As we close out 2017 I’m thank for the numerous neighbors, leaders, artists, and organizations I have had the honor of working with to Make Place Happen in Baltimore and beyond. From championing pedestrian accessibility around Druid Hill Park, to exploring the robust and emerging civic spaces and public art projects of Arlington County, to colorfully reconfiguring concrete paving for playful action, place is truly what we made of it. Public space is not just constructed out of tactile materials like pavement, landscaping, and benches, but also the intangible – knowledge, organizing, and programming. Through New Public Sites walking tours we poetically re-experienced everyday public spaces while learning from community leaders and civil servants how to affect change at the block level. Artscape showed that streets and bridges don’t have to be just for cars, but can also be spaces for ecstatic pedestrian interactions. Workshops like the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Visioning Home created spaces for inclusively mapping out creative futures for the city. I am inspired by my collaborators who believe that we can expand such temporary zones of autonomy into lasting places of accessibility, well-being, joy, and freedom.
As part of 12th annual Free Fall Baltimore, New Public Sites is offering three exciting tours – Mondawmin Crossings, Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift, and Druid Hill Reservoir Interchange. The fall 2017 New Public Sites walking tours series focuses on a combination of interlocking issues: pedestrian safety, the state of Baltimore’s water infrastructure, and access to public space.
These tours are made possible with support from Free Fall Baltimore and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Free Fall Baltimore is produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) and presented by BGE with additional support from The Abell Foundation, Atapco Properties, Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
October 14, 3-4:30pm Click here to learn more and register
Greater Mondawmin is a collection of strong neighborhoods sharing an array of educational, recreational, and shopping opportunities. Unfortunately, residents are unable to safely walk or bike to our local amenities due to streetscape barriers like the dangerous highways that ring Druid Hill Park and Mondawmin Mall. Mondawmin Crossings will be an interactive walking tour exploring opportunities for improving how local residents connect with our many valuable community places.
October 21, 2-3:30pm Click here to learn more and register
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a celebrated success of waterfront redevelopment, but its spectacular looks disguise a contested past and challenging present. Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift tour participants will discover the real stories of how powerful people, visionary plans, and community movements are still transforming the former industrial wharf into a premiere public space for all.
[Rescheduled] Nov 4, 2-4pm Click here to learn more and register
Druid Hill Reservoir Construction Interchange will explore the overlapping embankments and sidewalks to nowhere between the Jones Falls Expressway and the Druid Hill Park Reservoir. The tour will focus on the history of the the park and surrounding highways, and details about the current reservoir construction project. Along the way, we will also share about the community movement afoot supporting pedestrian safety improvements around the park.
FGLA’s Interactive Periscope Public Art for Central Avenue approved by Baltimore City
The Baltimore City Public Art Commission approved FGLA’s public art concept for an interactive Periscope tower and plaza at the intersection of Central Avenue and Pratt Street. This work is the percent-for-art commission part of the Central Avenue streetscape project. The Periscope’s angled mirrors will make it possible for people walking by to see elevated views of the neighborhood. Its color, form, and integrated plaza are inspired by local waterways, including City Springs, Harford Run, and the Patapsco River. The 25’ tall Periscope will be constructed of cast-in-place concrete, colored plexiglass supported by a welded frame, and surrounded by a plaza of integral color concrete. Inscribed on the obelisk pedestal will be the names of the three local water bodies that makeup the watershed where the Periscope stands.
The triangle crossing at Pratt Street offers a unique opportunity for a truly public, plaza-like place along Central Avenue. The angled intersection provides panoramic views of Baltimore’s diverse pasts and futures. From this vantage one can see historical rowhomes, public housing in transition, public art, and ongoing development up and down Central Avenue. The view facing east frames City Springs school, which takes its name from a spring that once existed where its athletic field now lays. Synthesizing these views, Periscope will stand as an obelisk-like monument to water in place and pedestrian oversight. Inverting the hierarchy of Baltimore’s omnipresent blue surveillance lights, the tower will empower pedestrians with elevated views of their surroundings while colorfully evoking the water cycle of precipitation, collection, and flow.
Periscope will be fabricated and installed in 2019.
Periscope nighttime view facing southeast.
Periscope street view perspective featuring periscopic mirrors reflecting a nearby building.
