November Monthly Bulletin: College Park’s Public Art

November Monthly Bulletin

The City of College Park has long been a place where innovation, science, education, and art have co-mingled. 17 distinct neighborhoods with active civic participation, trail networks connecting to the Washington Metropolitain Region and provide an opportunity for healthy and active living. With a wealth of amenities to enjoy it is the College Park City-University Partnership’s priority to encourage their daily use – creating even more of a sense of place through art, music, in the public sphere. Arts in public spaces is a can bring the community together, articulate the area’s history, and give cultural context to new development. Incorporating community art into local streetscapes has had a lasting impact on enhancing our sense of place. 

We’ve been busy making place – from 2017-2020, the Partnership spearheaded an Art Activation Plan which resulted in three murals, nearly 90 Outdoor Performance Series events with over 1,000 people participating, and the collaboration of 8 institutions both on and off campus. In this article, we will exemplify and reflect on our progress, highlighting public art visible around College Park.  

Outdoor Performance Series 

Key Collaborators: The Partnership, College Park Arts Exchange, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, the University of Maryland’s School of Music, the UMD Office of Community Engagement and the City of College Park.  

The Partnership started the Outdoor Performance Series in 2017, a twice weekly music, dance and art to downtown and midtown College Park. It became a staple event for resident and student artists on Mondays and Fridays in College Park. In 2018, the Partnership engaged local businesses in the emerging arts scene, hosting Proteus Bicycles as they were opening their new location, JTCC, and bringing people to the top of the Hotel at UMD for a free “Barre with a View” hosted by OpenBarre Studios.  

Post-pandemic and now with a new City Hall Plaza, the City of College Park has taken up a new and exciting initiative in Friday Night Live throughout the summer, and even more community events in the City of College Park! 

“A Path Forward” (Lakeland, 2018) 

Key Collaborators: The Partnership, Lakeland Community Heritage Project, the College Park Arts Exchange, Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, UMD Office of Community Engagement, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), University of Maryland College Park Scholars 

Lakeland, the historical African American community of College Park, was formed around 1890 on the doorstep of the Maryland Agricultural College, now the University of Maryland. It is a community which was established and flourished in a segregated society and developed its own institutions and traditions. The community thrived until its self-contained uniqueness was undermined by the federal government’s urban renewal program and by societal change. 

This mural, named “A Path Forward,” honors Lakeland’s past and celebrates hope for an equally remarkable future. The past is depicted by paintings of historical images shared from the archives of the Lakeland Community Heritage Project. The backgrounds for the images are scenes from the local natural environment including the Paint Branch.

The future is represented by an opposing wall of colorful artistic designs completed by the University’s College Park Scholars. The location of the mural symbolizes the connection between the Lakeland community and the University of Maryland. Learn more about this work here. 

A team comprised of lead artists Sierra Sigmone, David Silva, and Bonnie Simonds completed the mural. Parker Brock served as crew leader and Jazmyne Brock, Jamie Rogers-Sites, Rebekah Chung, Victoria Lewis, and Rachel Hithon were the five local artists hired by the County’s Summer Youth Enrichment Program.

“Psychophily – Pollination by Butterfly” (Downtown College Park, 2019) 

Key Collaborators: The Partnership, Prince George’s County Redevelopment Authority, The City of College Park’s Façade Improvement Program 

“Psychophily – Pollination by Butterfly” transformed the most visible and prominent façade in downtown College Park at Knox Road and Baltimore Avenue. The mural features native Maryland species including the Checkerspot Butterfly, Black-eyed Susan and Terrapin.  

For more than 100-years, The City of College Park has been planting the seeds of conservation. This mural is an ode to the contributions made by the City and the University toward protecting our environment. Psychophily, honors the role of pollination in our ecosystem, with the aim of drawing attention to the plight of the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly. 

The mural was completed by local artists Cory L. Stowers and Jason Philp. Both artists are from Hyattsville, Maryland.  This work signals that the Baltimore Avenue corridor in College Park is an interesting destination for arts, culture, businesses, and more. The mural unveiling was covered by 8 news organizations, including NBC 4 Washington and WTOP.  These smart growth initiatives aim for a more vibrant, walkable, environmentally friendly community. People across the city and campus communities recognize that cool, hip, funky, creative things are happening here, and continuing this work will spur even more buzz for the City and University. 

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