I'm shopping for boats with holes in them," says Joe Kro-Art with a big laugh. If Ocean City were a circus, he would be the ringleader. The one who comes up with offbeat ideas that garner skepticism at first and then, somehow, success. The one who wears a tuxedo and a cape at the beach. Kro-Art, the owner of Ocean Gallery, an art house and popular picture magnet on the boardwalk, is a Baltimore native who lives on a farm in Monkton when he's not at the gallery. He stuck the hyphen in his last name mainly so it wouldn't be mispronounced, but it also serves to emphasize the "art" in his name. He is married with three kids and more energy than a fiftysomething should have. Kro-Art's latest project is Boathenge, kind of like Stonehenge, except with boats. "I come up with crazy ideas and put them together and the things work," says Kro-Art. "People love it. It's incredible."
Boats (with holes)
"We want to half-bury them at Second Street and the Boardwalk in the shape of Stonehenge. They did it in Nebraska with cars. ... Ocean City needs a fun story this spring. The economy is not as strong as it should be. ... It's a lot of tough stuff. People need to smile and laugh and enjoy things."
"To bury the boats with, of course."
"People actually bring us things, so we have no problem with that, but we're always looking."
Small rubber bats
"For the Batmobile. Somebody gave us a few of those a couple years ago. Very effective. ... I want people to be comfortable with art so I put signs on everything that say, 'Please touch,' but people sometimes take things [like the bats] home as souvenirs."
A new Batman cape
"I did a TV commercial where I jumped from the building as Batman. The cape has a few tears in it. I wear it fairly frequently... including [recently] when a Maxim magazine photographer was here and they had a model in a bikini ... and they took photos inside and outside of Ocean Gallery."