All posts by Doc

Taylor "Doc" Walker is the CEO and leading contributor to Doc's Castle Media, and also known as Alissa Fere. She's is a triple upon triple threat who provides the upmost aspiring entertainment through her blogs post about indie artist around the DMV region. By highlighting the DMV's Talent to DCM readers, and also dabbling in the arts herself, she hopes to inspire others to own the talents they accelerate at and become who they're destined to be; they're meant to be GREAT!

Doc Attends the 2018 American Art Craft Show at the Baltimore Convention Center (Gallery)

Thanks to one of my nine-to-five jobs, I was able to attend the 2018 American Art Craft Show held at the Baltimore Convention the last weekend in February. It was amazing and very inspirational being in the presence of “real” artists.

I work as a promotions assistant at Entercom radio for the 80s, 90s, and today’s pop hits station Today’s 101.9. My job had the pleasure of being press at the craft show on Saturday morning. We did our usual at the show; assist our radio personality Fran Lane with the spinning wheel and gift giveaways. So I didn’t do anything that was out of the norm workwise. But I’m grateful, to say the least, that I was working in surroundings in which capacity I’m not familiar.
When I go to these events with my job, we have only a few moments where the promotion staff can walk away to take a look at what’s happening throughout the show. But this time our press appearance was only for 2 hours. So I didn’t have the time to see what the featured artists had to offer until later in the afternoon when I came back to walk the show off the clock.

Artist Cred: Kimmy Cantrell

The American Art Craft Show is a popular traveling art convention sponsored by Visit Baltimore, where emerging artists from all different crafty backgrounds come to one mutual space to sell their work. Like a traditional merchant’s market or flea market, the American Art Craft Show is a high-class version of original arts and goods show made available for any shopper who’s into scavenging for unique pieces not found anywhere else.

I snuck into the exhibit using the American Art Craft Show press pass given to me earlier for my work shift because I felt it necessary for me to have a deeper look into what was at the show. I needed to know what drew me to what I saw while there. Why did it feel like my spirit was suddenly lit seeing all the unique things? It was like a strong magnetic force between my eyes and the artwork, just something about it that made me fall in love with that moment. I wanted to know what made these artists work so hard and achieve such success to be placed in such a popular arts convention.

Artist Cred: Liz Cummings

The American Art Craft Show is quite a pricey show as the quality of the artifacts in the show exhibits each artist passion through sincere detail in the craftsmanship. I saw sculptures of every medium from stone, metal, glass, and traditional clay. I saw clothing designers use unique and expensive fabrics from basic cotton to rich leathers. The jewelry pieces were to die for as I literally choked off my drink of water when told what the price tag said on a pair of stunning earrings. There were immaculate paintings of mixed media forms utilizing fabric embroidery and infused clay on large canvases. Any observer could tell the artists put their everything into their work, and each piece was argumentatively worth what each price tag listed.

These artists were seasoned with their expertise. I witnessed only techniques I see online when I watch art videos on YouTube for inspiration for my own crafting. The techniques were those that people dig for when yearning to add that extra oomph to their “art baby.” The techniques were ways of the art world that makes the observer ponder how did something turn out a particular way. Ways that I could not resist having mini-interviews with the artists on how they achieved such beautiful masterpieces.

I went into journalists mode interviewing the artists from my favorite booths. One particular artist that I had the pleasure of speaking to, Natalya Aikens, creates architectural structures using fabrics and threaded stitching. She references photographs from her own collections and experiments with replicating her images by following traditional shading and coloring techniques.Her work comes off as abstract because of all the vibrant colors being used that aren’t naturally present in the original photos. Mihira Karra, who’s another artist similar to Aikens utilizes the same technique but instead recreates portraits of celebrities, landscapes, and influential figures.

