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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.

Washington Photography by Artists Circle Launches

16 Mar

Here at Artists Circle we’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of photographers who specialize in capturing the spirit of Washington D.C. on film (or memory cards, as the case may be!). Many of our clients have gravitated toward imagery of the city as it is a locale ripe with iconic architecture and a unique cultural and physical landscape. It only seemed like the right thing to do, then, to have supply meet demand head on. Born from this epiphany is Washington Photography by Artists Circle Fine Art, a web-based collection of DC photography curated by the staff here at Artists Circle.

wdcphoto homepage

Washington Photography by Artists Circle Fine Art

Though all of our photographers use the environs of Washington D.C. as their subjects, the variety of styles and moods contained in the work of the ten photographers we’ve chosen is something to behold. The gallery is broken down into three categories for ease of browsing: black and white, color and sepia tone photography, but you’ll find a great deal of diversity even within those groupings. Even particular subjects can take on wildly different appearances depending on who’s taking the picture!

For example, compare this photograph of the Capitol building by Colin Winterbottom:

…to this photograph of the same building by Pamela Viola:

Apart from the galleries of photographs available for purchase, you can also view a gallery of installation photos of photographs of Washington D.C. as installed by Artists Circle. You’ll also find bios of all of the included photographers as well as a page with ordering information for photographs in the collection. While you’re visiting, please sign the guestbook and let us know what you think of our new site!

Federation of American Hospitals

3 Sep

Yesterday’s installation of a 12′ long photograph of Washington by local photographer Sam Kittner was a success!  Artists Circle coordinated with our framer and one of our installers to have the canvas print stretched on-site.  After assessing the [very small] elevators and determining the stairs were just too tight to carry such a large piece up, we decided the only way to accomplish the Federation of American Hospital’s need for such a monumental piece would be to stretch it in their office.  The photo, taken from the rooftop of 101 Constitution Avenue, makes quite the statement upon walking into the SKB designed space.

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

‘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.

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.

Artists Circle to Launch New Website

15 Jan

Artists Circle Fine Art is proud to announce that we will soon be launching a new website!  The site — Washington Photog — will feature images taken in DC and the surrounding environs.  We have carefully curated the photographs to reflect a diverse range of styles.  Check back for further information or send an email to with your contact information to be included on our mailing list.