Open Space’s seventh annual Publications and Multiples Fair ran on Saturday and Sunday this past weekend at the Baltimore Design School. PMF is one of my all-time favorite art events—attracting DIY press, small publishers, artist-run spaces, and hundreds of artists working in a surprising variety of media. It’s free, most of the art is incredibly affordable, and the general vibe is somewhere between art fair, surreal craft show, indie Comic-Con, and garage sale at a punk house.
This is PMF’s second year at it’s new, larger venue at the Baltimore Design School. I was unfortunately not in Baltimore last year, so I can’t speak to that iteration, but the fair felt bigger and more diverse in terms of offerings than in years past. The shear breadth of artists’ goods that one can actually buy is totally overwhelming—I’m sure I didn’t even see 60% of the highlights, but I snapped some photos of what caught my eye.
The only downside to the new location is really, really bad lighting for viewing art, so I apologize for crappy and/or flash photos. The building recently underwent an eco-friendly renovation, and all the low-energy lighting casts a pinkish-yellow tint (it seems like an odd choice on behalf of a design school).
At any rate, by the end of day one nearly everyone I spoke to had sold enough work to at least cover their expenses. Much like Open Space’s smaller Artist-Run Art Fair—”The Art Fair That Doesn’t Suck“—attendees and vendors seemed downright ecstatic to actually be able to buy and sell work to their peers. That’s all too rare, but based on what I observed at brick-and-mortar spaces during the weekend, that excitement also translated to a lot of sales of non-editioned pieces at local galleries as well. This is exactly the type of thing that Baltimore’s art scene needs.
April Camlin had a whole table of her signature, obsessive-looking black-and-white graphic embroideries, as well as limited edition print reproductions that were so high-resolution you could see the fibers on the yarn. One of my favorite details was the digitally-printed tablecloth—the “perfection” Camlin plays with in her handmade work is at times distorted by the Photoshop “smudge” effect. Everything she makes is such a nice balance between graphic purity and traces of the hand (or its digital surrogate).
At Mt. Home Arts’ table, Matthew Van Asselt’s gorgeous screenprints of 20th-century-looking suburbia against mountain landscapes feel equally nostalgic and somewhat dread-inducing. The past few generations really fucked up the landscape. The artist is originally from northern Westchester County, and these capture that gut-wrenching feeling of a train ride upstate, where a pastoral view might give way to a claustrophobic smattering of vinyl-sided sprawl.
Also channeling the pastoral-meets-consumer, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University brought these “Sublime” bags from Andrea McGinty.
Brooks & Rosebud’s table fully embraced the weirdest-garage-sale vibe with affordable ceramics pieces and found multiples gems like these totally bonkers unicorn makeup palettes. These tiny embroidered patches and hats with reclining nudes are also just so great.
Helen Jackson-Adams’s table was entirely covered in promotional materials for Spiderman. Each of these individual pieces comprises some sort of “official” Spiderman card with plastic dice, a dart, and an image of someone in bootleg Spiderman facepaint like one might encounter on a Times Square performer—all frozen together in a puddle of epoxy or resin. They’re a little like an inscrutable still life and a little like an ID badge for a fan club. They were probably the strangest thing for sale at PMF VII, and for that alone, they deserve recognition. I asked Adams if they had been selling and she shrugged, “Yeah, kinda.”
This is exactly what I love about PMF.