Artist Cred: Mihira Karra

Artist Kathleen Scranton shares her creativity quite uniquely as her booth was unlike any other during the craft show. She takes her favorite novels and children’s books and turns them into small purses or wallets. Her station was one of the booths that had the most traffic because her idea was the most unique. She ran with the theme “Everyone reads.” The booth had to be the most recognizable because most books she used were classic American literature. The interior walls were draped with Dr. Seus, Star Wars, and The Great Gatsby. What made it even better was the buyer got to take home a copy of the novels, as well, after their purchase.

Artist Cred: Kathleen Scranton

I met many ambitious artists whose main focus while working on their art was to enjoy it. None of the artists I spoke to envisioned themselves as experts. Most didn’t think they’d be selling their art when they started. I bring this up to talk about my usual theme for Baltimore artists. With examples as those spotted at the American Art Craft Show, artists in this city could visualize true talent with purpose. It’s not about the social climb like mentioned in my blog series Quality vs. Quantity (Part 1). These artists monetize using pure passions where the love or their work comes first and everything that precedes it comes afterward. At showcases and in the work done here, we only see this reflection of that in prestigious art shows. I write about it to awaken the people who want it to more prevalent in Baltimore’s Art culture.

View more photos from the 2018 American Art Craft Show.

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The biggest take away from this event was that it made me feel inspired. That’s what an artsy event suppose to do. They spark the creative soul within and changes the atmosphere around you. The American Art Craft Show did just that. It was due for my soul to feel that awakening.

What artist do you think should have attended or exhibited at the 2018 American Art Craft Show? Leave your comments or tag an artist below.
Have you read any of the Quality vs. Quantity Blog Series? Catch up on it on Doc’s Castle Media.

Quality Vs. Quantity (Part 2): The Lack of Distinction In Baltimore’s Underground Media is also Why Baltimore Lacks an Art “Industry”

As we should all know, the media helps shapes the perspectives and minds of many that stay abreast of current events. There are millions and millions of people in the know of what’s happening around them. They take what they read and watch on news outlets as fact. It shapes the way each individual chooses to live their lives. Most importantly, it’s extremely influential in molding the opinions of people participating in buying and selling. More recently we’ve found it’s one of the leading factors to why America is in so much turmoil in politics and policy with our current president. So this is why I cannot overlook critiquing Baltimore Media in my second post of Quality vs. Quantity because, with or without media, it continues to be influential to the Baltimore’s art culture.

Indie Media has the ability to mold the careers of inspiring artists by helping them move from 0 to 100 through merely talking about an artist’s successes and downfalls. From covering an artist’s success when they have a breakthrough project to talking about movements that aren’t too favorable to the progression of an artist career, the media has the power to make or break whether an artist will make it to legendary status.
Having this knowledge that the media has this much an impact in shaping an artist career should be the leading factor for why artists should be involved with getting to know their local underground media like the bloggers, podcasters, and many other commentators who are fans of the city’s art culture. Artists and media need to work hand-and-hand in the progression of the industry of Baltimore’s art culture. But somehow the light bulb hasn’t powered on with that idea and there’s is a big gap in linking the two.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Why is Baltimore Indie Media not helping the Baltimore Art Culture Progress into an Industry?
Traditional media is falling by the waste side as more journalist are left without work. There are less printed newspapers and more online news sites. But passionate journalists work hard to continue to do what they love; by recording the history of which they currently live through. They do this on more accessible platforms that some of these journalists invest in on their own.
Underground media have little to no funding to push their indie brands. This leads them to depend heavily on instant gratification online. No longer are they going to work for large media companies aiding them with story leads and money to put food on the table. They report where most people spend their time in order to get recognition, which means social media is where the majority of these outlets can be found excelling.
But if they all can be found on the same platforms, it means most media has the same story leads. They all report about the same things. One great example is knowing about Baltimore’s own comedian Monique’s recent battle with Netflix. Everyone knows she’s called out the black community to a boycott. But, I bet no one can remember which news site reported the Monique story first.
Major outlets, like the Baltimore Sun, 92Q, Fox 45, and Baltimore Magazine are not the only sources for breaking and entertainment news in the city. There are a plethora of small name underground website, blogs, podcasts, and magazines that flood social media with opinions about current events on a daily basis. If more local artist and media worked together to saturate the internet with UNIQUE stories on smaller platforms instead of focusing on what everyone else is reporting, we wouldn’t have to see recurring topics on our timelines.

