The Drogoul Experience

The second week of class, the Exhibition Development Seminar took a field trip to Laure Drogoul’s house. As soon as I stepped inside, I was greeted by The Root…Blue Eyed, one of her signature lantern-esque sculptures. The giant devil head, complete with roving eyes, nearly filled her foyer. Its glowing skin, covered in snakes and railroad maps, bathed the room in a warm and spectral light. Beyond The Root knickknacks and doodads, sketches and models, masks and taxidermy occupied nearly every nook and cranny of her living room. What have I gotten myself into, I thought.

Collection of 80s Figurines from Laure's House

Collection of 80s Figurines from Laure's House

After we situated ourselves around The Root Laure showed us a slide show of her work from going all the way back to her Rinehart School of Sculpture thesis work. Overwhelmed by the shear volume and variety of art she’d produced, I was beginning to wonder how the heck we were going to pull this exhibition off.

Over the course of the fall semester, we immersed ourselves in Laure’s work, making studio visits and viewing slide shows, reading reviews and doing our own writing. I learned that Laure lives her art. She collects, preserves, researches, and accumulates anything and everything that sparks her interest—and her house is a testament to that. As Follies curator Gerald Ross would say, Drogoul is a maximalist who inhabits a dark, lush world.

We tried to infuse all elements of the exhibition, from the pages of the catalog to the gallery space, with this same sensibility. One of the more tangible ways we achieved this in the gallery space was with the Hive: the gallery within a gallery.

Inside of the Hive are bits and pieces of Laure’s world. Her collection of “big eyed” Margaret Keane paintings cohabitate with cinder block shoes, performance videos, specimen jars, chewed pencils, road kill documentation, catcher’s masks, and a fun house mirror. We wanted to make the Hive a center of activity and exploration, the heart of the exhibition. During the opening the Hive was truly activated. It was really gratifying to see the space come together as a sort of hub. People really enjoyed exploring Laure’s work and influences on a more intimate level.

-Lydia Kenselaar



The day is Saturday, February 14th– Valentines Day.  I’m helping take down the cabaret from the previous night’s 14kt Cabaret performance in the BBOX. It was a great success; lot’s of people came and sadly we ended up having to turn some away (you know- those lame fire codes).  Anyway it was pretty wild. Sensory overload comes to mind, but in the most sublime way. A lot of decoration and ephemera from the original cabaret space at the Maryland Art Place was used and it gave it that authentic cabaret feel. Stuff like the tables with the cast iron legs, fortune-teller canopy/awning, and Dan Van Allen’s bone shrine. All of which is what this particular anecdote is about.

So to get back to the story. It’s Valentines Day and we’re all cleaning up the BBOX, Laure and Dan are there also. At some point in the break down I volunteered to help Dan and Laure take the tables, the canopy, and Dan’s bones back to MAP on Saratoga Street. The plan was that I would help them load everything up, meet them at MAP, help them unload and drive Laure and her cart back to campus.   

Five minutes later I’m parking on Saratoga street and I spy Dan’s crazy blue VW bus a few cars ahead of me on other side of the street. I meet them and we start unloading everything- wheeling the tables precariously over Baltimore’s world class sidewalks and into MAP. The three of us crowd into an elevator that I didn’t know existed from my previous visit and Laure whips out a key, slides it into the panel, turns it, and presses “B” for basement. And I think to myself “My God. It’s like a secret hide out. Like the Bond villain in the volcano. Or the Bat Cave…”

I feel that this event illustrates perfectly what my experience with the class and with meeting Laure has been. As I stepped off that elevator I almost wanted Laure to say something really cliché like “You’ve taken your first steps into a larger world!

For me being in the Exhibition Development Seminar and working with Laure has been one revelation after the other. I’m a Maryland native- a lot of my family is still in the city. For me to learn that there is a rich history in the arts in my native city was incredibly uplifting. I mean let’s face it Baltimore can be hard to like. Sandwiched between DC, Philly, and New York it’s like the pickle you don’t even notice. Anthony Bourdain, still one of my heroes, has one line to say about Baltimore in his book“it sucks” (pg. 137 of Kitchen Confidential)

But it doesn’t. And it never has. All the good stuff is just out of view. You have to look for it, search it out, like the MAP cave. And when you stumble upon something it’s that much more exciting. Laure and other artists have been active for years making the best out of Baltimore. In the past there was Laure and the Ad Hoc Fiasco, the 14kt Cabaret, and now leading up to the DIY explosion and Wham City. 

For me, as a Baltimore artist I feel like I have two legs to stand on now. I really don’t feel like I have to go to New York, or anywhere else. For me Laure Drogoul has confirmed what I always knew.

Baltimore doesn’t suck.

-Cris Cimatu 


Five months of hard work with the rest of my fellow Exhibition Development Seminar (EDS) students have passed and the exhibition is finally up and running, and quite successfully may I say. Now is a good time to look back and think a little bit about this wonderful experience and how we spent out time during those 5 months of preparation.

The class was separated onto 5 teams: The Graphic Design Team, Education Team, Curatorial Team, Web Design Team, Exhibition Design Team, and Project Coordinators. I ended up in the Graphic Design Team with two other team members and our mentor, Gerry Greaney. We started by meeting and deciding what type of materials (print and web) we wanted to produce, and upon discussion with other teams throughout the semester the final list ended up as follows: an exhibition catalog, a “sensory guide” brochure, identity files for the website, marquee graphics, labels, posters, programs for events, signage for the gallery and other miscellaneous materials.

