The Process: Public Art 900 Thayer in Silver Spring, MD – “Social Fabric”

Public art can strengthen social bonds, especially for culturally diverse neighborhoods.

Corner installation of "Social Fabric" public art at Fenton Apartments in Silver Spring, MD.

Corner installation of “Social Fabric” public art at Fenton Apartments in Silver Spring, MD.

Washington Glass Studio recently completed a public art project in Silver Spring, MD, for a new mixed use development at 900 Thayer Ave

The original 2005 design concept - cast glass panels helped define the architectural entrance to the development.

The original 2005 design concept – cast glass panels helped define the architectural entrance to the “Adele” development.

Washington Glass Studio began creating artwork options for developments on the site, starting in 2005, when the site first was being developed as a residential development called “The Adele”. After a review and approval by Montgomery County Arts Council, the project languished as the real estate market changed.

In 2013, WGS Studio began working with the developers that purchased that project site, Redbrick LMD. Working with the design team, WGS artists were inspired by the rich mixture of ethnic groups in Silver Spring. Imagery and patterns that were based on the cultural fabric and textiles, as well as indigenous weaving and embroidery patterns for tapestries, wraps, blankets and garments.

Fabrics & textiles of the cultures that make up the Silver Spring neighborhoods was the inspiration of the new artwork design for 900 Thayer.

Fabrics & textiles of the cultures that make up the Silver Spring neighborhoods was the inspiration of the new artwork design for 900 Thayer.

 

Artwork on the corner column made up of backlit glass panels would be a colorful reference to the cultures, and add a bright pop of color on the site.

The corner location of the artwork would also frame out the proposed future planned arts development that would be up the road from 900 Thayer, and the Montgomery County Review committee was keen on having the artwork go further – asking if the artwork could be extended all along the ground level of the new development. Happily, Redbrick Developers agreed, and the scope of the artwork was extended along the entire street level and apartment outdoor spaces.

The corner column at 900 Thayer was to have an 11 foot high tower of backlit panels mounted to the surfaces.

The corner column at 900 Thayer was to have an 11 foot high tower of backlit panels mounted to the surfaces.

The project stalled in 2015. In 2017, Chesapeake Realty Partners joined with Redbrick Developer and the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County in moving forward with the property  proceeded with groundbreaking and construction of the development in June of 2018.

WGS Studio was contacted and engaged to fully develop the design. WGS revisited the idea of incorporating cultural textile and fabric patterns would encourage viewers to appreciate the colorful patterns enlivening the streetscape, as well as promoting a message of open-mindedness, promote tolerance and curiosity about other cultures.

The brightly colored hand-screened glass features patterns were artistically based on Ethiopian textiles, African mudcoths, Central American weavings, European folkloric fabric prints, intricate and colorful ancestral weaving designs from Asia, Native American blankets, and Colonial American quilt patterns. Using identity and culture as the main theme of the building’s public artwork, WGS sought to inspire self-reflection, human connection, and conversation.

Teri Bailey and Patricia De Poel Wilberg work on silkscreening the enamel patterns on glass, to be fired in the kilns after.

Teri Bailey and Patricia De Poel Wilberg work on silkscreening the enamel patterns on glass, to be fired in the kilns after.

The Washington Glass Studio team worked on the production of the glass artwork starting in early 2019. Large silkscreen panels were made to allow the patterns to be enameled and fired in the WGS kilns. WGS Co-Director Erwin Timmers worked on the LED design and integration of the glass artwork.

The enameled glass was fired to keep the high contrast color selections vibrant.

The enameled glass was fired to keep the high contrast color selections vibrant.

Over 60 18″ x 18″ panels were made – and were to be mounted in a variety of multi-panel arrangements.

The installation on site began in October of 2019, and as the building occupancy needed the artwork to be completed to allow for certification, a focused WGS team made short work of the outdoor artwork installation. 

Detail of one of the LED illuminated glass panels at 900 Thayer Ave.

Detail of one of the LED illuminated glass panels at 900 Thayer Ave.

WGS Co-Director Michael Janis is a vision in orange as he preps the LED mounts for the glass.

WGS Co-Director Michael Janis is a vision in orange as he preps the LED mounts for the glass.

