Explore Baltimore’s invisible public spaces through sharable videos, walking tours and an immersive gallery installation.
ICA Baltimore presents Baltimore public artist Graham Coreil-Allen presents SiteLines, a multimedia collection of online videos, experimental walking tours and an immersive art installation at Current Gallery featuring banners, photography, typography and cartography derived from nearby invisible public spaces.
Open Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Opening Reception: Friday, April 24, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Artist Talk and Closing Reception: Friday, May 15, 6 p.m. Artist Talk, 7 – 9 p.m. reception
New Public Sites YouTube Channel youtube.com/npsvt First SiteLines video posts Friday, March 13 New videos will be post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. through May 8
Walking Tours Schedule:
Saturday, April 25, 2-4pm – Crossing the Highway to Nowhere
Explore interchanging embankments around The Highway to Nowhere while boldly crossing where many have walked before.
Saturday, May 2, 2-4pm – Formative Drift
Experience the drama of theaters in ruins and on the rise, and feel Baltimore’s enduring Formstone facades through site-specific performances, tasty sandwiches and foldable sketches. Tour in collaboration with artists Laure Drogoul, Carly Bales and Gary Kachadourian.
Saturday, May 9, 2-4pm – Wandering Shards
Bring your personal expertise to help lead an improvised group tour of nearby public space while collecting found object souvenirs to be displayed in the gallery.
All tours are free and open to the public. We walk for 45-60 minutes at a moderate pace. Voluntary physical activities include climbing stairs, laying down, and stepping over obstacles.
Sitelines is a translation of Coreil-Allen’s New Public Sites walking tours into a participatory video web series capturing the artist and walking tour participants as they playfully explore public space while he shares the sites’ histories, design, and uses. The ongoing New Public Sites project interprets the overlooked and invisible sites within cities, investigates the negotiable nature of public space, and pushes the boundaries of pedestrian agency. Filming for the first season of SiteLines began in September 2014 with four tours: Crossing the Highway to Nowhere, Reservoir Chill, Old Town Walking Revival and Power Plant Alive! These collections of new public sites are connected by suburban style development in an urban context, including freeways and pedestrian malls. Videos from these walks will be incorporated into a larger installation of banners, photography, typography, found object sculptures and a gallery-size map at Baltimore’s Current Gallery, opening on April 24. During the course of the three week exhibition, Coreil-Allen will also lead three walking tours in collaboration with additional artists working in the surrounding Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District. All tours are free and open to the public.
Graham Coreil-Allen is a public artist who explores the constructs and contradictions of public space through videos, maps, crosswalks, and walking tours. Coreil-Allen recently completed the Hopscotch Crosswalks in downtown Baltimore and his walking tours have been showcased around the United States and at the US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Current Space is an artist-run gallery, studio, and a headquarters for cultural production, nourishing an ongoing dialogue between artists, activists, performers, designers, curators, and thinkers. Operating since November 2004, we are committed to showcasing, developing, and broadening the reach of artists locally and internationally.
My Neighbors, Baltimore and Maryland need Governor-elect Larry Hogan to save the Red Line
As a Baltimore City homeowner, professional artist, millennial and pedestrian, I am expressing my unequivocal support for the Red Line as planned by the MTA. Governor-elect Larry Hogan must help our city achieve its fullest social and economic potential by making this long-planned transit project a reality.
I moved to Baltimore City in 2008 to go to MICA, and have since stayed, got a job teaching art, bought a house and joined an ever growing community that I love. With my student loans, I cannot afford to own a car, and therefore must walk, cycle and take transit within a certain radius of my home. I honestly could not have afforded to stay in Baltimore were it not for metro access to downtown and light rail access to BWI airport.
Building the Red Line will give our transit starved neighbors in East and West Baltimore, and the County access to jobs while also attracting new residents who are unable or prefer to not rely on the expenses of owning a car for work. The construction period is estimated to generate nearly 10,000 jobs and its completion is expected to create access to more than 200,000 jobs within the next 15 years.
The Red Line will not only serve East and West Baltimore, but also multiply the effectiveness of our regional rail transit network through integrated connections at key hubs. Such regional impact will also help the state as a whole by attracting environmentally friendly new urban development while preserving vital farmland across the state.