Photo by neil godding on Unsplash

How many times are we going to talk about the same stories? How many times will we only talk about Young Moose or Lor Scoota like they were Baltimore’s only rap artists? Or why can’t local media come up with other creative ways to highlight an artist on their websites without doing the usual “get-to-know-the-artist” interviews of creatives who nobody knows about on their podcasts or blogs? There’s a lack in the quality of content in the media that’s similar to the lack of quality in the artists. I think it’s time we stop ignoring the lack of distinction in media if we want to work towards the change I spoke about in my previous essay Quality vs Quantity Part 1: The Saturation of Wanna Be Artists In Baltimore Art Scene.
Underground media in Baltimore city are not exempt from the numbers of individuals seeking to be the voice of the culture. Like many artist and entrepreneurs, inspiring journalists seek to be the “it” factor for change in Baltimore, as well. Everyone wants to be a legacy. But each platform shows proof that following the same formula doesn’t help push progression. We have multiple online radio stations in the city that follow a similar strategy for marketing and studio production, which shows there’s little research done to help each radio brand standout amongst larger successful media. We have podcasters whose production comes off parallel to each other, which shows there’s lack of research for what’s actually working that’s helping successful podcast accelerate. It’s easy to tell who’s taking the necessary steps to push their brands and who’s not. Who’s going to be our leading TMZ of the city- breaking all the details of our industry if these brands can’t differentiate themselves?

Being similar isn’t the only thing that’s keeping Baltimore’s Underground Media from helping progress the art culture…

The rise of social media brings a wave of opinionated perspectives from every crevice and corner of the Internet. People are not afraid of sharing their thoughts online. But there comes an increase of sensitivity to opinion that has arisen which makes me concerned about the status of Baltimore City’s urban art culture. More people are sensitive to opinions, and it’s one of the reasons Baltimore’s art scene is lacking genuine underground media outlets willing to step up when it comes to critiquing Baltimore artists. This is a problem because constructive criticism is what Baltimore artists need in order to improve their crafts.
There is a downfall of quality in even the highest rated of underground media. I believe it’s caused by the lack of direction of each company’s branding techniques, and the additional pressure to chase lead stories. What we’re experiencing as readers and followers of pop culture is brands fearing their power being lost because they’re considering readers’ opinions of what they share. Instead, these companies should be focused on pure facts of what’s necessary to share and not what’s going to make them popular.

Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

The integrity of emerging media is at stake alongside the quality of artwork being circulated. Both sides need to take a moment to pause when evaluating their influence in Baltimore’s Art “Industry.” To improve the stance of our industry, the questions that should be asked by both artists and underground media are “what am I doing to help the current art community,” “Am I making a positive or negative impact in this culture,” “Is what I’m doing necessary for this industry’s growth,” and “Are there any other platforms available currently doing what I do that I can collaborate with and add my input?” Once both can answer these questions with the benefit of the city’s culture in mind and become successful, then maybe we will see a change for the better?

What do you think? Do you believe the underground media outlets in Baltimore have an impact on the stance of Baltimore’s Art Culture? Leave your comments below.

Did you read about the grand opening of Baltimore’s first ever Mini Hip-Hop Museum? Read Why Every Baltimore Artists Should Have Attended the Grand Open of In My Lifetime: MHHM on Doc’s Castle Media.

Why Every Baltimore Artist Should’ve Attended the Grand Opening of The In My Lifetime Mini Hip-Hop Museum

On the weekend of Jan 19, 2018, history was made in Baltimore. For the first time there’s a Hip-Hop museum opened in Baltimore city! As a follower of the culture in Baltimore, I speak for many when I say this is a much-needed space for aspiring artists in this city.

