All for the preservation of beauty

URBAN LANDSCAPE

March 11, 1993|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

After restoring "Peace" and "Order" in Baltimore, members of the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation have moved on to an even greater challenge.

The 3-foot-tall bronze sculptures in Mount Vernon Place, by Antoine Louis Barye, are among 225 monuments, reliefs, busts, carvings and pieces of statuary scattered throughout the city. The commission is surveying the works this year as part of the national Save Our Sculpture! program, the nation's largest volunteer arts project.

CHAP received an $18,000 grant to complete an inventory of all publicly accessible outdoor sculpture in Baltimore -- historic and contemporary, publicly owned and privately owned -- and to increase public awareness of the sculpture.

Local art consultant Cindy Kelly is project director. Sculptor Linda De Palma, conservator Steven Tatti, and CHAP intern Jessica Pigza are assisting her. Together, they are photographing, measuring, researching and assessing the condition of the pieces, some of which are more than 160 years old.

The preservation agency also has put out an appeal to 648 neighborhood groups to help by notifying the commission about pieces of sculpture that are not widely known but ought to be in the inventory. CHAP is also seeking volunteers to help complete the survey. When the inventory is finished this fall, CHAP will prepare a scrapbook for public exhibit.

"We are asking each neighborhood to tell us about little-known sculpture in the area or traditions involving certain monuments," said Kathleen Kotarba, CHAP's executive director. "Maybe there is someone in the neighborhood whose family always celebrated a particular event on the site of one of the city's sculptures. Perhaps a family portrait was always taken in front of one specific piece of sculpture. We are interested in any piece of history concerning any sculpture in the city."

Among the city's oldest works are the Lafayette Monument in

Mount Vernon; the stone horses in front of the War Memorial on Gay Street; a monument to Count Casimir Pulaski in Patterson Park; the United States Spanish-American War Veterans Monument at Fayette Street and Lakewood Avenue and a monument to Simon Bolivar at St. Paul and Charles streets.

Many of the contemporary works are abstract pieces completed under the "Percent for Art" program, in which a certain percentage of the construction budget of a publicly funded project is reserved for art. The city's newest pieces include the Fire Fighters Memorial at Lexington and Gay streets; and "Dehontshihgwa'es" (Creator's Game), a statue depicting two Indians playing a version of lacrosse, at the Lacrosse Hall of Fame on University Parkway.

The national SOS! program is a joint project of the National Muse

um of American Art, the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property and the Smithsonian Institution. Results of the nationwide survey will be added to the Inventory of American Sculpture, a permanent computer data base at the National Museum of American Art.

Ms. Kotarba said the inventory will help preservationists or scholars in other cities who may need information about a work similar to one in Baltimore, or one by the same artist. It will also help CHAP identify works that need repair.

"It's easy for us to say in 1993 that a piece from the 1960s is still relatively new," she said. "But we're working to make sure it will be around in 2093. Then it will really be historic. Investigators have already found undocumented reliefs at a fire station and a housing project, she added. "We hope that with

help from neighborhood residents, the citywide inventory may be expanded by as many as 50 pieces of sculpture."

CHAP will give a poster of Antoine Louis Barye's Seated Lion to the first 100 people who respond with photos or recollections. To volunteer or obtain information, call 396-4866.

Harborplace auditions

Singers, comedians, magicians and other performers will again have a chance to vie for a spot in the Harborplace Street Performers' Program. Auditions will be held in the Harborplace Amphitheater on March 27 and 28, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those judged to be the most entertaining will get a regular slot to perform at Harborplace throughout 1993 and into 1994. For information, call 332-4191.

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