Spy Minute: Juneteenth and Beyond with AAM’s Damika Baker & Ben Simons

While Juneteenth, which marks the abolition of slavery at the end of the Civil War, has been celebrated at the Academy Art Museum for the last six years, this will be the first time that AAM’s director Ben Simons and his colleague Damika Baker have worked together in planning the all day celebration next Saturday.

In their interview with the Spy, Ben and Damika talk about how the art museum began its own tradition of hosting this special event and how the AAM is building stronger ties with their community with year long programming that celebrates African-American Art and Artists.

Free activities include the screening of the highly regarded film, 13th, a NETFLIX original documentary by Ava DuVernay, Director of Selma; a Community BBQ in the Museum’s Courtyard; and the opportunity for individuals and families to create their own quilt patch, using slave codes. Participants will also be able to view and learn more about the Sesquicentennial 1864 Maryland Slave Emancipation Quilt. For the 150th anniversary of emancipation in Maryland, the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) commissioned a quilt to visualize the stories of people, places, and events in every Maryland county and Baltimore City before, at the time of, or after the ratification of Article 24. In addition, there will be entertainment by local artists and keynote address by Dr. Joan M.E. Gaither, designer of the Emancipation Quilt. Local vendors include Talbot Rising, Talbot Mentors, Neighborhood Service Center, Imagination Library and LivAgain/ArtBar.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For information, visit academyartmuseum.org/juneteeth or contact Damika Baker, Director of Development (410) 822-2787 or dbaker@academyartmuseum.org.


Piazza Food Bites: Let Us Now Praise Extra Virgin Olive Oil

While the Spy’s intention in working with Piazza Italian Market has been to present our fun “food bites” in one-minute segments, we had to make an exception when we talked to owner Emily Chandler on the importance of honest to goodness extra virgin olive oil.

We linger for an extra minute or two as Emily discusses the nuanced differences that exist between “everyday” oil and exquisite and sometimes costly “finishing oil” that is so essential to the gourmets. In this case, we talked to Emily about an exclusive Ravida selection that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the family business partnership between Natalia and her father, Nicolo.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Piazza please go here.

Mid-Shore Art: Howard and Mary McCoy in the Woods Again

The forest is an unending source of inspiration for environmental artists Howard and Mary McCoy. On view in the woods at Adkins Arboretum through Sept. 30, their show of site-specific sculptures is called Suggestions because each of its ten works was directly suggested by what they found there. They will lead a sculpture walk during the show’s reception on Sat., June 24 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Since these two Centreville artists first began creating outdoor sculpture at the Arboretum in 1999, their work has become more and more directly inspired by the trees and vines along its shady paths.

“This is our tenth biennial show,” said Mary McCoy. “Over the years, certain places in the forest have become so familiar, they’re like old friends. We want to draw attention to them and help other people to get to know them, too.”

When the artists were walking through the forest this spring planning their show, they stopped at a favorite pine tree unusual for its three trunks. Howard McCoy began to think of “Accumulation,” a sculpture from their 2015 show, in which the artists had suspended a massive pile of branches in the lower branches of a tall pine tree.

“So we created a kind of inversion of that,” he said. “Instead of the branches being tucked around the tree, we inserted branches between the trunks of this triple-trunk pine.”

Although the McCoys rarely use any materials other than the natural ones they find in the forest, two of the show’s works include words either printed on cloth or written directly on a fallen tree.

Mary is both an artist and a writer who has published reviews and articles on art since the 1980s. During a quiet walk alone in the forest, she listened to what the trees might have to tell her. Two short poems came from this visit. One of them, “History of a Tree,” is just four words long: “Earth, Sun, Rain, Wind.”

“I was thinking about what caused this tree to be lying here in the forest,” she explained, “how it grew up from a seed in the ground, matured and finally was blown down.”

The two artists had also wanted to make sculpture with some grapevines swooping high into the trees along a path to the Arboretum’s Nancy’s Meadow. Directly across the path was another site that interested them, a sweetgum tree that vines had pulled down low to the ground in a graceful arch.

