Healing the Nasty Way: A sit down with The Nasty Press

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May We Heal Event this Friday night. YOU better be there!!

Sometimes things happen in the world and you know the only correct response for yourself is to get out there and make a difference. That was the case for three amazing women after an election that shook much of the country. If you haven’t heard of The Nasty Press yet, allow me to introduce you to Baltimore’s newest femme zine collective and the fantastic ways they plan to change Baltimore’s art scene – and beyond.

And let me start by telling you that the BEST way to get to know these ziners is to attend The Nasty Press: May We Heal?  FREE event this Friday night, Sept 15, 2017. Located at The Annex 2E and starting at 8 pm, the night is all about celebrating Baltimore’s LGBTQ and POC artists in Baltimore. There will be poetry, music, art, photography, and new friends for everyone. Bring some beer and maybe a little spending money. (You may just find something you must have!)

Can’t wait to show up? Great! Now here’s the low down on what brought it all together so you’re completely in-the-know Friday night.

Zoey, Alysha, Em – AKA: The Nasty Press

“Trump was the catalyst.” —Zoey

Like so many people after the 2016 election, Zoey, Alysha and Em felt that the wrong things were getting the spotlight, namely racism, homophobia, sexism and religious intolerance. As they started looking around at the zine scene in Baltimore, the dynamic trio realized that there didn’t seem to be a platform for all artists. It was very male dominated and what femme-run zines there were could sometimes be more competitive than supportive. Beyond that, Alysha explained the art scene in general had a reputation of “being pompous, pious and off-putting on the surface“- just plain intimidating to newcomers or the curious.

What started as simple idea to have a one-time gallery show for the art of those underrepresented, turned into a zine and event collective whose mission is to give a platform to EVERYONE. Their goal is to be Inclusive not Exclusive so that their zine can show the richness that is Baltimore City and highlight those that often don’t get the spotlight.

Constantly referring to themselves as an infant zine, you’d be hard pressed to know it just by looking at their first issue This Moment in Politics. Turns out that was all thanks to a grant that didn’t pan out in the end. As Zoey explains, it seems she often can’t believe the story herself:

“We tried to do this grant, but it was due in five days. We didn’t even have a name at the time! Over the next four days we met every night to write it and submit. We didn’t get it in the end, BUT it helped to solidify the idea…we had themes for our first issues because we had to and it helped to give us focus…And we often didn’t know what we were doing or if something was going to work.

I mean, we were zine panelists before we even had a zine! We were giving advice before we’d published our first issue!”

Alysha laughs and adds:

“We’re not big shots! We definitely don’t think we are! We’re infants. We’re beginners and we WANT beginners. Some of our (published) submissions are from beginners. You take your iPhone and take a picture that works with the theme. If you have something to say – say it….Politics affects everyone from women’s reproduction and marriage equality to veterans and (pause) just everyone. It affects EVERYBODY.”

This Moment in Politics

And The Nasty Press is committed to focusing on those issues that affect everyone.

While the first zine was a reaction to the election of Trump and a showcase of people’s feelings at that time, the second issue will tackle mental health.

After working so hard to get the first issue out we each had to really rely on one another at different times. We got to share our stories of our struggles and our families suffering from mental illness. This is a topic that needs to be normalized. And it’s not just about mental illness, it’s about mental HEALTH. We want to be as open and broad as possible and level the planning field. We’re trying to make it comfortable for people to relate.” 

Along with supplying a platform for underrepresented artists and raising awareness of important issues, The Nasty Pressers are all about giving back. All profits from their zine and merch (like these killer totes) are donated straight to The Baltimore Transgender Alliance, Planned Parenthood of Maryland and Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“This was never about making money. It was about providing help and resources to those who need it.”

In the coming year there are plans to do a large fair on the street surrounding The Annex, complete with bands, food, art, performances and lots of zines! Alysha envisions blocks of zines and people supporting one another and raising each other up, with support from local businesses. Places like Red Emma’s, Bird in Hand, Greenmount Coffee Lab, and Dovecote Cafe are already dedicating space on their shelves for The Nasty Press, as well as other zines like Herstaria and Beast Girl.

