If you missed Lawrence Weschler’s UMBC’s talk on Ed Kienholz’s “lynching tableau” Five Car Stud on Tuesday, March 25, you can watch it here.
Tuesday, March 25 | 4:30 p.m.
“The Fraught Crossroads: Where Class, Race, Sex and Violence Converge across American History”
Lawrence Weschler, author
7th Floor, Albin O. Kuhn Library
Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities. Co-sponsored by the Department of American Studies and the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture.
Using assemblage artist Edward Kienholz’s harrowing 1970 lynching tableau Five Car Stud as a point of departure, Lawrence Weschler explores the ways in which race has served as the radioactive core of American history, continually warping the potential for ordinary class-based politics and accounting for all manner of perverse American exceptionalisms (the subject of Weschler’s current work-in-progress).
Lawrence Weschler was for over twenty years (1981-2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992) and was also a recipient of Lannan Literary Award (1998).
His books of political reportage include The Passion of Poland (1984); A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990); and Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998). His “Passions and Wonders” series currently comprises Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin (1982); David Hockney’s Cameraworks (1984); Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (1995); A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces (1998) Boggs: A Comedy of Values (1999); Robert Irwin: Getty Garden (2002); Vermeer in Bosnia (2004); and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (February 2006). Mr. Wilson was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Everything that Rises received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.
Admission to this event is free.
You may notice a new look at the Orser Center blog. The advisory committee decided that the Center needed a fresh look and a focused social media presence (feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter). The center’s director and social media sub-committee chair Kate Drabinski (Gender & Women’s Studies, UMBC) worked with Beth Harper Designs on the project.
So far in 2014 the Orser Center has been involved in some great events, including the Dresher Center Humanities Forum Constructing Heritage panel on February 18 organized by advisory committee member Michelle Stefano featuring James Count Early (Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage), Mario Santo Domingo (Psychology, UMBC), and Ashley Minner (Baltimore American Indian Center). You can view a video of the panel discussion here. Elaine Eff author of The Painted Screens of Baltimore: Urban Folk Art Revealed spoke about her new book at the UMBC Library Gallery on February 25. We also helped to organize a Bmore Historic Happy Hour (with Baltimore Heritage) on March 8. Elaine Eff gave us a tour of the painted screens exhibition at MICA (up through March 16) with drinks following at the Mount Royal Tavern.
Orser Center director Nicole King (American Studies, UMBC) and Lindsey Loeper (Archivist, Special Collections at UMBC) are co-chairs of the 2014 Bmore Historic happy hour committee. If you have ideas for happy hour events, please let us know. The next Bmore Historic Happy Hour is at the Hamilton Club in Mount Vernon on Friday, April 11. We kick things off with a tour of historic clubs in the neighborhood and end with heavy appetizers and drinks at the Hamilton club. We had such a successful Bmore Historic happy hour at Hamilton Club in May 2013 we are doing it again.
Other upcoming Orser Center events include Lawrence Weschler’s “The Fraught Crossroads: Where Class, Race, Sex, and Violence Converge Across American History,” which takes L.A. artist Edward Keinholz’s harrowing 1970 lynching tableau Five Car Stud as a point of departure for exploring how class-based politics, race, place, and art come together.
Four different UMBC courses (AMST 422: Preserving Places, AMST 403: Ethnography in America, ART 390: IRC Fellows, and MCS 499: MCS Fellows) are all focusing on deindustrialization in Baltimore and working with Marc Steiner and the Center for Emerging Media (CEM) on amplifying the stories of such transitions through various projects. These projects include the debut of the Remembering Sparrows Point documentary film at the Creative Alliance on Thursday, April 10 at 7:30pm; a week-long radio series on the Marc Steiner Show (WEAA) on May, 12 through 16; and a fundraiser for the Filbert Street Community Garden, a non-profit in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore, at the 2640 space on Sunday, May 18 at 5pm.
