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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.

White Flint at the North Bethesda Market

14 Jun

Jim Sanborn’s sculpture often serves a document of a particular event in history that had far-reaching ramifications for humankind. Pieces like Terrestrial Physics and, especially, Atomic Time serve as confrontational, awe-inspiring and perhaps even frightening reminders of great strides forward in scientific progress during the middle of the last century, but Sanborn’s new work at JBG’s North Bethesda Market in White Flint, Alluvium, is more subtle but no less documentarian in its approach.

We here at Artists Circle are proud to have had the chance to work with Mr. Sanborn and JBG to create such a powerful and indeed, beautiful piece of public art at the North Bethesda Market.

Alluvium Installation

Jim Sanborn installing Alluvium

Taking its name from the white “flint” (i.e. quartz) so common in Central Maryland, the area today is most well known for its shopping mall and Metro station, with the North Bethesda Market already proving itself to be a popular destination. However, development necessarily alters the landscape and shapes the environment into something more suitable for our needs. Oftentimes the change is so dramatic that any trace of the previous, natural environment is completely wiped away. Alluvium, with its waterfalls that recall Great falls and quartz-rich granite that echoes the quartz one would surely find deep below the surface of the paseo on which the sculpture sits,  reveals its allusions to the geography of the region as one sits and contemplates its elements.

Alluvium serves as an excellent example of how public art can be constructed at new development sites in such a way as to document the history of the place where it is built and to celebrate that natural heritage. However, with its machine-cut lettering and industrial-scale copper sheeting, the foundation of the piece is itself engineered by modern man rather than carved by centuries of erosion and geological activity, inextricably linking it with the development it is a part of.

Alluvium Unveiled

The Unveiling of Alluvium

Read more about Alluvium, including commentary on the piece and the project by Sanborn himself, in this recent article in The Washington Post.

Artist Profile: Jim Sanborn

14 Jun

Though Maryland sculptor Jim Sanborn’s monumental landscape-incorporating public art might be most talked about due to its cryptic nature, its striking appearance and natural integration into what would otherwise be mundane outdoor spaces gives his work a resonance with the viewer that reaches far deeper than the word-of-mouth murmurs might lead you to expect. Combining industrial-scale fabricated sheets of metal such as copper or bronze and the monolithic landscapes of concrete and stone courtyards and building facades with natural elements such as boulders and running water, Sanborn’s public art is a potent lesson in the oft-missed opportunity to bridge the gap between the modern, manufactured world of civilization with the ancient and untamed wilderness.

The Cyrillic Projector

The Cyrllic Projector

Perhaps what separates humanity most obviously from nature is written language. It allows us to communicate across vast spaces as well as make records so that whatever it is we might have to say can be discovered by future generations. Sanborn’s public work capitalizes on the power of the written word to use it as the glue that binds together the artificial and natural elements of his sculpture. Carved through the metal sheets and into the face of the surrounding surfaces, sunlight by day and internal projectors by night cause Sanborn’s text to wash over elements both natural and man-made, unifying them. Sanborn’s writings include languages both ancient and modern and, in the case of his most famous work, Kryptos, encoded meaning that might not reveal itself for centuries.



While Sanborn’s public works famously make use of the languages of humanity, his indoor installations tend to focus on the languages of the natural world as discovered by physicists. Works like Terrestrial Physics combine the aesthetic principles of sculpture with the functionality of scientific apparatus, in this case a reproduction of the Van de Graaf generators used by American scientists to confirm the possibility of nuclear fission, a series of events that kicked off the Manhattan Project and the advent of functional nuclear reactions. Like his outdoor sculpture, works like Terrestrial Physics put the relationships between humanity, nature and the passage of time and history on full display. Whether blurring the lines between sculpture and monumental document or between art and physics, Sanborn’s work is sure to catch the eyes and imaginations of both the aesthetically hungry and the intellectually curious for millennia to come.

Terrestrial Physics

Terrestrial Physics

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.

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!

