The Mount Vernon Club at 8 W. Mount Vernon Place has stood in that location since 1933 and since then it has filled with many people, with many events, and many stories. If you were to visit and ask one of the staff that work there, they would tell you of the variety of ghosts that inhabit the halls. One story was only rumor until very recently, but it was no story of a ghost. This haunt was flesh and blood - even if her flesh was covered in scales. Some had heard of the disappearance of guests on occasion, but it was always written off as a lovers spat and never pressed. Strangely though, it had been discovered that on some of these days, where a guest had disappeared, the staff had made a stone sculpture donation to Second Change (an architectural salvage yard and store).
On a recent evening, Constance and Herbert were guests at an event at the club. It was a Christmas event and cheer was in the air and drinks were flowing freely. Herbert had heard of the stories and the rumors, and decided to discover if there were any truth to the tales of a monster within the walls and guests being turned to stone. He asked some of the staff and they told him about some of the ghosts that have been seen and heard within the halls, but laughed at the idea of an actual monster in residence.
“A gorgon could exist as easily as dragon could” Constance told Herbert as she pulled him away from the staff member he was pressing for details. “I’m sorry. Please excuse him.” She smiled. “Too many cocktails.”
Herbert gave her a look, that he had given her many times before. He knew she didn’t believe his stories, but then again she had not seen the things he had seen in Baltimore. Shadows of beasts that vanished suddenly when spotted, visions from the corner of his eye, and he swears he had seen a sweet old woman with tentacles and green skin pocketing a dried and flattened rat into her purse. When he took a double take she was just an old woman and looked as harmless as a fly.
“You could at least humor me, even if you don’t believe me.”
“Oh dear.” Constance grimaced. “You must be kidding. Humor you.” She rolled her eyes so much they seemed to take her head with it. She accidentally punctuated the motion with a hiccup that was an immediate embarrassment for her. Constance put her hand to her mouth and looked to she who may have heard. No one had.
“Looks like you are the one that has had too many cocktails.” Herbert mumbled smugly.
Herbert excused himself for the mens room and left Constance to mingle. He noticed a door underneath the stairwell that was cracked. It led to rooms and halls within the club, but he found nothing out of the ordinary. He returned to the hall beneath that stairwell and as he entered the mens room (which was a door hidden in the opposite wall) he though heard a low rattle and slithering sound. Like a rolled up rug being pulled across the floor. He paused and after no other sound came, except the talking and laughing from the gathering where their party was, he pulled the bathroom closed behind him.
Conversation was dull and after fifteen minutes had passed, and Constance had finished her martini, she went to see where Herbert was. Even though his imagination was absurd, she did love Herberts outrageous stories far more than talk about the weather or the mayor. She reached the staircase and could not believe her eyes. A monstrous human-serpent hybrid was making her way up the staircase from the men’s room. By the time she cleaned her glasses and rubbed her eyes the stairs were empty. Constance discovered an uncanny life-sized sculpture of her husband in the open bathroom, but her husband was nowhere to be found. This was the last she saw of him. The staff had said they saw him getting into a cab, but that just didn’t sound like something her Herbert would do. A week later, Constance saw the sculpture for sale and bought it and placed it in her sunroom.
Ever since the evening at The Mount Vernon Club, Constance started seeing Baltimore they way her husband had. There were monsters in this city. She saw them everywhere, if even for a brief moment.
Adam Burke was born on Valentines day in 1975, in the state of Oregon, where he cultivated his love of art and nature from an early age. Adam took art classes and went to art school a few times, but ended up developing his skills and technique on his own, with virtually no training in the medium of painting. This medium (where he says he wishes he had more formal training) has taken him far with his self discoveries. Burke works with oils as well as acrylics and has created fantastic and bold works with both. When using acrylic, he manipulates the medium to appear light and fluid like a watercolor and when using oils, his strokes are bold and textural. Not until his mid 30’s did Adam really begin his full-time career as an artist and after three to four years of intense struggling did things begin to fall into place and he began to make a name for himself. Burke began that struggle working primarily in illustration work (inspired by mid-20th century illustrations) with poster and album art for musicians and then began to push his boundaries and create more fine art in addition to that illustration work. Burke told me “I think there's infinite room to explore painting if you remove narrative as your primary goal.” Burke’s paintings focus primarily on nature an a mysterious narrative - “I want the viewer to come away scratching their head, wondering what I was trying to do, but still being drawn in by a high level of draftsmanship. Mostly I want to instill a sense of wonder.”. Fantastic creatures occupy incredible and awe inspiring landscapes, yet the viewer is still able to connect with his work if only on a primal level. Adam Burke still lives in the Pacific Northwest, where he is a native-plant enthusiast (especially the huckleberry varieties) and enjoys gardening. The painting I am highlighting is entitled Consequatur, and I feel it perfectly represents his incredible talent. Discover more of his work via the links below.
