Screen painting: A Baltimore tradition still charms

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Screen painting continues to bring charm to residences and commercial properties alike in neighborhoods in Baltimore as a new group of artists learns this art form.

“You see out. No one sees in.”

The tradition of Baltimore screen painting started 100 years ago in Charm City’s Czech community as shops and commercial spaces adorned their window screens with painted landscapes. Soon the tradition spread throughout the neighborhood, brightening up dull spaces with the added bonus of creative privacy.

However, as the city changed and air conditioning became the desired norm, Baltimore’s artistic niche dwindled. But today, the tradition is fighting with a flourish.

With help from organizations such as The Painted Screen Society of Baltimore and the Highlandtown Main Street Program, this folk art is making a comeback. Together, the organizations created the “100 Screens for 100 Years,” a commemorative collaboration that hopes to bring back the art of screen painting in its native area of Highlandtown.

The emphasis here is not just on the art, but the community. Or as screen painter Anna Pasqualucci puts it, the program “brings more interest in continuing the arts, draws interest to the city, and adds a little pleasant surprise.”

In fact, other organizations such as Highlandtown Arts are getting involved and creating their own screens.

These masterpieces may have a somewhat-sneaky past, but together they’re making an effort at creating a non-exclusive community.