Our spring 2014 advisory committee meeting is Wednesday, March 12 at Red Emma’s on 30 W. North Avenue in Baltimore. Committee members are invited to stop in at 6pm and get some great food from the café before we settle into our meeting space in one of the Free School classrooms. The meeting should end before 8pm, and then everyone is welcomed to stop by the Windup Space (just down the street) for the opening of 10: A Community Art Project co-curated by American Studies (’10) graduate Katie Smallwood. This is the third community art project Smallwood has curated at the Windup Space, and they are always great. There will be snacks, music, and, of course, art.
Everyone should also make sure to save the date for the 2014 Bmore Historic unconference at the Maryland Historical Society on Friday, October 10, 2014.
Watch the Orser Center blog and social media for updates on the Center’s projects and our other upcoming events in 2014.
Orser Center Strategic Planning Sub-Committee Report
Nicole King, Denise Meringolo, Ed Orser, Linda Shopes, Michelle Stefano
1. Revised mission statement:
The Orser Center at UMBC fosters innovative collaborations among scholars, students, and local community organizations. The Center seeks to put humanities research to work as a creative response to problems, challenges, and issues identified by communities in the greater Baltimore region.
2. The Center’s main goals and strategies to achieve them:
GOAL 1: Create and sustain working relationships between the university and communities in the greater Baltimore region.
a) by further developing the advisory committee to include more academic and administrative units on campus and community partners
b) by organizing two open public events annually that highlight the research and knowledge that emerges from place-based community work (ideally held in the community rather than UMBC)
c) by organizing internal community building and networking events at UMBC focused on place-based community work in the greater Baltimore region
d) by funding fellowships for student internships to enable community-based programs/projects to continue beyond the semester (two application cycles per year – must publicly present final work) – will potentially begin in 2014-2015 academic year
GOAL 2: Fostering a critical understanding of the connections among people, places, institutions, and cultures as well as practicing and promoting shared authority and inquiry during research and community engagement activities.
a) document and promote opportunities for students to engage in place-based learning and faculty to build place-based teaching/research
b) use forthcoming Orser Center space in the Fine Arts building for a library of place-based books and resources and a list of community contacts and opportunities for faculty and students
c) develop a sub-committee to work with the director on increasing the quality and visibility of the Orser Center blog and develop a plan for a social media presence.
GOAL 3: Develop a five-year plan to grow the endowment (2013-2018)
a) the director is working with the Office of Institutional Advancement on a letter to all contributors to the endowment summarizing the Orser Center’s activities and goals developed over the past three years.
b) develop a sub-committee focused on developing specific strategies to grow the endowment in 2013-2018.
The Polish Home Hall, Baltimore, MD—December 1, 2012 from 1-5pm
The Departments of American Studies and Visual Arts at UMBC and the Baybrook Coalition, a non-profit community development corporation, will host an event celebrating the history and culture of the Baltimore neighborhoods Brooklyn and Curtis Bay (referred to together as Baybrook), on Saturday, December 1 from 1 to 5pm. The Polish Home Hall is located at 4416 Fairhaven Avenue in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.
Students in Professor Nicole King’s American studies course and Professor Steve Bradley’s visual arts course worked together on various aspects of programming for this event. This work is funded by a UMBC Breaking Ground grant and illustrates how the successes and failures of urban industrial development contribute to our understanding of historic places and the creation of social space. A central theme of this project is that preserving places through original research, virtual mapping, and public humanities and arts programming creates social space—the room for diverse people and perspectives to come together and enhance today’s urban environments. “Mapping Baybrook: From Main Street to the Harbor” recognizes historic main streets as an essential place for the future development of the community and features the aesthetic resources within the community. The event will also mark the launch of the Mapping Baybrook website, which was designed in collaboration with UMBC’s Imaging Research Center (IRC).
A $10 ticket provides a pulled pork barbeque lunch with all the fixings, a copy of Mapping Baybrook’s main streets walking tour brochure, an event program, live music, public history programming, and an art exhibit designed and executed by Professor Steve Bradley and UMBC’s IRC Fellows. Children under 10 will be admitted free of charge and are invited to participate in special activities just for kids. Anyone who lives or works in Baybrook will receive $2 off the $10 ticket price.