Things had been difficult for the siblings Wyn, Wul, and Woo lately. The accidental insult to the grootslang and yaoguai with the year end offering that rotted from poison had placed them in bad terms with a good number of their suvian neighbors in Baltimore, but worst of all was that the beasts of the Inmost that had become insulted and had it out for the three of them. It made it difficult for them to go out as much as they would like, as well as playing their favorite game of Sneaky-Spot, which was kind of like Hide-and-go-seek from the humans while they were not in their human disguise.
Despite all that was wrong with things for the triplets these days, they still managed to find the brighter side of things. Wyn sat in their living room reading. Wyn could hear her brothers in the basement working on the Ingress which had been acting up lately and failing to teleport them where they wanted. She let them to it.
It was Fall and the air was cold out and the wind fierce at times, but inside was comfortable. With a throw, some tea, a book in an armchair, and the brilliant rays of sun that worked its way across the room with the passing of the day, all seemed fine. Their grikul pup Petunia had found her place on the rug and basked in the warmth of the sun. Wyn would look up from her book on occasion at Petunia, when Petunia would take a deep and content exhale and smack her lips as if she had remembered the taste of something delicious. Or if she would move her stubby legs slightly, while she was dreaming, as if she were running around the park chasing something.
Wyn took a sip of her tea and looked at the last sip in her mug as she studied the flavor. The tea was complex and overall had a bitter taste that she didn’t mind. Petunia let out a grumbling sigh. She was happy. All was right with her. Sunbathing with a full belly and happy thoughts at Wyn’s feet. Wyn wondered how so much could be stressful, and difficult, and strained, and exhausting, but still she was able to find moments like this and realize all was well. The tea was bitter, but satisfying. So was life at times.
Petunia got up and moved to follow where the sun had moved. In a half turn, she paused to look at Wyn and see if all was well.
Wyn smiled, took the final sip of her tea, tucked the throw around her again, and opened the book back to where she had left off and began to read again. Petunia saw that all was well and completed her turn and lay down with the sun warming her hide again.
Award winning Australian artist, Beau White, (based out of Melbourne) graduated from NMIT with a Diploma Of Arts in 2018 and has been going strong since. His vivid a surreal oil paintings are vibrant, disturbing, and often grotesque. Suffocation, leeches, severed limbs, and food are common themes you will find in his work and with these elements White creates fascinating and fantastic studies in the form of distorted still life. The highlighted painting “VANITAS NO.1”, was selected because of the playful and macabre way White constructed this autumnal cornucopia of death and delights. Treat yourself to the rest of his magnificent work, by visiting his website or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.
Pearl and Ruby had the same mother, Adelaide Smith, but different fathers and this alone was scandal enough for the small working neighborhood of Hampden in the early 1900’s. But there was more. Ruby was so named because of the purple-red color of her skin (she took after her father) and her appearance made their family even more scandalous. Not simply because the child looked monstrous (with long fingers, yellow eyes, and horns, as well as her skin color), but because the mother kept her and raised her like any regular child; just the way she raised her other daughter Pearl who was born six months after Ruby. Ruby’s father was a traveler and never even knew he was a dad before he went on his way, but in the short time he and Adelaide knew each other, he did tell her some interesting things about suvians. Most importantly, suvians are able to disguise themselves as a human once they have reached puberty, which happens at the same age as humans and the other ting she had learned was that suvians need to consume arsenic for good health.
Both of Adelaide’s children were miracles. Ruby was the first half breed born from a suvian and human union and Pearl was born three month premature and although she was weak at first, she grew quite strong. Pearl’s father (Arthur) married their mother and raised them both as his daughters. The girls grew up as each other’s best friends. They consoled each other from the damage that the hurtful words and harmful objects that were thrown their way caused. Often times the words hurt worse than the stones or onions or rotten apples.
Ruby and Pearl’s parents took them to the stores or to the harbor to get food fresh off of the ships that came in. They shopped for clothing with them and without hesitation. Eventually though, the family decided to remain indoors and away from the scrutiny of their neighbors.
