Pop-up arts events are coming to Highlandtown’s Eastern Ave. this spring.
A new collaboration—including the Southeast Community Development Corporation, the Highlandtown Arts District (ha!), a monthly queer dance party in Baltimore called Glitter Thighs, and UMBC’s Center for Art Design and Visual Culture—is creating a series of spontaneous arts happenings to promote the potential of empty retail spaces on Eastern Ave.
“We’re calling these ‘Pop-up arts events’ because they will suddenly appear in unoccupied spaces and then close down shortly thereafter,” says organizer Sandra Abbott, ha! member, and curator of collections and outreach at CADVC.
Victor Torres, a graduate student assistant at UMBC and Glitter Thighs organizer, orchestrated the pop-up series’ Feb. 21 kick-off—a dance party at Carlos O’Charlies—and will be coordinating three Highlandtown-centric pop-up events.
“The kickoff was fantastic,” Torres says. “We had four DJs and must have had 230 people attend. It was great to see the Latino and queer communities having a good time together.”
Torres is already working with local landlords on potential pop-up spaces and has a few ideas for Eastern Ave. pop-up art experiences.
One is an immersive performance space.
“That’s an art installation with a performance component, and the audience will be incentivized to become part of the performance,” he says.
Torres is also considering transforming a vacant retail space into a living studio.
“An artist or artists goes in and works for a while, and the storefront’s windows re-active the space,” he explains.
Another possibility, he says, is a public artists’ talk.
“Artists might talk about their research, discuss where their work is going or how they see themselves as artists in Highlandtown. That’s one idea,” Torres says.
“One purpose of the pop-up events,” says Amanda Smit-Peters, manager of Highlandtown Main Street, “is to highlight the real estate on Eastern Ave. Pop-up galleries and shops are a great way to showcase and help people re-envision available space.”
Another reason is to have fun and promote Highlandtown as a community where artists can settle.
Torres, who is studying digital arts, says he worked in Highlandtown before at an after-school health and education program called Mi Espacio at the Caroline Street Clinic.
“I’ve never worked in Highlandtown as an artist before though. I feel grateful for the opportunity. The possibilities here are endless,” he says.
Torres says to look for Eastern Ave’s newest pop-up art space in late March.
by Danielle Sweeney