The novelist Jack London, famous author of The Call of the Wild, in a 1905 essay called Getting Into Print wrote, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” I agree, but isn’t there something beautiful and inspiring about this season? Springtime as an image and a state of feeling is quite common in art, just look at Botticelli’s Primavera or Shakespeare’s As You Like It where he writes, “In springtime, the only pretty ring time / When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding; / Sweet lovers love the spring.”
Spring draws us outside, but where we choose to go is our prerogative! Where do we want to go, what do we want to see? If you are interested in going after inspiration this month, there are several places that I have visited which I really loved, and I believe that you may enjoy them too. And if you’re not in the market for artistic inspiration, give it a chance! Franz Kafka once said that there are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction, and maybe this season can be that spark.
The first recommendation I have would be at Mount Saint Mary’s, where the Department of Visual and Performing Arts will be putting on two events this month. There will be a Wind Ensemble/Lab Band Chorale early this month, taking place on the 7th and the 8th. The Mount Saint Mary’s University Wind Ensemble, Lab Band and String Ensemble and special musical guests will be performing a live rendition of The Beatles’ landmark album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Believe it or not, this is the 50th Anniversary of this album’s release, and this live performance won’t be one to miss.
It is difficult to mitigate the importance of this record, one that redefined the estimation of popular music as form of artistic expression. Scott Plagenhoef, contributing writer to Pitchfork online magazine, summed up the importance of this album in a column on the website, “Hailed on its release as proof that popular music could be as rich an artistic pursuit as more high-minded media as jazz and classical, the record’s reputation and sense of ambition ushered in the album era. Its influence was so pervasive and so instructional regarding the way music is crafted and sold to the public that this is still the predominant means of organizing, distributing, and promoting new music four decades later, well after the decline of physical media.”
Dr. Mark Carlson, the conductor and director of the bands performing in this event, told me, “We’re performing this piece of music because of its historical importance, and we were looking to teach psychedelic pop to both the student body and the general public.” If you are interested in hearing some of your favorite Beatles songs, including Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Lovely Rita, and When I’m Sixty Four, this concert will take place on Friday, April 7 and Saturday April 8 at 7:30 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public!
There are other local events that should catch your interest as well! I have visited the Weinberg Center for the Arts in the past and was taken away at some of the art they display in their gallery. The Center just wrapped up an exhibition by Shelley Marie, an artist born in Frederick who has extensive experience in the study of fine art, and her output is equally impressive. Her series of paintings on display evoked imagery of the human body using uniquely fluorescent colors as well as natural materials like rose petals.
The Weinberg Center for the Arts has several events this month, and one that drew my eye was a Piano Battle scheduled for April 8 at 8:00 p.m. This show will feature two renowned pianists Andreas Kern and Paul Cibis. Kern enjoys presenting classical music in an unconventional manner, taking advantage of unorthodox playing venues and the craft of other musical artists to attract audiences of all ages and backgrounds. He and Cibis will face off in a Piano Battle that the Weinberg Center says is, “Part serious classical recital, part tongue-in-cheek competition, two internationally-acclaimed pianists go head-to-head in an interactive concert experience like no other.” If you’re interested, tickets range from $20-30, and will take place at The Weinberg Center at 20 West Patrick Street in Frederick. Tickets can be purchased by contacting their Box Office at 301-600-2828, and more details can be found at http://www.weinbergcenter.org/12577/piano-battle.
There are a number of museums I would recommend, some that are centered in the arts and others with different points of emphasis. One place that I highly suggest, that is more local than the others, is the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum in Frederick. This museum is one of the most historic buildings in Frederick County, and one of the strongest examples of early Colonial German architecture in our area. The stone farmhouse was built by Elias Bruner in 1758 after purchasing the farm from his father in 1753. Visiting the Schifferstaft Architectural Museum is one of the best ways to get in touch with the early conditions and styles of living associated with early America, and the price is great! There is a suggested donation of $5, children under 12 are free of charge, and is open on the weekends from April through early December. It can be found at 1110 Rosemont Avenue in Frederick, and they can be reached at 301-663-3885.
Some of my favorite art museums in Maryland are located in Baltimore County, and there are two that I highly recommend. The first is the Baltimore Museum of Art in Baltimore City. I have been to several museums in the past, and a fair number of them center on a particular movement or period in the art world; The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is a good example of this. But there are others, like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan that have a diverse collection of art to see. The Baltimore Museum of Art, like The Met, has an incredible diversity in the art they showcase. You will find Modern, Post-Modern and Contemporary Art, Classical Art, Impressionism, Pointalism, Abstract Expressionism, a sculpture garden, and a whole lot more! If you are interested in encountering a wide array of artistic movements, almost like a walking tour of art history, The Baltimore Museum of Art is the best local choice! They are open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the best art of all, there is no admission charge!
Another of my personal favorites is The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. What I appreciate about this place is the number of countries represented in this museum; you will find work from 18th and 19th century Europe, the Roman Empire, South Arabia, Ancient Greece, Japan and Korea, and even more than that! While the Baltimore Museum of Art takes you on an art history tour of some of the most important art movements of the past 300 years, the Walters Art Museum is fantastic if you are trying to find similarities and differences between different countries and different cultures in artistic expression. It is a phenomenal way to challenge what you may personally consider art to be! They are open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Thursdays are open until 9 p.m. And like the Baltimore Museum of Art, there is no charge for admission!
Let’s make the coming of spring an opportunity to change ourselves! There is a lot to experience and new things to see, and who knows what else is left to discover!