Grit Fund.

The Grit Fund First Round Grantees Announced

The Contemporary is pleased to announce the inaugural grantees of the Grit Fund. In its first round, the Grit Fund received over 80 applications and awarded $50,000 to 10 projects with grants ranging from $3,200 to $6,000. Awards were determined by a five-person jury of national arts leaders: Roya Amirsoleymani (Portland, OR), Gary Kachadourian (Baltimore, MD), Sharon Louden (Minneapolis, MN), David Mitchell (Baltimore, MD), and José Ruiz (Washington D.C.). The Contemporary would like to congratulate this year’s grantees: Art Royalty Music Video Production & Listening Party; bb: Interdisciplinary Arts Space & Lecture Series; Conversations: A BmoreArt Podcast Series; Exhibitions; Exittheapple Artspace, Capacity Expansion; Hyrsteria; Open Space; Sight Unseen presents New Experimental Works; Skatenight Showcase and Exhibit; and Throwing a Stone.

The Grit Fund supports unincorporated and collaborative artist-organized activity that contributes significantly to Baltimore's arts landscape but seldom qualifies for traditional funding. Established with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Grit Fund expands Warhol’s Regional Regranting Program to the Mid-Atlantic, encouraging projects that generate opportunities and create platforms for artists to engage with each other and with the public. Funded activities could include but are not limited to: exhibitions, publications, public events, public art, film screenings, the ongoing work of an existing arts venue or collective, and the founding of a new arts venue or collective.

The next Grit Fund round will open on December 8th, 2015.

About the Grantees

Art Royalty Music Video Production & Listening Party

Art Royalty Music Video Production & Listening Party by Tedra Wilson, Marquis Gasque, Felipe Goncalves, Jose Rosero, Donald Ely, Marquis Revlon, and Histo; funded $5200; Art Royalty aims to create a truly interdisciplinary space that exists between visual arts, music, and performance by infusing animation and dance into the Baltimore Club, EDM, and Hip Hop scenes. Grit Fund supports the production and presentation of a 3D music video artist expo event that will join many different artists in creating a dynamic collaborative project and help to sustain artistic business relationships. The event will act as the music video premiere for “Pum Pum,” an electro dance inspired record that is all about women expressing their sexual freedom through costume, song, and dance. “Pum Pum” will be an animated video collaboration that incorporates the art of vogue dance with animation. The event will cross several different audiences including a visual arts audience, dance audience, and Baltimore Club audience.

bb: Interdisciplinary Arts Space & Lecture/Talk Show Series

bb: Interdisciplinary Arts Space & Lecture/Talk Show Series by Alexandra Linn, Colin Alexander, Lucas Haroldsen, Evan Roche, and Harrison Tyler; funded $4400; bb is an artist-run interdisciplinary project space focused on providing free lectures, workshops, and events to the public. The storefront cycles between functioning as a gallery, lecture hall, and social space for ongoing drawing nights, communal meals, and film screenings. Grit Fund supports the completion of bb’s building renovation, archival documentation of events, and a series of lectures and a talk show aimed at highlighting local residents in both arts and non-arts vocations to expand Baltimore’s art community and audience. By providing a platform for local business owners, realtors, and other self-described non-artists to share their stories in an arts context, the lecture series and Talk Show seek to provide a new perspective on topics generally dominated by the same groups of local artists and audiences. Bb’s first lecture of this series featured a demonstration on pasta-making by chef Sandy Smith of nearby restaurant Bottega. Future lectures and talk shows will further the dialogue beyond food and into more geographically specific topics, potentially covering hair-braiding, boxing, running a carryout food business, and owning property in Baltimore.

Conversations: A BmoreArt Podcast Series

Conversations: A BmoreArt Podcast Series by Cara Ober, Jack Livingston, Benjamin Levy, Lauren Van Slyke, Dwayne Butcher, Rebecca Juliette, and Jermaine Bell; funded $5700; BmoreArt is a vital online source for arts coverage and conversation in the Mid-Atlantic region. Founded as an artist project in 2007 by Cara Ober, BmoreArt has grown to a daily producer of professional, original content with a staff of three and dozens of regularly contributing writers, editors, photographers, artists, and designers. Grit Fund allows BmoreArt to enhance coverage through a new bi-weekly series of podcast interviews titled “Conversations”. This new series will feature 26 episodes coordinated by Managing Editor Jack Livingston with a diverse group of artists, curators, collectors, and administrators who have made significant contributions to the arts and culture of Baltimore. By chronicling the lives of these individuals, the podcast will examine their goals, strategies, and struggles in shaping the culture of the region from the past to present. BmoreArt has established a proven record for high quality journalism and is dedicated to creating opportunities for professional growth and exposure for area artists, as well as cultivating relationships between the art community and a larger general audience.


