Category Archives: Art

Mayor and Council focus Priorities around Development

PriorityThe Rockville Mayor and Council recently engaged the Novak Consulting Group (who aided in the search for the new city manager) to help refine their list of 23 priorities created in 2016—far too many to get things done.  As a result, the Mayor and Council identified the priorities among their priorities, coming up with a list of twelve which are overwhelmingly focused on city planning and development, and may just be wishful thinking: Continue reading →

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No Confederate Flags in Rockville, but What About the Statue?

Confederate Soldier Memorial at Red Brick Courthouse, Rockville.

Confederate Soldier Memorial at the Red Brick Courthouse, Rockville.

No Confederate flags fly above any government or business building in Rockville, but what about the Confederate Monument on the grounds of the Red Brick Courthouse in downtown?  The United Daughters of the Confederacy erected the statue directly in front of the courthouse “to our heroes of Montgomery Co., Maryland, that we through life may not forget to love the Thin Gray Line,” unveiling it at a dedication ceremony on June 3, 1913 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) that featured Congressman J. Thomas Heflin of Alabama, who was an outspoken proponent of white supremacy.

Rockville’s and Montgomery County’s sympathies for the Confederacy were strong both during and after the Civil War.  Of Montgomery County’s Confederate veterans, three were elected as county commissioners, five as state delegates, two as state senators, three as state’s attorney, and one as mayor of Rockville.  Vestiges still survive today. For example, Edward Wootton, whose family name is memorialized on a major street, park, and a high school in Rockville, had fought for the Confederacy. Matthew Fields, the founder of The Sentinel (now the only local newspaper in Rockville), was a vocal supporter of the South, mixing his political vision with a hatred for immigrants, blacks, and Catholics.  And of course the Confederate Monument in downtown Rockville.

The Confederate Monument was moved to the side of the courthouse in 1971 into a grove of trees as part of the urban renewal of downtown–but is that sufficient? Perhaps we’re still bound by nostalgia or too ignorant to fully realize the meaning and symbolism that was poured into that bronze soldier, who is forever gazing South.  The community still commemorated the arrival of Confederate Generals Jeb Stuart (on his way north to Gettysburg in June 1863) and Jubal Early (on his way south to Washington DC in 1864) during the 2013 Heritage Days.  The Beall-Dawson House and Glenview, two historic houses owned by the City of Rockville, barely mention the enslaved men, women, and children who lived and worked there and would have continued into slavery for generations had the Confederacy won.  Now that we have African Americans serving on our City Council and as the County Executive, isn’t time to rethink who and what we commemorate in Rockville and Montgomery County?  Isn’t time for us to reflect on the full meaning of the Confederate Monument?

Update July 31, 2015

Major postings about the Confederate Monument on other blogs or websites (in alphabetical order):

American Historical Association: All History Is Local: Debating the Fate of a Confederate Soldier Statue in Maryland

Bethesda Magazine: Rockville, Montgomery County Debating What to Do with Confederate Statue and Leggett Says Work Underway to Remove Confederate Statue in Rockville

Congressman Chris Van Hollen: Van Hollen Urges Immediate Removal of Confederate Statue in Rockville

History News Network: What Does Rockville, Maryland’s Confederate Monument Tell Us About the Civil War? About the Nadir? About the Present?

Rockville Nights: Rockville Confederate statue hearing draws a diversity of opinions

Rockville Patch: Group Offers Ideas on What to Do with Confederate Statue

The Sentinel: Man on the street interviews regarding the confederate statue (video); Committee releases report on Rockville Statue; and County can move confederate statue, state says

The Seventh State: Civil War Skirmish in Rockville

WAMU: Should Anything Be Done With The Confederate Monument In Rockville?

Washington Post: Confederate soldier statue in Montgomery spray-painted with ‘black lives matter’

WJAL: Confederate memorial in Rockville sparks controversy

WTOP: Confederate statue in Rockville vandalized

Courthouse Fountain Getting a Facelift

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The walkway around the “Spirit of Rockville” fountain at the Red Brick Courthouse is undergoing a facelift, thanks to a recent commission from the Cultural Arts Commission.  Artist Diedre Saunder and craftsman Peter Tabri are installing a huge mosaic carpet around the fountain.  The colored tendrils are made of smalti (pieces of brightly colored glass) while the field is commercial floor tile broken into random pieces and set in a bed of latex adhesive.  They’re about 75% finished and it’s slow back-breaking work, but portions are already grouted so you can get a sense of the final appearance.  I expect it’ll be finished in July, but in the meantime, stop by and get a preview.

