A Trifecta of Baltimore Museums

American Visionary Art Museum exterior

A Hot & Humid August Trip to Charm City Delivered the Goods!

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art has evolved to deploy a simple vision statement: The belief that access to art and ideas is integral to a vibrant and healthy civic life. This viewpoint is at the heart of the BMA, and remains as part of their core values. The collection is rather extraordinary, and delightful to peruse. Here’s a little visual sample platter of some spaces housing the collection:

Here are some individual works that caught my eye on this particular visit:

I was hoping to see an old friend which we sold to the museum in 2017, a masterwork by African-American Abstract Expressionist painter Norman Lewis, but it was not on display. Here’s an image of the work hanging at our gallery in Hudson:

Norman Lewis – Autumn Flight (1956)

Onward to another of Baltimore’s public treasures, the vastly underrated Walters Art Museum. The Walters Art Museum, was founded and opened in 1934. Its collections of major American art and sculpture was established during the mid-19th century. The collectors were a father and son – William Thompson Walters (1819–1894), who began collecting in 1861, and Henry Walters (1848–1931), who refined the collection and made arrangements for the construction of a later landmark building to rehouse it.

I had never been to The Walters, so this was an extra special first-time treat. The museum has been free to the public since 2006, and I must say the experience was breathtaking. The collection is displayed well, and the lack of crowds on the day I visited provided a tranquil connection to the masterworks within the walls. Here are a few images of the spaces:

Some individual paintings also stood out. Truly spectacularly masterwork level artworks for these artists.

A final treat was seeing a version of important Neoclassical American sculptor William Henry Rinehart’s (1825-1874) “Woman of Samaria” . Two life size versions of this sculpture were created, one for William Walters and the other for New York Governor Edward Morgan. Later eight reductions (slightly smaller than life size) versions were made, one of which we own. The right photo below contrasts our work, which is housed at our salon here in Hudson, with The Walter’s example. The left photo shows the work at the museum, looking regal.

My final stop was at an underrated gem of a museum, where instead of viewing the establishment art world’s acknowledged and validated master artists and works, we get to see the work of self-taught, outsider, and visionary artists. Behold the American Visionary Art Museum, located in the Federal Hill neighborhood with its sweeping views of Baltimore’s inner harbor.

I’ll keep this review of my visit fairly visual in nature, as well as impressionist in my takeaway. It was refreshing, inspiring, and impressive to see the work of humans who create for the sake of creating, and don’t endeavor to fit their dreams, desires, and demons into the art world’s established frameworks and systems. It is a museum that reminds us we are all artists, if we want to be, and there is nothing stopping us from creating art! Even the gift shop was a revelation.

Well, that pretty well sums up my excellent adventures in Baltimore, a city well worth visiting for the art…and the crab cakes!

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