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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.

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.

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.

An Atypical Summer!

5 Aug

Summertime and the livin’s easy busy!  While most of you are (hopefully) sipping margaritas on the beach, we at Artists Circle have been preoccupied with several exciting new projects.  No complaints though!  Included in the current mix are law firms, a huge hospital project, and several nonprofits.  We’re pretty amped about these jobs; not only will they require fresh new work that we haven’t proposed before, but the project teams are also the friendliest, most enthusiastic groups to work with.

Last month’s completed jobs include NetApp, Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), and a Booz Allen Hamilton installation.  Artwork in these projects ranged from black and white photographs of Washington, DC to original paintings and more affordable edition prints on paper.


Artwork installed at GMAC

Booz Allen Hamilton

GXS Success! (try saying that ten times really fast)

11 Mar

Last night, Artists Circle’s Principal – Jack Devine – and an installation crew worked well into the evening installing over one hundred pieces of artwork in the new headquarters building for GXS in Rockville, Maryland.  The pieces, selected in advance by GXS employees, were hung in individual offices.

Designed by FOX Architects, the space already had rich, warm fabrics and finishes (not to mention a great view of the Rockville environs out the windows!), but the artwork enhanced the overall feel of the space, making each office warm and inviting.  GXS hosted a “preview party” for their staff this afternoon so they could see the office before the “big move” this weekend.  We hope they enjoy their artwork!

Bond (not James) 45

3 Mar

Artists Circle Fine Art recently wrapped up a project for The Peterson Companies.  We were glad to be back at National Harbor doing work with their team.  What a great group to work with!  A new restaurant called Bond 45 just opened and Peterson enlisted Artists Circle to assist with the installation of several hundred pieces of artwork.  The art, including two large marble sculptures, was supplied by the restaurant owners.