Periscope plan feature blue integral color concrete plaza.
The Baltimore Greenway Trail Network is an exciting vision for connecting our amazing urban trails and park system into a 35-mile loop around the city. I support this vision and have been working with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Bikemore to communicate the many exciting traffic calming and public health benefits of the proposal. With their support, last fall I was able to collaborate with neighbors on creating a demonstration public art crosswalk at Gwynns Falls Parkway and Auchentoroly Terrace that called attention to the need for such safety and connectivity improvements.
Rails-to-Trails and the city have begun a long process of engagement to design the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network. Last night I attended the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition public meeting regarding their proposal for a multi use path down the middle of 33rd Street. Below are the concerns I heard, plus some facts.
- Concern: No one tried to inform neighbors about the Greenway Trail Network plan. Fact: Rails-to-Trails has been reaching out to community associations for at least year now. I first heard about the plan in February 2016. Several meetings have been held for both 33rd Street and Gwynns Falls Parkway communities, including last night’s gathering. This is the beginning of the planning process, not the end. Nothing is approved or fully designed. Lets keep on participating!
- Concern: A median trail will destroy the historic Olmsted plan for boulevards connecting Baltimore’s parks. Fact: over 100 years ago, the Olmsteds’ designed numerous multi-use, tree-lined paths for cities across the country. The Baltimore plan for boulevards connecting parks was never fully realized and quickly compromised by increased car traffic choking off the median green spaces from people who would like to use them. A median trail will in fact help properly realize the Olmsteds’ historic vision for Baltimore.
- Concern: A median trail will kill trees. Fact: there are numerous examples of historic and modern trails that do not kill trees. The city’s arborist must approve any such design, and the proposal is for a pervious trail surface that will allow the trees to continue to thrive.
- Concern: The trail will take away green space used by kids for playing. Fact: I lived on 33rd Street for five years with a bedroom overlooking the median. I never saw kids playing because the median is locked off from pedestrians by curbs and dangerous traffic. A median trail will make the space safe and accessible for kids learning to ride bikes, people traveling in wheelchairs, walkers, runners, and cyclists.
- Concern: The trail will cause an increase in car traffic. Fact: the trail’s many bumpouts and crosswalks will help slow the dangerous traffic on 33rd while giving people more options for commuting without needing a car, thereby reducing traffic.
From 2008-2013 I lived on 33rd Street and wished we could add a path down the middle and calm traffic. In 2013 I moved to Auchentoroly Terrace and now hold similar pedestrian safety and connectivity hopes for our community. Many of my neighbors and I are excited to help support the median trail proposal for the Olmsted-designed Gwynns Falls Parkway. A multi use, center-running trail will help calm traffic and enable our many differently abled neighbors to connect with Druid Hill and Leakin Parks. I’m excited to share this vision with my friends and former neighbors along 33rd Street
— Graham (a guy who likes to hang out on median strips)
Read about the trail network from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: https://www.railstotrails.org/our…/trail-projects/baltimore/
More facts from BikeMore: https://www.bikemore.net/news/fact-check-the-greenways-trail-network-plan-is-awesome-support-it
Get ready for an exciting spring of New Public Sites radical walking tours in Baltimore City and Arlington, Virginia. Mark your calendars to get lost on foot:
New Public Sites & Baltimore Heritage
I am jazzed to be offering my two most popular Baltimore tours in partnership with Baltimore Heritage. Half of all proceeds from my next Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift and Crossing the Highway to Nowhere tours will go to supporting Baltimore Heritage’s important work preserving our city’s divers built history.
Saturday, March 18, 2-4pm – Inner Harbor w/ Baltimore Heritage
$15 tickets. Click here for more info and to register.
Saturday, April 1, 2-4pm – Crossing the Highway to Nowhere w/ Baltimore Heritage
$15 tickets. Click here for more info and to register.
If you walk halfway from the Inner Harbor to the Highway to Nowhere, you will find yourself in the Bromo District, a vibrant and ever changing arts neighborhood and employment center. As part of the Front exhibit curated by Betty Gonzales, I am leading Bromo Spectacular!, two different tours exploring invisible public spaces and artist-led development projects along Howard Street and surrounding blocks. Both Bromo Spectacular! Tours are free. Click here for details.