All proceeds raised at the event will be donated to the non-profit Baybrook Coalition for the continued preservation of the historic Polish Home Hall. The Polish Home Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as an anchor for the communities of Baybrook.
This event is sponsored by the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture in the Department of American Studies, the Visual Arts Department, a Breaking Ground grant, the Imaging Research Center (IRC) Fellows all at UMBC as well as the Baybrook Coalition, a non-profit community development corporation serving the residents of Brooklyn and Curtis Bay.
If you’d like more information about this event or have any questions, please contact Dr. Nicole King at (410) 455-1457 work – (202) 345-6250 cell or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Baltimore Neighborhoods, Baltimore History”
8:30 am – 4:30 pm – Friday, May 11, 2012 – Maryland Historical Society
200 West Monument St. – Baltimore, MD 21201
SPONSORS: Baltimore City Historical Society, Maryland Historical Society, the Orser Center, and WYPR (media partner)
To register, please visit this website. The fee is $20 and there is a happy hour following the conference at the historic Owl Bar at 5:30pm.The “Baltimore Neighborhoods, Baltimore History” conference seeks to cultivate and promote the rich history of Baltimore City. Neighborhoods play a complex role in Baltimore’s past and present and illustrate the struggles and rewards of building a sense of community within an urban space. Programming features two panel discussions and two presentations on recent work that preserves and commemorates the complicated history of Baltimore. The conference’s speakers range from local academics to representatives from city organizations for heritage and preservation to community activists.
Conference fee: $20. Morning coffee and Lunch will be provided
Registration: http://www.acteva.com/booking.cfm?bevaid=227647. You may also pay at the door.
Parking: Limited parking is available at the MdHS
Questions: Direct to Suzann Langrall at email@example.com / 410-706-4529
8:30am REGISTRATION OPENS
8:30am – 9:15am COFFEE & MUFFINS
9:15am – 9:30am WELCOME, Mike Franch, Baltimore City Historical Society
9:30am – 11:00am PANEL: CLASSROOM AND COMMUNITY
Dale Glenwood Green, Morgan State University, Morgan Park + Wilson Park: Historic African American Neighborhoods
Few places in Baltimore rival the role that Morgan Park and Wilson Park played in the lives of African Americans. Professor of Architecture and Historic Preservation Dale Glenwood Green has worked to connect heritage preservation, tourism and education to historic African American neighborhoods. Green and with his students explored the impact of the development of the Morgan State University campus on the area adjacent to it. Green will tell a story of race, place and time of the supposedly “separate but equal” status accorded these Baltimore neighborhoods
Denise Meringolo, UMBC, Public History Training on the Westside
Meringolo will discuss her efforts to harness service learning as a pedagogical tool for training the next generation of public historians. In the spring of 2012, her graduate public history course is partnering with Baltimore Heritage in a course designed to challenge students to recognize history as a vehicle for smart growth and urban redevelopment. She will discuss the ways in which the architectural history of Baltimore’s west side can assist city residents in their efforts to preserve livable neighborhoods.
Betsy Nix, University of Baltimore, The People’s Free Health Clinic in 1970s Waverly
In the wake of assassinations and urban upheaval in the late 1960s, a group of young volunteers tried to respond in a positive way by delivering free basic medical care and mental health services to the Waverly community. In the fall of 2012, undergraduate students at the University of Baltimore interviewed some of the founders of the institution that would grow into the People’s Community Health Center, which still exists today. In this session, Betsy Nix and honors student Beverly Bowers will describe the project and share their initial findings.
