Carroll Creek Park is a unique sight no matter the time of year, from the colorful water garden in the summer to the bright sailboats in the winter. And now, thanks to the Carroll Creek Kinetic Art Promenade, the waterway will also be host to seven spinning sculptures year-round.
The art promenade, a project of the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek, debuted last year with three sculptures near Market Street. The project has since added four new pieces and moved farther down the creek, east of East Street, said Bernard Gouin, the founder of the project.
The new sculptures are all different in style. One depicts a white lotus, while another abstractly depicts Old Frederick Maypole dancers.
“I hope that what is in the creek right now will impress people, that they want to participate,” Gouin said. “Someone will say, ‘I want to create a design,’ or ‘I know someone who can do it, and I’m willing to commission or sponsor and partner in any way.’”
Gouin, a Rotary Club of Carroll Creek member, took inspiration from the Gardens of Light in Montreal, which showcase colorful silk lanterns in all shapes and sizes. Instead of playing with light, he decided to pitch the idea of kinetic sculptures, which move with the wind, to the Rotary Club back in 2019. His associates were immediately on board.
“It’s hard to watch a kinetic sculpture and not be fascinated by it,” Gouin said. “It’s art in motion, it’s a blend with nature.”
Early in 2020, the Rotary Club installed three sculptures in the creek near The Wine Kitchen as part of a pilot program. Gouin said they learned a few key lessons from the pilot, including that the sculptures were too close together and that the location competed with the Color on the Creek in the summer and the Sailing through the Winter Solstice boats in the winter.
By moving the sculptures east of East Street, the Rotary Club is also allowing themselves room to install more sculptures in the future. That part of the creek is also easier to work in because of its sandier bottom and larger width, Gouin said.
Gouin initially partnered with the Ausherman Family Foundation in 2019 to put out a request for proposals for artists living within 80 miles of Frederick.
“We don’t want to be showcasing artwork that came from across the country. We really want to promote regional talent, so teaming up with the Ausherman Foundation initially helped us get a firmer footing,” Gouin said.
Last July, the Rotary Club launched its second RFP through its own channels since the project was more well-known. Gouin said the Rotary Club approved five new designs, but he could not secure a sponsor for the eighth sculpture.
Each sculpture is anchored to the bottom of the creek by a steel pyramid weighing about 1,300 pounds. Gouin worked with some of his former colleagues at CANAM Steel in Point of Rocks to design the pyramids, and Equipment Development Co. in Frederick manufactured the first three as a donation to the rotary. This year, the club added five new pyramids through its own funding. Because the eighth sculpture was not sponsored, there is still one pyramid empty.
The plan is to have four sculptures rotate out every year so that new sculptures are always being shown. That means the three introduced last year will be removed in 2022, and four will take their place.
“So people will have the ability to walk at their leisure and then enjoy them year-round,” Gouin said. “It’ll be interesting to see what the snow will do ... but that’s part of the learning curve.”
Gouin reached out to the businesses along Carroll Creek, including Idiom Brewing, Steinhardt Brewing, Attaboy Beer, Smoketown Brewing Station and Yakabod before the sculptures were moved. He said everyone was excited about the idea.
The first sculpture is placed right outside Idiom Brewing, and the last is placed at the end of Carroll Creek Park. The sculptures currently displayed will be up for at least the rest of the year.
“We do get a lot of visitors out of town to the breweries, so it helps elevate the rotary brand. ... They see that the club is really invested in the community,” said Danielle Doll, rotary’s chair of public relations. “The club is really all about giving back to the community in so many ways, and this is just one very big way that we like to do it.”