The bulk of our time was spent on the most ambitious publication, which was the exhibition catalog. The catalog consists of 36 pages of full color images and content. After determining our graphic identity, we proceeded to make a list of content that would have to be generated for the catalog. The content included essays, biographies, a fact sheet, image captions and a curatorial statement. The content was generated by a variety of teams and then laid out by the graphic design team onto our catalog. We also discussed the format that the catalog would take and what would make it stand out from other exhibition catalogs. We tried to focus mainly on characteristics of Laure’s work that we could translate onto the pages of the catalog to make it very specific to her work and thought process.

Our main goal for the catalog was to create a publication that would accurately represent the exhibition but also offer an additional insight into Laure Drogoul’s world. We found ourselves really thinking about the interactivity of Laure’s work, which lead to adding interactive elements to the catalog and other publications. These elements appear in the form of a magnifying glass that ne can use to read very small text in the catalog and Scratch N’ Sniff stickers!

We met weekly with our mentor and produced sketches and mock-ups that were then consolidated by our mentor. The files would then be revised by our team, Laure Drogoul (the artist), Gerald Ross (the curator) and sometimes other teams and mentors. Along with the collection of content came another difficult task: the collection of images. All images existed in many different formats and some dated back to the 1980’s. We identified all the images we would need and got a hold of them; some had to be scanned, some existed digitally, and some things had to be photographed all together.

Somehow we managed to pull it all off as quickly as we could and just barely made our deadlines, but it was all worth it. We did one final visit to the printing press to review the proofs, and after some tweaking based on our suggestions, we gave them the O.K. and 3,000 beautiful catalogs were printed. While this was happening, our team hand-stamped and stuffed 3,000 envelopes with tiny magnifying glasses that were then placed inside that catalog.

I’m sure every EDS student will tell you that this is the most demanding class they’ve ever had, but I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say that it is also one of the most rewarding as well. No team would have functioned without the other and our publications certainly wouldn’t have been the same without all the support from our fellow teams. If you can’t make it to the exhibition space, make sure to download a PDF version of the catalog from the website!

~Rafael S.



Hugs and Kisses to All!

I went around Friday night, after the show, hugging everyone who had some responsibility with the cabaret. I thought it was amazing. I wasn’t exactly sure how the Cabaret was going to turn out when it all came together, but it worked out really well. I had a smile on my face the whole time, even though I had less involvement in the preparation of the Cabaret than the exhibition. Everything worked out, the past Cabaret posters outside of the BBOX were a nice touch, especially when waiting in line for seats and tickets, it acted as movie poster ads to prepare you for what is going to happen and it also explained the little guy stamp.

The week leading up to the Cabaret I did my best to advertise to everyone I know to come to the cabaret, which served as accumulated built up energy, which overflowed that night. I found joy in everything that was happening around me. I would say that all the performances had left lasting impressions on me. Congratulations to all the performers, Laure, Kel, Kyle, and everyone else who had involvement in the Cabaret. It would not have been as successful without all of your hard work and dedication.

I am thoroughly excited for the other events that the Education Team has planned to do in relation to the exhibition.


On Friday, February 13, Laure Drogoul appeared on Maryland Morning.  Have a listen for yourself http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wypr/local-wypr-820620.mp3.


bbox cabaret poster 2/13/2009

bbox cabaret poster 2/13/2009

We are all especially excited for this Friday’s 14karat Cabaret at MICA’s new BBOX theater in the Gateway Building. If you ever wanted a reason to check out the inside of MICA’s newest addition, the 14karat Cabaret is most definitely the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. For one night only, the cabaret will be hosted at MICA– because a Laure Drogoul retrospective would not be a retrospective if it did not include one of her longest running projects–the 14karat Cabaret. Since 1989 Laure has been “La Hostess,” the organizer and host of reoccurring performance showcases which typically take place in the basement of the old MAP building on Eutaw Street in downtown Baltimore.

Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat), one of the most popular and well known cabarets, originated in bohemian Montmarte district of Paris France in 1881. Laure’s interest in cabarets originated exploring her own French heritage. In late 19th century Paris, the cabaret functioned as a place where everyone came as they were and expressed themselves through poetry readings, musical performances, often in front of a backdrop of artwork. The cabaret was a place where no topic was ever too taboo and members of aristocracy sat next to the slum of the gutter. It was a place where art and performances transcended the boundaries of class and social status at least for the moment.

In the first issue of Link: A Critical Journal on Arts in Baltimore and the World (1996), Kathy O’Dell describes some of the components of the cabaret as “that which floats as a piece of detritus in curbside muck (or that which could be found in a fine-arts gallery), that which gets talked about behind closed doors (or that which is being discussed openly in the upper echelons of society but without much nuance), that which is wrapped in tin foil (or that which is cast in 14k gold)-these are the things from which cabaret is made.”

This episode of the 14karat Cabaret will feature the works and performances of: Collaborators Naoko Maeshiba and Steve Bradley , Catherine Pancake, Mole Girl in the Chamber of Darkness, Martha Colburn, Snacks, Sarah Jennings, and Melissa Ultra Sharlatt.

The EDS class has been working together with Laure all week to bring the cabaret and all of it’s delightfully fanstastic essence to the BBOX. We hope to see you there!


*for more details about the 14karat cabaret at the bbox theater please visit http://digital.mica.edu/drogoul/calendar/index.htm