Alysha and Zoey (and me) kicking it at their amazing event space at The Annex 2E.

No matter what happens in the future the femme forces behind The Nasty Press promise to always be relevant and turn out thought-provoking zines and events. Alysha summed it up best:

Queasy. Good. Raw. That’s what we want.”

What could ‘B’ more inspiring?


Want to get involved with The Nasty Press? Drop them a line on Facebook, Instagram or their website.

Want to submit to their next zine? Perform at their next event? Find out how here.

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Hey Baltimore, what ever happened to those New Year’s Resolutions?

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Recently I was home, frustrated that I wasn’t able to complete the goals I wanted to accomplish for this blog over the summer. This was because of unforeseen surgery complications and major life events that were beyond my control. The fact that these hurdles popped up and were indeed more important than my self-imposed deadlines was something I recognized, but it still hurt that my plans had been derailed yet again.

Dealing with an injury that won’t go away has been a real challenge for me the past two years and I was feeling like I had achieved nothing, both professionally and personally. After all, how do you write a blog about the goings-on in your hometown when you often can’t participate in the goings-on?

So I got to thinking about my January post on goals for the new year and whether I had actually accomplished anything.

Imagine my surprise when I found that I had! Since 2017 is now over half-way through, I thought I’d share my progress. Plus, the  new school year is (unfortunately) upon us and is a perfect time to remember and restart those goals you made at the beginning of the year that may need a little push to the finish.

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Travel (around town) and Support Local Businesses

Being unable to get to places has been a struggle for me. I had plans to have some fun day trips and extended weekends – I’m looking at you Ocean City. Clearly, that didn’t happen, and sadly, my Thrashers fries appear to be more of a 2018 goal at this point. (Funniest part? I was able to get to Mongolia. Life just makes no sense sometimes.)

BUT I was able to check out local businesses and organizations, which happened to take me all over Baltimore and parts of Maryland. So far I have racked up: visiting the awesomeness that is The Foundery, seeing art among flowers at the Rawlings Conservatory, treating myself to local art at Charm City Craft Mafia events, getting my science on at Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS), attending the opening of Hysteria Brewing Co, and chilling with Baltimore’s newest Zine Queens over at Nasty Press. And that’s not including the local restaurants and beers I purchased. I feel that’s a respectable showing from January to August.

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Add a Skill

When my best friend suggested I get my Katniss on with her and take an archery class, I had only one answer, “Hell yeah!” And so, with mandatory braid in place, I went with her to *forgotten the name so must look up and tried to find my inner tribute. I was not a natural, but by the end of the lesson I could hit the target 9 times out of 10. Not bad for one hour’s worth of work. Since that March outing I’ve been back and intend to continue – I have a bullseye that needs to be hit.

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Hit the Books

Last year I read a total of 2 books. It hurts just to type that. So my final 2017 goal suggestion was to try to up my book reading this year to one book a month for a grand total of 12 entire books. In the end I just made it a point to make time to read (sorry Netflix binge weekends!) and didn’t count the books as I went. I did keep a list though, and when I went back to count I found I’ve already read 14 books! I smashed my goal and there’s plenty of time to add more.

All in all, I’d say it’s not too bad of a goal run for a person who had stretches of time where she couldn’t leave the house or drive. How did you do on your goals? Did you reach any? Have a way to go still? Like I said, it’s not too late to pick them up again or even make new ones. You just have to try.

What could just ‘B’ more encouraging?

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I also made it to Light City.

Flower Power: Best Thing to Do this Earth Day

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It’s April! It’s Earth Day! It’s my Birthday!

If you can’t tell, April is my favorite month of the entire year. The weather warms, the O’s are back at The Yard, I happily become a year older and the flowers come out in force. It’s the season of renewal and restarts and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a trip to the Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore. And there is no better time to stop and smell their flowers than this weekend, for the following two reasons:

  1. It’s Earth Day on April 22, 2017.
  2. It’s the last weekend of their Annual Spring Flower Display.

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If you’re a loyal follower of just B more blog, then you’ll remember my past visit to the Spring Show which took you to outer space. This year, they’re keeping it closer to home and traveling under the sea to discover An Octopus’s Garden, with help from the National Aquarium and the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Trust me when I say that this is where you want to take family and friends on your Earth Day adventures.