Located in the same building as The SAND Gallery, an art museum formerly known as the Incredible Creations Art gallery geared to showcasing the talents of the visual arts of people in the DMV and Baltimore region, the In My Lifetime: Mini Hip-Hop Museum premiered with a similar mission and to also to preserve and educate about hip-hop culture. There has never been a place in the history of hip-hop to be solely dedicated to the preservation and advancement of hip-hop culture until now.

The grand opening took place the entire weekend; from Friday to Sunday. Each day had events catered to educating and informing artists about discussions in hip-hop. The weekend at the museum was filled with book signings, workshops, and discussion panels. Each day was geared to helping people who were seriously passionate about improving their career in hip-hop.

I decided to attend the grand opening on Friday for the Put Yourself On Discussion Panel. It was a panel that every artist in Baltimore should have made their duty to not miss because it had the right information needed to be heard for any artist who wants to take their career to the next path.

Four panelists who are participants in Hip-Hop Culture shared valuable information of how knowledge gained through fully indulging themselves in hip-hop helped push their growth in their individual fields. To name a few professions that took the floor were artists managers, producers, DJ’s, publicists, former rap artists, media and brand ambassadors. Each panelist came from a seasoned background within the industry and with useful input of more than what’s in the forefront of our television screens.

These curators came with tips from avenues many artists who are eager to excel in Baltimore’s art culture are quick to omit. Some advice shared were tips on how to study people who inspire an artist’s craft, how artists should measure progression through monetization and not online attraction, the importance of staying relevant and aware of current events and entertainment news, and staying genuine to what’s desired instead focusing on being ahead of the opponent.

The material picked up at the panel could be applied to anyone pursuing a career in arts, not just people invested in hip-hop. I believe that’s why the audience was so engaged in the conversation. It was more than just about rap and the Baltimore Rap Artist. There were producers, songwriters, and even visual artists present nodding their heads in agreement to what they took in. Because the information was presented generally, I make the statement every artist should have come to the museum’s grand opening. These are resources artists in this city often complain about lacking.

As mentioned before in my first installment of my blog series Quality Vs. Quantity (Part 1), Baltimore’s art culture needs more resources to help artists improve their approach to building a legacy of brands. The In My Lifetime: Mini Hip-Hop Museum is well on its way to becoming one of those sources to help artists improve their quality. The kickoff Put Yourself On Panel was an eye-opener and extremely helpful first attempt at its premiere.

It’s looking up for the “urban” art culture in Baltimore as we see more avenues readily available to help artists. Places like Impact Hub and events like the Baltimore Beat Club help provide resources for improvement and exposure. Artists need to be aware of taking sacrifices with choosing to invest in their career progression. There is more than studio sessions and basement rap.

There has to be a way to publicize the importance of improving their quality to artists. I assume the best way is to keep talking and sharing the little things we do have and spreading what the benefits are when utilized.

But what do I know? I’m just writing myself into existence….

What do you look forward to with the opening of the In My Lifetime: Mini Hip-Hop Museum in Baltimore? What do you think it can offer to the DMV? Leave your comments below.

Have you read Quality Vs. Quantity (Part 1): The Saturation of Wanna Be Artist In Baltimore’s Art Culture? Check it out on Doc’s Castle Media.

Quality vs. Quantity (Part 1): The Saturation of Wanna Be Artists In Baltimore’s Art Culture

This blog was bound to come. For it’s been brewing for me to bring up this topic for a couple years since my article Baltimore is Too Cliqued Up to Have Supporters. I never knew how to approach it until now after years of living as a writer, artist, and social influencer in the Baltimore’s Art scene. It’s not until now that I know how to express my observations on what has changed, and what we as artists and influencers should be doing to finally let go of our crab in a barrel mentalities and work together to show the value of our city.