Years passed without anyone ever seeing anyone come or go from the home. Lights would come on and curtains would move, milk was delivered and under the cover of night the empty bottles were put out on the stoop, but never was anyone seen. The neighbors eventually even forgot what they looked like.
When Ruby became old enough, Adelaide and Arthur explained to her that they loved her just they way she was, but if she wanted, she had the ability to look just the same as he sister Pearl or her parents. Ruby learned quickly how to do it and one evening they all left their home and never returned to it. The door was just left open and when neighbors explored, they only found furniture. No personal items remained. The Smith family bought a new home in town where no one knew who they were and settled in perfectly.
Self-proclaimed "Potato Fiend" Karina Kalvaitis was born in Brooks, Alberta, Canada, but mainly grew up in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Karina also have lived in various places in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Kalvaitis has been creating art her whole life, starting at an early age, with art supplies always around from her artist mother. She is a full time artist that majored in sculpture at Alberta College of Art and Design where she graduated with a BFA. While in college she discovered that her initial interest as a photographer was replaced with the passion for three dimensional art, because she felt less enamoured with the technicality of photography. Karina has shown her 2D and 3D works in galleries all over Victoria and is currently showing here sculptures in a solo show at Arc.hive Artist Run Centre (where she has her studio) and the title of the show is Age of the Unseen World. A perfect title for the incredibly strange yet familiar creatures she comes up with. Her sculptures come in limited edition “Litters” and are made with a wide variety of beautifully-dyed felted wool, glass beads (for weight), clay, and varnish. With these simple materials Karina is able to create complex-emotional lifeforms that call out to us on a deep and personal level. They are intangible emotions that have been given form - to observe, sit with, and protect.
When Karina Kalvaitis is not working on her sculptures, she also illustrates animals with watercolors that she sells as prints and cards, as well as builds props and sets for the theatre and opera, and even manages to find time to take her bike out for the occasional bike tour.
Check out her magnificent work via the following links -
The opening for Labor of Art 2018 at MAXgallery was a great success and had a nice blurb in the Baltimore Sun (image above). There was a wonderful turn out and I met lots of interesting people and had the opportunity to chat with a few familiar faces as well. The show is a group show every year that features artists from the area with a "Do or Die" type work ethic in art. This is me second year in a row participating. and this year I was able so share the show with the extremely talented James DuSel, Jarek Sparaco, M. Voelker, and Trudy Babchak.
Sales were good for the opening, but there are still lots of marvelous pieces available at affordable price points. The show comes in the early evening on October the 14th, so there is plenty of time to check it out for yourself.
126 N. Madeira Street, Baltimore, MD 21231
Gallery Hours: Friday 3-7 pm | Saturday 1-5 pm
or call for appointment
The shadows were deep and vast within the walls of Emmanuel Episcopal, but they were also inviting. Comforting. They were under pews, down halls, they clung to corners, and even covered stretches of plaster between the stained glass windows, but they were soft and calm and felt protective. An ancient and holy collection of private moments, secret prayers, answered hopes, and soothed grief that had form but no shape. They were present, but invisible - clustered together without taking up any space at all.
The shadows that Phena had been encountering lately were nothing like the ones she felt within the church. These other shadows were not comforting and were not a simple absence of light. They were dispiriting, cold, menacing, and aware. At times they even seemed to have form and substance, but when confronted with light or attention, they would retreat and dissolve. It all started a few months ago. Phena would be at home as the evening took hold of the day and would suddenly find herself alert. She felt like she was being watched, and the air felt to heavy to or too thick move very quickly - as if she was moving in molasses. If she were to look in the direction that she felt something was, all she would see was a dark corner, or the shade from beneath a table or bed. Once she located the source, the heaviness and the sensation of being watched would be gone.
At first Phena thought that it was her imagination, but then she began to feel like she was being followed. The same feeling would occur on the streets, but the sensation would not disappear so easily. She also began to hear sounds. Footsteps that would move when she moved and breathing that sounded like a large animal. Like a lion or bear, but possible bigger - all squished into the compact space of a shadow in the alley, next to a dumpster, or in her home under her furniture, or behind a door, or behind the shower curtain. It was terrifying. She would invite friends over for company, but she knew that when they left, and she was alone again, it would watch her again. Lights were always on in her home, but she would feel it and hear it and it would take her comfort and her happiness and her hope. It stole these things from her and the more it took, the more she became a person she did not recognize in the mirror. The fear etched lines into her brow and darkened her eyes and sunk in her cheeks. Phena was no longer a calm and happy person with a lightness to her step. This stalking horror had taken those things and replaced them with panic, fear, and quick and startled movements.
