Last night I attended an art opening at Patterson Park restaurant/bar, Three. While not a gallery space, Three is among many local businesses that support artists living in its community. The artist being celebrated last night was M. Jordan Tierney, who was debuting her exhibition "Falling in Love in Patterson Park."
Tierney's pieces (like "Phoenix," pictured) play with texture and light to ultimately give the viewer a very tangible feeling of optimism. "This show is so great because it’s about happiness," Tierney says. "And I think there’s something weird in the art world where it’s taboo to do something positive. I was finally able to express that without judgement, mainly because I am so happy."
It's no wonder that Tierney's 22 pieces, and overall theme, express such a joyous emotion. Last Friday, she brought her girlfriend, Molly, by the the exhibit just to show her some of the pieces she had hung. Molly got to one piece that incorporated text, "Do you want to sit on this park bench with me forever?" Then, Tierney handed Molly the label for the piece, which was called "Proposal." Molly instantly started crying and, of course, said yes.
This kind of story, though a little bit exceptional, is an example of what can happen when businesses support local artists in the community. Neighborhoods like Patterson Park, and others like Station North, have a plethora of local exhibits hosted by neighborhood spots (like Three, Romans, High Grounds, Patterson Perk, and Yellow Dog Tavern, to name a few).
Tierney, a trained artist and MICA alum, says that these sorts of shows are unique in the art world. "I lived in Washington D.C. for 20 years and most of those coffee shops and businesses have gotten gentrified," she says. "There is no local presence, so this idea is definitely particular to Baltimore."
This phenomenon could be attributed to the area being so walkable, Tierney suggests. "I think this neighborhood art phenomenon is also due to this being a pedestrian, as opposed to car-based, lifestyle," she says. "We support each other in a radius of what can be reached on foot, and we build relationships with those around us instead of going to chain stores by car and seeing strangers."
Along those same lines, Tierney's studio is going to be one of the spaces featured in School 33's Open Studio Tour on October 18, where the general public can tour more than 70 artist studios around the city. As Tierney put its, "Baltimore is so cool because everyone is encouraged to do their own weird thing."