Archive | Abstract RSS feed for this section

Brade Howe’s “Lever the Sun” at COPT’s National Business Park

18 Oct

The combination of the natural and architectural elements of California-based artist Brad Howe’s sculpture made a perfect fit for Corporate Office Properties Trust’s (COPT) new National Business Park in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, as the modern architecture of the surrounding buildings and the technological nature of their tenants demanded modernity yet the serene setting of the sculpture garden amidst the buildings also required the piece to evoke nature.  Brad Howe has built a reputation on his lively sculpture, using stainless steel to create sinuous, organic but abstract forms. While much of his work focuses on soft curves and bright colors, other pieces instead use his talent with stainless steel to emphasize architectural forms. The engineering put into making these pieces becomes a central theme, drawing the eye to the way in which the sculptural elements make use of balance and cantilevering.

"Lever the Sun" Under Construction

"Lever the Sun" under construction at Brad Howe's studio

Working closely with both the client and the artist, Artists Circle coordinated the design and commission of a new sculpture, Lever the Sun. Brad constructed a 1/12th scale model of the 21-foot sculpture in the same stainless steel the full-scale piece would be made from. Using the scale model as a guide, the Artists Circle crew built a full-scale model of the piece using foamcore board, a lightweight but strong material. We built the elements here in the barn over the course of several days, then transported the elements to the site where the sculpture would be installed. We then assembled the sculpture on-site so that the client could get a better feel for the scale of the piece and decide how it would be oriented.

After the client chose a surface finish pattern from a variety of samples the artist sent to us, he began construction of the sculpture elements at his studio in California. Artists Circle then coordinated the transport of the sculpture across the country to the installation site in Annapolis Junction. The artist and his assistant flew out to the site and arrived shortly after the sculpture and a crane used in the installation. By the end of the day, all of the sculpture elements were placed and welded together.

This project was ambitious and we were very  pleased to be fortunate enough to have both an incredible sculptor and a client who was so committed to making the artwork at their property be a central element of its design. Lever the Sun makes a commanding presence in the center of the NBP sculpture garden and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Brad Howe at Sculpture Opening

Brad Howe speaks about "Lever the Sun" at the COPT NBP Clark Commons Sculpture Garden Opening


The Sculpture Garden at the National Business Park

18 Oct

Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), a real estate development trust that focuses on government and defense tenants, is a company that is truly dedicated to integrating fantastic art into their development projects. At their brand-new National Business Park in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, COPT has decided to go the extra mile and make the courtyard nestled between three modern office buildings into a dedicated sculpture garden. With modern lighting and seating scattered throughout the green space and under the trees and pathways that carry you past the sculpture on your way from building to building, the area provides a great location for employees of the buildings’ tenants to relax and enjoy some sculpture.

Ally II

"Ally II" by Bruce Beasley in cast bronze

Entering the sculpture garden at Clark Commons from the National Business Parkway, immediately on your left is Ally II by California sculptor Bruce Beasley. Beasely’s abstract forms in cast bronze resemble three-dimensional cubist forms carved from stone, with the irregular patina contributing to the strong earthy feel of his work. Ally II had been in COPT’s collection prior to Artists Circle’s involvement in the project, but we worked with local artist and metalworker David Hess to build an installation system for the sculpture. After coordinating the transport of the sculpture from Hess’ studio in Baltimore County to the sculpture garden, the AO crew installed the sculpture on a concrete pedestal, a tricky install as the landscaping had already been completed, disallowing the use of heavy equipment to move and lift the bronze sculpture. We think the piece is situated perfectly to draw the visitor into the garden from the road, and its modern form and earthy aesthetics introduce the viewer to the garden’s high-tech but organic style.

Will Robinson

"The Patience of Penelope" by Will Robinson in carved basalt

At the opposite end of the sculpture garden and directly in front of the site that will become the central building of the Clark Commons complex is a grouping of three sculptures in stone by Washington State artist Will Robinson, Eyes of the Storm, Patience of Penelope and Wave Runner, which also doubles as seating. Swirls and swooping curves often contrast smooth, highly-polished surfaces with rough, unfinished textures show us how Will transforms the untamed, rough and wild rock into something softer and more elegant. Artists Circle coordinated the sale of the pieces, and Will transported them himself from the Pacific Northwest to install them at the sculpture garden. We think these pieces emphasize the elements of nature in the sculpture garden and the contrast of those elements with the contemporary architecture that envelops them.

