Thursday, October 30, 2003

Public Art

I like the new wave of temporary public arts installations that seem to be cropping up everywhere a lot lately. Last year it was the Party Animals project in D.C. that had sculpted donkeys and elephants scattered around the city; this summer Prince George's County had Birds I View. It's neat having these colorful sculptures hanging around, although it seems that I missed most of both installations. There were a few that I saw quite often -- some way too often -- while commuting.

Prince George’s Bird of Maryland sat outside of Franklin's, our local brewpub, so we'd get to see it fairly often, and The Sky is the Limit sits at the corner of Route 1 and East-West Highway, and I must have passed it at least once a week. I think my favorite was Blue Beard, which we stumbled upon on the way home from dropping off some leftover paint and other household hazardous waste at the county landfill. I'm not sure what sparked it, but we decided to see if we could find (without the aid of a map or guide) a few of the bluebirds. It was also cool just running into them in odd places, such as Bird of Pair-o-Dice at Ikea or when Evelin had me drive through campus to see Leonard Birdstein.

Of the Party Animals, I really liked Melting Pot Democrat, which I saw every morning on the way to work, and Panoramic Pachyderm, which stood outside the National Zoo. The other sculpture at the Zoo, Laughing Stock, however, wasn't as appealing for some reason (although I wanted to like all the donkeys more than the elephants).

I think the first of these sorts of public art installations that I saw was Horses on Parade in Rochester, New York, back in 2001. Evelin and I were on our way from Massachusetts to Niagara Falls and happened to be passing through Rochester and kept wondering why there were all these funky horse sculptures everywhere. I don't think we saw Buckaroo, but I wish we had ...

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