Art is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the artists we speak to this week have persevered despite delays and difficulties. Watch how a musical theater lover who grew up in Maryland transformed his lacrosse background into something he never imagined. Meet black quilters who express their love for Baltimore through their artwork. Get a behind-the-scenes look at a music festival with island vibes that’s set to rock Charm City later this month.
Philip Byron started out as a theater kid, grew up in Owings Mills and now produces the Off-Broadway show “Titanique‘ which runs through September 25 The Asylum Theatre. But it was a family passion and childhood hobby, outside of art, that prepared Byron for one of his latest projects.
“Given that we do a lot of sports content – LeBron [James] owns the company — I’ve always been pretty frank about not being an athlete,” said Byron, senior vice president of unscripted series and documentaries at SpringHill Company and uninterrupted. “I think that’s what made me successful in this role. Getting back to the story… Why will people like me want to see the show?”
But Byron said his lacrosse-loving family and a childhood devoted to the sport helped him work alongside another Maryland native and star player Paul Rabil to the documentary “destiny of a sport.”
“‘You’re actually one of the few athletes that I really know,'” Byron told Rabil when they first met in February 2020. The documentary follows Rabil and his brother Mike, co-founder of the Professional Lacrosse League.
“It was something that my dad and I felt really connected to, and lacrosse doesn’t get a platform like a documentary does — ever,” said Byron, who studied film and television at Boston University.
Shortly after film discussions began, the Rabils faced a derailed second season as the pandemic forced the league to retool. The documentary follows them navigating the processes of the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice conversations in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
“To see Paul primarily as someone who is the ‘LeBron James of Lacrosse’ but also as a businessman building a league from scratch. It’s super inspirational,” said Byron, who executive produced the film alongside basketball phenom Maverick Carter, Jamal Henderson and the Rabil brothers.
Moving beyond the themes of sports, business and fraternity, Byron said the documentary offered a valuable lesson: “If you believe in something, move on.”
Audiences can stream Fate of a Sport this fall on ESPN.
While the city of club music may seem a far cry from the island vibes associated with reggae, Vaughn Carrick is excited to bring its touring music festival to Baltimore.
En route to the Port Covington neighborhood on July 29-31, Reggae Rise Up music festival started out as the Utah Reggae Festival in 2012, but Carrick saw more potential for the company.
The music festival traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida for the first leg of a tour in 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“We joke that we went from promoters to professional procrastinators because we were literally busy redirecting bands,” Carrick said.
After St. Petersburg was postponed three times (as were other shows), Reggae Rise Up eventually premiered there and also in Las Vegas. Now the festival founder is gearing up for “Baltimore,” which he described as “a very strong market” for reggae.
“There are some local reggae bands in the area, is that so soy, Bumpin Uglies, The movement, fanfare!,” he said. “We’re happy to come in for support [local reggae] and hopefully draw more attention to it.”
One of the goals of the tour is to support the communities where the festival takes place. For the Baltimore tour Volo children is the charity partner and the festival team is working with local grocers and businesses, as well as volunteer organizations to employ around 300 people for the three day event.
“We’re excited to be there and it’s a cool city,” said Carrick.
In addition to tunes from people like dirty heads, Slightly stupid, Trevor Hall and many other acts, Carrick said the festival offers a “positive… and family-centric culture.”
Tickets and more information about Reggae Rise Up can be found at reggaeriseupmaryland.com.
Glenda RichardsonPresident of African American quilters from Baltimorebegan preparing for the “United We Thread” Exhibition in 2017. The 2022 exhibition opens on July 28th.
The Quilters Association suggested it Morgan State’s James Lewis Museum In 2020 they set a date and the following week the pandemic closed the museum.
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“Everything was in flux, so we didn’t know what was going to happen with all of this work that we were doing and how this show was going to happen,” Richardson said.
When the group began meeting on Zoom, they doubled their membership to around 80 people and began making plans for a virtual show. Then the museum reopened.
Now audiences can see the years of work by the 21 artists who created United We Thread. The theme is all about Baltimore – from famous Baltimoreans to historic buildings to family histories.
Each quilter worked individually, but the exhibit features a collaborative quilt that inspired the show’s title.
Barbara Pietila founded the organization in 1989 with the aim of presenting the work of its members. The purpose of the guild is to support black women quilters and “demonstrate the virtues of African American quilting as an art form.”
“I know the art community has not always been kind to acknowledging the contributions of black artists to any aspect of art, and we consider quilting to be an art form,” Richardson said. “So we’re involved in creating a place where that can happen.”
There will be a soft opening for “United We Thread” on July 28 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the James E. Lewis Museum of Art, 2201 Argonne Drive, Baltimore, followed by an official opening on September 11 from September 16 :00 am to 6 pm The show, which is open until December 10, is free.