood and the racial politics of our time lend new shades and hues to her characters and story. After deciding multiple times that she was finished writing her novel only to once again be called back, Chelsea hopes that this will be her final draft. We only hope that she doesn’t stop writing. Chelsea Fetzer intends to debut an excerpt from her novel on September 30th when the four Artist/District lottery winners meet again to show the impact of the grant on their creative practices.

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Scott Patterson

Afro-Futurism, the central theme of Scott Patterson’s work, is defined as a vision of the future through the perspective of African/Afro-Caribbean culture. Spirituality, Haitian voodoo, southern Baptism, and Catholicism all collide in an operatic ballet that bridges the divide between spirituality and punk music. An artist with experience working in New York City and Washington D.C., Scott and his wife visited Baltimore five years ago and ate crabcakes at Koko’s Pub on Harford Road. They found a joy in the quiet neighborhood, with its abundance of mom-and-pop stores, and soon discovered the hidden network of artists that quickly convinced them to make the Beverly Hills community their home. It was there that Scott was able to co-found Afro House, a collective of collaborative artists who tell new stories through their creative practices and bring a “disruptive energy” to their work. That same disruptive energy and willingness to go against established norms helped power Scott’s current project, his Afro-Punk Ballet. Featured as a dancer, vocalist, and musician, Scott’s objective is to create a vision of the world 100 years in the future. He seeks to define the changes we’ll experience; the new types of music and movement we’ll use to express ourselves, and one of his primary goals is to highlight the ways in which our lives can be better a century in the future. What will Baltimore look like in this new vision? How will the city be better and how will our treatment of each other and our collective lives within it improve? The impact of the Artist/District grant will allow Scott the opportunity to compensate his performers and present a preview of the Afro-Punk Ballet prior to their October debut at the Annex Theater. The freedom from having to fundraise gives Scott the time to continually refine his vision and performance as well as ensure that his performers are recognized for their contributions. While it remains to be seen whether the preview Scott presents is a live performance or a digital video, what is certain is that it will be wholly unique and unlike anything we have seen before. Scott Patterson will present his work on September 30th when the four Artist/District lottery winners meet again to show the impact of the grant on their creative practices.

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Christina McCleary

As a native of Baltimore City and current resident in the Arcadia community, Christina McCleary’s ceramic work reflects the medium and Christina’s complex vision of self-identification and ethnic identity. Clay is flexible and allows artists to make mistake, revisit and edit their work, and refine the finished product to their specifications. At the same time however, the firing process can reveal new secrets in the ceramics that wrestle control away from the artist. No matter the artist’s intention or rigorous eye for detail, the final stage of a finished clay project can often present elements of surprise and failure that are integral to the finished product and add or change the character of the piece. Christina describes her home neighborhood as a culturally diverse community with positive energy. The proximity between her home and Herring Run Park affords her a measure of serenity and a degree of separation from the busy city. Those degrees of separation, the spaces in between ideas and perceptions, are central to Christina’s creative practice. As a multiracial woman, she has experienced and dealt with the complications of self-identity and racial politics. The journey to express those questions and seek answers is a relevant theme in Christina’s work and a primary influence upon her desire to create and build with clay. The Artist/District grant will afford her the opportunity to hire an assistant to help complete her work as well as fund the construction of a larger kiln, the oven in which ceramics are fired and hardened. This will lead to an increase in the size of her projects, giving them a larger presence and allowing Christina to pursue ideas which couldn’t be communicated before. Although the firing process may still lead to surprise and failure at a larger scale, she considers those experiences to be part of a constructive learning process rather than a deterrent. Christina believes Baltimore City’s artistic community to be among the best in the country though it consistently flies under the radar. She states that the quality of the work being created and shown is comparable to New York City but features so many artists who are unknown. By shining a light on the individual artists we can illuminate their stories as part of a greater collective that encompasses and defines Baltimore City. Christina McCleary will present her work on September 30th when the four Artist/District lottery winners meet again to show the impact of the grant on their creative practices.