Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Big Red Thing


In going through old posts this morning while looking for inspiration, I found one in which I had solicited people’s opinions of their local Pet Peeves.  

Pet Peeves and Pedestrians, Village Green/Town², September 3, 2013

(In case you are wondering, I have been looking at posts from ten years ago to see if there’s anything to be learned about they way we were in 2013.)

In that context, I’m giving myself permission to share a pet peeve today. I miss the Big Red Thing. You know, at the Lakefront.

Photo credit Village Green/Town² 

Here’s a better photo from Howard County Tourism.

Photo credit Karmen Osei/ Howard County Tourism Promotion

It has a name of course. It’s not simply the Big Bed Thing.

“Sail,” a 24-foot abstract steel sculpture by James Arthur Benson, was placed on the lawn in 1984 by The Rouse Company.  “The sculpture,” says the artist, “admits that it’s steel but has a playfulness, too. It relates to the environment because it is a wind-activated piece.” The front fin can move up to 45 degrees depending on the wind velocity. Benson was chairman of the sculpture department of the Maryland Institute College of Art for three decades, from 1972 to 2002. - - Columbia Association website

Sail was uprooted to make way for Millie Bailey Park, then replanted further on up Little Patuxent Parkway between two office buildings.  In a way it marks the road that leads down to the Chrysalis entrance to Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, Toby’s Dinner Theater, and the new Merriweather District. (Well, it sits on LPP across the street from the turnoff to Symphony Woods Road)

UPDATE: I went by to see if I could photograph it in its new location. Although I couldn’t figure out where to park - - legally - - I want to correct what I said about how it sits. The statue sits a bit in front of the end of one office building, not “in between” as I had recalled.

I’m not objecting to it being moved to make way for something else. My issue is that there’s not enough space around it to appreciate it fully. It looks rather like some misbegotten wedding gift that has no proper place.

“What shall we do with that thing from your Aunt Maragaret?”

“I don’t know; put it up there.”

My father once asked me what the most important part of a newspaper page was. I can’t remember what I guessed, but, I do know that I was wrong. And I was surprised at the answer: white space.

In the printing and publishing world (and later on in all sorts of design) white space is the part of a page that is intentionally left blank in order to ease the reader’s comprehension of the whole. White space can be used to highlight something you want to bring attention to. It can be integrated into an entire newspaper page to provide visual breaks that prevent the reader from being overwhelmed with too much information. White space allows the newspaper to present a variety of information without mentally/visually exhausting the reader. 

That’s what is missing now that “Sail” is wedged between two buildings. It has no “white space.” It has become as invisible as a utility pole or a lamp post. 

Yes, I know it’s a small issue in the grand scheme of things. The Howard Hughes Corporation may have had a limited number of sites to consider when the move was made. I confess it’s a pet peeve. But, for all of that, I do wish that Sail had been given a better home.

It needs space.

How about you? Any local pet peeves to share? 

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