WGS Co-Director Erwin Timmers sets the final glass artwork panels in the corner column at the 900 Thayer site.

WGS Co-Director Erwin Timmers sets the final glass artwork panels in the corner column at the 900 Thayer site.

The Fenton Apartment corner column artwork has a strong presence in the daytime, with the LED illumination.

The Fenton Apartment corner column artwork has a strong presence in the daytime, with the LED illumination.

Project Details
Location: 900 Thayer Avenue, Silver Spring MD, 20910
Washington Glass Studio Public Art Team: Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Teri Bailey and Patricia De Poel Wilberg.

WGS On Camera

Washington Glass School was approached by a new residential development in the area – Studio 3807 – to talk about how Washington Glass School connects with community. Directors Tim Tate and Michael Janis talked with the film crew about the public art created by the Studio:

Baltimore Sun Covers Washington Glass Studio’s Laurel Library Artwork Workshops

The Washington Glass Studio was awarded the commission to create the new landmark artwork sculpture for the Laurel Library (now under construction next to Emancipation Park in Laurel, MD). Baltimore Sun reporter Lisa Philip visited the Washington Glass Studio last week as the Library area residents and interested citizens collaborated in glass-making workshops to make the inset panels . Click HERE to jump to Lisa Philip’s article on how the artwork is engaging the community.

Baltimore Sun coverage of how the Washington Glass Studio engages community.

Baltimore Sun coverage of how the Washington Glass Studio engages community.

photo credit:Lisa Philip / Baltimore Sun Media Group Erwin Timmers, co-founder and -director of Washington Glass Studio, advises a Laurel resident on his creation of a glass tile for the public art sculpture that will stand in front of the new Laurel Library, set to open this fall.

photo credit:Lisa Philip / Baltimore Sun Media Group
Erwin Timmers, co-founder and -director of Washington Glass Studio, advises a Laurel resident on his creation of a glass tile for the public art sculpture that will stand in front of the new Laurel Library, set to open this fall.

Montgomery County Veterans Memorial by Washington Glass Studio

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Montgomery County officials dedicated a new plaza and eternal flame in honor of the county’s war veterans on Monday, just before the next day’s observance of Veterans Day. County Executive Ike Leggett and Council president Craig Rice dedicated the plaza and its Fallen Heroes Memorial, which is part of the Judicial Center Annex construction project.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (left) shakes hands with retired Navy Cmdr. Everrett Alvarez Jr. of Potomac, who was the longest-held prisoner of war in Vietnam, after Monday’s dedication of Memorial Plaza and unveiling of the Eternal Memorial Flame in Rockville, MD

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (center left) with retired Navy Cmdr. Everrett Alvarez Jr. of Potomac, who was the longest-held prisoner of war in Vietnam, after the dedication of Memorial Plaza and unveiling of Washington Glass Studio’s Eternal Memorial Flame in Rockville, MD

The plaza is part of the Judicial Center Annex construction project that began in 2011 and involved an addition and renovation of the existing Judicial Center. The plaza and green spaces were redesigned to invite public use of the space.

artwork.modern.public.sculpture.usa.memorial.dedicationDuring remarks at the dedication ceremony, County Council President Craig Rice, the son of a Vietnam veteran, noted the importance of having a peaceful place to visit to reflect and remember the sacrifices of our veterans.Among those participating was retired Navy Cmdr. Everrett Alvarez Jr. of Potomac, who was the longest-held prisoner of war in Vietnam. 

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Happy 4th of July!

The Washington Glass School and Studio Wishes a Happy & Safe Independence Day to All!

One of the glass elements in DC's "Community Gateway" arch public art sculpture made by Washington Glass Studio and the Ward 7 community is a green Stars & Stripes

One of the glass elements in DC’s “Community Gateway” arch public art sculpture made by Washington Glass Studio and the Ward 7 community is a green Stars & Stripes

Washington DC Mayor Gray will be dedicating the new arch public artwork at the site: Corner of Hayes Street & Kenilworth Terrace, NE, Washington, DC 20019.

UPDATE! Power outtages at the healthcare facility have postponed the dedication ceremony. New date for dedication ceremony:Friday, 18 July, 2014; 7-9 pm.