If this work looks familiar, Diedre and Peter also worked on the snake that envelopes the Elwood Smith Recreation Center as well as the entry wall at the Croydon Creek Nature Center.

Golden Quince Produces Fantastic Art

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It’s always a nice surprise to find a local artist producing stunning work.  Today on Etsy, the online marketplace for artists, I stumbled upon Golden Quince, the studio of Rockville artist Erin Vaganos.  She’s an illustrator working in watercolor, ink, colored pencil, and Photoshop creating fantastic original works inspired by diverse sources, including Art Nouveau architecture, medieval botantical woodcuts, graphic novels, and Chinese paintings.   Her work is easily accessible but also very detailed and intricate.  She’s currently completing her second children’s book but also sells prints and cards of her work at her online store on Etsy.  You can learn more about her at goldenquince.blogspot.com.  If you want to support a local artist or want something special from Rockville, I recommend Golden Quince.

Rockville’s Year 2010 in Review

Usually this type of post goes up on January 1, but I always prefer a bit of distance to identify the biggest stories of past year.  Although this is admittedly from my limited personal perspective and is bound to generate controversy (but hey, that’s what these lists are supposed to do), here’s my list for Rockville in 2010:

1.  Red Gate Golf Course.  This is continued to be a thorny issue and made have seen its thorniest moment when the City Council used $2.4 million in “surplus” money to pay off past debt and the anticipated shortfalls for 2011, and also (once again) punted the decision to another time.  Despite countless meetings and studies, for years the Council has been astonishingly agonized about making a decision on whether to commit to an annual subsidy, integrate it into the recreation program, levy a tax to support it, or to close it down.  Meanwhile, the golf course continues to bleed money and participation rates continue to slide.  Perhaps we need to start over:  if we were offered 130 acres today (Red Gate is the second largest park in Rockville), what would most benefit the community?  I don’t think most people would say golf course.

Welcome to (snowy) Twinbrook


2.  Snowpocalypse.  Who can forget this snowstorm? There was so much snow it closed the federal government for a week.  The adventurous walked and explored the city in a new quiet way and neighbors found a new reason to talk and help each other.  There was a lot of frustration with snow clearing and the City wasn’t prepared, but remember, the city worked around the clock and conscripted employees into snowshoveling duties to deal with this record snowfall.  We also improved our abilities to monitor and respond to these situations so when this happens again (and it may not be for another fifty years), we’re prepared.  And someone at the City gets two stars for Continue reading →

Glenview Mansion art exhibit attracts large crowd

Glenview photography exhibit

The opening reception for an exhibit of photography attracted a large crowd to Glenview Mansion this afternoon.  In honor of the 150th anniversary of the City of Rockville, the City sponsored a juried photography competition.  On view are the final selections and it’s great fun to see how differently people see our town and what attracts their interest.  The exhibit also includes images of Rockville past and present, often next to each other, so you can see what’s survived (and how much was lost!).  The gallery also included a dozen collages by Patricia Zannie, an art instructor at Montgomery College and a trustee of the Rockville Art League.  Mayor Marcuccio welcomed the standing-room-only crowd (which included council members Mark Pierzchala and Bridget Newton) before a concert by the U. S. Navy Band Chamber Ensemble.  Click on the photo to open an album of pics from the reception today or visit yourself before it closes on February 2 (that three weeks away!).

Twinbrook House Brightened with Mosaic Tile Walkway

1708 Farragut, Twinbrook

Walking is often the best way to explore a neighborhood–zooming by in a car just doesn’t give you enough time to look (and you should be watching the road, not the houses).  A couple months ago while I was walking precincts for my council campaign, I discovered a house at 1708 Farragut that first drew me back because it bordered on another example of “McMansionism” in a Twinbrook neighborhood (it even had the symptomatic Palladian window!).  On closer inspection it turned out to be much nicer, especially because it had a fabulous mosaic tile walkway.  I’m not talking about the typical 1 x 1″ squares or hexes of colored tile–that’s definitely ho hum.  But this is a walkway decorated with all sorts of durable materials, including polished stones, glass pebbles, copper pipe, opalescent glass, marble, and glass bottles, arranged in a charming and beautiful manner.  It really is fantastic and worth a look if you’re into architectural crafts or tile.  I don’t know the artist, but it is signed “Jane 09” in one spot (can someone help identify?).  In the meantime, click on the picture or the caption, and you’ll see a photoalbum of a dozen images.