Outdoor Sculpture in Baltimore (The Johns Hopkins University Press)
Some reference books become immediately indispensable. This is one of them. Baltimore is, after all, "the monumental city," and Kelly shows us why—and tells us where you can find the proof. The former director of the Historic Houses of Johns Hopkins, she takes readers on sculpture-centric tours of various parts of town, from the Inner Harbor and Mt. Vernon to Patterson Park and Cherry Hill. With photographer Edwin Harlan Remsberg documenting the pieces along the way, she deftly mixes art and history and expertly provides answers to questions like, "Who did the red metal thing?" and "Why's that guy on horseback so important?" But don't immediately look for the Zappa sculpture, like I did. It was erected after Kelly had finished the book.
Leonora "Peachy" DiPietro Dixon
A Peachy Life (CityLit)
I don't recommend this memoir for its smooth writing and clever turns of phrase. No, its strengths lie elsewhere, as Dixon, a longtime local waitress, takes us inside her childhood home in Highlandtown, introduces us to her tight-knit family, and candidly discusses her struggles to raise a family of her own and make a living. Although she can be cloying at times, Dixon's spunk wins the day, especially when she's recalling her days waitressing at Johnny Unitas's The Golden Arm, Haussner's, and Sabatino's. It's a strawberry pie-infused slice of Baltimore history, served with a dollop of clear-eyed nostalgia. My favorite anecdote finds the cash-strapped Peachy scheming to follow the Colts to Miami for Super Bowl V. To raise the money, she figures she'll borrow a dollar from everyone she knows. That way, most folks won't want to be paid back, and she'll only owe a buck to anyone who does. I won't recount how it all plays out, but I will say she got to the game—seats on the 30-yard-line for $30 a piece—and had a police escort to the stadium to boot. A peachy life, indeed.
Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel (David R. Godine)
This gorgeous book by Fillion, a local artist and educator, is the next best thing to taking your kids to see the Cone Collection. Lucidly written for young readers and beautifully illustrated—in appropriately Matisse-like style—it illuminates the Cones' lives, gives context to their collecting, and speaks to the enduring influence of Matisse, Picasso, and Gertrude and Leo Stein. It's a seamless mix, much like the mingling of Fillion's paintings with the masters' works.