The centerpiece of the garden is Brad Howe’s Lever the Sun, a 21-foot sculpture in stainless steel that COPT commissioned through Artists Circle for the project. Read more about the commission, construction and installation of this monumental sculpture in our blog post here.

Clark Commons NBP Sculpture Garden

Stone sculpture by Will Robinson with "Lever the Sun" by Brad Howe in background

COPT has created a beautiful space that includes a fantastic sculpture collection. It was a great opportunity to work with a great group of artists, installers and professionals and we couldn’t be more proud of all of the work we put into helping COPT create their wonderful sculpture garden.

Artist Profile: Angie Seckinger

11 Apr

Flora of all sorts have long been the subjects of artists, from traditional still life paintings of vased flowers on tabletops to documentary-style landscape photographs of the untamed wilderness of the forest. A common thread in much of these pieces is that the subject is the plant. We are meant to appreciate the stunning beauty of the whole flower or the majesty of nature of the sort you might read about in a Faulkner story or see in a Hudson River School painting.

Angie Seckinger eschews the representational in her macroscopic plant photography, instead using the plants as a source of color and texture that wrings pure emotion from the viewer. By putting the minute details of the plant into sharp focus and preventing the viewer from seeing the subject in any sort of context (the backgrounds of the images are obscured by the haze of being extremely out of focus), the result isn’t so much a “picture of a plant” but rather a snapshot of detail nested within a swath of color.

Angie describes her photographic process as “exploratory,” probing the plant life around her home with her macro-lens equipped digital camera until a particular combination of shape, color and contrast strikes her fancy. We think her work closes the book on any argument about the ability of photography to work as a truly creative artistic tool, as there is little in common between Angie’s photographs and our own ability to experience nature.

Because of the extraordinary sharpness of the foreground and the wonderful abstraction of the out-of-focus background, Angie’s work holds up brilliantly when blown up into very large image sizes, including mural-sized pieces. Check out our posting about our Kaiser Permanente installation for an example of how stunning Angie’s work can be on this scale.

Artists Circle Provides Art for Kaiser Permanente’s New Capitol Hill Space

11 Apr

While any space can benefit from the addition of great art, we are especially grateful to have the opportunity to work in so many buildings with fantastic architecture that demand a unique approach be taken with the art in the space. Kaiser Permanente’s new medial office building on Capitol Hill is a perfect example of such a space and we were very excited to have the chance to flex our creative muscles with this project. Working closely with the client, we decided that the best approach was to use a mixture of a variety of media and styles rather than sticking with an assortment of a single type of art. The mixture of paintings, photography, wall mounted ceramic and glass sculpture and prints on plexiglass and bamboo panels provide a rich variety while the three-dimensional nature of many of the pieces adds depth to the space.

Angie Seckinger’s macrophotographic murals provide extremely detailed close-ups of plants and leaves and were a perfect fit for the spaces behind reception area desks. Their intense depth-of-field lends a great deal of drama to what might otherwise be a rather mundane-seeming feature of the building.


Glass and ceramic mosaic wall pieces by Barbara Galazzo and Janine Sopp provided a perfect solution for a difficult space: a long, gently curved wall that would prohibit the use of wall-mounted pieces on paper, canvas or other two-dimensional media. Barbara and Janine’s mosaics interact with the lighting, casting colored shadows on the wall and on each other as they are set at different distances from the surface. This installation effectively turns the entire wall into a huge curved canvas.

John Watson’s stunning details of leaves are a perfect fit for printing on large panels of sustainable bamboo. This unique presentation brings the piece out some distance from the wall and allows for a more natural look without the artificial cropping effect that can result from using a more traditional frame. The result is a much more organic approach to art installation that reflects the subjects of the pieces as well as the materials used in their construction.

