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Work Samples


This is the cover of Drawing in the Dark: The Art of Michael Iampieri, which I wrote, curated, and designed. The book features nearly 300 drawings that Michael sketched during live performances -- mostly at Baltimore Theatre Project -- over a 30 year period. Essays by the 3 directors of the theatre offer cultural context.

Drawing in the Dark, sample pages

Sample pages from Drawing in the Dark: The Art of Michael Iampieri.

PDF icon Drawing in the Dark, sample pages


Poster for Blackbird Thirteen Ways, an exhibition I curated at University of Baltimore. I invited 13 Maryland artists to each respond to a different stanza of Wallace Stevens' poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.


Returning to the stage as an actor, I had the privilege of playing Sam Byck in the Sondheim musical Assassins. Presented in 2015, this was a co-production by Spotlight UB and Stillpointe Theatre Initiative, and for this role I was nominated for Best Supporting Actor by Bad Oracle.


About John

John Wilson's picture

About John

Baltimore City

John Wilson's picture
John C. Wilson is a Baltimore-based artist and educator engaged in visual, performing, and literary arts. Recently he published Drawing in the Dark: The Art of Michael Iampieri. Writing, curating, and designing this book about a visual artist who draws performing artists brings together a lifetime of passions and experiences. In the performing arts John has participated on and off the stage. He served for 28 years on the Baltimore Theatre Project board of directors, five as the chair. Most... more

Feminist Farm Wife, A Memoir

Currently I’m researching archival material for a memoir that features writing by my mother Ann Wilson, who as a feminist was an atypical Midwest farm wife. She ran for State Representative, cofounded 2 quilt guilds, and travelled internationally. She stood out for her focus on activism and the arts, and she wrote about much of it as news editor for the local weekly newspaper. I’ve acquired the digitized archive of the newspaper and will be scouring it for relevant writings. This project calls on me to edit existing material and to provide additional context for her life and writing.

Playing with Political Insanity

In 2020 I drafted a one-woman play about Sarah Palin as my way to explore the craziness of politics in this country as she attends the opening of the John McCain Presidential Library. Omigosh Sarah!, a short play, is my attempt to make sense of the insanity of the past few years. I’ve done one rewrite, and I’m now ready to begin another revision. I’ll be adding a character—her grandson Tripp—to provide opportunities for dialogue and deeper character development. During 2023 I’ll invite actors to read the revised script so I can hear it before making further revision.

A Tribute, A History, A Labor of Love

My pandemic project was an art book featuring the drawings of Michael Iampieri. For more than 30 years Michael sketched during live performance. When he needed to move to assisted living, he sought my help with finding a home for his sketchbooks, and I realized that his magnificent drawings needed to be made public. Drawing in the Dark focuses primarily on drawings he did at Baltimore Theatre Project, so it doubles as a history of that organization. I wrote about Michael and his drawings. I solicited remembrances by the theatres three directors to provide cultural context. I curated selection of images and had them digitized. I designed the book and had it printed. This tribute to Michael’s incredible artistic talents was a labor of love.
Now the challenge is to find or create new book events for the book. I’m grateful for past events at Sideshow/AVAM, The Mansion on O Street in DC, and the Ivy Bookshop.

Books and More Books

I’m pleased to support others in their vision of creating a book. In 2022 I was honored to write a chapter for book on the history and evolution of Alternate ROOTS. “We Must Simply Keep Meeting Like This: The Formative Years of Alternate ROOTS” focuses on 3 performance festivals in the South. Most recently I’ve consulted with a local poet on the organization of her manuscript Torn Silk.
In 2018 I partnered with Cinder Hypki to realize the first version on her book Far Field Farm: Stories of A Sturdy Dream as her book designer. And in 2022 I collaborated with Jann Rosen-Queralt on the design of her book Heart Beating Beneath the Earth.