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That’s because there’s more than just flowers to gaze upon at this show. Follow the paths and you’ll find an eel peeking between some petals, jellyfish hanging from trees and an octopus chilling with the succulents. Just be sure to take a close look at the animals – you’ll find that most of them are made of trash – reminding you to think green this Earth Day and every day. There’s a scavenger hunt for children of all ages, or if you’re less actively inclined you can curl up under the tentacles of a jelly and read a good book. Either way, you’ll get happily lost for an hour or two checking out this amazing show.

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Love it so much you can’t bear to part ways?  Take some greenery with you – there are lots of plants and succulents for purchase that would love a new home. (I couldn’t help but bring this little guy with me!)

 

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Can’t wait until Saturday for your dose of flower power? The Conservatory is open late tomorrow, April 20, allowing you to tip-toe through the tulips until 7 p.m. If the weekends are more your style, then stop by between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for your last chance to see this special display. The Octopus will be leaving on April 23, 2017.

What could ‘B’ more green?

Rawlings Conservatory

 

4 Goals to Bmore in 2017

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Now that the year that was 2016 is blissfully behind us, we can get onto the business that is 2017. And I don’t know about you, but 2016 was a bit rough for me personally. It’s quite hard to write about all the fantastic things you can do in Baltimore when your driving foot, ankle and leg are casted, thus grounding your car as if its got a permanent boot attached. While friends and family were TOTALLY helpful in getting me to work, food and a holiday party or two, it just wasn’t an inspiring time to write about our great city. (Unless you wanted a run down on the lack of handicapped amenities – which still isn’t out of the question.) So it’s with much relief and a healing body that I look toward 2017 and what it may bring.

When 2016 started, I gave you a great list of things to do for each month of the new year. Trust me when I say that the suggestions on the list will be just as great for 2017 if you missed it. But a new year means a new direction, so this year I’m giving you some tips I plan to use to help hit some New Year’s Goals. (Because no one keeps resolutions anyway.)

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Travel (around town)

Some years the round the world trip is just out of reach. That doesn’t mean that travel has to go out the window. Make this the year you check out a different part of the city, county or state. That new neighborhood bar you keep meaning to get to? Make that an after work happy hour spot one night. Never seen Western Maryland and unsure if it really exists? Take a weekend to explore the western unknown.

The best part about Maryland? It’ll deliver photogenic getaways for any season. Hit some slopes in winter. Check out cherry blossoms in spring. Beach bum it out in the summer. Admire the foliage in the fall. Just remember that travel isn’t something that only counts if you change time zones. Have an adventure a little closer to home. Still need inspiration? Check out vistmaryland.org for more great ideas.

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Support Local Businesses

There are so many great things about the region and one of the best is that if you need it, want it or don’t know about it yet, there’s a good chance you can find it locally. I doubt I need to remind you that our food and drink scene is ever-growing and on point. Stepping out of the city won’t lead to your hunger pangs growing, as there are places to eat in every hill and valley of this great state. With restaurant weeks around the corner, there are plenty of opportunities and deals to help you eat local.

But what about the other things in life – home decor, clothes, books and the rest? Don’t worry, you’re covered. Pick up all of these and more at the next Charm City Craft Mafia craft fair. Or wait until Artscape and snag some local wares there. There is so much talent in and around Baltimore that you just might get the urge to up your hobby game. And that brings me to my next 2017 goal.

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Add a Skill

So many local businesses offer classes that 2017 is definitely the year to add to your skill set. Learn to decorate cakes like a pro with Lotz of Sweets or make pasta with Baltimore Chef Shop. Become an expert at climbing mountains with a class at Earth Treks or become an equestrian at one of the many horse farms. Create your own museum after you’ve mastered how to blow glass and create ceramic sculptures.  Or give an Oscar worthy Shakespearean monologue for your friends.

If you simply search “classes in Baltimore” you will be given multiple options, price points and locations to just about anything you could think of and more. (Hey, I didn’t even know Baltimore had glass blowing classes until I searched two seconds ago!) And if you’re more of a learn on your own type, my final goal for 2017 will help you out.