Exhibitions by Nicholas Wisniewski, Dane Nester, and Matt Papich; funded $5000; “Exhibitions” is the first collaborative work of Nicholas Wisniewski, Dane Nester, and Matt Papich. Grit Fund supports the production of four artist-designed events that subvert the structure of familiar sites of cultural engagement—party, restaurant, concert—and reimagine sterile modes of interaction to produce new, unexpected, and consequential relationships in Baltimore. Investigating familiar sites of cultural engagement often governed by prescribed behaviors and expectations, the project aims to create an alternative, subversive space for social interaction to produce varied relationships with new and different Baltimoreans. “Exhibitions”, which will be hosted at 2239 Kirk Avenue and held at intervals during the course of one year, will deconstruct these familiar social and cultural spaces and the behaviors and expectations that go with them. These multi-sensory gatherings will take new forms—museum-concerts, sound-meals, tactile-observations—that disorient and reorient attendees. Each event will be free and open to the public and collaboratively produced by 4-6 local artists.

Exittheapple Artspace

Exittheapple Artspace, Capacity Expansion by Pierre Bennu, Jamyla Bennu, and Marc Elzey; funded $4500; Exittheapple Artspace is a grassroots workspace and artspace in Charles Village located at 2334 Guilford Ave. Its mission is to connect art with wide audiences, to create bridges between artists and between genres, and to provide accessible space where underserved segments of the creative community can have access to space and tools to polish and present their craft. Under the creative direction of its founder Pierre Bennu, Exittheapple’s visual art, public art events, and short/feature films specialize in nontraditional and off the beaten track representations of people of color. Founded in September 2014, Exittheapple Artspace hosts a variety of public events including #TheExchange, a monthly community commerce marketplace. The space also functions as an inexpensive rentable studio for film, photography, theater support, and art/literary events. Grit Fund supports capacity expansion of the space by adding a lighting grid and moveable seating which will allow for live performances and workshops. Their programming will grow and include a free seasonal performance with youth workshops. Additionally, rental rates will be discounted for educational and nonprofit projects.


Hyrsteria by Tanya Garcia and Valeria Molinari; funded $5000; Hyrsteria is a collaboration of Tanya Garcia and Valeria Molinari. As Latina feminists, artists, and organizers, they are particularly interested combining their skills in illustration, animation, and storytelling to highlight the stories of the community and generate conversation. Grit Fund supports the launch of a free zine and interactive online website. Hyrsteria is a platform to express a diversity of perspectives through art and language using various methods of storytelling from various local writers, illustrators, poets, and artists to produce material that is socially and politically important, locally and globally.

Open Space

Open Space by Pete Razon, Colin Alexander, Chris Day, Margo Benson Malter, Nick Peelor, Jasmine Sarp, Conor Stechschulte, and Brendan Sullivan; funded $6000; Founded in 2009, Open Space is a collectively-run arts space. In addition to producing exhibitions and programming in their arts space, members organize two large fairs annually – the Prints and Multiples Fair (PMF) and the Alternative Art Fair. Grit Fund supports the maintenance of Open Space’s exhibition space and the expansion of both fairs. PMF, which occurs every March, is a celebration and survey of artist publications, prints, and objects produced in multiple, with related lectures and programming. The fair is free and open to the public. In the five years since its founding, PMF has grown from presenting 15 vendors to showcasing over 80 vendors from Baltimore and beyond. In the fair’s 6th and most recent year, Open Space established a partnership with the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Contemporary Print Fair to create Baltimore Print City, a city-wide celebration of print with events, exhibitions, lectures, and more. Founded in 2014 in partnership with the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, Alternative Art Fair features both local and national artist-run spaces and included auxiliary programming such as screenings and performances. Held during Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival, an estimated 50,000 patrons attended Alternative Art Fair in 2014. Open Space built out 16 gallery booths in a parking garage for gallerists to exhibit and sell work to a broad audience.

