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The Baltimore Gallery, a staple in the black artistic community, is closing

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Owner Phil Simpson talks about why he decided to close the Milwaukee Junction space

Photo by Aaron Mondry

Since opening, the Baltimore Gallery has been an important place for young, particularly African-American artists to get their start.

Unfortunately, the gallery will be closing at the end of June. Owner Phil Simpson announced the news in a post on Instagram from February 20, but we wanted to know more and reached out to him.

The Baltimore Gallery opened in 2015 and immediately became a beloved place in the black artistic community. As Simpson notes in his Instagram post, there aren’t many places in the urban core that give new artists opportunities. “Being an artist myself, I understood that need,” he wrote.

The gallery is located on Baltimore Street in Milwaukee Junction, a fast changing, former rail hub where developers have been scooping up and renovating old warehouse and industrial buildings into loft, office, and retail space.

While it may be natural to assume that this news is another sign of gentrification, owner Phil Simpson insists that he’s closing strictly for personal reasons. He has a young child and wants to spend more time with his family.

“After I got married and started this new journey, my priorities switched up. It’s time for growth in my personal life,” Simpson says.

He’s also looking to work more on his company, The Smile Brand, and will still do the occasional popup exhibition.

But he doesn’t expect another gallery to occupy the space. “People’s first response is ‘oh no, why is it closing?’ But I know where I’m at with my life. The people who actually know me are very excited to see what’s next.”

This last month will be filled with appreciation and other special events, including its final art exhibit on May 31. The gallery will still be open for the month of June.

Stay tuned next month when we’ll have a full retrospective of the gallery.