With the theme “More Lights, More Love,” Light City Baltimore will expand from two to three weekends this year. The art and music festival presented by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) is held primarily on Baltimore’s waterfront and highlights social innovation by way of the arts—large-scale art installations that light up the evenings, alongside live music and pop-up performances.
“This is a unique festival in the sense that the art is supposed to elucidate and illuminate social issues,” says Verna Myers, representing the Light City leadership council at a press conference today. “Art is awesome because it helps us to see things differently.”
Perhaps the most obvious signal that the event is in full swing will be the BGE Light Art Walk along the Inner Harbor’s promenade, showcasing 21 light-based installations made by artists from across the world. Tom Dekyvere’s glowing Elantica will be an off-the-grid sculpture replica of Earth, made from solar panels and electronic waste. Another piece will explore human relationships by way of interactive light and sound. Another will serve to illustrate—through a moving, patterned surface on the ground—that color is made up in our minds.
Davis McCarty's Pulse Portal will be installed along the Inner Harbor -Davis McCarty
Beyond the Inner Harbor, Neighborhood Lights showcases various cultural pockets in the city during its own weekend this year. The collaborative artist-in-residence program has grown from five communities in its first year to eight in its second and now 14: Belair-Edison, Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District, Darley Park, Federal Hill, Baybrook (Brooklyn and Curtis Bay), Remington, Hamilton-Lauraville, Highlandtown, Hollins Roundhouse/Southwest Baltimore, Little Italy, Locust Point, Patterson Park, Pigtown, and Waverly. Artists are paired with community organizers to create site-specific work that reflects the personality of Baltimore’s neighborhoods.
New this year, self-guided audio tours of the BGE Light Art Walk and Neighborhood Lights installations will be available through a quick phone call.
Also new, the Labs@LightCity conference at IMET Columbus Center will be pay-what-you-can. The “labs”—HealthLab, GreenLab, EduLab, SocialLab, ArtLab, MakerLab, and FoodLab—put local voices alongside nationally known ones to discuss ideas and innovations that will take our world forward into the future. These guided conversations will explore focused themes, such as the role of education in society, greening our cities, and how art can create change. Speakers include Art Smith, DeRay Mckesson, Aaron Maybin, Sonja Sohn, Shanti Das, and many more.
Music performances at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater and Kaufman Pavilion by Rash Field, as well as pop-up performances—illuminated hula hooping, stilt-walking, caroling, dance, and puppets—will round out the event. Acts will include DJ Grandmaster Flash, G. Love and Special Sauce, Trillnatured, and Outcalls.
Also not to be missed: A drone race will bring drone league racers from across the U.S. to compete in a light installation that doubles as an obstacle course.