Sunday, August 16, 2009

Everyone asks me if I've seen "The Wire"

After arriving in Baltimore, meeting Chris, Rowena (Chris’ girlfriend), and Pepper (his cat), I decided that I liked it here. Chris and I had a late lunch of guacamole slathered on garden-burgers. Afterwards, we braved downtown Baltimore, sidestepped a mugger getting pummeled by an undercover policeman, swaggered into the Belvedere, a prohibition-era speakeasy turned swanky bar, and ended the evening at The Brewer’s Art, a micro-brewery known for its face-slapping ales. At Chris’ behest, I had the oh-so-choice Resurrection Ale, a 7% masterpiece of light caramel and leathery musk. I have yet to sample their other drinkables. The current goal is to locate an “Eighty Shilling” beer, a Scottish invention that Chris loves.

Baltimore is in battle with itself, flexing it’s restorative muscles in some districts, and succumbing to squalor and crime in others. The transition zones are a surreal mix of stately brick, gothic industrial, and memories of past grandeur. Nowadays, hipster architects and designers are transforming old industrial buildings into expensive lofts and workspaces in a compelling mixture of archaic steel infrastructure, soot-stained brick, and clean, polished lines of glass and concrete. But again, it’s an uphill battle. In Baltimore, I get the sense that locals like it, but are still a little hesitant (embarrassed?) to tout their city to the world. As a result, folks seem humbly loyal to their town. I like that.

In contrast to downtown Baltimore, which is a mere five or six mile away, Chris’ neighborhood is the paragon of lush, turn-of-the-century New England suburbs. Old renovated colonials, brick cottages, and beautiful craftsman homes blend into the omnipresent crush of August greenery. Roads twist, connect, and end at odd times and angles, suggesting a distant past of city planning, and re-planning. You might say his neighborhood has character. His yard and surrounding property overflow with blackberries, tomatoes, kale, squash, basil, and countless other types of produce. We will be eating well these two weeks.

I’m stoked to start work. Chris has a precise and articulate vision of his role as an artist-blacksmith, and I can’t wait to see how that role manifests itself in his work.

Complicated scroll-work with copper backing.

Chris employs very clean joinery in his work.

The deck. I read here, eat here, and relax here. Evenings are best.

This is Pepper the cat.

No comments: