Opens at Evergreen House
Music, Art and Beautiful Things, an exhibition installed throughout the historic rooms of Evergreen House, opens on Friday, April 8, 2005 with a reception from 6 - 8 p.m. The opening reception is free of charge and the exhibition will remain on view through Thursday, June 30. The public should call (410) 516-0341 for additional information.
The exhibition includes sculpture, photographs, paintings, writing, and selected objects inspired by the history, collections, and architecture of Evergreen House and created by students and young people from Baltimore Freedom Academy, Johns Hopkins Writing Seminar, Kids on the Hill, Park School, Roland Park Country School, Stadium School, and Youthlight. Accompanying this work are new paintings by project director and artist Peter Bruun in Evergreen's North Wing Gallery. Additional programs related to Music, Art, and Beautiful Things include a gallery talks and a tour with Bruun and Evergreen House curator, Jackie O'Regan, on Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. and Wednesday, May 11 at 4:30 p.m., and an "Evening of Music and Readings" in Evergreen's Bakst Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.
Bruun, an artist and art educator who works with diverse audiences throughout Baltimore's schools and neighborhoods, began planning this project four years ago after his first visit to Evergreen. Home to Baltimore's Garrett family from 1878-1942, Evergreen is a 48-room mansion on 26 landscaped acres in north Baltimore. The house today functions as a house museum, contemporary art center, and performance space and is filled with the Garretts' extensive collections, including of Asian and post-Impressionist art, rare books, and Tiffany glass.
Says Bruun, "After seeing Evergreen, I was fascinated with how the Garretts' history still resonates with the present and the people who visit their home."
The Garrett family stipulated, when they bequeathed their home and its collections to Johns Hopkins, that Evergreen should remain open "to lovers of music, art, and beautiful things." Bruun observes that, "Today everyone is a lover of music, art, and beautiful things and my intention in organizing this exhibit was to introduce Evergreen to audiences the Garretts may not have had in mind when they wrote their will."
The students Bruun invited to participate represent a cross-section of Baltimore's youth and come from neighborhoods from across the city and divergent socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. Bruun explains, "I wanted to help students and teachers explore the meaning of their own experiences of Evergreen and have them identify ways they could creatively respond to the Garretts' legacy." In all cases, the students' work supports topics and themes they are exploring in their classrooms. Says Bruun, "In addition to stimulating students' imaginations, the project is also designed to further teachers' goals. My hope is that even after the exhibition is finished, the educators involved will think of Evergreen as a resource they can continue to use."
Working with teachers and instructors from the schools and after school programs, Bruun arranged for the students to visit Evergreen. Bruun says, "I was surprised by some of their reactions. While some kids wanted to know about the art collections and the family, others were fascinated by the fact that people actually lived there. They wanted to know about the art and furniture, but they also want to know if the plumbing and fireplaces work."
Drawing upon their interests and skills, the students' work reflects their own feelings about Evergreen and the Garrett family. "The art and writing in Music, Art, and Beautiful Things defies categorization," says Bruun. "It is not just one kind of creative interaction, but a range of responses. Evergreen, after all, is not just one thing."
Among the works on display at Evergreen is a group of paintings by 8th grade students from the Stadium School depicting imaginary views from within the home's interior. These paintings combine aspects of the students' own homes and interests with factual recordings of Evergreen's rooms. The changes and additions the students imagine for the house are intended to make Evergreen feel more like their own homes.
Over twenty excerpts of writing by students from the Johns Hopkins Advanced Writing Seminar and 10th grade students from the Park School further explore and fictionalize visitors' experiences of the house and illuminate aspects of Evergreen, ranging from the architecture and collections to the students' opinions of the Garrett family.
Students from Kids on the Hill, an after school art program in Baltimore's Reservoir Hill neighborhood, used digital photography and text to investigate the absence of black history recorded in Evergreen's collections. The students were asked to complete the phrase, "If black history were documented " Their concluding statements, accompanied by photographs they took of their peers and themselves in a variety of poses, are displayed in Evergreen's upstairs hallway amidst photographs of the Garretts' friends.
Also interspersed in the Garretts' personal photograph collections are a selection of photographs of young people at home, engaged in everyday activities, taken by students in Youthlight, an after school photography and media literacy program in Baltimore City. These contemporary photographs are juxtaposed with photos of similar scenes from the Garretts' lives and are accompanied by students' descriptions of the photos.
To complement the Garretts' collection of miniature Japanese masks, high school students from the Baltimore Freedom Academy created their own paper mache masks to depict how they would feel about being invited to spend an evening with the Garretts. The resulting expressions ranged from envy and fury to shyness and joy.
"A total of 72 people contributed to the exhibition," says Bruun, "and I have created 72 new paintings to invoke and celebrate these individuals." In Evergreen's North Wing Gallery Bruun will display 72 related but unique paintings that he calls "drops of beauty," accompanied by the names of the 72 exhibition participants. Each painting is comprised of two colors (from total selection of nine) and includes a background and a simple circular shape. Bruun explains, "The paintings and names form a constellation of beauty, referring visitors to the participants' and suggesting that they, too, as visitors are adding to this beauty by bringing their own experiences to their visit."
Images related to Music, Art and Beautiful Things are available to the press upon request.
Evergreen House is located at 4545 N. Charles Street in Baltimore. The museum, including its permanent collections and changing exhibitions, is accessible to the public through guided tours. Evergreen is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $6/adults, $3/students and children over 6, and $5/seniors.
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