Saturday, April 22, 4-6pm – Bromo Spectacular – Tunneling Revival
Meet at the Metro Station entrance at 301 N Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Followed by Front opening reception 6-9pm at Le Mondo
Saturday, April 29, 2-4pm – Bromo Spectacular – Voids & Vistas
Meet in front of Current Space, 421 N Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Now let’s say you got lost and end up walking fifty miles southwest. You would not only beat the DC gridlock, but also end up in Arlington, Virginia. Arlington is an impressively old yet historically suburban county now coursing with high-density, transit-oriented infill development. This is the wave of the future yall, so start looking forward to exploring and reimagining the urban and suburban spaces of Lee Highway, Courthouse, and Columbia Pike! Offered by Arlington Arts in partnership with Walk Arlington. Tours are free. Click here for details. Registration links below.
After years of research, dozens of interviews, and months of planning, I’m excited to announce my latest New Public Sites walking tour: Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift. The general public is invited to explore invisible public spaces hidden in plain sight on this alternative walking tour of Baltimore’s most recognizable public space.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a celebrated success of waterfront redevelopment, but its spectacular looks disguise a contested past and challenging present. During the Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift tour, we uncover the real stories of how powerful people, visionary plans, and community movements are still transforming the former industrial wharf into a premiere public space for all. Through poetic interpretation and participatory activities, I show how secret loading docks, coded brick patterns, environmental engineering, and forgotten monuments all reveal Baltimore’s hidden truths.
Great news! Falon Mihalic and I won the permanent public art commission for the Baltimore Central Ave Streetscape project. We are excited to meet with the project team and neighborhood stakeholders in Baltimore starting next week. Read our full announcement below!
Public Artists Graham Coreil-Allen and Falon Mihalic won the Baltimore Central Avenue Streetscape Percent for Art commission to create a permanent work of public art on Central Avenue.
Baltimore City’s Central Avenue Streetscape project encompasses major improvements running from Baltimore to Lancaster Streets. Falon-Graham-Land-Art (FGLA) will work with the Department of Transportation, Floura Teeter Landscape Architects, and the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts to incorporate a public art project into the Central Avenue corridor.
To the Central Avenue Streetscape project, FGLA brings creative vision and public space experience, an ability to listen to and work with constituents, and local sensitivity to history, the environment and public space potential. Falon designs landscapes and public artwork rooted in local ecology and culture. Graham Coreil-Allen works on numerous socially-engaged projects that activate public spaces. Together, Mihalic and Coreil-Allen will develop a project that will be inclusive of local communities and their deep historical heritages, contribute to ecological awareness, and foster a strong visual and spatial experience for Central Avenue participants.
Previously, FGLA were national finalists in the Baltimore Red Line Art-in-Transit Public Art competition to integrate public art into the Poppleton Station transit plaza. Combining our local insight with international experience, FGLA is committed to improving Baltimore through public art placemaking, built environment know-how, green-practice expertise, and playful pedestrian design.
Follow our public art process on instagram and twitter: @falonland @grahamprojects #publicart4centralave #FGLA
Graham Coreil-Allen, Graham Projects, grahamprojects.com
Falon Mihalic, Falon Land Studio, falonland.com
I’m honored and excited to acknowledge my role helping to co-organize the art voting initiative Citizen Artist Baltimore along with my friend and fellow arts and equity advocate Rebecca Chan. Citizen Artist Baltimore is a non-partisan advocacy effort that is helping to mobilize the creative community in Baltimore City, by providing the opportunity for mayoral candidates to outline their positions and goals related to arts, culture and humanities. The effort serves as a call to action for individuals, organizations, and institutions to work together to advance inclusion of these issues in the April 2016 Primary Mayoral Election and beyond. The initiative also encourages voter registration and long-term engagement in the democratic process. We are collecting the top priorities of people who care about the arts through a citywide series of six facilitated listening sessions in January 2016. Input gathered from these listening sessions will be used to inform a questionnaire that will be sent to mayoral candidates in February. All candidate responses will be made public, and will culminate in a March candidate forum leading up to the April 26, 2016 Primary Election.