“‘Linear Elements (Free Form)’ was suggested by swooping vines that were already there,” Mary said. “We added more long, curving vines. And that sweetgum arch was just begging to be sculpture, so for ‘Linear Elements (Structured),’ we decided to point it out with a row of straight sections of vine that suggest not only architectural elements but also the straight, vertical tree trunks in the forest.”

“It’s interesting how when we’re working in the woods, we’re always using basic art principles,” Howard commented. “All the formal things from drawing class, like balance, composition, texture, movement, all the things we learned in class that now we’re applying out there in the woods.”

“How fortunate we are to get to explore ideas out there,” he added. “We’ve had full support from the Arboretum’s directors over the years, and some of the other programs, certainly the children’s program and the journaling class, have used what we’ve done out there as inspiration. The forest communicates with us through suggestion. All we have to do is pay attention.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

This video is approximately three minutes in length

Spy Moment: The Quilters Take Over Oxford

If the residents of Oxford are finding their community just a bit more calm and cozy this weekend, the Spy has uncovered the reason for this subtle change of the environment. It is being overrun by quilters and their fans for a few days.

With exhibitions at the Oxford Community Center, Oxford Fire Hall, St. Paul’s Church and the John Wesley Chapel, hundreds of new and antique quilts are being displayed of these multi-layered textile works of craft and art.

The Spy found its way to town on Saturday to catch some of these brilliant works of stitching.

This video is approximately one minute in length.

Washington College Transition: Bair Resigns

The Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors today announced the resignation of President Sheila Bair.

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with President Bair for these past two years, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors,” said Board Chair H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. “Her work on behalf of both this institution, and the nation’s undergraduate population as a whole, to diminish our national student debt crisis has been remarkable, and we both thank and commend President Bair for her dedication to improving access to high-quality education for all students.”

“It was my privilege and pleasure to serve as President of this historic college, and my time here is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my career and life,” said President Bair. “Being a part of an institution co-founded by our nation’s own Founding Father, George Washington, will be impossible to match, and I thank the students, faculty, staff, and Board of Visitors and Governors for their support these past two years, particularly for our access and affordability initiatives. Unfortunately, this job has required that I be away from my family quite a bit, and I underestimated the hardship that would create when I took up leadership of the college. I regret that I am not able to serve my full five-year term, but in many ways, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our hardworking campus community, we accomplished in two years what would have required five at other institutions.”

President Bair came to Washington College after serving as Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2006 to 2011, where she played a key role in stabilizing the banking system during the financial crisis. She was officially appointed in May 2015, and served as the institution’s first female president in its 234-year history.

A native of Independence, Kansas, Bair earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of Kansas in 1974 and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1978. She began her career in public service as an aide to Kansas senator Bob Dole and later served as a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a senior vice president for government relations at the New York Stock Exchange, and Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. For four years, she was the Dean’s Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Appointed to lead the FDIC by President George W. Bush in 2006, Bair was recognized for sound fiscal management and for raising employee morale. She was one of the first officials to warn about the damage the growing subprime mortgage crisis would pose to millions of homeowners and the economy at large. Consumer advocates praised her relentless efforts to represent the interests of homeowners, bank customers and taxpayers. She helped shape and implement the Dodd-Frank Act, which gave the FDIC expanded power to “wind down” rather than bail out a failing bank, and created the Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion in an effort to bring banking services to underserved populations.

Bair chronicled her five years at the FDIC in Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself, a New York Times bestseller published in September 2012. A prolific writer, she has been a regular contributor to Fortune and has written three books for children that offer lessons in financial literacy.

During her presidency at the college, she pioneered several student debt reduction programs, including a program to match scholarship dollars to every dollar spent out of a family’s 529 or Education Savings Account, and George’s Brigade, offering full scholarships to highly qualified, low-income students. In addition, she ushered in Fixedfor4, a tuition plan that guarantees entering students that their tuition will not go up during their four years at the College, bringing certainty to one of the largest expenditures a family makes.

