Quoth The Raven: 'Baltimore'

'Edgar Allan Poe: A Baltimore Icon'

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'Edgar Allan Poe: A Baltimore Icon'

The Halloween season has an extra chill factor in Baltimore, the adopted city of writer Edgar Allan Poe. The city celebrates with readings of the author's scariest stories, a "Toast to Poe" at his grave site and, this year, an exhibit of artwork at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The exhibit features work by Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse and Edouard Manet, among others. On a recent visit to the museum, a group of middle schoolers browsed the art — and came face to face with ravens, monsters and mysterious creatures.

"I like the ones about the black cat because that was one of my favorite stories that we read," 14-year-old Jack Levy said as he stood before a painting inspired by Poe's gory tale of a man who kills his wife. "I thought it was funny how the artist ... at the end showed how the cat was sitting on the corpse's head."

In French painter Alphonse Legros' depiction of the Poe story "The Pit and the Pendulum," a prisoner tied to a table watches as a blade swings toward him. Fourteen-year-old Sean Christiana recognized the emotion in the man's face: "[It's] of the fear like craziness ... like he's really desperate to get out of the chains and ropes and stuff."

One of the goals of the show was to give kids exposure to gore and terror via art and literature — rather than by way of video games and slasher movies. Doreen Bolger, the show's curator and the director of the museum, couldn't have been happier with the end result.

"It was just what I dreamed would happen when I was putting this exhibit together," she said.

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