1914 Affair Celebrates Artists in its 5th Year
Sparked by the assassinations of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife, and other previous tensions, the First World War commenced in 1914. By its end in 1917, it left millions of soldiers from both sides, the Allies and Central Powers, dead –and even more wounded.
It became known as the ‘war to end all wars,’ but it was actually the emergence of various advancements in technology and many, many ‘firsts.’
“Most importantly  was the year Marcus Garvey established the Universal Negro Improvement Association to promote the spirit of race pride and create worldwide unity among blacks,” says Baltimore native, artist and curator Cheyanne Givens.
“Inspired by him and his movement, I wanted to create an experience that promotes unity in Baltimore’s art culture.”
The 24-year-old has been spending the last week, or so, putting final touches on an event she named after the Great War, called the 1914 Affair.
A West Baltimore resident, Givens has noticed cultural divides that she finds “unnecessary.”
“I’ve noticed a gap that needed to be bridged. Certain scenes are unaware of other scenes or just don’t associate with certain scenes for whatever reason. 1914 Affair is where the gap meets,” Givens says.
The themed evening fête, makes its return Oct. 22, this time at Area 405 in the Greenmount West neighborhood. It’s promising “a unique, thought-provoking collaborative art exhibit,” which continues to grow its list of participating artists from all parts of the creative community in the event’s 5-year run.
Illustrator and muralist Megan Lewis met Givens at an artist retreat hosted by The Contemporary Museum of Baltimore, in August. This year will be her first time participating in the 1914 Affair.
“I have never been, but I hope to leave with a new network of artist that are from Baltimore,” Lewis says.
This year’s theme revolves around the game of chess, challenging artists involved to create work that speaks on that game in relation of current events in Baltimore.
“I know very little about [chess],” Lewis says. “But all that came to mind was the rap verse by Lauryn Hill, “I play my enemies like a game of chess, where I rest no stress.” [So] I built my image around that.”
“I was in last year’s 1914 affair, and was asked to be in this one too,” says welding artist Keith “KC” Cooper.
Cooper is a founding member of #FixBaltimore, a for-profit grassroots organization dedicated to improving living conditions and provide economic opportunities in “urban Baltimore” through various programming, from agricultural and artistic to youth focused.
Give & Take Art gallery owner and artist LaRease Clark, who is also participating in 1914 Affair for the first time, is going political for Saturday evening’s exhibit. “This year’s piece is a collaboration between numerous artists to express the feelings around this year’s elections and running politicians,” Clark says.
“With this event, people can expect a great time, good food, positive energy, and some of the best performances you’ll experience in Baltimore,” Givens says.
And that provides Givens with more of a reason to continue curating events like the 1914 Affair, being that link to creatives throughout the city, regardless of culture differences.