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Artscape 2018 could have been called Rainscape. From my 19th floor condominium in Mount Vernon, I watched sheets of rain blow across the festival on Saturday, and on Sunday, as soon as I saw blue in the sky, I walked the three blocks to arrive just in time for another torrential downpour. And… it could not have been more wonderful. African drumming and antique Edison lamps and carved Maryland flags and modern dancers in jewel-toned unitards and gold lamee stilt-walkers and country singers and pit beef on hard rolls and crabcakes and… joy. The only kind of joy that can be had by people of all backgrounds, rain-drenched and art-drunk, walking and talking and dancing and singing as a testament to the universality of art.
As I left the festival on Sunday evening I watched the most beautiful sampling of people swing dancing on a rain-drenched street, their blackened bare feet gliding on the cool, wet asphalt. Their joy, moving in rhythmic unison, was the joy that lives within the people of our city, our state, and our country. Congratulations to the entire staff of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts for holding the space for us to come together and be reminded of what is important. If you’ve never been, mark your calendar for Artscape 2019. Don’t forget your raincoat!
Ken Skrzesz, Executive Director, Maryland State Arts Council