Great urban cities need great transit – just look at NYC, Boston, DC and even LA. The Red Line is no doubt expensive, but no more so than other similar rail transit projects around the country, such as Portland’s Milwaukie Light Rail line. For 12+ years the MTA has worked closely with residents along the Red Line corridor to plan this shared vision. People wanted trains on dedicated tracks, not buses on clogged roads. Changing the current plan by even a few feet will mean losing nearly $1 billion in secured federal funding. With Red Line planning this far along, and Baltimore City and County residents in need of transit access to jobs, we literally cannot afford to stop this train!
Building the Red Line is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve Baltimore and Maryland’s social and economic potential. For the elders who can’t drive, for the working families who need access to jobs, for preserving rural sustainability and for investing in the future strength what is not doubt The Greatest City in the Greatest State in America, Hogan must do what he can to build the Red Line.
Thank you all for making September’s SiteLines walking tours an empowering success of public space activation! Among four tours will nearly 100 participants, we collectively explored the thrilling Urban Sublime of Baltimore’s ever shifting invisible public spaces. We Crossed the Highway to Nowhere, climbed to an impressive, if damp, Reservoir Chill, mindfully Wandered Old Town Mall and indeed made Power Plant truly ALIVE! Stay tuned for an announcement in early 2015 about the forthcoming SiteLines web series culminating in a solo show on the west side of downtown.
Throughout the month of September, all are invited to join Baltimore public artist Graham Coreil-Allen for four New Public Sites walking tours of invisible public spaces around Baltimore. Including the Highway to Nowhere, Reservoir Hill / Druid Lake, Old Town Mall and Power Plant Live, these tours will be documented for the forthcoming internet video series SiteLines.
The ongoing New Public Sites project interprets the overlooked and invisible sites within cities, investigates the negotiable nature of public space, and pushes the boundaries of pedestrian agency. SiteLines will translate these radical walking tours and urban design research into sharable, online videos. The video production will capture Coreil-Allen and walking tour participants as they playfully explore public space while he shares some of the sites’ histories, design, and uses. The four tours are thematically connected by suburban style development in a city context, including urban highways and pedestrian malls. The entire SiteLines season will be released on the New Public Sites YouTube channel on a periodic basis, then exhibited as part of a larger installation in Baltimore next Spring. SiteLines will present a compelling portrait of Baltimore and its civic space potential through dramatic shots of public space and pedestrian interactions therein.
All tours are free and open to the public.
Walking tour / video shoot schedule:
Saturday, September 6, 1pm – Crossing the Highway to Nowhere
Explore interchanging embankments around The Highway to Nowhere while bolding crossing where many have walked before. Meet at 398 N Greene Street, in the former Social Security Administration Offices plaza.
Saturday, September 13, 1pm – Reservoir Chill
Where the sidewalk ends beyond a flowing overpass, climb as Druids towards a pastoral sublime.
Meet at 701 Druid Park Lake Drive, next to the intersection of Park Ave and Druid Park Lake Drive.
Saturday, September 20, 1pm – Old Town Wandering Revival
Honor the glory of Gay Street while humbly acknowledging its challenges with pedestrian gestures of hope and cheer. Meet at 414 Old Town Mall, next to the Baltimore City Fire Museum at Gay and Orleans Streets.
Saturday, September 27, 1pm – Power Plant Alive!
Wear your full rock gear to swamp the market and flip the switch on its power of place.
Meet behind the old Power Plant at 601 E Pratt St, on the south side of Market Place and Pratt St.
Graham Coreil-Allen is a public artist who explores the constructs and contradictions of cities through videos, maps, crosswalks, and walking tours. Coreil-Allen recently completed the Hopscotch Crosswalks in downtown Baltimore and his walking tours have been showcased around the United States and at the US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
HopXscotch Rivalry: A cross-hopping, street race for two!
HopXcotch Rivalry will be two extreme hopscotch courses crossing for one action packed, two person race. Inspired by the success of my Hopscotch Crosswalks in downtown Baltimore, I’m staging this new project to bring playful pedestrian action to the intersection of Charles and Lanvale Streets, in the middle of Artscape’s Field Day, coming up on July 18-20. Participants will start at competing ends of hopscotch paths and must jump fast while staying on track. The two 50’ long courses meet at the middle, presenting an opportunity for racers to bump each other off course. The easy-to-understand and play game will be enhanced with organized hopscotch tournaments at scheduled times throughout the Artscape weekend.
FIELD DAY is a collection of participatory games, activities, performances and competitions designed by artists, which will be free and open to the public during the 2014 Artscape. Seven installations will be featured along the Charles Street corridor; visitors to Artscape will be able to experience each “station” as simply a viewer or by competing against friends, the artist-organizer or gaining a “high score.”
