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Art galleries have always held a sort of mystique for me. While I adore being able to see some of the best (and worst) new art up close and free of charge, if I am being totally honest, these spaces can also be intimidating and confusing. So before I share with you my list of Baltimore art galleries to visit in April, I want to take a moment and unpack what an art gallery is and does in the hope that it makes readers feel more comfortable visiting them.

An art gallery is any space dedicated to exhibiting visual art, offering opportunities for community and commerce. It might look and feel like a museum, but functions more like a highly curated boutique or shop. To be considered professional, galleries must keep certain hours open to the public and offer a regularly changing schedule of exhibits rather than keeping the same art up indefinitely. Most galleries host opening receptions, talks and events, which should be free and open to the public. In Baltimore, we have a handful of higher-end commercial galleries, college and nonprofit galleries, as well as DIY and artist-run spaces.

Historically, Baltimore’s independent, artist-run spaces have played an outsize role within the arts community, especially for recent art school graduates and creatives with an experimental or a noncommercial agenda. Located in warehouses, storefronts, private homes and businesses, they tend to be less formal than commercial spaces — more a labor of love than a business. They can feel cliquey from the outside, but are the best spaces for new, culturally curious audiences and patrons because they function as a launching pad for tomorrow’s superstars, and the prices are more accessible.

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Just remember that when you look at the careers of the most successful artists, dozens of creative, ambitious, talented and dedicated gallery professionals — who function as curator, salesperson and business owner — are behind them. Whether you call them a gallery director, dealer, curator or gallerist, these are often the hardest-working people within the industry, who receive the least amount of attention and take on the most risk. And you can help support them: April is a great month for Baltimore gallery shows, so happy visiting and collecting!

Bill Schmidt, ‘Made (Up)’ at the C. Grimaldis Gallery

523 N. Charles St., Baltimore

Through April 13

An installation view of Bill Schmidt's "Made (Up)" at the C. Grimaldis Gallery. (Courtesy of Bill Schmidt)

The commercial C. Grimaldis Gallery, which opened in 1977 and is the longest continually operating gallery in Baltimore, is of high esteem and discerning aesthetics. It launched with a focus on regional and internationally known artists, and now participates in a number of international art fairs, so its collector base goes well beyond Baltimore.

The gallery’s current exhibition features beautiful, tightly wound abstract paintings by Bill Schmidt, the former director of Maryland Institute College of Art’s post-baccalaureate program in fine art from 2006 to 2019 and a prodigious banjo player. This solo show is a chance to put your face as close as you are allowed to observe the myriad layers of tiny marks and color combinations that will stun your eyes into blissful wonder. Schmidt’s paintings are mighty, despite being small in stature — all you have to do is look carefully at and through their surfaces to enjoy them.

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Rosa Leff and Kelly Walker, ‘A Fine Pairing’ at Creative Alliance

Amalie Rothschild Gallery

3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore

Through April 20

Work from Rosa Leff, left, and Kelly Walker, which is featured in their "A Fine Pairing" exhibit at Creative Alliance. (Courtesy of Creative Alliance)

“A Fine Pairing” is a two-person exhibition featuring graffiti-inspired paintings by Baltimore-based artist Kelly Walker and intricately cut paper landscapes by Rosa Leff, who is now based in Puerto Rico. Located upstairs in the Amalie Rothschild Gallery — a smaller project space at Creative Alliance at the Patterson — both artists explore a personal relationship with Baltimore’s urban environment but in markedly different ways. Walker is interested in the texture and grit of Baltimore streets, embellished with hot pinks and orange spray-painted patterns that form interlocking grids, while Leff meticulously renders Baltimore cityscapes rife with signage, flags, graffiti and familiar architectural details. Each reaffirms a commitment and love for Baltimore as a site for beautiful imperfection and interaction.

‘Emerge Vol. 3, Spring Edition’ at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower

21 S. Eutaw St., Baltimore

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Through May 27

The flyer for "Emerge Vol. 3, Spring Edition" at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower. (Courtesy of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts)

The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower is a Baltimore landmark and historic building repurposed to host artist studios, with several different gallery spaces managed by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and curated by Kirk Shannon-Butts. The “Emerge” series, now in its third year, offers a platform to emerging regional artists.