The sun was getting low and long shafts of light shone like beacons through the trees and between the buildings as Phena scurried home. Others busied themselves with their phones and their own business, but no one seemed to hear what she heard. It sounded like hooves that would move when she moved. Sometimes they would hurry, but mostly they walked a little off from her step. She would turn to look and there was no one. Did she see someone duck into a doorway? Was that a hulking shape that slipped between parked cars? The steps had never sounds so close before.
A sign on the steps of the steps of Emmanuel Episcopal read “Quite Moments Inside” and she thought this was literally a sign from God. It was still bright outside, and she hesitated at the thought of entering a place full of shadow, but crossing the threshold and stepping into the church, she felt something she had not felt for a long time. Relief.
It was quite. There was no breathing and no sound of hooves. The shadows were everywhere, but they were inviting and consoling. A slave to the fear and torment she had been through. The burden of her fear had been lifted and it felt like she could move easier and stand more erect. Phena knew that her role on the council might make her a target from monstrosities like the one that followed and watched her. She was a strong woman that did not crumble easily, but lately she felt that the pieces she was made of may just crumble against her will. That she may just wake and find herself a pile of frightened pieces. This reprieve gave her time to think. To pull her strengths together and create a force to be reckoned with.
Phena took in the vastness of the church and the beauty of the space. She walked slowly around and breathed with purpose. Long deep breaths. Her body felt tranquil.
The quite didn’t last when suddenly the stained glass window, that she was approaching in the back of the church, shattered and exposed an enormous furry-beast with blank-white eyes. These empty eyes found her and the beast snarled at her in anger. She screamed and stumbled back, but caught herself. The beast was hesitant. It seemed afraid to enter. She felt stronger at the thought that it was now afraid as well. She could smell it. A foul clinging odor that came from sewers, swamps, and rot. Phena stepped farther away and the creature took a chance and lunged into the church after her, but before it even landed on the ground it turned into a blast of flame and ash and was gone.
Someone came from the recesses of the church to see what the noise was about and she explained that someone must have thrown something through the window and it startled her. She left quickly and headed back home and it was the first time in weeks where her step was lighter and she was able to sleep with most of the lights off. Not all, but most of them.
Christopher P. Andres was born on a military base in Gelnhausen, German in 1979, but grew up in Kansas, and New Mexico (where he currently lives). Andres started creating at an early age by modifying toys with pipe cleaners and plastic bags. His technique continued to shape with formal training at New Mexico State University (where he has a BFA) as well as the University of Notre Dame (where he has an MFA). Before becoming a full time artist, Chris worked as a “fledgling art professor”. Andres sculptures are created using a variety of materials, and shaped by where his mind is at that stage of his life. His current work is more hand-made and raw. His beautiful and elaborate sculptures are mostly dark and macabre, but also seem to pull from childhood whimsy, fantasy, sexuality, and even fashion and music at times. Andres enjoys working with his images and sculptures the most, but gets satisfaction from any of his art projects (art video, stage performance) that fulfills his vision. His work has been shown in China as well as across the US. The sculpture highlighted here is one of his Sea Monsters and I am very happy to say it’s in my private collection. Chris is currently working on a new website (which should be up in 2019), so if you want to purchase any of his work you can find him mostly on Instagram. He is also busy with new art and his Podcast about art, music, and culture from a Satanic perspective called “Hail Satan!” with his friend Ryan Garthock Lynch. Discover more of the dark, fantastic, and fabulous art of Chris P. Andres in the links below.
Little known fact about Chris P. Andres - “I prefer Joel Schumacher’s gay-tastic
Batman & Robin with all the black light and gorgeous costumes over the bro-tastic
austerity Christopher Nolan trilogy – nipples on the Bat-suit, sign me up!”
Auda, the Mushroom Princess, sat in her home far below the busy streets of Baltimore, worried and nervously tapping the arm of her chair. Two bags full of wilting food sat at her feet. Scallions were limp and wrinkly and drooped over the edge of the bag, the spinach bag that was next to it was fogged up and looked unappetizing.
