Beyond Beautiful: One Thousand Love Letters

On view January 17 through March 10, 2019

Beyond Beautiful: One Thousand Love Letters marvels at love in all its poignant mystery, surprise, and messiness. 

Anchored by hundreds of drawings by artist Peter Bruun, and inspired by actual love letters, the two-site exhibition is organized around eight themes and features free public events for each, offering heart-opening performances, inspirational stories, communal sharing, and artistic uplift. 

The exhibition also includes art by Atsuko Chirikjian, Loring Cornish, Pat Dennis, Phylicia Ghee, Ken Royster, Ernest Shaw, Piper Shepard, and Exsul Van Helden.


Exhibition Information

Beyond Beautiful: One Thousand Love Letters is on view at both Maryland Art Place and Area 405 from January 17 through March 10, 2019. 

Maryland Art Place
218 W. Saratoga Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
410-962-8565
www.mdartplace.org
Gallery Hours:
Tuesday–Saturday, Noon–4:00pm

Area 405
405 E. Oliver Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-528-1968
www.area405.com
Gallery Hours:
Saturday 10:00am–3:00pm


Artist’s Gallery

This gallery of 32 images provides a peek at artist
Peter Bruun’s process behind his love letter drawings. 


Back Story Gallery

Every love letter brings with it a back story.
Dive into the narratives behind them.


The Love Letter Drawings

View all love letter drawings by Peter Bruun.


Exhibition Events

The exhibition features eight events designed around the exhibition’s themes. You are invited to dig deeper into the One Thousand Love Letters project and celebrate love in its infinite forms through heart-opening performances, inspirational stories, communal sharing, and artistic uplift. 

All events are free and open to the public, and all are welcome.

Each event features a reception with music by jazz composer and keyboardist George Spicka and light fare provided courtesy of The Classic Catering People, followed by a program rich in stories, music, art, and more.

Peter Bruun, Love Letter Drawing #533. Inspired by a letter from the artist to his father-in-law and mother-in-law

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Forever Family

Love as the foundation through thick and thin.

Thursday, January 17, 2019
5:30–8:00pm (program 6:30pm)
Maryland Art Place

Forever Family is sponsored by the Youth Resiliency Institute

Forever Family offers inspirational stories and songs of family, defined both conventionally and otherwise: the unconditional love afforded a child by a parent or grandparent; sons and daughters honoring fathers and mothers; loving whomever we see as family, be it under our roofs or in our communities. The 5:30-6:30pm reception period for this opening event is graced not only with jazz keyboardist George Spicka, but also Abu the Flute Maker, offering ambient music as the exhibition opens to the public for the first time. The 6:30pm program opens and closes with songs from the incomparable Navasha Daya, who with her husband Fanon Hill co-founded and co-leads the Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI), an organization dedicated to strong family support. Pulling from  letters contributed to the project, YRI family members share what “Forever Family” means to them through song and affirmations. They are joined by others with stories of family love, including artist Ernest Shaw, other letter contributors to the love letter project, and community members of Access Art and BMore Clubhouse, two organizations bringing the spirit of family love to all their work. A moment of the evening is given over to inviting audience members to offer testimonies of family love: bring yours to join in this heart-opening event.


Peter Bruun, Love Letter Drawing #610. Based on the poem “Wait” by Galway Kinnell

See more drawings

Honeysuckle Words

Words of love from writers and poets in all their nuance.

Sunday, January 20, 2019
2:00–5:00pm (program 3:30pm)
Area 405

Honeysuckle Words explores how we express the inexpressible through music, words and art—love in all its ineffable hues. The event features spoken word artist Kondwani Fidel, playwright Rich Espey, poet Denise Kumani Gantt, violist Maria Lambros, artist Atsuko Chirikjian, and writers who have contributed their words to the project, including poet Clarinda Harriss, whose Baltimore-based small press BrickHouse Books is spotlighted for its loving devotion to local writers since 1970. 


Peter Bruun, Love Letter Drawing #693. From an unnamed source to an unnamed love

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Cupid’s Arrow

The power of romantic love and its sway.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
5:30–8:00pm (program 6:30pm)
Maryland Art Place

Cupid’s Arrow is sponsored by an anonymous supporter

Cupid’s Arrow, taking place on the eve of Valentine’s Day, indulges in romantic love: Nicole and Alonzo Lamont with a tale of stolen moments blooming into a marriage; cabaret performer Betsey Hobelmann honoring 18 years of marriage with a song; husband, father, scholar-activist, storyteller and drummer David Fakunle praising his love; and more. The event includes audience members sharing their own testimonials of  Valentine’s love, accompanied by jazz vocalist Simone Speed, who offers song throughout the evening. A moment is given over to Ken Royster, whose photograph of a young couple included in the exhibition perfectly invokes the theme of romance.


Peter Bruun, Love Letter Drawing #162. Inspired by a letter from Caryn Anthony to her son Robby, who passed July 19, 2016

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Such Sweet Sorrow

The ache of loss and lingering presence of indelible love.