Curated by: Michael Benevento, Jason Corace and Andrew Liang.
FIELD DAY is a program of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, Inc. (BOPA).
A cold winter of public art proposal writing means a hot summer of playful urban exploration! I am honored to announce that I am an inaugural recipient of a Rubys Artist Project Grant for my forthcoming participatory video tour series, SiteLines. In addition, I will be staging HopXcotch Rivalry as part of the Field Day program at the Artscape festival in Baltimore this July.
Situated within the invisible sites and overlooked features of our everyday urban environment, my ongoing New Public Sites project tests the boundaries of pedestrian agency, interprets the overlooked and banal, and investigates the negotiable nature of public space. SiteLines will be a translation of my radical walking tours and urban design research into sharable videos and a gallery installation. Feature dramatic shots of public space and pedestrian interactions therein, the videos will present a compelling portrait of Baltimore and its civic space potential. The entire SiteLines season will be be released on the New Public Sites YouTube channel on a periodic basis, then shown at a Baltimore gallery alongside “non-site” sculptures of found materials, an immersive map installation and large posters of poetic New Public Sites nomenclature. As a season of social video and multimedia installation, SiteLines will show local and online audiences how a practice of radical pedestrianism can reinvent invisible public space.
HopXscotch Rivalry: A cross-hopping, street race for two!
HopXcotch Rivalry will be two extreme hopscotch courses crossing for one action packed, two person race. Inspired by the success of my Hopscotch Crosswalks in downtown Baltimore, I’m staging this new project to bring playful pedestrian action to the middle of Artscape’s Field Day programing along Charles Street. Participants will start at competing ends of the yellow and teal hopscotch paths and must jump fast while staying on track. The two 50’ long courses meet at the middle, presenting an opportunity for racers to bump each other of course. The easy-to-understand and play game will be enhanced with organized hopscotch tournaments at scheduled times throughout the Artscape weekend.
Struggle and Joy in the Druid Hill Park Memorial Pool
By Graham Coreil-Allen
Originally Published in What Weekly, January 8, 2014
Edited by Marcus Civin
I recently moved in across the street from Druid Hill Park. A friend told me about a place little-known to neighborhood outsiders—a once abandoned public pool now filled in with dirt, covered in grass and framed with sumptuous, meandering walkways designed by celebrated Baltimore artist Joyce J. Scott. Wandering through the park on a warm, sunny afternoon, I discovered the large, rectangular grassy field framed by cobalt blue ceramic tiles, expansive marble steps and forgotten structures belonging to what was once Baltimore’s only segregation era public pool for African-Americans. Long cherished by generations of residents formerly restricted to only certain park facilities, the dignified yet understated Memorial Pool remains as a landscape of memory honoring the pride and struggles of Baltimore’s black community.
North of the reservoir and east of the Jones Falls, the pool once anchored a larger complex of tennis courts, trees and a playground that collectively stood as Druid Hill Park’s only “negro” recreational facilities. The 100 foot by 105 foot “Pool No. 2”, as it was originally known, was built in 1921 to meet the recreational and competitive swimming needs of all of Baltimore’s hundreds of thousands of African-Americans. Elsewhere in the city, six separate public pools were well-maintained but off-limits to African-Americans. Despite being nearly half the size of the nearby, whites-only Pool No. 1, Pool No. 2 proved so popular that the crowds had to be admitted in shifts. Nevertheless, the patrons of color took pride in taking care of their grounds and keeping the area clean and attractive. The African-American competitive athletics society members that gathered around the space also showed off their finest in tennis fashion while meeting their future husbands and wives and socializing with friends and neighbors. Both the pool and surrounding segregated tennis courts were frequented by many of the era’s most accomplished black athletes. These visits and other aspects of Druid Hill Park’s history are noted on signs throughout the park and in books such as Eden Unger Bowditch’s Druid Hill Park: The Heart of Historic Baltimore.
Things began to change in 1953 when an African-American boy accidentally drowned while swimming with friends in the Patapsco River. He lived near Clifton Park but was not allowed to swim in the park’s whites-only pool. For this reason it was thought that he chose to swim in the dangerous river feeding Baltimore Harbor’s Middle Branch. As a result, the NAACP pushed for all Baltimore municipal pools to be opened to all races. When the Parks Board refused, the NAACP filed a lawsuit, which they eventually won on appeal. On June 23, 1956, all of the city’s public pools were opened for the summer season on a non-segregated basis. That opening day, over 100 African-Americans reportedly braved the waters in Pool No. 1, while only one white person swam in Pool. No. 2. After that summer of transition, Pool No. 2 was closed for good in an effort to eliminate all vestiges of the city’s former “separate but equal” swimming infrastructure. After that point, all Druid Hill Park patrons wishing to swim had access to the twice-as-large and still existing Pool No. 1.
