Baltimore is full of incredible works of public art. A few artists stand out as offering something exceptionally quirky, political, or culturally significant that visitors shouldn't miss.
Sometimes referred to as the Banksy of Baltimore, Reed Bmore’s wire sculptures appear on streetlights, rooftops, and signposts without warning. Bmore is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and resides in the Hampden area of the city. His wire figures range from animals to video game characters to clouds and weather symbols. Reed Bmore’s anonymity is partially a result of the graffiti days of his youth - his vigilante style art can still be controversial and is technically illegal. Until the last couple of years, Bmore’s wire sculpture production seemed rampant. New pieces would pop up often and Bmore loved the thrill of gaining notoriety, but as the art has become more recognizable, the artist has slowed his pace and focuses more on producing higher-quality pieces. Bmore’s art often looks like a pencil drawing on the sky and can be overlooked by those who aren’t mindful of their surroundings. His aim is to perpetuate lightheartedness, get people to look up away from their phones and busy lives, and start a conversation.
Stop Telling Women To Smile is an art series by Tatyana Falalizadeh, an illustrator and painter based in Brooklyn. Tatyana’s STWTS series attempts to address the street harassment that women face by placing portraits of women beside captions that call out offenders. Captions include directives like “I should not feel unsafe when I go outside,” and “My outfit is not an invitation.” The black-and-white prints are then placed in public places where women are most often harassed. Tatyana began the series in 2012 in Brooklyn and it has since expanded to include cities all over the world. In the past, the artist has encouraged people to print her posters and wheat paste them in their own communities. The artist herself visited Baltimore in 2014 to introduce the Stop Telling Women to Smile Series. Today, Tatyana’s posters can be found in Station North and Hampden.
Ernest Shaw was born and lived most of his life in Baltimore. He is a prolific muralist and painter who strives to give back to the community of Baltimore through teaching, mentoring, and creating art that will have a lasting impact. Shaw has witnessed the struggle of the black community in Baltimore firsthand and uses art as a means to highlight the beauty and character inherent in African-American culture in an effort to combat negative stereotypes and degrading images that are often used to depict African people. Ernest’s work regularly appears in Graffiti Alley where many of his portraits are painted around rather than overdue to their exceptional caliber and significance to the community. Most recently, a portrait of Toni Morrison appeared within a day of her passing. Other notable works in the Alley include “Kung Fu Kenny,” a tribute to Kendrick Lamar and portraits of several jazz legends. Shaw was one of the artists selected to participate in Open Walls Baltimore (2014). His mural, Holy Trinity, in at the corner of 401 E. Lafayette Street in Station North depicts Malcolm X, Nina Simone, and James Baldwin. Shaw chose these three icons because he wanted young black people to ask who they were, and learn the history of their people in in the discovery of the full answer. Shaw continues to produce new murals in Baltimore and beyond.