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'Origami Made of Steel' Takes Root in East Rockville

Steel and tile sculpture finds home near Rockville Metro station.

As warm early spring temperatures brought flowers out in Rockville last week, a large, orange-topped steel and tile sculpture blossomed on the corner of Park Road and South Stonestreet Avenue.

Wayne Healy, of Los Angeles, Calif., was in town for a three-day installation of the 12-foot-tall sculpture near the Rockville Metro station where the edge of Rockville Town Center meets East Rockville neighborhood.

The City Council voted in October 2010 to award Healy a $30,000 contract to create the sculpture.

The award was recommended by an artist nomination committee composed of members of the city's Cultural Arts Commission; leaders of the East Rockville Civic Association, Lincoln Park Civic Association and Legacy at Lincoln Park Homeowners Association; and art consultant June Linowitz.

The sculpture was selected from three finalists out of a pool of 15 local, regional and national artists.

Healy, in an interview for a upcoming story on Rockville 11, said he calls the sculpture "origami ... made of steel."

It incorporates images suggested by Rockville residents, he said, including important historical Rockville landmarks, neighborhoods and figures such as the B&O Railroad, Lincoln Park and William Gibbs.

Chelsea Carden April 10, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I live right down the street from it. It is ugly and a waste of my tax dollars. I would have preferred a bench and trash can or something just as useful. It's 30,000 that could have been used for something better then "art"
Jeff Hawkins April 10, 2012 at 04:12 PM
What an absolute waste of money, and it's ugly to boot! Totally out of line with the rest of the area. What in the heck were they thinking????
Theresa Defino April 10, 2012 at 04:26 PM
It doesn't look ugly to me. I haven't seen in person; I wonder how many commenting here have. I look forward to doing so and seeing the Channel 11 piece. This was fully vetted by the neighborhood association and the city's various review boards, including the mayor and council at public meetings. I suggest folks get more involved in the process before casting aspersions on other people's views. Public funding of the arts is important. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
R R April 10, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Use voluntary contributions to fund "art", that way those who want it can pay for it and thus demonstrate their true commitment to enhancing the arts. As for my tax dollars use them, in this time of austerity (?) in Rockville, for say cleaning up the neighborhood drug problems and thus make a real difference on more than one corner.
Piotr Gajewski April 10, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Rockville’s public art is not funded with tax dollars. It is for the most part funded with developer money (we make them spend it there, so they will have none left over to contribute to political campaigns ;-)
Jeff Hawkins April 10, 2012 at 07:04 PM
@Theresa I have seen it in person, I pass it everyday. Strength in numbers doesn't make it any better. Nobody was casting aspersions on others viewpoints. I was casting my opinion on the "ugliness" of the piece of "art", not on anybody else's views.
Theresa Defino April 10, 2012 at 07:12 PM
@Jeff, The people who picked it through a competitive process didn't think it was ugly.
Sima Osdoby April 10, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Definitely an interesting, educational (and even witty) discussion here. So, what made this so attractive to some, and so ugly to others? What does it say about our community?
Jeff Hawkins April 10, 2012 at 07:38 PM
@Theresa "@Jeff, The people who picked it through a competitive process didn't think it was ugly." That's fine Theresa, doesn't make it any less "unattractive" knowing that though. Just because a group of folks say they like something, doesn't mean everybody also has to like it. I have no problem with their opinions, I have a problem with the physical object that was "plunked" down on that spot. Now I will have to "wear blinders" everyday as I pass by, because it's so hideous :))
Jeff Hawkins April 10, 2012 at 07:42 PM
@Sima "So, what made this so attractive to some, and so ugly to others? What does it say about our community?" I suppose art, like politics and religion and food and movies and sports teams and everything else in life has it's share of opinions. As for our community, I think it says that we have "lots of opinions" :))
Theresa Defino April 10, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Jeff, what I am getting at is that there was a consensus process in its selection. In your opinion, those individuals failed and picked something ugly. All I am getting it is that YOU don't like it. Knowing other people liked it doesn't make it less attractive to you. Maybe it can serve some other purpose beyond being attractive. Art can be educational, provocative, inspiring, enraging, engaging, etc. Maybe the messages it carries were ones the neighborhood association considered valuable. Maybe if you heard the artist talk about it you'd feel differently. Who knows?
Doug R April 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Interesting. I wasn't a huge fan of the design model myself when I saw it in a Mayor and Council meeting a few years back, and I know there were some concerns expressed by ERCA about the design (whether they were voiced during the selection process, I don't know--I know that has been a subject of debate and back-and-forth in the past). However, I live in Maryvale and walk and drive past this sculpture everyday myself, and I kind of like it. I certainly didn't know what to expect on the tiles as I've heard people say they would only represent the Lincoln Park portion of the East Rockville community, but I am very proud of the history of Mr. Gibbs in our community, and appreciate his profile being prominently placed in our neighborhood. No, not all of East Rockville is African-American (which seems to have been one of the main complaints I've heard from detractors of this sculpture in the community), but I don't mind a piece of art in East Rockville that speaks to that part of our community's history. Count me among those who are pleasantly and unexpectedly surprised about the sculpture. I don't think they're done with the landscaping in the park yet, either, at least I hope not! The stamped concrete around the sculpture would not have been my first choice, but I am told it matches the pavement in Mary Trumbo Park. Let's hope the landscaping yet to be installed will also pair nicely with Mary Trumbo across the street.