Forty years after Pool No. 2 closed, the concrete structure lay dangerously empty while the surrounding tennis courts stood in need of repair. Then, in the mid-nineties, park officials began talking with residents about what they most valued about Druid Hill Park. This was the research phase of the 1995 Druid Hill Park Master Plan. During this research phase, the planners discovered that local residents shared a strong sense of nostalgia for the historically African-American section of the park. In response, the adopted master plan called for, “a meditative, artistic, and informative setting acknowledging the segregation era at the site of the formerly “Negroe Pool”.” After a 1996 open call for proposals, Baltimore artist Joyce J. Scott was selected to redesign the pool as a place of reflection and celebration. By that point, Scott was well-known for her provocative, figurative beaded sculptures dealing with issues of race, class and gender. Growing up in Sandtown, Scott had frequented Druid Hill Park as a child and swam in the formerly whites-only pool. During an interview for this article, the artist shared with me some of her unrealized visions for the memorial design as well as her take on how the Memorial Pool’s symbolic and functional design represents the slow progress around issues of race and class in Baltimore. We also discussed the memorial as it exists today and it’s contextual surrounds in Druid Hill Park.
As its remains today, the now weathered Memorial Pool area continues to serve the tennis and recreational needs of hundreds of thousands of predominantly African-American park goers annually. Memorial Pool is on the southwest corner of Shop and Commissary Roads. The space is fronted by a wide, concrete pad embedded with large-scale, faded red and orange curvy concrete patterns framed by four square columns that consist of 24 inch square by 12 inch tall marble blocks stacked approximately nine feet tall and topped with diagonally sloped capitals that look like one corner of a pyramid. The chisel-topped columns suggest the outline of the old field house where pool tickets were once sold. A wide flight of marble steps leads to a 105 feet long by 100 feet wide rectangular expanse of grass resting approximately seven feet below street level.
The grassy void is outlined by a thin perimeter of two rows of 2 inch square ” blue tiles surrounded by concrete sidewalks embedded with undulating patterns of orange, red and blue based on traditional African motifs representing peace, tranquility and community bonds. Around the blue perimeter tiles stand blue-painted armatures of the forlorn diving board; ladders and lifeguard stations that function as uncanny reminders of the space’s former aquatic use while also serving as skeletal sundials casting angular shadows across concrete and grass. Running parallel to the length of the pool’s north side stands a low-lying brown wooden building that used to house the men’s dressing rooms. The structure is topped with a black, pitched roof featuring a wave of blue roofing tiles symbolizing water. Around the void, the subtly colorful concrete pavement continues beyond the perimeter before turning into a meandering, southbound path accented by collections of cement-set riverstones. The river-like path connects the Memorial Pool to the nearby tennis courts, picnic grove and playground. Both ends of the path are marked with stanchions detailing the site’s rich history.
The entire site is surrounded on two sides by park maintenance facilities including loading docks, garages and trucks. On the other side of Shop Road, behind a small parking lot and two tennis courts, the historic St. Paul’s cemetery is in need of extensive restoration. The contextual contradictions and resonances of the Memorial Pool as a place of memory next to that same active loading dock and the crumbling cemetery were not lost on Joyce Scott when she approached the project in 1999. Scott first asked herself, “How do we make this area useful and beautiful, and harken back to the pool era?”
Memorial Pool, 1999, by Joyce J. Scott, photograph by Graham Coreil-Allen 130824In designing the functional monument, she states that her intent was to create an “art situation where people can go into space and hopefully be, and have a variety of uses.” Early on, there were plans to include programming in the grassy area, with the hope being that people would want to sit, picnic or just relax around the space. In addition to the architectural framing devices and aquatic symbolism, the original installation included abstract, colorful painted designs on the pavement around the pool that have since faded from the concrete surface and disappeared due to time and weather. Scott’s initial vision also included a series of metal tree sculptures embedded with clay panels and mirrors. These trees would have stood on the stony shoals of the river-like connecting path. In the end, the artist’s trees of reflection and remembrance were omitted from the plans after some members of the community expressed concern that the sculptures would have evoked lynching. While the artist strongly disagrees with this interpretation, at the time she thought it was best to acquiesce to the constituents’ concerns. By asking Scott to compromise her design, the neighbors may have unintentionally made the southern end of the memorial harder to recognize as a space of memory. In comparison to the northern end, the southern end of the memorial comes off more subtle in its overall presence, reading less like a public memorial and more like a creatively designed sidewalk with a historical marker.
