RAMBLING ROSCOE • ANNE KAISER and MARY ELLSWORTH
Roscoe, Takoma Park’s iconic rooster, has long complained about being stuck in one place since 2000 when he was immortalized in bronze and placed atop a Takoma Old Town pedestal. Last week Roscoe stopped stewing and instead spent a day touring neighboring Silver Spring’s public art. Roscoe hailed a friend on a bicycle and off they wheeled to view outdoor sculptures. The Voice is proud to present Roscoe’s travel journal.
These installations are familiar sights to passing motorists and pedestrians. Roscoe hopes to beak readers’ interest so when they are passing by they will pause and take a closer look. For his first foray to Silver Spring Roscoe visited six sculptures along East-West Highway between Georgia Ave and Colesville Road. Some portions of these art work descriptions are direct quotes from the Arts and Entertainment pages of Discover Silver Spring.
My first stop is that tiny Silver Spring gem, Acorn Park. Gallinaceous gazebos! Look at the size of this egg! Well it looked like an egg to me, but then many things do. I took a little time to rest here and decided It’s pretty cosy under there in the shade. I recommend this park for some serious brooding (get it? brooding?).
Roscoe learned that Acorn Park, at 1190 East-West Highway, is a remnant of the large estate owned by Francis Preston Blair. Blair discovered a spring in this area in 1840, a spring with waters shining with bits of silvery mica, and thus the area claimed it’s name, Silver Spring. Besides the acorn gazebo, there are five panels of beautiful murals nearby on the walls of what was formerly the Caldor Building. The mural was done by artist Mame Cohalon, commissioned by the Caldor Company, who restored the gazebo and park as well.
The Lotus Columns are found at 1200 Blair Mill Rd. According to the SilverSpring Downtown website, “Mary Ann Mears’ sculpture in the garden in front of the Argent is a series of vertical elements along a curved path. The columns frame the pathway and play off the geometry of the building behind it. The sculptures’ tops evoke triangular lotus blossoms – a common motif in Egyptian relief sculpture and painting.”
The artist was inspired by the enormous scale of Egyptian lotus columns and how they are massed in “forests.” The Silver Spring Lotus are arranged as in a grove, gracefully bending their tops in quiet conversation. The columns are a simple three-sided form, asymmetrical and organic.
As the Silver Spring Downtown describes them, “The triangular twisting planes swell and recede while curving in space. There is latent energy expressed in the torque of the forms. While hard edged and made of stainless steel, which is a very rigid material, the columns have a kind of lyricism in the swaying forms and the softness of the burnished finish.”
I’m just an old rooster, but I AM a descendant of Tutcluckhamun. So, I know Egyptian lotus columns look a lot different from these! Still, I think you’d enjoy a stroll alongside these elegant and friendly structures. If only there were giant lotus seeds to match. Yum!
Holy crow! It’s so far up there this old rooster needs a booster! I considered clambering up but was afraid I’d run a-fowl of the law. It certainly is very, er, . . . upright! Makes me wonder if it had anything to do with naming the next-door coffee shop “Bump ‘n Grind.” From the bird perspective, however, this looks like a beak-in-the-sky heron, its feathers shimmering and changing color with the light. Or maybe it’s an elongated egg.
The Beacon is intended to greet travelers on the East/West Highway. A sign on the wall nearby says the sculpture is 35ʼ high and made from stainless steel and holographic glass. It was designed and created by Ray King, an accomplished artist who uses the natural phenomena of light and optics as his medium, primarily glass. The whole work is laminated with film that refracts brilliant color when struck by sunlight. King is particularly interested and inspired by how ancient cultures used light in their rituals and monuments, and how they used mathematics in their artwork. The Beacon is located at 1200 East-West Hwy.
Where’s my surfboard! I don’t like to swim but on an oven-baked day like this I’ll take that refreshing mist. You could hatch all sorts of ideas here – bring a chair and kick back and enjoy the sound of the waves breaking against the rocky wall. I’d be afraid to have an egg anywhere near this.
Coastline, at 1301 East-West Hwy, known to locals as “the wave pool,” is actually “an educational tool that exemplifies the mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Using the power of the seas as an inspiration, artist Jim Sanborn developed a water environment/ornamental foundation which replicates a 65 foot section of coastline with its wave action. The wave frequency is controlled by a remote tide gauge in which sends actual wave heights to the sculpture’s control mechanism in real time. In front of Coastline is a wide pool of water running parallel to the coast. Waves are generated pneumatically under the plaza surface and roll across the width of the pool, crashing against the Coastline.”
I found another watering hole, this one with a twist. Nearby I noticed this good ol’ egg perched on a bench. He said his name was Brad and he was clearly barely scratching out a living. I hopped up to sit with him awhile and that made him cackle. He was like “uhhh – what’s this?” He and I agree this sculpture might be as well hidden as a chicken in tall grass, but worth the effort to find it. The place is pretty as a peahen.
The sculpture is not so hard to find, Roscoe – it’s right in front of The Blairs East, a residential complex at 1220 East West Highway. River Twist designer Barton Rubenstein studied the science of human visual perception and became interested in visual forms of nature. The work treats the kinetic elements of water and movement as sculptural forms themselves. The water flows from solid bronze, creating liquid edges and watery extensions. Other Blairs complex sculptures include the Blairs Sign Sculpture, a 50 foot water sculpture and the main entrance sign.
Cock-a-doodle-doo! A giant hand with birds! I tried very hard to soar with these cool gulls, but like a dumb cluck, I just did a belly flop. I nearly laid an egg I was so embarrassed. (That’s me, beak down between the pointer and the middle fingers). I was rescued by my bicycle chauffeur who found a stick and give me a poke. If you don’t try to sit on it, I think you’ll enjoy this piece. They say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. How about FOUR birds in the hand, surrounded by a whole lotta bushes!
The Hand artist Ray Kaskey worked with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials to create a sculpture that “would reflect their mission. From early on, Kaskey conceived of a monumental work that would dominate the space in a dramatic way and envisioned the “Hand of Noah” as a pun on the biblical story of Noah releasing the doves on the arc. It became the “Hand of NOAA;” the doves turned into the seagulls that are part of the agency’s logo. The large bronze hand, located at 1315 East-West Hwy, reaches its fingers towards the atmosphere releasing seagulls to the air, continuing the agency’s mission of recording and protecting the environment.”
Ice cream at Arts Alley
I ended the day at Morenko’s Ice Cream with a big cone of their delicious sweet corn ice cream served by the very lovely Jordan. YES! They have sweet corn ice cream! Now that’s something as rare as hen’s teeth. But the place is everything it’s cracked up to be. You’ll like it – I’m cock sure of it!
Arts Alley is a colorful alley space where you can relax at a table and enjoy an ice cream from nearby Moorenkos or cross from Georgia Avenue to nearby East West Highway. “With such a confined space, many artists may have been afraid to create something so big. Not Judy Sutton Moore, who infused the once bland alley with life. Arts Alley features a magnificent towering vertical steel and colored resin sculpture. The Public Arts Trust of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County selected her public art design out of countless applicants. Although “Windows” is her first public art piece in Silver Spring, Judy Sutton Moore exhibits both nationally and internationally.”
Morenko’s Ice Cream, located in Arts Alley, 8030B Georgia Ave sells their own hand-crafted ice cream. Yes, they really have a sweet corn flavor. Roscoe is not making it up.