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6.5.07

Kinetic in Baltimore

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I’ve had a few discussions over the years as to whether museums should be more accountable to local artists and the scene, be more inclusive, offer opportunities to the artists of their regions. To me, it can be a tedious discussion; of course they should. I’ve heard the arguments and reasoning for why it’s not possible -- such a lost opportunity for the artists, the institutions, and the community.

A perfect example of inclusion happened this past Saturday. The The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore held its 9th annual Kinetic Sculpture Race. The weather was the best in the past three years. The field of entries was amazing, and the spectator turnout was the largest ever; it was a great day in Baltimore.

After several mechanical issues, miles of pedaling, a water entry, a sand trap, a nasty mud pit, and a dash back through the the Inner Harbor to the finish, all but two of the 31 human-powered entries finished the race. The first over the finish line was the team from Artex Fine Art Services, piloting Attack of the Sculpturines. While they were napping mid-race, a priceless Goya was stolen from Sculpturines trunk: just kidding, they ran an excellent race.

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This year's race, in which everyone was a winner, included seasoned veterans piloting quite sophisticated and elaborate creations, along with well-intentioned water-soluble entries. Most had their trusty crews pedaling alongside in case triage was necessary. Some of the crews were costumed, and a few were equipped with boom boxes and on cue would break into choreographed routines to entertain the crowds along the race course. I’m always amazed by the fact that so many men love to dress as women: it’s not always a pretty sight, but a riot of fun to spend the day with them, as the race takes its toll on their make-up and tights. Ewww.

One thing for sure, on Sunday, in addition to slight headaches from the after-party, there were many sore muscles from pedaling and pushing, and cheeks frozen in perpetual smiles. With the support of the AVAM staff and legions of volunteers, the 9th annual race was one of the most memorable. After a few more Tylenol I’m going to start thinking of next year's race. Cheers to the most inclusive and most fun museum in the land!

AVAM’s latest exhibit, Home and Beast, will be up through Labor Day. For my pictures of the race go here. For the most thorough Web site covering all aspects of the race, go to Kinetic Baltimore.

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