I decided to write a four-part blog series about the quality of the Baltimore arts scene since I’ve become a participant of the culture in 2013. When I began frequently attending open mics, showcases and other artsy events in the city, I met a lot of talented people while writing about my experiences. I learned that this culture is constantly changing but there’s a stigma that remains were artist fight for support. Though I haven’t heard the saying “Baltimore city artists are crabs in a barrel” thrown around much this past year, this city has not overcome it. So I thought I’d reflect on some of my speculations.

It all starts as a response to my friend and blogger of Uncommonrealist Shae McCoy who discusses her sudden lifestyle change as her opinion for Baltimore’s Art scene changed in her December 2017 article “Becoming an Introverted Creative: Being Seen Ain’t Always Peaches and Cream,” I’ve found a lot of bloggers and artists, including myself, who once took a front seat in being influencers of their crafts slow down and become more reserved since the 2015 Baltimore Uprising while a plethora of newcomers stood in a line awaiting for their glorious turn to have their shine in the front seat. There was a slew of folk taking larger interests in things already innovated in the present art culture, and until this day there remains a culture of creators lacking originality; very few creating a lasting impact for “real” talent represented in Baltimore.

Shae discusses her shift to becoming an introvert having sparked from observations of the social environment that surrounds Baltimore creatives. With this generation’s desire to chase instant gratification, Shae finds that she isn’t a creative that resonates with the fascination of social climb visible on social media. The temporary fame that follows instant gratitude lacks substance and becomes similar to debates contrasting quantity and quality. For people who want to be remembered for what they spend most of their lives perfecting, building a legacy is what’s most important for many artists in Baltimore. Shae doesn’t believe that a legacy can be met focusing on the attention attracted through staying abreast on social media and each amount of likes on a post does nothing but temporary boost self-esteem.

There is more to the artists that meets the eye. Have we forgotten why we like art? Have we forgotten why we pursue these artistic dreams?

Why has the art scene in Baltimore become much more saturated with people pursuing similar passions?

As social media usage breeds more creators and self-starters, an increase of there being less unique content fills the pages across our browsers. Everyone who wants to be anyone creates startups for podcasts, blogs, vlogs, websites and more. There are more rappers, painters, party promoters, models, producers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and clothing designers. The scene is lacking originality and a true understanding of good branding because everyone wants to do the same thing. It comes off as people being more ready for their big break and quick fix.

Published Book by Baltimore Photographer Devin Allen

Could these newcomers be looking for their craft to become their savior? Influencers like D. Watkins, author of memoirs The Cook Up and The Beast Side, Devin Allen, photographer and author of A Beautiful Ghetto, and Kwame Rose, activist and public speaker during Baltimore Uprising, gained recognition and a social following for their talents after the tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death. They sparked a career in their passions that people see and admire with the help of the Uprising. People from around the world seek to hear the stories of Baltimoreans during a time of adversity and these people showed a promising perspective while using their talents. They also received support from many locals because they presented a story of our city that we could all agree upon.

I once mentioned during the Uprising artist should take this moment to share what makes Baltimore city a great place to live. We should shed light on what’s positive happening rather than focus on what national media wanted to report. But never did I think that everyone would jump the gun to use their art to grasp the attention of the world.

Status published April 2015 during Baltimore Uprising

With the rise of these artists came the many crabs of the city still seeking the same gratification. But three years later, it’s evident these crabs were not understanding why these artists were getting genuine love and support from locals. Baltimore is known for its crab in a barrel mentality; which means whenever people see others succeeding they generally find ways to hold those reaching success back by not lending support or by offering alternatives that could ruin their positive climb.

In the case of the many crabs that have emerged, there isn’t much of a pull to hold others back lately, rather a saturation of the culture. There are too many people doing the same thing. There are too many artists providing a solution to an issue already resolved by other artists that paved the way for recognition. Everyone wants to provide a platform for artist to showcase talents. Everyone has an open mic. Everyone believes they have the “it” factor. The list goes on.