11:15am – 11:50am PRESENTATION: Mary Mashburn, Globe Posters Comes to MICA
The Globe Poster Company with its vivid day-glo posters tacked up on telephone poles, abandoned buildings, check cashing joints, coffee shops, bars, and churches became part of the neighborhood landscape in Baltimore, DC, and well beyond. Over its 80 years of existence Globe’s production facility was located in several Baltimore neighborhoods, and it reached across racial and ethnic boundaries to serve a wide variety of constituencies. The Italian-American printers produced posters, tickets and handbills for primarily African American promoters and for musicians from big band days through Hip Hop and Go Go. 2
11:50am – 1:30pm LUNCH
Award of Joseph L. Arnold Prize for Outstanding Writing on Baltimore’s History in 2011
SPEAKER: Aaron Henkin, WYPR’s THE SIGNAL-“Out of the Blocks: The concept is simple: one hour of radio – one city block – everybody’s story”
1:30pm – 3:00pm PANEL: HISTORIC PRESERVATION, COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY
Eric Holcomb, Baltimore Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation, Beyond History: Rethinking the Goals of Historic Preservation
Today, Baltimore has more than 150 landmarks and 32 local historic districts comprising more than 10,000 structures. Thousands more sites are listed on the National Register for Historic Places. We have justified preserving these buildings because they are physical links to our past, but do we preserve history for history’s sake only? 20th Century history of Baltimore suggests that historic preservation has been an essential component to creating and maintaining healthy, dynamic neighborhoods that nurture human development. This presentation argues that it is time to rethink the presently accepted goals of historic preservation in order to fully address the challenges and opportunities of today.
Eli Pousson, Baltimore Heritage, Parks and Preservation in West Baltimore Neighborhoods
Over the past two years, Baltimore Heritage has worked to connect historic preservation, public history, and neighborhood revitalization in the historic neighborhoods of West Baltimore. This past spring, these efforts led to a new partnership with the Parks & People Foundation and community organizations around Lafayette Square, Harlem Park, Franklin Square, and Union Square, to establish the Friends of West Baltimore Squares—a community organization dedicated to promoting the recognition and use of heritage and green space as important assets for community development. Baltimore Heritage Field Officer Eli Pousson will provide a short introduction to their work with the Friends of West Baltimore Squares and how they combine heritage programs, public archaeology, and new online interpretation with community organizing and neighborhood greening to build support for healthier and stronger neighborhoods.
Todd Marcus, Newborn Holistic Ministries, Sandtown: Past and Present
Community activist Todd Marcus will discuss the connection between past and present in the struggle for neighborhood sustainability in an historic West Baltimore community. Once a vibrant area within the confines of segregation, with a cultural heritage rooted in a rich music tradition, Sandtown in recent decades has struggled with many social challenges—out-migration, blight, and abandonment, as well as the loss of middle class resources. Working on behalf of Newborn Holistic Ministries, Marcus has been involved with a variety of projects aimed at the physical and social rehabilitation of the neighborhood.
3:30pm – 4:05pm PRESENTATION: Deborah Rudacille, Journalist
“Aftermath: What happens to a company town when the company goes bust?”
For over 100 years, the Sparrows Point steelworks provided jobs and financial security to thousands of families in the southeast Baltimore neighborhoods of Dundalk and Sparrows Point. How have those families been affected by job loss at the Point and at other industrial employers—and can working class communities like these reinvent themselves to compete in a post-industrial America and globalized world?
4:05pm – 4:30pm CLOSING REMARKS
5:00pm HAPPY HOUR, OWL BAR, 1 East Chase Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
If you missed Marci Reaven’s talk on Public History Experiments in New York City, you can check out the full lecture here:
Marci Reaven, “Giving the Past a Presence: Public History Experiments in New York City”
Thursday, December 1, 4-6pm, UMBC Library Gallery
Dr. Marci Reaven’s career in public history has included stints with the exhibit planning firm American History Workshop, the cultural organization City Lore (where she directed the wide-ranging Place Matters project), and the New York Historical Society where she is Vice-President for History Exhibitions. She’ll draw on her own experiences and those of others to discuss the joys and challenges of public history, paying particular attention to projects that center around places and their ability to connect us to the past, and to diverse communities and their ongoing cultural traditions.
Friday, December 2, 8:30am-3:30pm, Maryland Historic Society
What is Bmore Historic?
