To those who live outside the city, Baltimore is a host of contradictions. It is considered the most Southern city in the North — or the most Northern city in the south, depending upon your point of view. It is seen as gritty and sometimes gutsy, a place that can be charming and even historic in a quaint, old-fashioned — and definitely unhip — way.
But to those on the inside, Baltimore is place with a booming, DIY arts scene. It’s where three world famous art museums stand alongside pop-up galleries and underground music clubs. Where avant-garde theaters, outdoor arts festivals and independent film festivals thrive. It’s a growing cultural mecca — one both supported and fueled by the MICA community.
Locals have long known about Baltimore’s advantages, and with the fourth largest growth of young-adult populations in the U.S., a new generation is in on the secret as well.
National publications are taking notice.
In the past few months, Baltimore’s arts scene — as well as MICA and its alumni — have been singled out by Forbes, The New York Times, Southwest: The Magazine and the travel giant Expedia.
Named one of the “10 Coolest Cities to Visit in 2018” by Forbes, Baltimore was singled out for its “burgeoning arts scene.” In addition, the city was hailed as the home of MICA alumni Amy Sherald ’04 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting M.F.A.), who recently received worldwide attention when her portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery.
Baltimore was also ranked 15 on the New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2018.” One of the top U.S. cities on a list that includes locations around the globe, Baltimore was selected for its “packed cultural calendar.” The Times drew specific attention to the annual Light City festival, which transforms Baltimore into a hub of art and innovation through large-scale light installations, music and social change conferences. And this year, six MICA alumni are among the artists from around the world taking part in the annual event.
The publication’s recent “36 Hours in Baltimore” highlighted arts organizations with significant MICA ties — including the Creative Alliance in East Baltimore — as well as Station North Arts, home to the College’s Fred Lazarus IV Center.
Baltimore was also featured in the February issue of Southwest: The Magazine, the in-flight publication of Southwest Airlines with a monthly reach of more than 5 million readers. Touting Baltimore as “the city you’re missing,” the article takes an in-depth look at Baltimore’s cultural scene and its people, including MICA alumnus Hilton Carter ’02 (G.F.A.), a filmmaker and fine artist who lives in the city’s Hampden neighborhood.
In naming Baltimore one of America’s “Most Artistic Towns,” the travel giant Expedia stated, “With one of the top-rated art schools in the nation, world-renowned museums and galleries, emerging underground scenes, and a packed calendar of events, this harbor city is piquing a lot of interest as one of the top art towns in America.”
Expedia also took note of MICA’s tenets, naming them “an impressive vision for an art-shaped future.”