A bold new work of public art will rise about 19 feet above a prominent Reston site in the summer of 2013. Created by Baltimore-based sculptor Mary Ann Mears, the large-scale abstract sculpture, the second major public art project originated by the Initiative for Public Art-Reston (IPAR), will be located on a strip of green space between Reston Parkway and the Hyatt Regency Reston Hotel in Reston Town Center.
Mears, who is known for her large, site-specific sculptures, both public and private, recently shared her vision for the project with a group of homeowners from West Market, a town home and condominium community walking distance from Reston Town Center.
“I enjoy the challenge of working with each specific site while expressing the spirit of the community. … I immerse myself in as much information about the community, people and its places; it informs my work,” said Mears, whose most recent work is “Spun Grace,” a gracefully fluid sculpture created specifically for the atrium of Baltimore’s Saint Agnes Hospital.
The gathering’s host Robert Goudie, a member of the Reston Town Center Association and a West Market resident, described the new sculpture as part of an effort to make the small park a “more people-friendly space.”
Its highly visible location plus its dynamic visual elements, Goudie predicted, should make the sculpture a distinctive Reston landmark for both Town Center pedestrians and those driving by on the parkway and on the center’s internal roads.
Selected from more than two dozen artist proposals, Mears’ sculpture, IPAR Executive Director Anne Delaney said, both “celebrates creativity and establishes a sense of place.”
Prior to making her proposal, Mears visited the Town Center site numerous times and took photographs. “After my site visits, I went back to my studio and had lots of ideas … those ideas then evolved,” she recalled.
Among her chief considerations were how the scale and style of the Town Center’s architecture, especially the adjoining Hyatt Regency Reston hotel, would relate to the sculpture as well as its relationship to the surrounding landscape.
Considered from all angles, Mears even thought about how the piece will look when viewed from above from the hotel’s higher floors.
The abstract aluminum sculpture, whose dominant color will be a bright “primrose” yellow, will curve forward and reach skyward, like the stems of a new plant bursting from the ground. It also has a lower section, which is more human scale, Mears said, illustrating her points with a small paper model.
The piece, which will be illuminated at night by 20 inward-directed LED lights, will announce “you are in a special place,” Mears explained. “I hope it will pull people in. … I hope it becomes a destination.”
To be set on an approximately 415-square-foot bed of bluestone and held in place by a poured concrete base, it is designed to allow people to move easily around it. And although currently not in the plans, the site may eventually also include benches “as a way of extending the experience” once “natural flow” is established.
Why yellow? In addition to it being one of her favorite colors, Mears, who plans to use highly durable automotive paint, explained that there were a number of other significant considerations for its choice. Besides “reading” beautifully against natural surroundings, yellow “makes a statement,” she said. Yellow objects look bigger, and it will enhance the scale and presence of the sculpture next to the much larger Hyatt building next door.
The ground-breaking for the project is expected to take place this June, Delaney said.
The approximate $98,000 cost of the project is being shared in varying amounts by several key IPAR partners, including the Reston Community Center (RCC), the Reston Town Center Association and the Hyatt Regency Reston.
Leila Gordon, executive director of RCC, noted that RCC, because of its “unifying tax district glue,” plans to annually help fund “significant” public art projects.
She said, “We want to see them dispersed throughout the community. This is quite a highlight for us of that vision.”