I tend to say this sometimes. Not everything has my heart. If everything did would there be room for anything else? I’m not sure. But I’m sometimes selective in what I place stock and loyalty in. If not, the things truly of value, may lose some of well, there value.
Since my first Artscape in 2006, I’ve never not been back. I fell in love with the aura, with the atmosphere, with the culture, with the food, and a new found love for the city of Baltimore.
I was late to the party, so I have no idea how the event was before. But I do know it’s evolved with the times and so have the people. For a while that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
Everyone has their take but somewhere in the late 2000s to the up to a a few years ago, the event lost something. The spark, the local food vendors, the local artists were put on the back burner in favor of more corporate, more generic, and more vapid food suppliers, artists, and literally everything else.
Certain parts of the festival were eliminated, bands were booked for the sake of filling a lot, and overall the event had an arbitrary feel. It was done just to do. And not much else.
It felt like any other festival, carnival, or sanitized event that you could find on a weekly basis during the warmer climate months. It no longer felt special. It was still Artscape but not the Artscape we remember.
Then something beautiful transpired. Enough people spoke up and over time. They wanted local, and I mean they wanted everything as local as possible. The feedback was massive and unanimous. People wanted their old Artscape back and to feel like its a Baltimore thing and no one elses. And not in a territorial sense. But we’re here, it’s the city, and it should represent that.
Now I could be wrong with everything I’m saying. It’s just a feeling and an observation, that is shared by many of my friends.
The past few years has seen a renaissance. With few if any exceptions, the festival is local. The restaurant booths were all proud displaying a Maryland location, the artists just the same. While national acts were booked, that’s different. That’s always been part of the event. But now the artists seem to be there because it clicks with everything else and not just there to fill space and time.
For many it’s just a festival, and for others there’s a sentimentality. I always have and always will look forward to walking around on my own and becoming one with this event. I’ll run into people sure, but this is one I’v always enjoyed going at it alone, especially that Friday day, when it’s quiet and I can take in so much more.
Of course I’ve joined friends but Artscape has taken on a life of its own that hits us all in unique ways.
With all that, I did want to talk about a serendipitous tea experience.
For our pals in Baltimore, Zeke’s Cofee, also hits a sentimental nerve with many. It’s local, it’s great coffee, and they’re easily accessible.
Now I’ve had their coffee and enjoy it like many others but that’s not my forte.
So it was a wonderful gift to see that Zeke’s had a perfectly located booth (more on this shortly) at Artscape, and even better, they were serving the most splendid raspberry iced tea. I think I had at least four over the weekend.
I’m not sure what else was in it and I didn’t care. It was raspberry iced tea, and on what is traditionally the hotter weekends of the year, it went down like a tea is supposed to. And I kept coming back for more.
A place that’s known for their great coffee also has other things, as their menu states, but it’s a joy to know they’re in the position to make brilliant teas to boot.
What adds to everything is my good friend Rachel who owns Byrdie Jewelry (and her stuff is awesome) had just as ideal of location in the center and heart of everything. Yes we were right by Zeke’s, we were near the main stage, we were near the folks handing out free peanut butter bites, and free samples of pizza, but like i said, the best of all was that it was in the epicenter of everything.
My friends and I spent a lot of time there hanging out but did our share of walking around as well. It felt like summer camp at times, it felt like a vacation (or staycation) in our own city, but most of all it just felt real. And in a world that’s evolving and ever changing that is not as commonplace as once before.
I can’t go into every detail about all the amazing people I met, friends I ran into, incredible art I saw, or the stellar local foods I ate. It was a lot. There’s some stories better kept inside, and many of us like to hold stuff internal and to our hearts too. I guess you can say I got nostalgic while already there. That happens.
Every year tells a different story, and this was more focused on taking it easy, letting the awesomeness come to me organically, and being at peace with the universe. That sounds like a theme I can embrace every year.
For more on Byrdie, click here for their products, and where you can find them.
For more on Zeke’s, here’s the link to buy online, and where you can find them as well.
I had a great time this year. I’m grateful to have been able to do this again and look forward to not only this event, but hopefully others that will embrace their roots and focus on why local business is the best kind of business.
It brings out the best in everything.
Thanks so much.