Sunday, July 22, 2012

Baltimore Artscape

Today was an interesting day.

I arrived to Baltimore about 1am in order to find parking that would be strategically close to the entrance to Artscape festival.  After driving around for a little while and checking out all the road closures (that, by the way, takes some intense concentration with a 35ft school bus and no navigator to tell me which way to go...) I settled on an extremely high-profile spot right on the corner of two major roads.  On one side of me was a train stop (they call it light rail here, though I'd call it a tram) and on the other was a 6 lane wide road, plus it was right in front of the light.  It was an intense place to sleep - trains run pretty late and even after they stopped there seemed to be more emergency vehicle activity than I have ever seen, so I can't say I got a full night sleep.  It did turn out to be the most secure spot of all because after opening my curtains in the morning I discovered that just on the other side of the train tracks was a major congregation of police of all sorts - state troopers, metro and regular police as well as Artscape security personnel.  They even had a K-9 unit and an RV with two tall pols with cameras pointing every which way, so I felt very safe leaving the bus in the middle of a rushing crowd and going in and exploring this thing they call Artscape.

Baltimore claims that their arts festival is the largest one in US.  I don't know what they base it on - attendance, number of booths or the amount of food sold...  I don't think it's the number of booths (at least not the art ones I hope) - they did block off a very big area, but there seemed to be about the same amount of actual ART vendors as at any small arts fest in any local San Diego town - they just were spread out and separated by a larger number of enormous food vending tents.  And boy were there a lot of those.... Fried food was dominant and the price gouging was at it's peak.  Attendance-wise it was pretty impressive.  The crowd grew toward the afternoon and walkways were quite full of browsers and onlookers. 

I set up my photos rather indiscreetly using a black blanket on a lawn by a spot where I would not detract attention form other vendors.  Along with prints for sale I also made a sign offering Polaroid portraits for $15.  I used a newly-acquired Polaroid 600 SE camera with a Mamiya 127mm lens and a back loaded with Fuji FP100c film.  A lot of people asked me where I get the film and how I continue finding black and white printing supplies.  I was happy to explain it all to them and gave out plenty of information about current state of analog photography.  It seems that 90% or more of the common audience thinks that Kodak as a company no longer exists at all due to the news that they were filing for bankruptcy a while back... I was glad to correct that and inform them that thankfully Kodak decided to commit to continuing making film, paper and chemistry and urged people to continue buying their products.  Impossible Project was also mentioned multiple times as people do indeed miss the magic of instant photography.  In the end I sold quite a few photos and spent a pack of FP100c on portraits with which my customers were very happy.  One of them, under the influence I must admit, even sang Paul Simons song Kodachrome with me and declared that that is one of his favorite songs of all time, which made me very happy.

My last customer, who bought one of my favorite fiber prints from California Rainbow Gathering engaged me in a lengthy conversation and found out that I had no place to stay for the night and no real further plan of action.  She generously offered me to come park in front of her house and I was more than happy to accept her invitation.  Driving out of Baltimore (again with no navigator on board and with streets either being one way going the wrong way or closed period) was a bit crazy, but I finally managed to find an entrance to highway 83 going north and am currently in a small town about 20 miles north of Baltimore. 

I plan on staying here for 1-3 days while figuring out my next step.  Since nobody I was in contact with in NYC has a place for the bus, I am going to avoid that city for now and stick to smaller towns across America where streets are wider and people are mellower. I think I will indeed make it up to Maine, which was the plan all along, but I recently, since being left on my own by Mr. Kalem, I was not sure if it's going to happen.  There should be a small regional Rainbow Gathering happening there and I will continue my documentary series of that wonderful piece of Americana.  I do love regional Gatherings as they feel a lot more personal and it's a lot easier to meet almost every attendee.

I hope to have some more news before I go to Maine... Let's see where I show up next, right?  Rochester, NY...? I think that would be a worthy stop.



  1. Hey Anton, John Taylor, found your blog and am glad you found a parking spot for a few days. Keep me posted on when you may be back this way

  2. … oh and nice post on your experience at Artscape too

  3. One of my favorite art festivals in one of my favorite cities (and my former home of 15 years)