The Pearl Street underpass on the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) campus has some added luster: an exhibit of artwork that was featured in the inaugural issue of 1807: An Art & Literary Journal.
A turtle swimming in the sea, three iconic Baltimore scenes, an angler fish made of metal, and a poem about living with mental illness are just some of the 32 pieces of art exhibited as part of the UMB Council for the Arts & Culture initiative.
The exhibit, known as the UMB Pearl Gallery, was inspired by the spring 2019 issue of 1807. The arts council encourages students, faculty, staff, and community members to submit unpublished artwork in the categories of visual arts (painting, drawing, illustration, digital art), photography, varied media (sculpture, clay, metal, glass, textiles, jewelry, wood), and the written word (short story, essay, narrative, poetry).
UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, who is an artist himself, said of the gallery, “I am in awe of the creative talent that is evident in our University community, our alumni community, and the greater UMB community. While our community and world face daunting challenges during the pandemic, it is gratifying to celebrate art at UMB in such a public way.”
An HGTV-style unveiling of the gallery was held in August with the help of Jarrell and two UM shuttle buses.
“Are you ready for the reveal?! Move those shuttles out of the way!” Jarrell said with enthusiasm.
And with that, the drivers of two UM shuttles parked back-to-back revved their engines and rolled their rigs, revealing the new addition to the Pearl Street underpass.
The work of 28 artists that appeared in the 60-plus-page journal is featured on the wall, and each category is represented.
“We looked to select art from each category, even the writing, so that each category could be represented in the collection,” said co-project manager Dana Rampolla, assistant director of marketing, alumni communications and special projects for the University. “We took into consideration balancing color, composition, file size, and type of artwork along the wall so that the individual concrete panels where the art is hung would complement one another.”
The exhibit, which will be displayed indefinitely, includes photography, paintings, photographs of three-dimensional pieces, and poetry placed on vinyl appliques by AP Graphics of Sykesville.
AP Graphics used a handheld torch to apply heat to the vinyl and workers used a roller to give it “a relatively seamless finish at the end,” said Rampolla, who also serves as the journal’s creative director/managing editor. “It’s like it almost added an element of texture, which is kind of a cool outcome that we weren’t expecting.”
“I am absolutely amazed at how wonderful it looks. When you look at it in the journal, it’s so one-dimensional and here it just springs to life and you can see all of the small details that you couldn’t see in the printed journal,” said Jennifer Litchman, MA, senior vice president for external relations, special assistant to the president, and founding chair of the Council for the Arts & Culture, which was the driving force behind 1807.
The gallery is the embodiment of a dream the arts council has had for years, she said. To see the works of the inaugural journal displayed “in living color, bigger than life, is something beyond what we thought could be possible,” said Litchman, who is the 1807 editor-in-chief. “I think it’s important that people understand that people here at this University are more than just simply scientists and clinicians. They’re also artists who care about how art contributes to health, well-being, and culture.”
Victoria Braudaway, a University of Maryland School of Nursing student, said she was speechless when she found out her painting “Honu” would be featured in the Pearl Gallery.
“Painting has always been a wonderful outlet for me, and to be recognized for something that is so personal to me was eye opening on the limitless potential we all have,” she said.
Jim Bolton, safety training and special projects specialist at UMB, was delighted to see the unveiling of the gallery.
“I have walked this street many times while working here,” he said. “I will get to see this art every day. To me, this is an example of what can take place with a little work and a little imagination.”
Laura Broy, a lead analyst for the Center for Information Technology Services, said she never imagined her artwork would be featured on the concrete walls of a Baltimore underpass.
“It’s such a cool outside celebration of art for the whole community to see,” said Broy, whose painting, “The Steadfast Find Their Way,” is among the gallery’s featured artworks.
While many of her work friends and colleagues are teleworking, Broy said when she learns that one of them plans to come to campus, she tells them: “You have to go to the Pearl Street underpass!”
You can see the second issue of “1807,” which published in summer 2020, download a PDF, and find out how to buy a copy here. “1807” is accepting submissions for its next issue, which will publish in spring 2021. The deadline for submission is Dec. 31, 2020. Please see the “1807” webpage to learn more.