For all that Pool No. 2 represents about the history of struggle over African-American access to public spaces in Baltimore, it seems inevitable that any attempt to memorialize the space would cause some controversy. But through her own vision and standing, Scott was able to effectively work with various city departments, the Maryland State Arts Council, and local community groups on creating a unique space of memory that honors the joys and struggles embedded in Druid Hill Park. The artist tells a story of how, back before desegregation, the white-only Pool No. 1 was unfiltered and connected directly to the reservoir, while the African-American Pool No. 2 was filtered in order to “de-negroize” the water to ensure the safety of the rest of the city. Inadvertently, this offensive policy resulted in a better experience for African-Americans. Scott succinctly states, “What was seen as a way of restraining someone only made them stronger.” She continues to explain that African-Americans in Baltimore responded to racist oppression by building up their own safe spaces and strong institutions. African-American strength was expressed through socializing, play and competition at the only pool offered by the city.
For me, the psychic presence remaining from the decades of aquatic joy and athletic gathering can no doubt be felt as I stand at the pool’s grassy, western edge, next to a diving board casting long afternoon shadows. For Scott, the Memorial Pool represents, “the sway and the slow change in our race history in our city that isn’t really that much of a change.” Indeed, as it lays today, the history, form and condition of the Memorial Pool makes a compelling, if at times concerning, analogy for Baltimore City as a whole. A brief stroll from Harbor East through the Inner Harbor and then into Lexington Market shows that while the city is much more racially integrated than it once was, it still remains intensely segregated, especially by class. Economic progress has been made in some areas while paint peels off in others. It’s through the Memorial Pool’s poignant contradictions of place and history that Scott reminds us of the inseparability between pleasure and strife. States the artist: “People have to remember that struggle and joy go hand in hand. You don’t many times understand the beauty of joy unless you go through a struggle.”
Construction of the Hopscotch Crosswalk Colossus at the corner of Eutaw and Lombard Streets in downtown Baltimore is now complete. As the public continues to show their excitement in person and online, I thought I would share a few initial shots and a little background on the project. My project is one of three sets of artist-designed crosswalks made possible by Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts for the Bromo Seltzer Arts & Entertainment District. To the BOPA open call, I responded with the following proposal:
The Monumental City is played by giants among many – the business person, the bird, the worker and you. Hopscotch Crosswalk Colossus is an intersection of four oversized hopscotch-court-crosswalks, each featuring a quintessential Baltimore path-print. Featuring the shoe, the bird track, the boot and the footprint, the project is a monument to the people who populate the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District and make Baltimore The Greatest City in America.
North Side: The Shoe – The Towering Businessperson skips east approaching downtown skyscrapers. East Side: The Bird Track – The Superbird Champion hops south heading to Camden Yards and The Raven’s Walk. South Side: The Boot – Wobbling west The Worker passes through a former garment district built by labor. West Side: The Footprint – The Hippie Artist bounces north with abandon towards lofty digs in the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District.
With seventeen participants discovering invisible sites with abandon, the Balto East Bike Tour proved to be a rolling success. In a spirit of radical pedestrianism, we stuck together for more than an hour and a half and over four plus miles while navigating traffic conditions from serene to challenging. Thanks for everyone who participated for your bravery and endurance, and asking thoughtful questions and offering helpful commentary. From the Cork Seer Crossing and Greektown Alleydrift to Expressways Amalgamated and the O’Donnell St Bohverlook, we explored an array of public spaces while learning from our everyday surroundings and each other. Special thanks to The Creative Alliance for hosting the event and Liz Donadio for documenting the ride.
Take a guided bicycle tour from Highlandtown to the Travel America Center and back, that will explore how the urban design of “invisible” public spaces affects our everyday experiences of eastern Baltimore. The tour will investigate the architectural dynamics and social conditions that make places such as the Eastern Avenue Underpass and the O’Donnell Street Interchange as mundane and confounding as they are fascinating and beautiful. A version of this tour was featured on the podcast 99% Invisible. All participants will receive a limited edition, signed 11″ x 17″ tour map.