Thursday, June 18, 2015

A growing cluster of galleries in the Bromo District

With the large and abandoned Metro West office complex looming to the west, the 500 block of West Franklin Street has an unassuming presence with its small houses forming a neat row and edge of the historic Seaton Hill Community extending north. On the South side of the block a large former assisted living complex is currently being transformed into student housing catering to the nearby University of Maryland.

The small storefronts are notoriously hard to fill these days and have seen a steady turnover in recent years from vacant to hair-salon to clothing store back to vacant. But lately the landlord who owns most of these properties, the French Company, has mined the new vibes of the Bromo Arts and Entertainment District by leasing one after the other of the stores to artists for their studios and galleries. FreddyOpen Space,

The latest will be the First World gallery in the place of the former Hair Salon "Perfect Ten" which moved a few buildings to the west into a former McDonalds drive through building. Yesterday you artists were seen carrying out stained drywall to spruce the place up for the brandnew gallery. "It is exciting" one of them said. They promised to keep the storewindows open unlike their neighboring gallery which installed frosted glass.

In support of the galleries including the artists in the H&H camping building Gallery Four a new coffee shop will open across the street on the ground floor of 429 N. Eutaw Street. Tentative name: New American Diner. And to top it off: the Contemptary and Deana Haggag will set shop next to the planned cafe. 

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
Gallery Freddy, Franklin Street

Overview of new activities here

Besides the official Bromo Arts District employees, projects in this area are overseen by bevy of energetic people and offer many other options besides the city’s older established alt spaces. There is the long running Gallery Four, the appropriately namedCurrent, the irony-laden Freddy, the collective Open Space, young and energetic Platform Gallery, the new hyper EMP Collective and more. Not far away on Saratoga Street, housed inside Maryland Art Place, is the godmother of the new West side scene: the long running 14Karat Cabaret.

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