We used to hear, “Everyone wants to be a rapper.” We would hear it so frequently that we coined the term “Baltimore rapper” and knew immediately the persona of that individual. Now everyone wants to be anything they see another person doing within the arts. The entire country was watching us at our worse, and Baltimore artists decided it was a show-and-tell for literally everyone.

It could be the amount of likes a successful artist gets that crabs start snipping at their glimpse of hope. But that should not be the general mission for building a better reputation for a city that’s constantly slandered in national media.

We as influencers do not chase likes. We chase a legacy. We strive to be the change Baltimore city needs. We are the positive images opposing HBO’s The Wire, a series who outsiders praise and uphold as what they think is a true representation of Baltimore city. We are the people that work hard to erase those negative stereotypes. We cannot reach change chasing views and likes on Instagram or Facebook because those likes are only temporary. Those are only platforms that assist in the bigger picture.

I don’t believe it’s doing the Baltimore Arts Scene much justice having so many artists doing similar things, instead, people look like they’re incapable of being authentic. Artists that come after innovators are viewed as trend followers rather than trendsetters. That isn’t what true pushers of the Baltimore Arts culture wanted. The art culture in Baltimore is unique once you stumble across true gold. But saturation pushes the talented and influencers away from being the great representation the city needs. Thus why we hear so many people believe they must move out of Baltimore in order to truly gain the recognition they desire.

Why should we need to move away to get what we deserve? It should start from home, as it did for Rose, Allen, and Watkins. An artist who has real talent must bring the spark that makes an audience adhere to a story worth hearing. It must be original. They must work hard and strive for their legacy. It won’t happen overnight or in an instant with a click or like.

The quality of our cultural scene is still thriving because there are so many people that participate. But there should be more resources available to help artist own up to a legacy they see within themselves. It’s not enough if the artist is the only one who sees their own potential. A like does not confirm that a message has been met, and there is a desperate need for someone to force these crabs to wake up a smell the coffee.

What do you think? Is it a problem that there is more artist striving to do the same thing? Do you think Baltimore is on the right path to playing in the fields with artists who come from Atlanta, LA, and New York? Leave your comments below?

Have you read about DaCornerStore’s attempt to create a #NewBaltimore for hip-hop artist in Baltimore and my opinion of how it was a drastic fail? Read NewBaltimore or OldBaltimore? We’re all Crabs on Doc’s Castle Media.

FOOD: Kora Lee’s Gourmet Desserts in Baltimore #BusyDoingNothing Interview & Review (Watch Episode 27 of BDN Podcast)

On September 6, 2017, not even a full 3 months away, was the birth of another successful small black business in Baltimore, MD. Hellooooo Kora Lee’s Gourmet Desserts and Brunch! It’s about time I got around to sharing some new black excellence on Doc’s Castle Media.

Kora Lee’s Gourmet Dessert and Brunch is located in downtown Baltimore, directly off light rail stop of N Howard Street and W Monument Street. The neighborhood looked sketchy but what can anyone expect dinning on Howard Street, where more than half of the strip is out of business and filled with vacant buildings. But I digress because that’s a topic for another blog.

I visited this Gourmet shop while accompanying my fellow co-hosts of the Busy Doing Nothing Podcast to interview the owner of the newly open spot on Howard Street. Our faces were greeted with friendly faces as soon as we walked in. It felt like walking into your aunt’s or granny’s house on a Sunday afternoon.

The atmosphere was great. As soon as I walked in the door, I felt like I was visiting a close aunt as I caught onto the music vibes. Classic MJ played on the radio as we waited to order some southern style brunch. I had to remind myself where I was when Thriller came through the speakers because I was ready to get in-formation to perform the infamous Thriller dance. I was ready to dance for my food.

Chris, Jill and I placed our orders. I ordered The Lanrane, a southern styled cheddar biscuit smothered in creamy gravy, itsy-bitsy bites of sausages, and a side of sliced tomatoes sprinkled with parsley leaves. I’m drooling as I’m writing about it while recalling the exact taste my taste buds experienced that afternoon. Such creamy goodness surpassed all cheddary biscuits I’ve ever tasted including Red Lobster’s famous cheddar biscuits.