Sunday, February 17, 2019
2:00–5:00pm (program 3:30pm)
Area 405

Such Sweet Sorrow is sponsored by Steve Salny, in memory of a lost loved one, Richard

In letters of condolence, missives written directly to deceased loved ones, eulogies spoken at funerals, and more, we share in the balm of words at times of our greatest pain, when loss seems insurmountable and yet love shines bright. Such Sweet Sorrow features storyteller and performer Maria Broom, whose energy infuses healing throughout the program. The event includes singer Simone Speed and a spotlight on Piper Shepard‘s artwork on display, “Only Their Silhouettes,” a piece folding the symbolism of mourning flowers among other botanical specimens into a composition of loss and remembrance. Roberta’s House, a Family Grief Support Center, and Gilchrist, a leader in end-of-life care, are also honored during the program.


Peter Bruun, Love Letter Drawing #465. Based on a letter from Toni Griswold (now embracing her sober journey) to her disease

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Wild Horses

Love’s tenacious hold through addiction’s ride.

Thursday, February 21, 2019
5:30–8:00pm (program 6:30pm)
Maryland Art Place

Wild Horses is sponsored by Powell Recovery Center

In letters to and from loved ones caught up in the throes of substance use, we see resilience, fortitude and holding on regardless of the ride—testimonials of undying love and unbreakable connection. Wild Horses features two singer-songwriters whose ballads pay tribute to the theme of love when confronted with such hardship: QueenEarth and Kirk Wulf. The program features participation from clients and staff of Baltimore recovery programs who contributed letters to the project: Dee’s Place, Marian House, Powell Recovery Center, BCRI, and the Comprehensive Care Practice at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.  


Peter Bruun, Love Letter Drawing #345. Based on an excerpt from a letter to writer Virginia Woolf from her lover, Vita Sackville-West

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Drive All Night

Love abides despite barriers or physical distance.

Sunday, February 24, 2019
2:00–5:00pm (program 3:30pm)
Area 405

Drive All Night is an event about the distances we travel and the hurdles we overcome to assure love is transcendent: physical and emotional separation may challenge bonds, but we see time and again love still wins. Clarinda Harriss offers intimate poetry on love’s presence despite dementia, and others share testimonials of fortitude and overcoming. The event includes a spotlight on a painting by Exsul Van Helden included in the exhibition on the human cost of war and exile, and a sharing from the International Rescue Committee of Baltimore on their work reuniting loved ones, and keeping love alive despite separation. Singer Simone Speed performs as accompaniment to the stories.


Peter Bruun, Love Letter Drawing #751. Missy writes to herself having found herself in recovery, like a newborn babe

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Love Thy Self

Where the healing power of love begins. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019
5:30–8:00pm (program 6:30pm)
Maryland Art Place

In Love Thy Self, we hear directly from those whose letters inspired drawings by Bruun, testimonials of finding light for and toward one’s self. The event features singer-songwriter ellen cherry, who presents a series of songs on recovering one’s sense of self, and artist Phylicia Ghee, whose focus on mindfulness illuminates the lovable within each of us. Organizations that focus upon self-love and self-esteem within their communities, and whose community members contributed letters to the project, share their tales as part of the program: Sisters Together and Reaching (STAR) and the Men & Families Center.


Peter Bruun, Love Letter Drawing #9. Inspired by a letter from Nicky to the artist

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The Thousand Things

Love in all its surprise, its beauty, its infinite colors.

Sunday, March 10, 2019
2:00–5:00pm (program 3:30pm)
Area 405

Varied stories and an eclectic mix of art and performance underscore love’s infusive spirit in myriad corners of our lives. The event includes spontaneous musical responses to select love letter drawings performed by percussionist Tom Goldstein and trombonist Patrick Crossland, spoken-word artist Fire Angelou, and singer Simone Speed. The program honors the work of Yama Yoga Collective and Luvs Art Project, two initiatives in Baltimore typifying the myriad ways love manifests itself as a vibrant force within organizations for the benefit of community. Also featured is the art of Loring Cornish, who created a piece exclusively for the exhibition. 


Acknowledgements

Under the aegis of Bruun Studios, Peter Bruun creates abstract figurative art in service of humanistic and civic-minded cultural experiences. Visit bruunstudios.com for more information.

Located in a 170 year-old artist-owned warehouse within Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District, AREA 405 is committed to showcasing and strengthening the vitality of the arts community throughout Baltimore and beyond. Visit area405.com for more information.

Founded in 1981, Maryland Art Place inspires, supports, and encourages artistic expression through innovative programming, exhibitions, and educational opportunities while recognizing the powerful impact art can have on a community. Visit mdartplace.org for more information. Maryland Art Place receives general operating funding from the Maryland State Arts Council, whose grants and programs support artists and arts organizations in their pursuit of artistic excellence, ensure the accessibility of the arts to all citizens and promote statewide awareness of arts resources and opportunities.

Thank you to Baltimore magazine, our exclusive media partner. 

Beyond Beautiful: One Thousand Love Letters is made possible by support from Heather and Peter Austin, the Nancy Patz Reading Fund, and Lindy Lord Family Fund, and multiple other individual donors. Thank you to Val Albee, Harriet Dopkin and Steve Montgomery, Peggy Kolodny, and Adrianna and Ryan Moore for hosting house parties. Thank you to our event sponsors: Steve Salny, Powell Recovery Center, and The Youth Resiliency Institute, and The Classic Catering People for a steep discount on light fare. Special thanks to the hundreds who invited artist Peter Bruun to make drawings inspired by their love letters.