The Process: Public Art and Placemaking

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DC Ward 7 Green Community Arch sculpture located at the new Unity Healthcare Building.

One of the Washington Glass Studio’s most ambitious public art projects has just completed installation. The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities commissioned the sculpture for the new Unity Healthcare facility in Washington, DC, and the glass-and-steel artwork was installed without a problem this week.

Michael Janis bolts the panels to the top of the public art sculpture before the work is hoisted into place.

Michael Janis bolts the panels to the top of the public art sculpture before the work is hoisted into place.

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Concept design for the Green Community Gateway Arch

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The public artwork concept was designed and engineered to a high level.

The design of the public artwork was intended to mark the symbolic entrance to the Kenilworth / Parkside section of DC’s Ward 7. This area (near Caeser Chavez charter school, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the Anacostia Freeway) was recently identified as a DC Promise neighborhood – and its experiencing a renewed investment in neighborhood revitalization. After meeting with community representatives, the WGS team focused on themes that were strongly held. A “Community Gateway Arch” became the vision for the placemaking sculpture that would help identify the new environment. The glass panel insets in the 16′ tall sculpture would be made with the help of the neighborhood residents, students of the high school, and the staff of the new Unity Healthcare facility. The Washington Glass Studio worked with the DC Creates! Public Art Program selection committee, the DCCAH Council, Unity Parkside Health Care, the Ward 7 ANC and the community and held a series of glass “quilting-bees” and made a communal environment where community and art were not separate. 

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Artist Erwin Timmers oversaw the structural integration of support framework, LED lighting and glass panel insets.

The 16′ high x 14′ wide sculpture lit internally with LED lighting was one of the largest outdoor artworks installed to date for the Washington Glass Studio, and much went into the design, engineering and the fabrication of the steel framework. 

DCCAH invitation to Ward 7 to make glass at WGS

DCCAH invitation to Ward 7 to make glass at WGS

In early 2014, with the structural foundation for the artwork finished and the steel framework underway, the call went out to the community to come make glass. By directly involving the public in the creation of the new landmark, the space would resonate because the artwork would have meaning to all – as everyone had the chance to tell their story.  The glass workshops were packed. Many of the people that came to work in glass returned to each of the scheduled dates – they loved working in glass and wanted to see how the artwork changed once fired. 

DC ANC Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

DC ANC Ward 7 Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

By having many area residents making the glass art insets, the sculpture has an increased sense of local identity. The artwork arch stimulates curiosity, inspired some of the budding artists to consider new artistic avenues and on occasion, create a smile.

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Many voices told many stories in the inset panels that made up the glass quilt archway.

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Opposite view of Washington, DC’s Green Community Arch.

The formal opening ceremony of the Anacostia Arch with DC Mayor Gray is now being scheduled. We will update on the school’s FB page and on the blog!

Project Details

  • Location: Corner Hayes Street & Kenilworth Terrace, NE; Washington, DC 20019
  • Washington Glass Studio Public Art Team: Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson, Derek Thomas, Miles Lark, Cris Chaney and Robyn Townsend
  • Structural Engineers: Holbert Apple Associates, Inc and Wolfman and Associates
  • Structural Steel: Iron Kingdom
  • Number of Glass Tile Insets: Over 300
  • Weight of Sculpture: 2000 lbs

Update on WGS Collaborative Artwork

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Above grid includes work from top, L to R: Allegra Marquart, Jennifer Lindstrom, Jackie Greeves, Robert Kincheloe, Evan Morgan, Dave Cook.

As mentioned in a posting earlier this year, the Washington Glass School’s will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary with the creation of a collaborative artwork that will be mounted on the front facade of the glass school.

WGS Director Tim Tate organizes and sets out the artwork tiles into the steel grid framework.

Copper & glass panel is collaboration between metalsmith Chris Shea and glass artist Don Daniels.

Glass panels made by filmmakers Jon Gann and Kerri Sheehan.

Installation of the glass panels will take place in the next week or so (certainly after the Hurricane Irene is has passed).

Proposed artwork location at the front of the glass school. The author of this article is depicted as leaving the studio.