Jill and Chris enjoyed their dishes too. So much so they didn’t dare to demolish them on camera. They savored them for once the interview with Kora Lee was done. But as for me, it became RIP to my plate. I was “hangry” and couldn’t wait.

During our interview with Ms. Kora Lee, we discussed many topics. Just to touch on a few, we discussed her motivation to open her restaurant in Baltimore, whether she gains a lot of support from other Black people and businesses, and what’s new to expect from this young but thriving small business.

View the full interview with owner Kora Lee of Kora Lee’s Gourmet Dessert and Brunch via the Busy Doing Nothing Podcast, below.

What’s your favorite small business to support in Baltimore? Share with our readers in the comments. Let’s start a movement to build non-traditional business customs.

Be sure to like Kora Lee’s Gourmet Desserts and Brunch on Facebook, and other social media, to keep up with events happening at the restaurant.

Have you heard of the Busy Doing Nothing Podcast? Read Doc Finally Joins A Podcast Series as a Regular on Doc’s Castle Media and learn all about it!

#HipHop4ThePeople: There’s A Mini Hip-Hop Museum Coming to Baltimore

Who’s a die-hard hip-hop fan? Everyone enjoys claiming the title. In reality, it’s rare to find the truth behind who can truly be labeled a fan because many so called fans lack the knowledge of hip-hop’s true origin or how it fits into society.

Hip-hop holds history. Enough that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of books written about this art that emerged and continues to thrive since the early 1970s. Even in its birthplace there’s a grand opening scheduled possibly in 2018 for the country’s first ever hip-hop museum in the Bronx, NY. Now, Hip-hop is more than music that we dance to in our aunt’s basement celebrating birthdays. It’s a way of life.

Hip-hop does not stop at New York. All over the world, it has created a culture that people now eat, breathe, sleep and live by. Over the weekend, Baltimore artists exhibited a piece of what hip-hop consists of to them at the #HipHop4thePeople Cypher: A Mini Hip-Hop Museum fundraiser held at the SAND gallery, formerly known as the Incredible Little Art Gallery.

I attended the cypher expecting it to be like any other I’ve gone to in the art scene. But what made it different this time was majority it’s location, and that the event served a bigger purpose for the creative community.  

There has never been any platform in Baltimore created to solely pay homage to hip-hop. In fact, artists in Baltimore often nag about lack of support in the city from their peers. So when there’s a notion that a Mini Hip-Hop Museum is coming to town, local culture fanatics become excited because there is finally a place that will represent their way of living. Not only will we finally have somewhere that will represent the history of hip-hop, but also there will be a place to symbolize hip-hop from a Baltimorean’s perspective.

#HipHip4thePeople was exactly what it stated to be; for the people emerged in the culture of hip-hop. The atmosphere mimicked what hip-hoppers find familiar in a cypher’s circle. MCs took turns hopping in spitting their most vicious lyrics. Many were caught freestyling and others brought recycled hot 16 bars.  

President Karl Keels opens the evening.

Mini Hip-Hop Museum President and Creative Director Karl Keel, also known as Karlito Freeze, opened the night up as the host and DJ of the event. Event goers were queued in on where donations towards the cypher were being made. Partial proceeds were gifted to hurricane relief for Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria to aid victims in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Other funding went towards the opening of the Mini Hip-Hop Museum expected to open in early 2018.

The cypher went for an hour and was followed up with another event sponsored by the SAND Gallery, Adult Game Night. To drop a few names of MCs who participated in the evening’s cypher were:

Kontrah Diction , Da’Rious, Donnie Breeze, Ollie Voso, Mobish Rico, and Tony Ray

All rappers are from Baltimore making a name for themselves in the “game.” Hopefully, we will find them on the walls of the Mini Hip-Hop Museum in the future. Thanks, guys, for your contribution to the culture over this weekend. I know I definitely enjoyed it.