Sight Unseen presents New Experimental Works

Sight Unseen presents New Experimental Works by Margaret Rorison, Chris Chen, Samirah Alkassim, and Nadia Hironaka; funded $3200; Sight Unseen is a nomadic moving image series showcasing avant-garde film, video, and expanded cinema whose mission is to support artists and their work. Since 2012, Sight Unseen has invited artists to Baltimore to screen and perform their innovative works, providing support by hosting them in a professional and dedicated atmosphere and paying them for their work. Since its founding, Sight Unseen has presented work from emerging and established avant-garde filmmakers, media artists and live performers to the Baltimore community. Grit Fund supports “New Experimental Works,” a project composed of three distinct film programs that will be free and open to the public and held at select Baltimore venues: a collection of contemporary short experimental films from the Arab world curated by Independent filmmaker and film scholar, Samirah Alkassim; a series of video works by film, video and collage artist, Michael Robinson; and hosting an experimental filmmaker, Su Friedrich. Friedrich’s recent essay film, Gut Renovation is an epic personal essay film charting the destruction of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sight Unseen is interested in presenting this specific film, as it brings up similar topics and concerns surrounding the newly established Station North Arts District in Baltimore.

Skate Night Showcase

Skate Night Showcase and Exhibit by Lawrence Moore, Travis Johnson, and Glenford Nunez; funded $5500; Through Skate Night Showcase, collective members of It’s My Skate Night celebrate a roller skating subculture that travel internationally for skate jams and highlight Baltimore as a home to a large population of these skaters. Grit Fund supports skating-specific performances by local roller skaters, infused with skating inspired photography and video shorts (including a screening of United Skates Documentary), exhibits by the African American Roller Skate Archive, and an Open Skate Night. The event will take place at Shake and Bake Family Fun Center over the summer. Free to the public, the Showcase  aims to increase the exposure of the art of roller skating, spark interest from diverse communities in Baltimore, and repopulate the iconic rink.

Throwing a Stone

Throwing a Stone by Gianna Rodriguez and Dave Eassa; funded $5600; Gianna Rodriguez and Dave Eassa wish to broaden the accessibility of art making to youth and adults, expanding their practice beyond the studio and redefining the definition of ‘artist.’ Their two-person team is driven to create artistic opportunities where they are most rare, focusing on providing access to art within adult and juvenile justice institutions. Both artists are experienced in teaching art-making classes in correctional facilities as well as in community settings. Their project, Throwing a Stone, provides programming in the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center (BCJJC), the Maryland Correctional Institution- Jessup (MCIJ), and in the greater Baltimore community. The Grit Fund will support programming such as: a lecture series, a publication of work created by the participants within the BCJJC and the MCIJ, and a final exhibition of the works created.

Round 1 submissions closed on 2.20.2015
Round 2 submissions open on 12.8.2015

About the Jury

Roya Amirsoleymani

Roya Amirsoleymani is the Community Engagement Manager with the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) in Portland, Oregon, a multidisciplinary contemporary art center that, since 1995, has supported artists and audiences through exhibitions and performances, residencies and commissions, educational and public programs, and the annual, internationally-renowned Time-Based Art Festival (TBA). In addition to curating public programs and managing community and audience partnerships, outreach, and engagement, she oversees PICA's Precipice Fund, a grants program for Portland artists that is part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program. Roya has curated and managed community outreach and programming for exhibitions and film festivals in Portland, Phoenix, San Francisco and Southern California. She is an adjunct faculty member with Portland State University's MFA in Art & Social Practice program. Roya holds a Master’s in Arts Management from the University of Oregon with research concentrations in contemporary, feminist, and community art. 

Gary Kachadourian

Gary Kachadourian is an artist based in Baltimore who often makes drawings, posters and printed multiples. Recent exhibitions include the 12th National Drawing Invitational, Arkansas Art Center; Forest/City at FAM/Western Carolina University; Home Maker at Purchase College, SUNY, Floorplan at PLUG Projects, Kansas City, MO; and Baker Artists Awards Exhibition at The Baltimore Museum of Art. His books and posters have been carried by Half Letter Press, Printed Matter,  and Quimby's Bookstore.He worked for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, formerly the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture, from 1987 to 2009 where he coordinated grant programs, exhibitions for Artscape, the city's mural program and numerous temporary public arts projects in the city of Baltimore.