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Hit the Books

Got stacks of books catching more dust than dog-eared pages? Magazines so old you still don’t know what was fashionable to wear for summer of 2016? Or am I the only one that owns 70 unread titles, courtesy of The Book Thing?

Well, even if you don’t have my bibliophile tendencies and still want to up your read-word count, here are two easy tips to help you reach the “Well Read in 2017” badge.

First, find 12 books for the year. That’s one book a month. Any title, any page length, any anything. Now gather them up, make a stack and place them somewhere you’ll see them. Now you have a visual reminder to whittle down that pile, and the bonus of seeing it shrink over the year. Got an e-reader? Purchase or borrow the one you want to read for the day and add it to your library. Or make a list on GoodReads to help get you in the reading habit. *Bonus* Post a picture to social media to let everyone know about your year-long library.

 

*None of these are paid advertisements. As always, these are things I know of that I want to share with you!

I’m sensing a pattern here: A sit down with MICA graduate Steph Stilwell

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I took one look at the Charm City pillow on thebaltimorecreatives Instagram feed and thought: I. Must. Have. That. The picture of bright blue and purple row homes in a throw pillow perfect square was meant to be on my couch. Sale at Caravanserai on the Avenue in Hampden when I wasn’t in town – unacceptable. So, being resourceful, I joined others who were clamoring to find out how else to get these delightful pillows of perfection.

Enter MICA artist, Steph Stilwell. She happily directed me to a solution to my conundrum and pictures of her entire line of pillows. Scratch the Charm City row homes, I had to have the Baltimore crab and the Maryland postcard. I mean, it has a diamondback terrapin on it, what’s not to love? She also excitedly accepted an invite to be featured on my humble blog. So on a Saturday afternoon in the unassuming, but ever hip Red Emma’s, we meet for hummus, iced coffee and a chat about MICA, Delaware, and art.

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Artist Steph Stilwell

The first thing you should know about Steph is that as a graduate fresh out of MICA, she has honed a unique voice and style all her own. Her doodles and sketches are simply delightful. She creates characters and illustrations that dance around the page. In a style that she describes as “50% food, 50% animals” she uses patterns to solve problems – like how to make a cactus footstool.

Steph hails from Middletown, Delaware where she started drawing at an early age. Her father was an artist by hobby and her mom likes to say she sacrificed her own artistic ability so Steph could inherit all of it. Fed on a steady stream of art supplies at Christmas and plenty of doodle time, Steph spent the weekends redrawing cartoons and comics instead of actually watching them. This naturally progressed to doodling during high school classes, cumulating in an independent high school project and landing her at MICA. 

MICA was my dream school. For art school, it’s a very collaborative, tight knit community…it makes you want to be as good as the people you admire.” Plus she wanted to live in a city, and Bmore was the place for her. “I wanted somewhere I could assimilate. Baltimore isn’t NYC, I like the environment. I  think there’s a lot of great things happening here.”

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For her it was really all about the patterns.

“It kinda just fell into place. I went into MICA and I didn’t really know what ‘Illustrator’ meant. But I think I was drawn to it because I was redrawing illustrations.

I took the patterns course… I was trying so hard to be what graphic design is, but I took that patterns course and I kept using patterns in other assignments. It’s funny, looking back, that I use patterns so much in my assignments, it was sorta foreshadowing what was happening later.”

If she had her way she would stay here in Baltimore, but there’s not a lot of work for illustrators and designers like her in the area. While her own gallery and studio would be nice one day, right now she’s focusing on expanding her portfolio and style. While I may argue that her style needs no tweaking, she’s got her eyes on bigger things. Her main goal right now is to work for a company where she can collaborate with other artists. While you might think of illustrators as people hunched over a desk drawing away by the light of a lamp, she’s quick to dispel that stereotype. The back and forth creativity that fed her passion and education at MICA is not something she’s ready to part with just yet.

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Currently she’s shopping Hallmark, Greetings and Readings, and even Target. While she doesn’t have any bites yet, she’s hopeful that the right company will come along. I offered my two cents that Mod Cloth and her would be the perfect fit. (I’m also the first to admit, what do I know?)

