Retro photos from the Baltimore Outdoor Art Festival

20 Photos

In his latest Back Story post, Sun reporter Frederick N. Rasmussen looks back at the Baltimore Outdoor Art Festival at Druid Hill Park — which was resurrected as the Art Outside festival Sunday after a 40-year hiatus.

Take a spin through memory lane with these retro photos from the arts festival.

Back Story: Arts patron revives outdoor festival in Druid Hill
By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
5:18 p.m. EDT, May 16, 2013

Barbara Shapiro’s love affair with Druid Hill Park dates to her childhood, when she passed through it daily on the way from her Ashburton home to old School 49 on Cathedral Street.

And even when construction of Druid Park Lake Drive in the 1940s and the Jones Falls Expressway in the 1960s removed many of its grand entrances, Shapiro never lost her affection for the park.

“I do think construction of the Jones Falls did separate the city from the park,” Shapiro, 78, said the other day.

She also recalled attending the city’s annual one-day Baltimore Outdoor Art Festival during the 1950s until its demise in the 1970s, held on the periphery of the Druid Hill Park Reservoir.

She missed the event, and after a nearly 40-year hiatus, decided to resurrect it a year and a half ago. She rechristened it with a new name, Art Outside, and it will open at 11 a.m. Sunday and continue until 4:30 p.m.

“Rain or shine,” said Shapiro, a longtime Roland Park resident. She and her husband, Sig, are well-known patrons of the arts.

She wanted to couple the juried art show, which was founded in 1953 by Baltimore artist Amalie Rothschild, with a celebration of the 650-acre reservoir, completed in 1871 and featuring a 119-foot-high earthen dam.

During the show’s heyday, it wasn’t uncommon to have 300 artists displaying their work as crowds of upwards of 40,000 strolled through the exhibition.

Shapiro is reviving Rothschild’s idea of the Paris or New York sidewalk art exhibition so that artists can hang or lean their work against the railing that rings the reservoir.

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