It gives me great pleasure to share with everyone that artists Chris Stain and Leon Reid will be exhibiting at the Creative Alliance right here in Baltimore. The exhibit opens Sat May 8 at the right by Patterson Park from 7-9pm, On view May 8-29 Free. Opens w/ From Mountains to Maryland at 5:30pm, and FUSION: Hip Hop on the Mountain at 9pm
As every schoolchild knows, John Henry was a giant of a man, who wielded a 20 pound hammer as though it were nothing, and won an epic contest against a steam engine, only to die on the spot. Henry was a slave, or former slave, and the battle that cost him his life is said to have taken place in Talcott, West Virginia on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. Built from found materials by Leon Reid IV, a statue of John Henry towers over this Main Gallery installation, amidst Hoovertown shacks made of wooden pallets and railroad ties made of cardboard. Giant stenciled murals by Chris Stain form a backdrop melding WPA-era social realism and urban graffiti, expanding on the themes of John Henry’s story—struggle and pride, race and dislocation in the face of technological and economic change. In this way, their installation serves as an ideal introduction to Urban/Appalachia, Creative Alliance’s series examining the long and complicated relationship between Baltimore and Appalachia, from past generations seeking work in city steel mills, to a generation today shipped to prisons in the mountains.
Born in 1972 and raised in East Baltimore, Chris Stain is a New York-based, self taught print maker and stencil artist inspired by NYC subway graffiti and poster design. His work has shown in museums and galleries internationally, and been published in books, magazines, and websites about street art and urban contemporary culture. Leon Reid IV was born in Virginia and raised in Ohio, an African American public artist who manipulates urban spaces, monuments and architecture with sardonic visual puns. He received his M.A. from London’s Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design and recently completed a public commission titled The Great Recession in Stavanger, Norway.