As all of my public art projects, I’m operating in a few different ways to to amplify our message and mobilize participants. As the initiative’s Creative Director, I designed the the #CitizenArtistBmore visual identity above, built the website, assisted with co-writing all of the copy featured, am designing all of the print collateral (such as these fun buttons), and am documenting events and pushing a multimedia story out across our facebook and twitter pages. As a co-organizer, I’ve been working closely with Rebecca, GBCA, MCA and our diverse steering committee members to host our series of six listening sessions across the city. We talking with anyone who benefits from arts and culture about their top priorities with it come to the arts, Baltimore City, and our next mayor. From block parties and creative upstarts to public art and marching band performances, the arts have for decades been making a tremendous social and economic impact in Baltimore. We all know this and want to make sure that the next mayor includes arts and culture in their vision for healing and strengthening an already vibrant and unparalleled cultural epicenter: Baltimore, the Greatest City in America.
As the future of 2016 grows from burgeoning horizon, I wanted share a few updates on recent current projects. Last year proved exceptional for my public art mission to interpret, critique, activate and improve the public space of our everyday lives.
I had the great privilege of staging my first true solo show with ICA Baltimore at Current Space last spring. With the support of a Rubys Grant, my show SiteLines was the culmination of a series of radical walking tours I organized in 2014 seeking to understand overlooked public spaces in and around some of Baltimore’s highway foleys and pedestrian malls. It so happened that the show opened just as the Baltimore Uprising began to take shape in the streets.
The day of the first major Freddie Gray march, I led 44 participants on my Crossing the Highway to Nowhere tour. As I talked about West Side struggles against top-down planning, a helicopter hovering over the nearby protest split off and followed us as we gathered at the edge of Route 40. After crossing the highway our group began to head back to the gallery, only to run directly into the Freddie Gray march. To join was urgently appropo. On that day a modest crowd of Radical Pedestrians merged with a much larger force of walking movement in our city.
After SiteLines, I was invited to develop a New Public Sites project exploring the invisible sites, contradictory features and historical spirits embedded in downtown Rockville for Come Back to Rockville, a two person show with Naoko Wowsugi at VisArts curated by Laura Roulet. Naming my project, “The Ragged Edge of Rockville”, I created a gallery installation, shot new videos and staged a series of tours in and around VisArts, the Rockville Library, the Beall Dawson House and a special gravesite. Along the way we learned that Rockville twice entirely razed its downtown. What’s since emerged is an uncanny image of pedestrian urbanism embedded with the beginnings of civic spaces while hiding parking garages for car-bound shoppers. Thankfully the various redevelopment schemes spared the town’s historic Catholic cemetery – final resting place for literary icons F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, Mark Jenkins at the Washington Post took a stroll through the gallery and wrote this review.
Immediately following my Rockville drift, I began work on another New Public Sites tour and installation, this time in collaboration with McDaniel College students and residents of Union Street in Westminster, Maryland. I was honored to have “New Public Sites – McDaniel / Westminster” commissioned by curator Izabel Galliera for her group show Alternative Cartographies. Through a new map, bulletin boards and Shards of Site, we investigated the overlooked yet meaningful public spaces between an idyllic hilltop and historic neighboring streets. New Public Sites are not just in big cities, but also among rural towns and suburbs alike. Rebecca Juliette from BmoreArt still made it up and posted this on the group show.
Infinite Thanks for all the support. Let’s keep on projecting thoughts from radical walks through 2016 and beyond. Check back for updates on my forthcoming tour shattering Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Spectacle, and other delightful spring walks.
PS: Many thanks also to Baltimore Clayworks and School 33 for the opportunities to lead wanders through Mount Washington and of Baltimore City’s amazing murals.
With the conclusion of my ICA Baltimore solo show at Current Space last week, my year-long, Rubys Artist Project Grant funded series SiteLines is now complete. From New Public Sites tours of sub/urban ambiguity, to videos, banners and shattered piles of shards, the spirit of place in Baltimore lives on. Thanks to everyone who provided financial support, person-power, guidance and participation. You are all truly Radical Pedestrians. Below is a recap of the infinite freedom produced.
GalleriesSiteLines Tours & Videos gallery SiteLines Exhibit gallery
ToursCrossing the Highway to Nowhere walking tour Reservoir Chill walking tour Old Town Wandering walking tour Power Plant Alive! walking tour Wandering Shards of Specter Riches walking tour
MultiplesSiteLines Chapbook Remote Sidewalk Sublime print