For many who live in (and hopefully around) Baltimore, this was a big weekend. A week of road closures lead us up to the largest free arts festival in the country: Artscape!
As predicted it was hot. And there may or may not have been some crazy hurricane like storms that blew through on Saturday, but all in all it was a beautiful event. In a city full of festivals all summer long, this one is probably my favorite. I love that you can walk the streets, and see artists selling their craft. From photography, to screen printing, to blown glass. There was jewelry, there were amazing prints, and there was furniture. There was truly something for everyone, including funnel cake, deep fried Reese’s cups, and beer.
And for the second time, there was Fashion Block. Put together by the Baltimore Fashion Alliance, it included not only vendors, but a runway for fashion shows. To say I was excited about attending this specific block of Artscape would be an understatement. Every event needs time to get it’s legs under it, but I think there has got to be a way to shine more of a spotlight on this type of art in the future.
Please hear me out. I know that these events take people hours to plan, and that every vendor is carefully selected. Fashion shows require casting models, styling looks, deciding on a soundtrack and practice. I also know that events take money to put on. Runway’s don’t come free, ya know? And looking at all of that, Fashion Block was great. But here’s what I think could be done differently. Fashion Block was less a block, and more a parking lot. And while yes, there was a runway, there was also a widely publicized Artscape stage (the Station North stage) less than half a block away. Sure there were live bands playing, but couldn’t it have been worked out to alternate fashion shows AND bands? Couldn’t one fill the space between the other? Or better yet, schedule the fashion shows at the top of every hour for 15-20 min and then have DJ’s fill the other 40-45 min? It would keep the energy up, bring people up to that part of the festival. It would give them a reason to dance in the street!
For an event that claims to be about the arts, is fashion not art? Why tuck something that is evidently a scene in this city into a parking lot blocks away from the “heart” of the event? Fashion Block was well planned, but if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t have even been able to seek it out. Why? Because it wasn’t listed on a single official Artscape map.
Baltimore may not be New York City. And it probably never will be. It isn’t going to be LA, or Chicago either. As you strolled through the blocks of the Artist’s Market this weekend it was obvious that there is a vibrant arts scene in this city, with many local artists represented. So why not give the same opportunity to the local designers. Share that big stage with them, so they can show off their work to those sipping $8 beers in the street, and buying art they didn’t realize they wanted until they saw it. Fashion is art too. And I promise that there were things at Fashion Block I didn’t realize I wanted. And they came home with me, to happily join my art collection: My Closet.
Kudos to the Baltimore Fashion Alliance for putting all the work into this event. And to all the vendors (listed below). Let’s hope next year, we can get Artscape to pull you out of the parking lot, and into the street. Where a big stage, and prominent runway will show off all the hard work of these designers.
Go-Go’s Retread Threads
Christopher Schafer Clothier
Handmade Jewelry by Rachel Mulherin
Wear It Out Wednesdays
Ella Moda Couture
Roc The Bloc
Future Generation Clothing
Garbs for Good
Kaliente Shoes Kollection
Super Rad Designs
Chloe & Isabel
Little White Fashion Truck
Designs by Maria MBouje
J. Ciro Designs
Magda’s Style Room