But I do know that at this point you are thinking: “I love her stuff! I can’t wait for Target to wake up! Where can I get my own cactus footstool?

While she was mum on current projects (“There’s one in particular I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about yet.”), she is currently freelancing while working the typical post-college desk job to help make ends meet. (Oh, the life of the starving artist.) You can find samples of her work on her website stephstilwell.com and request your own custom work. Or you can stop at Caravanserai and grab one of her pillows – before they’re all gone.

Bmore crab and postcard

When the Lights go on in the City

20160328_222647If you’re looking for a bright way to spend a spring evening head to Baltimore and check out Light City. Starting last night and continuing until Sunday, April 3 the festival showcases both local talent and the city skyline. This all ages event takes nothing from your wallet and adds inspiration to your imagination.

Each night promises bright and fun light installations, ranging in animatronic peacocks, 70’s inspired patterns, and projected short films. Run through a playground of light, take selfies with Vegas style signs or play with glowing shipping containers that react to your movements.
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While you may have missed last night’s parade (and the axolotl) there are are still plenty of events to surprise and delight you. You could catch a “ballet” of bubble balls by Single Carrot Theatre, paint the air with Illumnia! or catch a Planet Awkward performance.20160328_201107

The free Light City app,which is available for both Android and Apple, will help you plan your evening’s events. I found it extremely easy to use and as you star events you want to catch it puts them in a handy schedule for you. The maps let you know where everything is happening and where the street food is.
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Being in the heart of the Inner Harbor and spreading to Fells Point, there is no shortage of food options provide by all the excellent restaurants. However, if you’d rather chow down by the lights there are food vendors serving up drinks and delicious treats. I totally recommend The Nickel Taphouse Badass Burger sliders. They are amazing!20160328_193316.jpg

I spent all night at the festival with a friend and have every intention of heading back this weekend. Any pictures you see of the event don’t do it justice – it’s a must do this week. So gather your friends, family, dogs and head down to spend the night with the lights. You won’t be disappointed.

What could be more bright?

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(And after you check it out comment below and tell me what you thought!)

Going, Going… Gone? A Trip to National Geographic Museum

 

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Photo Ark at the National Geographic Museum

One of the best things about Bmore is that in a matter of moments (albeit very long ones) you can be in a different and interesting place. Today’s place of choice: National Geographic Museum in DC.

Interesting because I didn’t even know such a place existed, but it does indeed, just a short 3-minute walk from the Farragut North metro stop and right across from the Defenders of Wildlife building, which seems only fitting.

The building itself is unremarkable in its architecture, although there are nifty side walls that are topped with small metal mountains that were holding water from the day’s rain to create the scene of them overlooking a riverbed. On the first floor of this many-storied building are changing exhibits highlighting the nature, science, history and wonder that is both the natural and human world. Think of it like a really extravagant lobby – one with paths and treasures hidden in plain sight. The cost to enter is nominal ($15 for nonmembers) and, true to National Geographic form, the exhibits are spectacular.

My reason for venturing on the DC Metro to spend the day in a building I didn’t know existed was the special exhibit, “Photo Ark.” Photographer Joel Sartore is on a mission to take pictures of every creature currently living in zoos, aquariums and sanctuaries from around the world. To date, he has taken portraits of over 5,000 animals, from the tiniest frogs to enormous rhinos.

The exhibit is a must see for any animal enthusiast, photographer or parent who wants to show their children just what this planet has to offer and what we humans have to lose.

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Red Wolf as photographed by Joel Sartore

To say the photography is stunning is like saying the Grand Canyon is large. These are moments in time of the animal’s life. They demand your attention in a startling, intimate way.

The subjects sneak up on you –, as you walk through the draped passageways, you feel a quiet, calm insistence to acknowledge them. Animals from the smallest to the largest, familiar to unbelievable, glance, stare and peek back at you. Some are sadly already gone from this earth, memorialized in these portraits. Sartore said he wanted you to look into their eyes, to consider them and their existence. If you take just a few seconds to observe them, you find you do just that. Their eyes are emotive, alive, and haunting.

The exhibit runs through April 2016.

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Budgett’s Frog as photographed by Joel Sartore (frog from National Aquarium)