Doug R April 10, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Good question.
Joseph Jordan April 10, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Contrary to Piotr's statement, much of the art in Rockville is funded with our tax dollars. Rockville's Art in Public Places program is funded through two City sources and welcomes working with private partnerships. The "Works of Art in Public Places" project requires the setting aside of $1 per capita in the City's Capital Improvements Program for the commission or acquisition of art to be owned and maintained by the City that is installed in publicly accessible locations. The "Incorporation of Works of Art in Public Architecture" ordinance requires that one percent of the construction cost of City of Rockville construction projects be set aside for works of art. This $30,000 piece was funded by the special activity fund within Parks and Rec. It was a controversial piece from the start, and not many in East Rockville were in favor of it. It was not a unanimous choice by M&C, and the selection process caused a temporary rift between East Rockville and Lincoln Park. My two cents worth...it is not great art.
Doug R April 10, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Actually, Jeff and Theresa, that idea is disputed. I won't rehash on Patch, but I can fill you in if you care to know some of the backstory behind the decision. I attended an ERCA meeting or two while the decision was being made, as well as watched the CIty Council meeting where the models were displayed and voted on. It was interesting. Conflicting information.
Doug R April 10, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Stirring up the pot again, huh? The idea that it was "controversial from the start" is disputed. At any rate, some people like it, some people don't--usually one sign of somewhat successful art, as judged by artists. The only rift, by the way, may have happened between the representatives that were on the arts selection commission from Lincoln Park and East Rockville, not among the communities themselves--let's be clear about that. Our communities are close-knit and there is not animosity going on between people who live across a street from one another--let's not make it sound worse than it is. We've got enough groundless charges and accusations being made around town, at the moment.
Theresa Defino April 10, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Good statements all around, Doug. Thank you.
Temperance Blalock April 11, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I remember the first time I was in the Mayor and Council chambers, and I was almost completely preoccupied with two sets of images. First, I was delighted by the framed quilted pictures on the wall; as a quilter, I was tremendously happy that quilted art had been commissioned, and those pictures are beautiful and appropriate for the room. On the other hand, when I sat down and faced the dais, I was mesmerized by how hideous and weird I found the city seal, particularly the images of the two creatures, which looked like giant beavers with BDSM chains around their necks. The city seal looks OK on a smaller scale, like on letterhead paper and the city website, but when it's blown up to a large scale it just looks bizarre to me. By the same token, I have strong reactions to flags. I think that the Maryland state flag is one of the ugliest ones in the USA, way too "busy" and too many colors. On the other hand, I like the county and Rockville city flags. I haven't seen the structure in question. From the photograph here it doesn't look like something that would appeal to me, but it doesn't look hideous. As the daughter and stepdaughter of professional fine artists, I learned a long time ago to tread cautiously in critiquing art.
Jeff Hawkins April 11, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Theresa, I do realize that a consensus was reached regarding this. You are indeed correct in evaluating my opinion on that result. It looks so out of place there. Kind of reminds of a half-buried Nuclear warhead or a very fancy Jiffy-John or one of those "recepticles" for donating shoes and clothing! A bright "orange" top? How 'bout a turquoise bench and then it could be a "HoJo"! Yes....art can elicite all of those emotions you mention, but it also does not have to be on the curb of a busy street. How will it effect the property value of that poor soul's house shown in the photo? That person has to look out of their window everyday at that thing. Imagine trying to sell that house? Curb appeal??
C P April 12, 2012 at 08:21 PM
CP Regarding the "Origami Made of Steel" - Now I get It. Manual orange juicer: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=manual+orange+juicer&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=iWJ&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&prmd=imvns&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=999&bih=840&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=17145333647371567256&sa=X&ei=bVKET8y-EuXA0QGs8JG8Bw&ved=0CH0Q8wIwAg .
Jeff Hawkins April 13, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Good one CP.................LOL........thanks for the link!
Doug R April 13, 2012 at 02:29 PM
HA! That's funny....
Robert February 08, 2013 at 04:17 PM
I have to say it has been there a while now and it still hasn't "grown on me". I find it unattractive and pointless. I think it is an embarrassment to the neighborhood I live in. I think the location is a perfect place to make a good impression and an opportunity that was missed. It wasn’t even a local artist, at least if it were then the case could be made that the arts program in the city was supporting local artist. Is there anything that says art can’t be functional and still be art? http://www.angusross.co.uk/index.html http://www.mendenhallstudio.com/walt/images/PA-MapleLeafBench_lrg.jpg

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