Bringing to the Stage Plays with Social Significance

My history of stage direction arises from plays that speak loudly to me, and I hope also speak to audiences on themes of social significance. Kennedy’s Children by Robert Patrick is packed with hot issues of the 60s and 70s, which I felt had great resonance in 2009 when I produced and directed it environmentally at Zodiac, a vacant bar. Laramie Project unflinchingly looks at the murder and response to the death of Matthew Sheppard, a gay Wyoming college student. It was my honor to direct it at Spotlight UB in 2010. For Baltimore Theatre Project’s 40th anniversary I directed a revival of A Fierce Longing by John Schneider. Issues of sexuality and suicide picture powerfully in this play. Milwaukee’s Theatre X presented the original production at Theatre Project in 1978. It was my great honor to direct Rebecca Ransom’s Warren in 2014 at Spotlight UB. I met Rebecca and Warren in the late 70s through Alternate ROOTS. In this early AIDS play, she tells the gripping story of her friend’s death.

Taking New Works from the Page to the Stage

Bringing new plays to life is enriching for playwrights, but also to the cast and director. I’m pleased to have worked with Baltimore Playwrights Festival for several years with both staged readings and productions of new plays including The Room Where I Was Held by David Zax, In the Closet by Siegmund Fuchs, and Man on the Street by Marilyn Bennett. Each of these plays received highest honors in their respective festival years.

Life is a Cabaret

Working with Robert Hitz – pianist, composer, and master teacher – I helped shape a dozen cabaret and variety shows. These shows were designed to give students of Robert Hitz Studio performance opportunities and skills. Additionally, I performed in solo and ensemble numbers. We were the only student group other than Baltimore School for the Arts to appeared at Germano’s Cabaret in Little Italy.

The Blackbird Must be Flying

One of the highlights of my life was conceiving the idea for Blackbird Thirteen Ways and bringing the concept to reality. While teaching with poet Kendra Kopelke at University of Baltimore, our classes read weekly Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens as a means of countering myopia. The vivid yet enigmatic imagery in the poem was ripe for visual exploration. I invited 13 Maryland artists in a range of media to each respond to a different stanza of the poem. The artists found their results often expanded their creative process. The exhibition was held at the University of Baltimore’s Student Center, accessible to the public and campus audiences.

Art for Daily Living – Curating Exhibitions

My love of functional ceramics and desire to make the artform more visible inspired several exhibitions. Beginning in 1995, I curated some myself and others in collaboration. Art for the Table: Contemporary Functional Ceramics featured 16 potters from across the United States, and Intimate Vessels: Cups, Mugs, & Teabowls, were both presented at an art center in rural Iowa. Adorned Holiday Tables Dressed with Functional Ceramics and Cups of Comfort & Joy were co-curated with Sarah Barnes and presented at Meredith Gallery in Baltimore. Daily Companion: Cups, Tumblers, Teabowls was an exhibition of ceramic cups at Baltimore Clayworks in 2012, and co-juried by noted potter Linda Christianson.

  • Adorned @ Meredith.jpg

    Featured display at Adorned Holiday Tables, functional ceramics exhibition at Meredith Gallery which was co-curated by Sarah Barnes.
  • display @ Meredith.jpg

    Additional pottery included in Adorned Holiday Tables exhibition at Meredith Gallery, co-curated by Sarah Barnes.
  • Cups of Comfort & Joy postcard.jpg

    Postcard promoting Cups of Comfort & Joy, a holiday exhibition of ceramic cups at Meredith Gallery. This show was also co-curated by Sarah Barnes.
  • Cups of Comfort & Joy @ Meredith.jpg

    Cups by Ryan Greenheck included in Cups of Comfort & Joy show at Meredith Gallery. Sarah Barnes, co-curator.
  • Daily Companion @ Baltimore Clayworks.jpg

    Cups by Susan Dewsnap in Daily Companion: Cups, Tumblers, Teabowls, an exhibition at Baltimore Clayworks, co-juried by noted potter Linda Christianson.

Stages of Our Lives

In 2005, when Baltimore hosted the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) conference there were hundreds of exhibitions of clay art. Wishing to be a part of this huge event I proposed an exhibition in the John Fonda Gallery at Theatre Project. Stages of Life focused on the artist’s stage of life—grad student, newly-wed, boomer dealing with aging/dying parents, wise elder. Six Maryland clay artists were invited to create an installation or wall work focused on their current life experience. My ceramic tile installation was included in the show.
After collecting ceramic art for several decades, I finally found the courage to explore clay myself. I wanted to become competent at the potter’s wheel and with the help of many fine teachers at Baltimore Clayworks I found my way. I also discovered the unpredictable beauty of woodfiring. The culmination of this journey was a solo exhibition Land and Sea at the Laughing Pint in 2013.