Post image for Three Shows: Beki Basch, Hein Koh, and “Photo Flesh”

The next week is a good time to do some art-seeing on the westside of downtown Baltimore. Michael Jones McKean’s commission from The Contemporary has transformed an old department store into a dystopian museum and it’s teriffying and great. You can check it out by appointment until May 31st, when it will be deinstalled. Luckily some of the city’s strongest artist-run spaces are within a few blocks of the show and also tend to accommodate by-appointment viewings. I checked out three openings last weekend: Beki Basch’s trippy Vision Quest Lundi: Flush / Flood at Current Gallery, Hein Koh’s technicolor wonderland Joy & Pain at Platform, and the group show Photo Flesh at Terrault Contemporary featuring three international genre-bending photographers from the Birmingham School of Art.

Post image for Michael Jones McKean Makes Museums Existentially Terrifying

In Michael Jones McKean’s The Ground, presented by The Contemporary, the artist has inserted a dystopian anthropology museum in a long-vacant department store. It’s smart, funny, and just a little terrifying.

See it while you can.

Post image for A Personal Finance Cheat Sheet for the Overwhelmed

Money is the most powerful metaphor we have. For many people it represents their self-worth, their standing, their power and their security. In many ways artists are a little different—we have a life where we choose to value different things than the rest of society – freedom, both artistic and from societal norms, as well as intellectual independence. Our very existence can be seen as a challenge to capitalism. It’s why some people feel threatened by us—our choice to place a high value on things other than money might call into question their own choices and values.

So I understand why many artists may want to or feel as though they live outside the “regular” financial system. However, we all still must function within it. I have seen too many artists succumb to their own lack of financial knowledge and security – by giving up art, making outsized financial sacrifices (like homeownership, children, or secure retirement), and even becoming destitute. Money can be very emotional: not knowing how to manage it can make us feel out of control, anxious, overwhelmed, and ashamed.

But the flipside is wonderful. Taking some basic steps to control your money is empowering. It can prolong your career, help you meet personal and professional goals, and set your mind at ease.

I’d like to outline the most basic ideas of personal finance. There are tomes written on each single line below, and a million variations. But since feeling overwhelmed can cause paralysis, I want to assure you that the very basics of solid personal finance are universal.* Here they are.

Post image for The Venice Biennale: An Orphanage for the Terminally Out-of-Touch

It was close to midnight when my phone started lighting up last week. James Comey, the head of the FBI, was fired and the freak out was almost immediate. I felt lucky to be in Italy. A buffer from US news was necessary to maintain any kind of focus on the Venice Biennale, not to mention one’s sanity. And yet, even from this distance, the turmoil back home certainly drove home one point: Art isn’t going to save democracy. Art has no impact on Donald Trump’s actions, the FBI, or any of the Republicans in the senate and congress. People can call their representatives. Art cannot.

All of which is to say, the art professional who believes artists are magical unicorns who will save us all is looking increasingly silly. And so, visiting this year’s Venice Biennale Viva Art Viva curated by Christine Macel, which begins with the premise that artists will shape the world to come, felt a bit like walking through a United Way commercial. The upside of this: the 2017 Biennale more diverse than many of its predecessors. The downside: diversity isn’t of much value if the show is bad.

The Biennale fails both thematically and visually.