Sculpture in the Park – A Brief History

“Sculpture at Quiet Waters park provides an exceptional opportunity for the thousands of people who visit the park each year to view the juried work of nationally and internationally known sculptors.  We urge you to explore the park, viewing all the sculptures that grace our beautiful landscape.” 

from a pamphlet and map produced around 2007 as a guide to sculptures in Quiet Waters Park.  Seven of the 14 sculptures featured in this pamphlet remain in the Park.

The sculpture program at Quiet Waters Park began in 1994, four years after the Park’s founding in 1990.  However, there were three sculptures on the grounds when Quiet Waters Park opened:  Herons in Flight and the two arbors, Sun and Moon, donated by Anne Arundel County.  

In the early ‘90’s,  Anne Arundel County and the Friends of Quiet Waters Park began what became a nine-year “Biennial Outdoor Sculpture” competition.   At various points, additional funding for this program came from Nordstrom of Annapolis, the Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel County, and the Maryland State Arts Council.  

The program worked like this:  a call for entries was issued to bring five or six temporary sculptures into the Park. Artists were invited to submit a design and were paid $1000 if their sculpture was accepted by the jury.  Artists agreed to loan their work for two years; at that time the artist could remove the sculpture.  During the two-year loan period, sculptures were for sale by the sculptor with a 25% commission to the Friends. (It is not known if any were sold).  Notes indicate that some of the sculptures were built on-site (Black Bart, for example). Some sculptures were not removed after the loan period and became part of the permanent collection on display in the park.

The jury for this program was a local panel of artists and Park representatives.  The jury and Park staff assisted sculptors in determining the best site for each work and in installation and maintenance of the piece.    

The last competition seems to have been held in 2007 when 6 sculptures were added, 4 of which still remain:  Requiem by Kevin Forest,  Upheaval by Mark Warwick, Mandalic by Brendan Hughes, and The Missing Piece 2 by Brett Hunter.  

Several years later, a committee was formed to:

  1. Identify the  locations of all sculptures;
  2. Evaluate the condition of sculptures in place and make a decision about which ones should be removed; 
  3. Rewrite the prospectus for future sculptures and maintenance, including plaques; 
  4. Recommend a budget to the Friends board for purchase of future sculptures.           

New identification plaques were created and added at that time. 

Around 2019 the Sculpture Committee became inactive, and a notebook and report about the program was prepared by Susan Smith of the Art Committee for the Friends.  Most of  the information in this report comes from this notebook. 

In 2022, the Friends of Quiet Waters Park developed a renewed interest in the Sculpture Program when The Butler Sculpture Park in Sheffield, Massachusetts was closing and offered the Park the piece, Vertebrae.  The Friends agreed to accept the donation, and realized that it was again time to review the number and condition of sculptures in the Park and develop guidelines for future additions.

Excerpts from the Report of the 2022 Sculpture Review follow:  

There are currently 14 sculptures in the park.  Seven are spread throughout the park, and the remaining 7 are in the Formal Gardens between the Visitor’s Center and the Blue Heron building.

The presence of sculpture in the park is an on-going endeavor.  Sculpture is an active presence that requires attention.  Over time, the Park changes and the sculptures and their settings need to be re-evaluated.  Sculptures that have been in one place for too long can look and feel neglected.

Most of the sculptures in the park today lack good identification plaques.  Wooden identification plaques have rotted and the existing metal plaques are difficult, if not impossible, to read.  Investment in re-designing and purchasing new identification plaques for all the sculptures should be an immediate priority.  In addition, new plaques now can be created that meet ADA guidelines and are more accessible to all. 

We believe there is an important role for sculpture in the park and that, therefore, a standing Sculpture Committee – including a representative from the Arts Committee – should be established.  

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After this report was presented to the Park Superintendent and to the Friends of Quiet Waters Park, the new Sculpture Committee was established.   

In May of 2023 the Sculpture Committee sponsored the first Fairy House Festival, featuring dozens of miniature, ephemeral sculptures that sprang up along the Holly Trail, delighting children and adults alike.

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Below are some of the ideas generated by the Sculpture Committee for a future agenda of Sculpture in Quiet Waters Park:

Design and oversee production of new signage for sculpture throughout the park.

Contact the sculptors of the existing pieces to collect background information about them and their pieces for future publications or public information pieces. 

Survey other parks’ sculpture programs for insight into how they manage their collections – in both removing old sculptures and adding new ones over time.

Prepare maps and information about the sculpture for the Friends website for publication and background information available through QR codes.  

Develop new ideas for sculpture programs that engage and appeal to different groups.

Design programs and funding to add new sculptures to the park.