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Message in Marble

The ancient-like figures that adorn Baltimore's Marian House reflect a more modern view of beauty and the face of the city.

June 20, 2001|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN ARCHITECTURE CRITIC

The directors of Marian House were skilled in finding funds for transitional housing, but they weren't accustomed to seeking money for public art. One board member, Patty Batza, strongly encouraged the board to pursue it. Another, Alan Evans, contacted the TKF Foundation, an organization in Annapolis that provides funds for "open spaces, sacred places." Its founders, Tom and Kitty Stoner, weren't familiar with McArdle, but they liked her work and agreed to support the Marian House project.

Other support for the sculpture garden came from Michael and Patty Batza, who donated the sculpture entitled Patience in memory of their mothers; Darielle and Earl Linehan, who donated Integrity in memory of their mothers; Friends of Sister Ellis Denny and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who donated Honesty; and the Sisters of Mercy, Baltimore Regional Community, who donated Trust. Other major contributors to the sculpture garden were the Marjorie Cook Foundation, the William G. Baker Jr. Memorial Fund and the Koinonia Foundation.

Money raised for the sculptures and courtyard - about $300,000 in all - came in addition to the $3.1 million raised from a combination of public and private sources to expand and renovate the building.

Reilly said the art-related donations were critical to completing the project because the groups that typically support transitional housing programs don't normally provide money for public art.

She said residents have taken great interest in the caryatids, and some have even tried to decide which one they most resemble. The Marian House, meanwhile, has incorporated images of one caryatid, Integrity, in signs throughout the building.

To Gail Chapman-Robinson, a former resident who will speak at the dedication, the four caryatids are the women of Marian House.

"The spiritual principles that these female sculptures represent are spiritual principles that Marian women also possess," she said. "Honesty, Integrity, Patience and Trust. God freely gives them all to those who ask."

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