Your city needs your art

Something incredible happened in Baltimore last week. In the face of injustice, the city came together like never before. We knew about the disparities - the "two Baltimores." We acknowledged it, sometimes. We discussed it, sometimes. Some of us volunteer or work for organizations year round that support the betterment of all. Some of us live it every day.

But when we all watched as people fought back en masse against the tyranny, when we saw how much pain our fellow citizens were in and how the rest of the nation was once again poised to shake its head and look down upon Baltimore, we took to the streets. Some helped clean up; some marched in solidarity; some stepped up to volunteer in staggering numbers.

I've had discussions with many of my creative friends and clients in the past few days. I've read lots of posts and watched video blogs from others artists in the community. Many have done some incredibly powerful artwork already: photography, illustrations, poetry. Even Prince was inspired to record a song.

Others seem to struggle with the question - "How can we, as artists, help?" I've heard a common feeling of uselessness - stuck with the empathy that naturally comes with being a creative person, and the self-doubt that seems to plague many of us.

When I wrote to Alix Tobey Southwick about using her image for this post, she agreed with the sentiment: "Stuck and useless describes how I felt when I started the piece, then my muscle memory took over the pencil in my hand and drew the sketch for the painting. I was so afraid of creating some jingoistic piece of crap. I was so relieved that it was received with such enthusiasm."

Now she is auctioning her painting off at the We Love Baltimore Art Exhibition at the Metro Gallery this month. Not only does her work have meaning, evoking feelings of social justice and the nostalgia of Mr. Rogers, but it will also directly go to help the cause, with all proceeds going to the Baltimore Community Foundation's Rebuilding Fund

So, if you're sitting around thinking, "I should just drop this art nonsense and go do something 'useful'," ask yourself, "What impact can I make with my art?" Perhaps you can write a short story involving a metaphor for inequality; create a performance piece about the pain of injustice; go out and take photos of the "two Baltimores"; compose a song evoking the anger of the oppressed.

Of course, if you feel called to volunteer, make a career shift, or finally open up that huge non-profit arts organization, by all means go do it! But please, I'm begging you, don't drop your art. We need your voice. Your unique perspective has the power to create lasting change.

You can bid on Baltimore artist Alix Tobey Southwick's piece and many others at:

We Love Baltimore Art Exhibition and Silent auctionMetro Gallery 1700  N Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21201 Tuesday May 12, 7pm to 11pm, opening and silent auction Proceeds going to Baltimore Community Foundation's Rebuilding Fund

Alix also has an upcoming show:

FABRICATION new paintings by Alix Tobey Southwick Opening reception June 11, 6pm to 9pmOn view for the month of June at Captain Larry's , 601 E. Fort Ave. Baltimore , MD 21230 Captain Larry's has wonderful food and is family friendly.

You can contact Alix at