In the Mezzanine Gallery, painter BlissArmyKnife currently exhibits playful abstractions reminiscent of art brut and Jean Dubuffet, in which proliferating compositions appear to be free-associating with pop culture and art history. In the ground floor Lobby Gallery, Xavier Hardison exhibits abstract stone sculptures and wall pieces that resonate with a spiritual energy and resemble stone tablets found by archaeologists. In the third floor Members Gallery, Jennifer McBrien exhibits embroidered compositions featuring natural elements like birds and plants, marrying craft and painting into thread-based paintings.

Pro-tip: Visit the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the galleries are free and open. You can also visit the building’s own history museum, climb up all 15 stories and talk to resident artists in their studios. (The clock tower costs $8 to visit, which I think is silly if the building really wants to attract all kinds of visitors.)

‘This Is Not Your Grave’ at Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center

847 N. Howard St., Baltimore

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Through April 20

Bao Nguyen's "I Am a Tree in Your LIfe" is featured in the "This Is Not Your Grave" exhibit at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center. (Bao Nguyen/Courtesy of Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center)

This exhibition, featuring works by Aliana Grace Bailey, Sarah Clough, Huxley Green, Pavlos Liaretidis, Bao Nguyen and Zhou Zhou, was inspired by Anne Boyer’s poem, “What Resembles the Grave But Isn’t,” which explores healing as a repetitive and meditative act. According to a press release, the group show hosted at this nonprofit cultural center on Howard Street features “restorative works, which lead the viewer from diverging paths to a sense of sanctuary.” Using photography, sculpture, print media, performance and video, these artists collectively address trauma and healing, connecting their own nonlinear experiences to universal narratives.

This exhibition is unique because it was an educational and group effort curated by an entire class of MICA graduate students enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts in Curatorial Practice program.

Sheila Crider, ‘Relief’ at New Door Creative

1601 St. Paul St., Baltimore

Through April 27

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One of the pieces from Sheila Crider's "Relief" exhibit at New Door Creative. (Courtesy of New Door Creative)

New Door Creative is located in a brownstone just a few steps from Penn Station. The small commercial space run by Michelle Talibah has represented artists and their estates since 2006; the gallery participated in the 32nd annual Outsider Art Fair in New York earlier this year.

The current exhibit is a solo show featuring fiber-based works by Sheila Crider, who uses the language and materials of quilting to present color-filled abstract assemblages. Crider moved to Baltimore in 2022 from Washington, D.C., and her new body of work, “Relief,” explores her migration to a new home, emphasizing themes of movement and transition through intense chromatic relationships, abstract patterns, weaving and abounding layers. You can attend the artist talk on April 13 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Phaan Howng and Andy Yoder, ‘Strata of Synthesis’ at MONO PRACTICE

212 McAllister St., Baltimore

Through May 18

Phaan Howng and Andy Yoder's "Strata of Synthesis" exhibit is at MONO PRACTICE. (Courtesy of MONO PRACTICE)

MONO PRACTICE is a tiny gem of a space located in an unassuming garage facing a small community garden in the Station North Arts District. The gallery director, abstract painter Ruri Yi, lives upstairs, and the delicate precision found in her work is replicated tenfold in the beautiful architectural details of the space she and her husband renovated together. Although it’s technically an artist-run space, MONO PRACTICE has the gleaming concrete floors, professional lighting and architectural details of a museum that can elevate works of art. It’s a treat to visit. The gallery focuses on abstract art, specifically by emerging and mid-career artists from Baltimore and beyond who work within modular systems and adaptive patterns.

In this particular exhibit, “Strata of Synthesis,” Baltimore-based artist Phaan Howng and D.C.-based Andy Yoder imagine nature in fantastical ways, envisioning environmental crises combined with sociological stories and elevating the meaning of their everyday environment.