She was one hundred and ninety three, but her memory never failed her and she had a good century left before she became one again with the soil. Auda could remember the finest details of all that she had experienced in her lifetime, and was even able to recall all of her dreams. It disturbed her to realize that she did not remember getting home. She clearly remembered enjoying the overcast August morning in Mount Vernon. It was Sunday and she had walked her way to the Farmer’s Market. The princess remembered walking home and stopping by Dooby’s for an iced coffee and a savory scone. She remembered sitting in the park with her purchases and finishing the coffee and scone while having an impromptu conversation with the Council Mystic Ola.
Auda stopped tapping the arm of her chair and took a deep breath. She looked around the room. Her eyes scanned, but never stopped on anything in particular. She looked for some clue as to how she got where she was, but found nothing. Auda took the bags into the kitchen and began to put away the items as she began to think again about the last memories. Laloux had joined them at the park and talked about names she was considering for her new heliump. It was due to hatch any day now and she was too excited to contain herself.
Auda cut the wilted ends off of the scallions and tossed them in the compost with a disappointed exhale. The base of a few of them didn’t make it either and the spinach had shrunk considerably, but could still be salvaged if sautéed. It was still morning when she walked her way up W Read Street and the church bells mixed with the disapproving howls from neighboring dogs. She had left her friends at the park to chat with each other and had told them to come by for an early supper. Auda remembered that she had made it up to the manhole that she usually used to enter the caverns that led to her home, but a moving van was parked nearby. She lingered as the family loaded the van and remembered hearing dogs barking in the distance - communicating in their secret language. As she waited for the family to head back for another load she considered other entrances she might try instead, but the family moved back inside. The coast was clear and as she made her way to the manhole, a tall man caught her off guard and asked her if she knew the time. His voice was odd and his eyes were shadowed from the brim of his hat. He was extremely tall. Seven foot or more. He held out his pocket watch and asked if it was the right time. Sun reflected from the glass on the face of the timepiece as it fell from his hand to the ground. Her next memory was sitting at home in her chair.
Auda looked at the clock on her wall and gasped. It was only a few minutes shy of 4:45pm. She had lost half the day. Her friends would arrive any minute and they would be expecting one of here elaborate meals. What had happened to her? Her mind began to move too fast and she had to keep herself from falling. How did she get home? Was she taken? Did she walk home on her own? She ran to the front door and it was closed but unlocked. It was difficult for her to keep up with her thoughts. Her head felt like a blender and she forced it to stop.
Auda held the title of Princess, but it had been some time since she had any people to rule over. The kingdom had dwindled and eventually dispersed however Auda never lost the skills that were essential in her position. She was still able to be cool under pressure, a trait that had served her well as Princess.
First things first - food. Guests would be here in 20 minutes. It was not what she would have preferred, but under the time constraints she had little options. She considered the food she had and with a moments thought, added them to a large pot on the stove. Rarely did she ever use magic to cook, but she had little choice at this point. She was out of time. The princess wove her hand over the pot and then over the spice rack, food, cutlery and finally over the stove.
“Twenty minutes” she said out loud, to complete the spell.
Next she searched each room, with he help of a spell, for anyone that may be there. The result was relieving to her. It was just her and the occasional spider and cricket. She locked the entrance behind her and made her way double-time to the last place she remembered. Standing at the intersection she looked around. Nothing seemed odd. She heard someone loudly singing out-of-tune in distance, dogs barked, cars drove by - nothing was strange.
“Your highness.” Ola called from down the block. She was walking her way with Laloux.
They liked to call her by that title, not as a formality and certainly not because Auda wanted them to or required it, but simply because they enjoyed the fact that they knew someone with such a noble title.
“What are you doing here?” Laloux asked. “We were expecting to meet you at you at your place.”
Ola knew something was off. She studied Auda for a moment. Not just her physical body, but her energy and her soul. “Tell us what happened.”
Auda motioned for them to follow her to the manhole. They slipped inside and by the time they made it to her home, Auda had explained all that had happened since she last saw them (which to her only seemed like an hour ago) and the heavenly aroma of an early supper greeted them as they stepped into her home to enjoy the meal and put together the pieces of this lost time.
As of October 2016, I intend to use this blog as an accompaniment to my Facebook page and Instagram page. On this blog I will post information and updates about my work as well as once a month I will highlight an artist whose work I like. Additionally, as of March 2017, I began posting a monthly Story Entry with an accompanying illustration of mine.