Sharon Louden

Sharon Louden is an artist based in Minneapolis, whose work is included in the permanent collections of the Neuberger Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, National Gallery of Art, Arkansas Arts Center, Yale University Art Gallery, Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston as well as many other institutions. She has received a grant from the Elizabeth Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has participated in residencies at Tamarind Institute, Urban Glass and Art Omi. Louden is the editor of the book "Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists" published by Intellect Books and distributed by the University of Chicago Press, and teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design as well as the New York Academy of Art.

David Mitchell

David Mitchell is the Program Manager for the Urban Arts Leadership Program at the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. He has worked closely with the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation for the past 3 years , and recently took on the titles of Community Outreach Coordinator for the Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation and Director of Programming at the Motor House Performance Space, He is an Executive Board Member/ Associate Artistic Director for Arena Players Inc, in addition to serving as a Board Member for both EMP Collective and The Bromo Seltzer Arts District. He graduated from Morgan State University in 1998 with a BA in Theatre, and in 2001 received an MFA from the New School for Social Research. He returned to Baltimore and worked as a full time lecturer at Morgan State University from 2005 to 2008. Since then, he has been a facilitator and major catalyst; in bringing together diverse segments of the performing arts community.

José Ruiz

José Ruiz is a Peruvian-born artist and curator. He received his MFA in 2004 from the San Francisco Art Institute’s New Genres program and a BA in Studio Art from the University of Maryland. During the past 15 years, he has shown his work in US cities such as New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC and internationally in countries such as Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Japan, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, South Africa, South Korea, and the Netherlands. His projects have been featured in museums such as El Museo del Barrio, Queens Museum of Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo de Arte de El Salvador, and the Van Abbe Museum. Ruiz’s practice has been the subject of various publications, including the New York Times, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, ARTnews, Arte al Dia, Artnet, and the Washington Post. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at George Washington University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Additionally, he is the founder of Furthermore— a research, production and development lab in Washington, DC—and a co-founder of Present Company—a Brooklyn-based exhibition, performance and social space.

About the Grit Fund

The Grit Fund, administered by The Contemporary, provides 8-12 grants in amounts between $1,000–$6,000, totaling $50,000 annually. The Grit Fund will accept proposals from non-incorporated, artist-organized initiatives that work collaboratively and reside in Baltimore City or Baltimore County. Projects must take place in either Baltimore City or Baltimore County and be accessible to the general public. The Contemporary’s mission is inspired by three guiding principles: artists matter, collaboration is key, and audience is everywhere. In keeping with this mission, the Grit Fund values risk-taking, encourages collaboration, and seeks to expand points of access to contemporary art. The next Grit Fund round will open on December 8th, 2015.

About the Regional Regranting Program

The Regional Regranting Program aims to support vibrant, under-the-radar artistic activity by partnering with leading cultural institutions in communities across the country. The program allows The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to reach the sizeable population of informal, non-incorporated artist collectives and to support their alternative gathering spaces, publications, websites, events and other projects. The Foundation plans to expand this program with partner organizations in areas where the level of on-the-ground, self-organized artistic activity is highest.

The Foundation’s longest running regional regranting program, administered by San Francisco’s Southern Exposure, has been in operation since 2007. With the formation of the Grit Fund, The Contemporary joins eight regranting programs in San Francisco, CA (Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure); Kansas City, MO (Charlotte Street Foundation and Spencer Museum of Art’s Rocket Grants); Chicago, IL (Threewalls and Gallery 400’s Propeller Fund); Houston, TX (Diverse Works, Aurora Picture Show, and Project Row Houses’ The Idea Fund); Portland, OR (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s The Precipice Fund); Miami, FL (Cannonball’s Wavemaker Grants); Portland, ME (SPACE Gallery’s The Kindling Fund); and New Orleans, LA (Press Street, Ashé Cultural Arts Center, and Pelican Bomb’s Platforms Fund).

About The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was established in 1987 for the advancement of the visual arts. The Foundation’s objective is to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process by encouraging and supporting cultural organizations that in turn, directly or indirectly, support artists and their work. The Foundation values the contribution these organizations make to artists and audiences and to society as a whole by supporting, exhibiting, and interpreting a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practice.

About The Contemporary

The Contemporary is a nomadic, non-collecting art museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Our mission expands the idea of a museum as an incubator that commissions site-specific and subject-oriented projects. We engage diverse audiences and advance contemporary art through projects and educational programming. Our work is inspired by three guiding principles: artists matter, collaboration is key, and audience is everywhere.