The work of these three artists is just a sampling of the wealth of variety to be found in Kaiser’s new art collection. Not only is the art itself quite diverse, but the artists tapped for the project range from hand-picked local talents to artists from all over the country selected because we felt their work would be a perfect fit for the building. We’re very pleased with the results and are happy to say that the folks at Kaiser are, too! We think that the art chosen for the space goes a long way to scrub away any last traces of the “clinical” feel that can oftentimes make hospitals and doctors’ offices seem so unwelcoming, instead providing a sense of warmth and openness that we hope makes the space that much more pleasant for the staff to work in and for patients to experience during their visits to the facility.

Special thanks to Hye Jin Kim for her wonderful photographs of the installed pieces.

Behind the Scenes: Artist Peter Kitchell’s Process

23 Feb

When time or proximity allow, we are lucky enough to make studio visits, which allow us to go “behind the scenes” and assess the quality and craftsmanship invested into each piece of art.  Sometimes we wish we could share this experience with our clients because it often gives a whole new perspective and appreciation for the final product.  Well, today you are lucky enough to get a peek at one artist’s studio, Peter Kitchell, who just finished these pieces for one of our projects (stay tuned for a separate post with more project photos).

GMAC: Round Two!

10 Feb

A good portion of our new projects are brought to us by repeat clients.  Why?  Not to boastfully give ourselves a big pat on the back, but it’s because we did a great job the first time around!

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC for those of us who are averse to tongue twisters) is one of those repeat clients.  In 2007 we outfitted their Tysons Corner office with a collection of fun, colorful pieces.  When they were ready for a move to Reston Town Center a few months ago, they called on Artists Circle once again to assist with art for their new, Fox Architects design space.  Funky green chairs and a calming 2-story waterfall attest to GMAC’s concern for employee satisfaction.  The artwork selected by the GMAC team also reflects this mission; a bright, enlivened collection of prints adds to the bright, cheerful environment.

PNC Goodies

28 Oct

In a previous entry, we showcased a snapshot of a painting we installed at PNC Bank’s new regional headquarters, but we couldn’t resist sharing more pictures with you.  PNC was a delight to work with!  They selected some very unique and interesting pieces of artwork ranging from photographs taken at recycling plants (an homage to PNC’s Environmental Responsibility initiative) to monoprints and acrylic on mylar paintings.  PNC wanted to pay tribute to the DC arts scene by purchasing artwork by local, Washington area artists.  Fortunately, Artists Circle’s database of artists is largely DC proportioned, so we were ready for the challenge to meet PNC’s requirement.

Just a side note: the Gensler team’s talents really shine on this project.  In addition to a space featuring a “growing wall” of plants in the lobby, they also incorporated museum displays and wall graphics throughout the building, along with touch screen directories and displays in both the office building and branch.  It is certainly one of the nicest spaces Artists Circle has had an opportunity to work on!


5 Oct

Take a look at these two prints on canvas we installed for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA).  They requested artwork that subtly reflects their industry and compliments the colors FOX Architects introduced to their new space.  As prints on canvas, these pieces also satisfied budget restraints.  Prints on canvas are a great alternative to original paintings; often, they are even more economical than prints on paper framed in a traditional way.  A few wooden stretcher bars costs much less than a mat, glass, and moulding.

Vicinity Opening THIS THURSDAY!

19 Apr

Day: Thursday, April 22nd
Time: 6 to 9pm

Place: Artists Circle Fine Art 13501 Travilah Road North Potomac, MD 20878 (click here for a Google map)

We hope you can join us for the Opening Reception for Vicinity: Show It Where You Make It.  Four of the five artists will be present: Francie Hester, Alan Simensky, Jessica van Brakle, and Pamela Viola (unfortunately, Angie Seckinger will be traveling in Spain).

Artists Circle’s Principal Jack Devine will give a talk about the artists’ work at 7pm. Light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be provided and the event is free and open to the public.  Valet parking.

OPX – Success Through Design (and Art, of Course!)

14 Apr

Artists Circle Fine Art recently collaborated with DC architecture and design firm OPX to establish a rotating artwork program in their office.  The current exhibition features works by several DC artists, including Francie Hester and Matthew Langley.