Bmore Historic is a participant-led unconference on public history, historic preservation and community development in the Baltimore region and across the state of Maryland. Organized in partnership between Baltimore Heritage, the Greater Baltimore History Alliance, the Maryland Association of History Museums, Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Maryland, and the UMBC Orser Center, Bmore Historic is an opportunity to connect with local historians, humanities scholars, preservation advocates, museum professionals, archivists, and anyone interested in exploring the vital intersections between people, places and the past in Baltimore and Maryland. We’re bringing people together and you set the agenda.
What is an “unconference”?
Unlike most traditional academic or professional meetings, an unconference is a created and managed by the participants, with the content of the conference determined day-by-day during the course of the event, rather than in advance by the organizers. Unconferences are not a spectator sport. Leave your PowerPoint at home, we’re not looking for presentations, just people who are ready share their knowledge and discuss their work.
“American Studies 422: Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore” is an applied research course in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). During the spring 2011 semester, students worked with Professor Nicole King to explore the important role of historic places in sustaining vibrant urban culture. After readings on public history projects such as The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History and The Baltimore Book: New Views of Local History, students partner with a local non-profit community organization to develop an innovative preservation and public history project on overlooked people and places in Baltimore. During the spring 2011 semester, students worked on the Greater Baybrook area in South Baltimore.
A Faculty Innovation Grant funded by the Kauffman Foundation through the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at UMBC provided the seed money for this course. The course teaches students about social entrepreneurship, which balances creating social good with making a profit to sustain the future. The $1,500 Faculty Innovation Grant provides the funds for the event and any profits over the original $1,500 are donated to a non-profit organization based in Baltimore. All of the profits from the spring 2011 course were donated to the Baybrook Coalition, a 501c(3) non-profit organization with the goal of improving the Greater Brooklyn area.
Greater Baybrook is comprised of the industrial communities of Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Fairfield, Hawkin’s Point, Masonville, and Wagner’s Point. On May 14, 2011 the students hosted an event—Bridging Baybrook: Preserving the Past, Developing the Future—that drew over one hundred people to the Polish Home Hall, a historic community building owned by the Baybrook Coalition. The event was a community celebration incorporating public history programming, art, music, food, and events for children. Tickets were sold for $5 to community residents and $15 for visitors. The ticket included a program of historical essays on the various neighborhoods in Greater Baybrook prepared by Professor King and the students and access to all the food, entertainment, and events throughout the day (2-6pm).
The first floor was decorated in spring colors and had a history table, with materials including history panels the students designed, and a large map where community members could discuss the important places in the community. The history table also sold t-shirts and buttons the students designed. A delicious Barbeque lunch with all the fixings was provided with hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for children. There was also a kids’ station outside where young visitors could build greenhouses, paint rocks, or play horseshoes. Children twelve and under (accompanied by an adult) were provided free access to the event. Students in the course worked with local students (from both Curtis Bay Elementary and Chesapeake Center for Youth Development) over the previous month in making art that represented place in their community.
The art was featured on the second floor as part of a silent auction where the artists received half of the profits and half went to the community. The second floor also had a stage where various musical acts performed. By holding this event, the students commemorated a sense of place in the community and offered a space to gather, reflect, and make new memories. During the event Carol Eshelman, executive director of the Baybrook Coalition for the past decade, was honored upon her retirement. On the day of the event, the students raised $1,200. After replenishing the $1,500 seed money for the course, the students donated $400 to the Baybrook Coalition and provided $70 to local students for their part of the proceeds from their art.
The course and the event were great successes. Professor Nicole King and Steve Bradley (Associate Professor in Visual Arts) were awarded an IRC/CAHSS Summer Faculty Residency for 2011 for an online public history mapping project in the Greater Baybrook community. They will work with Dan Bailey, Lee Boot, Eric Smallwood, and Abbey Salvo to launch a prototype of the Mapping Baybrook Project over the summer/fall.
The Orser Center Advisory Committee will be meeting at The Commons 318 at UMBC at 3pm on Wednesday, March 30.
Following the brief meeting, the Orser Center is sponsoring a Humanities Forum panel discussion “Meet Maryland Traditions” from 4-6pm at the UMBC Library Gallery. There is a reception following the panel discussion.
See pdf for full info on “Meet Maryland Traditions” event: