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American Visionary Art Museum puts a spotlight on Baltimore's saltbox revival

American Visionary Art Museum puts a spotlight on Baltimore's saltbox revival
American Visionary Art Museum puts a spotlight on Baltimore's saltbox revival 02:02

BALTIMORE -- The various yellow saltboxes that are scattered across Baltimore began getting a facelift in 2020 thanks to a local visionary artist.

Now, city residents and tourists can learn about the art movement at the American Visionary Art Museum.

The museum has begun teaching people about the art movement and encouraging them to design an image for a saltbox.

Museum staff asked Juliet Ames to share her story about giving ordinary yellow salt boxes in the city a unique touch.

"It goes back to my art teacher in high school who said I was never really going to be an artist," Ames said. "Now, I get to say I'm here at the AVAM."

Back in the winter of 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, Ames took a risk and used her love for repurposed art to give a saltbox a new look.

"I'm a rule-follower by nature, and so I didn't want to upset anybody," she said.

But saltbox art quickly became a trend others wanted to jump on.


"It was the peak of the pandemic, and we were all kind of stuck at home desperate for some human interaction of any kind," Ames said. So, it was cool to drive around town and even though we couldn't see our neighbors. We could see some cool art that they put up."

There are about 900 to 1,200 hundred salt boxes scattered around Baltimore.

Ames said more than 200 of them are decorated with some of them inspired by pieces at the art museum.

Others were created to pay tribute to WJZ's news team like Bob Turk, Marty Bass, and a big reveal last year in March for our Denise Koch.

Beka Plum, the director of education for the museum, said the event intended to educate and inspire a new group of artists.

"Just creating art and putting it out in the world and how that's really important to the community and just inspiring others is just our number one goal," Plum said.

Hundreds of saltboxes across Baltimore are still bare—but that could soon change. 

People were encouraged to draw their own saltbox designs on paper at the museum on Saturday, and Ames plans to help bring a few of them to life next season.

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