Revelers at gate for food, music

International Festival this weekend to mark its 10th anniversary


From a distance, a passer-by could see only pieces - a 15-foot-long leg in the driveway, an eye the size of a wading pool in the workshop - but it was clear from the street that someone in Baltimore County was building a monster.

As the bulky parts began coming together, it also became clear that the dragonlike, Indonesian-inspired sculpture would be gigantic - more than 22 feet tall and 25 feet wide, with nostrils as big as bathroom sinks.

Made of steel cable and bedsheets hardened with glue, the monster gateway is the kind of art city officials hope will bring attention to the 10th anniversary of the International Festival, which will be held on the Poly-Western High School campus this weekend.

"It's not really a small thing," David Friedheim said of the sculpture, which he has been working on with fellow artist Trisha Kyner since the city commissioned the work three weeks ago.

"If we had any sense at all," he quipped, "we wouldn't have become artists."

Originally a retreat for city workers, the International Festival draws about 20,000 residents for live music, ethnic food and a 28-round soccer match. It is the city's third-largest festival, behind Artscape and the African American Heritage Festival.

For Friedheim, 47, and Kyner, 39, the festival is also a chance to show off their artwork. The two recently moved from California and bought a small workshop in Baltimore County, near Gwynn Oak Park.

To create the sculpture, they researched Indonesian temple gates, Italian Mannerist gardens, carnival booths and Thai graffiti. They developed a sketch that they reproduced in chalk and paint on their driveway.

With the life-size blueprint before them, they shaped nearly 600 feet of cable to create a skeleton. They ran chicken wire between the metal layers to create the form and then covered it all with bedsheets purchased from Goodwill and hardened with glue, a method similar to papier mache with a result more durable and more likely to hold up in rain.

When the sheets set, the artists, along with volunteers from City Hall and the community, began applying bright orange, green and yellow paint.

"I tried to work with colors that would really show up on a green field and blue sky," said Kyner, who has been working on the sculpture, despite the oppressive heat, about 12 hours a day.

The city paid $5,000 for the piece, mostly to cover the cost of the materials, and officials intend to use the sculpture for future festivals. This year, the gate will sit on the athletic field at the site. Spray misters will be attached to its frame to keep visitors cool.

In addition to the sculpture, the festival will feature a dozen musical acts - including soul and calypso - and dance and martial arts performances. The theme of the entertainment, organizers said, is to pay homage to the city's international flavor.

"One of Baltimore's primary assets is its diversity," said Israel C. Patoka, director of the Baltimore City Office of Neighborhoods, which is organizing the event. "This is a time to celebrate that asset."


The festival: Baltimore's 10th Annual International Festival, which celebrates the city's diversity, will be held from noon to 9:30 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday at the Poly-Western athletic fields at Falls Road and West Cold Spring Lane. Activities will include an international soccer competition, live music, dancing and ethnic foods. Admission is free. Information: 410-396-3141, or www.baltimoreinternational The artists: David Friedheim and Trisha Kyner of Baltimore County are collaborating on a festival arch for the event. The two have worked on several pieces together for events across the country. Their work can be viewed at www.grendelsmother. com.

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