See more photos of participants in the gallery below.

When the Mini Hip-Hop Museum opens in Baltimore, what local artist do you expect to be exhibited in its halls? Leave your comments below.

Have you seen photos from the 3rd Annual Madonnari Arts Festival? View awesome chalk work done on the Baltimore street here on Doc’s Castle Media. 

Lite Work Chalk Work at Madonnari Art Festival 2017 (Gallery)

I just love art!! It is truly is my first love. Since I was 10 years, I’ve had an appreciation for it. But more and more as I indulge in the Baltimore Art Scene, I’m inspired and reminded consistently why art is forever the first love of my life.

It provokes thought and emotion from something so inanimate; without speaking a single word.

To start off September 2017, artsy Baltimore memorized a plethora of eyes throughout a number of Art festivals over the weekend. To name two Festivals with outstanding attendance, art buyers pondered creations at the 1st Annual Sticky Buns Festival hosted by Appreciate Arts located on the Ynot Lot on North Avenue, and the 44th Annual Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival in the midst of Frederick Road. But there was little attention given by my artsy peers to the art festival I attended.

Madonnari Art Festival 2017 is where I chose to feast my eyes on beauty. It was THE festival that truly made my eyes twinkle watching numerous artists work on their creations live in action, and inspired me to get into visual arts, again.

Madonnari Art Festival is annually in Little Italy, East Baltimore. This year is its third year. But the art form isn’t new to art culture. “Madonnari” has been going on since olden times. The festival is known for the immaculate pieces of chalk artwork created directly on the Baltimore City street’s asphalt.

While festival-goers stare in awe at each artist’s masterpiece, they also partake in visiting the stores and restaurants in Little Italy. But the apple of everyone’s eye for the weekend was focused primarily on the chalky artwork below their feet.

There were over 40 artists from around the country who came to Baltimore to participate in Madonnari. Some competed for prize money, and many like me came to experience the essence of the festival.

There was a variety of pieces that ranged from modern, contemporary, abstract, and even African art. So there could be a piece of every type of art to enjoy on on street.

While walking throughout the festival, you can catch some artists in the middle of their work concentrating on ways to appeal judges of the chalk artwork. Three of the judges were Master Street Artist Michael Kirby, WJZ-TV anchor and reporter Denise Koch, and Christine Sciacca, Associate Curator of the Walters Museum.

I made a gallery to share the beautiful pieces of art for views. Check them out below.

Winners of the art festival were chosen based on art categories of contemporary and classical. The winners of the 2017 Madonnari Art Festival according to Madonnari Art Festival website are as follows:

Contemporary Category
Ketty Grossi  for “Black Mamba”- 1st
Ever Galvez  for “Wild Horses”- 2nd
CarlosAlberto GH  for “Freedom to live without fear”- 3rd
Erik Greenawalt for “Cap. Harvey West, Our Guardian of Freedom”- 3rd
KC Linn for her rendition of the Shepard Fairey posters from the 2017 Women’s March on Washington – Honorable Mention and People’s Choice

Classical Category
Katie Better for “Harriet Tubman” – 1st
Tomoteru “ToMo” Saito for “Butterfly Fairy” – 2nd
Dave and Shelley Brenner for “The Birth of the Flag”- 3rd
Francesca Arsi for the “Renaissance Woman”- Honorable Mention

High School Awards
Concordia Prep for “Modern Madonnari” – Classical
Baltimore School for the Arts for “We must fight for our freedoms”- Contemporary

What do you think about the Madonnari Artwork? Would you go to the 4th Annual Madonnari Art Festival in 2018? Leave your comments below.

Have you heard of Walk-A-Mile In Her Shoes event, where men put on a pair of red pumps to spread awareness of Domestic violence in Baltimore? Read GBMC Working to End Domestic Violence Through Gender Role Reversal on Doc’s Castle Media.