‘Sprung’ at Waller Gallery

2420 N. Calvert St., Baltimore

April 12 through May 25

The flyer for "Sprung," a group exhibition at Waller Gallery. (Courtesy of Waller Gallery)

Waller Gallery is located in a Calvert Street rowhouse, which is also the home of director and curator Joy Davis. The Baltimore native spent her 20s in New York, but returned to open the space. The gallery is named after her grandmother. (Davis is also visual arts director at the Creative Alliance and manages the artist residency there.)

In “Sprung” — Waller Gallery’s newest group exhibition, for which they’ll have a reception April 12 — artists explore the romantic elements of the current season, when renewal and growth are celebrated as baby bunnies frolic and flowers’ fragrance fills the air.

“Sprung” includes artwork by Adewale Alli, Liz Miller, Raine Dawn Valentine, Savannah Imani Wade, Khadija Jahmila, Aliana Grace Bailey and Jerome Chester, who were invited to explore the creative energy inherent in nature’s time of fleeting renewal. According to the gallery, “Sprung” collectively explores new beginnings, amorous longing “and the profound connections between the awakening of nature and the stirring of hearts.” What’s not to like? Unless you have seasonal allergies.

‘NOW: Collaborations by Joyce J. Scott and Tim Tate’ at Goya Contemporary Gallery

3000 Chestnut Ave., Mill Centre Studio 214, Baltimore

April 12 through June 2

"NOW: Collaborations by Joyce J. Scott and Tim Tate" is featured at Goya Contemporary Gallery. (Courtesy of Goya Contemporary Gallery)

If you haven’t yet experienced “Joyce J. Scott: Walk a Mile in My Dreams,” the artist’s massive, 50-year retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art, go there first. Then visit this two-person collaborative exhibit with D.C.-based glass artist Tim Tate. Goya Contemporary Gallery, one of Baltimore’s finest commercial galleries, has represented Scott for 25 years, shepherding her steady ascension to becoming a MacArthur fellow in 2016. Part of the support the gallery has provided her has been the opportunity to experiment and collaborate.

Glass is currently viewed more as a craft material than fine art, but both Scott and Tate have long proven the medium’s capabilities to address complex social issues like violence, racism, sexism and homophobia, while utilizing exquisite color and luscious surfaces to draw people into uncomfortable conversations. This new exhibit in Hampden’s Mill Centre includes works by each artist as well as pieces made together. The artists continue a craft-based activist conversation, showing how versatile and expressive the medium of glass can be. There will be a reception for the exhibit on April 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Miranda Javid and Brendan Sullivan, ‘Having a Body’ in main gallery at Current Space

2024 Baker Artist Award Finalist Showcase in Project Space at Current Space

421 N. Howard St., Baltimore

April 20 through June 2

The exhibition flyer for Miranda Javid and Brendan Sullivan's "Having a Body" at Current Space. (Courtesy of Current Space)

Current Space started out as an artist-run collective space in an unused building near the Inner Harbor. It’s now run by Michael Benevento and Julianne Hamilton on Howard Street in the Bromo Arts District. There is a beautiful performance space and bar out back, so on any given night it hosts a buzzy mix of artists in the main gallery and project area, as well as offering fashion shows, concerts and high-performing cocktails.

Starting on April 20, the new exhibit in Current’s main gallery, “Having a Body,” will feature sculpture, drawing and animation by Miranda Javid and Brendan Sullivan. Both artists work primarily in black-and-white sketches. Their drawings are poetically simple and rife with humor, reflecting the changing nature of the internal and external self. Expect exquisite animations where lyrical brushwork and lines form writhing, wriggling bodies and beautiful, simply colored drawings that combine pattern, lithe brushwork and enigmatic moments. An opening reception is planned for April 20 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

In its newly reopened Project Space, Current will simultaneously host the 2024 Baker Artist Award Finalist Showcase featuring visual and interdisciplinary arts award nominees including Sara Prigodich, Katie O’Keefe, Tony Shore, Schroeder Cherry, Andrea Sherrill Evans, Bruce Willen, Pamela Woolford, Phylicia Ghee, Selin Balci and Kelley Bell.

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