Flashback to Artscape 1985 and the Opening of Pearlstone Park

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Artscape 2019 is the 38th year of the largest free annual art festival in the U.S., running from July 19-21. Back in 1985, when the festival was just three years old, it was held on the same dates!

Artscape 1985 kicked off with a concert and open house at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The event featured a mix of musical performances, dance troupes, poetry readings, film showcasing and art exhibits.


Musical performers included local jazz artists Spyro Gyra and O’Donel Levy, Polish folksong and dance group Ojeyzna, New Grass Revival, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys and many more. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra also held a “concert of musical favorites by Roger and Hammerstein.”

Nine visual arts exhibits were set up as the major art attractions. Titled “The Juried Art Exhibition,” the overall exhibition showcased the works of artists from all over the mid-Atlantic region. Two of the exhibits, titled “Sculpture and Other Home Furnishings” and “Furniture, Furnishings: Subject and Object,” featured furniture arranged and “designed for practical use as well as aesthetic grace.”

Attendees that year were encouraged to walk around and “enjoy the outdoor pleasures” of the brand new Pearlstone Park, one of the primary locations of Artscape. Pearlstone Park, located between the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Mt. Royal Station, was designed by New York artist Scott Burton and municipal landscaper Reed Fulton, built with Robert Goldman.

“Pearlstone Park is art of place, not art of object,” said Burton. “The art is not in the park, it is the park – it’s specially designed lights, benches, brick esplanades and flower gardens.”

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