‘More Public Artwork to Rev up Rockville Pike’

21 Apr

Artists Circle Fine Art was mentioned in an article published by the Montgomery County Gazette:

At North Bethesda Market, visitors and residents who use the paseo will have the chance to view a sculpture produced by Sanborn, an artist famous for his encrypted Kryptos sculpture at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., said Jack Devine, principal of Artists Circle Fine Art in North Potomac and an art consultant for JBG Companies.

Sanborn, who was not available for comment, has created an 8-foot high, 4-foot wide bronze cylinder perforated with waterjet cut text. Inside, the cylinder will have a pinpoint light source, while outside it will be surrounded by a red granite text ring, Devine said.

During the day, the texts can be seen on the cylinder or from the surface of nearby pavement. At night, the interior light will project the text over a wide area, Devine said. Near the sculpture will be a waterfall bordered by a white granite “river of stone” and a polished red granite oval ring.

“I think it will be quite captivating and people will respond well,” Devine said.

(‘More public artwork to rev up rockville pike’ by Cedric Ricks.  Published in the Montgomery County Gazette on March 24th, 2010)

Click here for the full article.

Washington Post – Local Artist Jim Sanborn

28 Aug

Artists Circle has been working with artist Jim Sanborn on a project in collaboration with The JBG Companies since 2006.  Selected amongst a pool of artists, Jim created an intriguing concept for JBG’s White Flint project: a perforated cylinder will cast shadows of text commemorating the history of White Flint (to those of you who are familiar with the area, yes, there is actually a thread of curious historical significance to the site).  Last weekend, Jim was featured in The Washington Post for a new installation called “Terrestrial Physics”.  Perhaps we should have Jim and Robert Buelteman, who will have a show at Artists Circle in the Fall, meet for a cup of coffee to talk about their shared interest in the sciences and mad scientist-esque ways of exploring artwork!  For the full Washington Post story by Blake Gopnik.>

An existing installation of Jim's perforated columns.  The piece at White Flint will be similar, but will feature text significant to the history of the site.

An existing installation of Jim's perforated columns. The piece at White Flint will be similar, but will feature text significant to the history of the site.

Jim's model for the White Flint project.  In addition to the cylinder, inlaid text will be placed in the ground and several other perforated metal sheets will line the walkway.

Jim's model for the White Flint project. In addition to the cylinder, inlaid text will be placed in the ground and several other perforated metal sheets will line the walkway.

Aerial Sculpture Installed at New Fredericksburg, VA Marriott

11 Jun

Artists Circle Fine Art has completed the installation of an aerial art sculpture in the atrium of  The Courtyard by Marriott Historic Fredericksburg, which is scheduled to open later this month.  The hotel is Palmer-Gosnell Management, Inc.’s sixth Marriott property to be built.  See more information about the hotel >

The artist, Peter Kitchell, was selected amongst a pool of sculptors presented by Artists Circle.  His works are developed from photographs and other source material (books, artifacts, and other publications).  Peter’s sculpture for the Marriott is based on the historic significance of Fredericksburg, where many Civil War battles were fought.  The new hotel sits on the site where one of the earliest American hotels — the Indian Queen Tavern (circa 1600) — was built.

Artists Circle would like to recognize the many contributors to this successful project: Palmer-Gosnell Management, the on-site engineers, architects, and Peter Kitchell and his studio crew.


The artist - Peter Kitchell - installs the sculpture by riding a lift to the highest point in the lobby.

Five individual collages printed on silk hang from a steel armature.  The sculpture is designed to move with the flow of air in the lobby.

Five individual collages printed on silk hang from a steel armature. The sculpture is designed to move with the flow of air in the lobby.

Artist Foon Sham in the Washington Post

9 Jun

For the past twenty years, artist Foon Sham has passionately pursued his love of working materials: from natural, exotic woods to telephone books.  Foon was recently featured in the Style section of the Washington Post.  The full article >

Several of Foon’s pieces are available at Artists Circle Fine Art.


Foon Sham; 'Waves'; stacked poplar; 76x48x60 inches


Foon Sham; 'Q Spiral'; various woods; 72" diameter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Artists Circle provided art advisory services for The Council on Foreign Relations who — amongst other works of art — recently acquired one of Foon’s drawings for their collection.


Example of Foon's work on paper: 'Broken Cube #5'; mixed media on paper; 36x52