Launched in the fall of 2016, the Brigade saw 14 first-generation students complete their freshmen year. Twenty new George’s Brigade scholars are expected to matriculate in the fall. Another affordability initiative, Dam the Debt, is a “back-end” scholarship that helps pay off the federal loans of graduating seniors. Since its inception, Washington College has dispersed a total of $659,000 to graduating seniors, reducing their overall debt by over 10 percent.

The College expects to continue the efforts that began under Bair’s leadership. Her contributions to the improvements in diversity, retention, advancement, and alumni participation are greatly appreciated, as is the contribution she made to help raise the public profile of the College

President Bair’s resignation will be effective June 30.

Spy Art Tip: AAM’s First Studio Sale with Katie Cassidy

Another first for the Academy Art Museum will take place on Saturday. For the first ever, the museum will be hosting a studio sale event, which means that AAM instructors, artists and students are cleaning out their studios and selecting artwork to be featured in a one-day sale.

As Academy instructor Katie Cassidy notes in our short Spy moment, the good news is that none of the artwork being offered will cost over $300.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum please go here.

The Studio Sale
Saturday, June 3
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Academy Art Museum
106 South St
Easton, MD 21601


Spy Moment: The Flags of Valor in Easton

It is sometimes hard to remember over this long weekend that the purpose of Memorial Day is to pause from our hectic lives and reflect on those who sacrificed so much to ensure our freedom as a country.

The Rotary Club of Easton has made it their job since 2012 to make sure those special moments are maintained in our community. Their “Flags for Heroes” project, which this year installed approximately 1,000 American flags in key locations around town, has not only been successful in raising the consciousness of the community to pay respect for those who died in service to the United States, but creates a visually moving memorial that makes it impossible not to be emotionally impacted by the display.

The Spy has attempted to capture these indelible images in our Spy Moment for Memorial Day 2017.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the Rotary Club of Easton please go here.

Piazza Food Bites: And, Yes, Expresso in Now being Served

The pressure was on. Piazza was making great strides in establishing itself as the premier Italian market on the Eastern Shore, but the lack of coffee was affecting their street cred. Customers would complain that they could not have an espresso or a cappuccino with their biscotti, and finally, the store bowed to pressure and installed on authentic Italian espresso machine.

In this installment of Piazza Food Bites, the store’s coffee advocate, Liz Capuano, talks about the simple approach to offering customers what they want.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information on Piazza please go here.

Mid-Shore History: Thinking of Frederick Douglass at Wye House under the “Witness Trees”

While there are certainly some very special moments that come with historical discovery for scholars — a rare letter found in an attic or a personal diary uncovered at an antique store — nothing compares to the feeling and emotion that comes with sharing the same habitat as your subject. Whether that be George Washington and Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson and Monticello, or Frederick Douglass and the Wye House Plantation, to be able to experience a connection between these American heros and where they lived cannot be beat.

That was certainly clear last Sunday afternoon at the Wye House when the Frederick Douglass Honor Society hosted for four distinguished historians to discuss one of America’s greatest social reformers under that Douglass had called the “witness trees” of Wye House. Professors David Blight from Yale, Dale Glenwood Green from Morgan State, Hari Jones from the American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum and John Stauffer from Harvard all spoke of the importance that Wye played in Douglass’ writing and mission in life.

The Spy was able to collect a few segments from each speaker.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more information about the Frederick Douglass Honor Society please go here.

Spy Moment: Really Fine Art in Oxford, Really…

The Spy couldn’t resist checking out the Fine Arts @ Oxford show at the Oxford Community Center this weekend. While we love the fact that the event has a history of quality exhibitors, and that the proceeds go to support the OCC, what we like most of all is that many of these artists are based in Talbot County.

Given that pertinent fact, we sent a spy on Saturday morning to document just a small sample of these extraordinary pieces on display to encourage others to celebrate the great depth of our local artists.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about Fine Arts @ Oxford please go here.