D.C. sculpture to get new home on Prince George's beach

January 02, 2008|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The Awakening, J. Seward Johnson Jr.'s sculpture of a giant struggling to emerge from the earth, is soon to leave a site in the nation's capital that millions of tourists have visited since the work's installation in 1980 for a new location in Maryland.

Although it stood for 27 years on public parkland at Hains Point in Southwest Washington, The Awakening did not belong to the National Park Service. It was instead the property of the Sculpture Foundation, a group that promotes public art.

Johnson gave the foundation a collection of his work to oversee. The foundation has now sold the cast-aluminum sculpture for $740,000, and it will be relocated in the spring to National Harbor, a $2 billion waterfront project under construction in Prince George's County.

The Awakening will be installed on a specially built beach along the Potomac River as the focal point of the 300-acre development.

The 60 buildings envisioned for the project are to include shops, restaurants, condominiums, office buildings and a convention center.

The National Children's Museum, whose building is being designed by Cesar Pelli, will also move there from downtown Washington.

Paula Stoeke, director of the Sculpture Foundation, said that The Awakening had been available for years because the National Park Service could not offer it a permanent home and might have requested that it be removed from Hains Point.

The work depicts a bearded man trapped in the earth. It was installed, using a temporary permit, along with 500 other pieces, as part of a 1980 citywide art exhibition. Six years after the installation, Congress passed a law requiring all public art on National Park Service land in Washington to be installed for a short period unless it was commemorative.

There were no immediate plans for the land where The Awakening is now installed, said Sally Blumenthal, a deputy associate regional director for the National Park Service.

"It is a prime memorial site, and there are not that many of them," she said. "We think people are going to love [the sculpture] in its new home. It will be visible as you are flying into National Airport from the south."

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