Space-themed Artscape 2016 lifts off in Baltimore

Posted at 6:09 PM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 18:09:31-04

Artscape, the nation’s largest free arts festival, kicked off in Baltimore for its 35th year on Friday.

More than 350,000 people attend the event each year. Organizers added some new features to keep people coming back.

This year, all of the food vendors are local, Wyclef Jean and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are two of a number of musical arts performing, there are indoor venues so people can avoid the heat, and the art was designed to give visitors an out of this world experience.

“Our theme this year is ‘Space: Explore what's out there,’” said Megan Bosse, a communications associate, with the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA).

The space theme is being incorporated into a number of art exhibits.

“It is the entire solar system assembled as inflatables that create a space that is also a space,” said Brian Stansbury, an artist and professor at Morgan State University. His exhibit is featured in “Space Place” located on Charles Street. 

Stansbury along with 15 of his students created the inflatable sculptures representing planets in the solar system in just six weeks.

“I want people to learn a little bit more about the solar system, and a little bit about what a large group of people can do in a short amount of time if they work together well,” Stansbury said.

His exhibit is literally hard to miss, but festival go-ers will also get to see some of the smaller artists and vendors. More than 150 artists are selling items in the artist’s market.

“This artist has taken the wood from Sandtown and made beautiful tables and chairs, and candleholders. It’s a way of recycling, and not just focusing all of the creativity on the literal art here but our art of community,” said Thomas Brightman.

“Everything we use is stuff that’s coming out of old buildings, rowhomes, other buildings, warehouses, stuff like that around the city that otherwise would be tossed away. So, we instead save it, give it a second chance and hopefully create some beautiful pieces out of it,” said James Battaglia, general manager for Sandtown Millworks.

Art is, of course, the centerpiece but the food, drinks, music, and activities add to the fun. Event organizers also made sure to factor in the heat and to create cooling stations so people can still enjoy the festival.

“We have a lot of misting stations throughout the festival, and Baltimore City Fire Department actually brought one of their fire trucks,” Bosse said. 

“It’s a have-to. It’s just something you have to, no matter how hot it is, you come here and have a good time because all the art is just wonderful,” said Susan Brightman.

“I love that it’s a free festival in Baltimore. It’s one of the few things Baltimore truly does for the people in Baltimore,” Stansbury said.

BOPA also created an phone app for people to download, It includes a map and let's you customize your schedule. The festival continues through Sunday. For more information, click here.

For a list of road closures around the festival, click here.