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Who Likes That 51-foot Sculpture in Front of Penn Station?

Managing Editor Julekha Dash. Photo � Arianne Teeple
Managing Editor Julekha Dash. Photo � Arianne Teeple
I have a secret.

It’s one I’ve kept pretty close to the vest — until now.

I like Jonathan Borofsky’s Male/Female sculpture that looms large before Penn Station. The cool, sleek aluminum contrasted with the intricate Beaux Arts-style building embodies what I love about this city.

It’s got historic architecture that is steeped in the past, yet Baltimore isn’t afraid to take a risk with new buildings and art that show it is aiming toward the future. I also love admiring the Brown Center at the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture next to their respective row homes in Bolton Hill and Little Italy.

As the new Bmore Media managing editor, I’d like to look at what’s edgy, new and surprising in Baltimore, yet honor the city’s past.

I don't usually shy away from expressing my opinions, yet admitting that I like the Male/Female sculpture seemed too controversial — like saying you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan in a crowd of purple-wearing Ravens fans. I still remember all the scathing columns and letters in the Baltimore Sun when the sculpture debuted seven years ago.

The sculpture is as quirky as Baltimore itself. With its glowing purple heart and outstretched hands, it also has a welcoming presence that made me smile more than once while strolling in my former neighborhood of Mount Vernon. 

So why can I admit my unpopular opinion now? It’s because Gerald Ross, director of exhibitions at MICA, named Borofsky’s statue as one of the city’s “must see” works of art in a recent issue of Baltimore magazine.

Ross, better than I, can articulate why the sculpture is truly great.

“For me, it works on many artistic levels but, ultimately, the piece's distinctly alien presence amid the history and depth surrounding it adds another layer to the Baltimore that I love the best: the Baltimore that doesn't quite ‘fit in,’” Ross tells Baltimore magazine.

I feel more confident sharing my feelings knowing that at least one art expert agrees with me.

And I hope that reading Bmore will inspire all of you to share your thoughts about the magazine and the city itself. However you feel, I assure you that you are not alone. Write to me at [email protected].
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