WOODS: Public Art Could Raise Funds, Civic Pride
Amber Woods wonders why Havre de Grace couldn't replicate Elkton's elks or Baltimore's crabs with decoy statues around town?
For those who may not know, this is land of the decoy.
Havre de Grace has been informally known as "the decoy capital of the world" for years, due to the city's rich history of carving and the well-known carvers who have lived here. They oftentimes span generations and passing on the craft.
Many Harford County residents are familiar with our New Year's Eve duck drop, in which a large cut-out silhouette of a decoy is dropped from the top of a ladder truck at midnight. Hundreds of people come out for the unique event each year.
So in the spirit of keeping with the theme, and also in support of local artists, why not up the ante?
Other local municipalities have public art displays of their self-proclaimed mascots. Think of the life-sized painted elks seen throughout Elkton in Cecil County. Or how about the colorful crab sculptures strategically placed throughout Baltimore City?
Both of those examples are odes to the world famous public art exhibit CowParade, which came from Switzerland to the U.S. by way of Chicago in the late 1990s.
The exhibit features huge fiberglass cow sculptures which were decorated by artists local to each city and placed at well-traveled and often-visited locations such as train stations and municipal buildings.
After each city's CowParade exhibit closes, the sculptures were auctioned off and the proceeds were donated to charity.
According to the exhibits website, famous folks such as Oprah, Ringo Starr and Elton John have even purchased some of the cows.
Though local candy making family—the Bomboys—have a cow statue which could be mistaken as part of the exhibit, which stands watch over their ice cream shop's property, the CowParade exhibit has never actually been to our city.
The closest it's ever come was New York City in 2000 and Harrisburg, PA in 2004, according to the CowParade website.
But for those who missed both of those exhibits but are still curious about the effect a public art display has on a community, I urge you to swing by Elkton and check out their eight fancy elks.
Elkton reportedly spent $1,200 for each elk statue and each was auctioned in 2005, with proceeds benefiting the promotion and revitalizing of the community's Main Street.
Many of the statues are still in their original locations throughout Elkton, despite being sold at auction.
Baltimore City's display called the Crabtown Project consisted of 60 crab sculptures, designed to represent various themes. When auctioned, the giant crabs brought in proceeds for city schools.
So why not Havre de Grace? And why not huge fiberglass decoy sculptures to be decorated by local artists?
The city or other businesses and organizations would have to sponsor each decoy sculpture's original cost, at least until it hit the auction block, but there's a potential to both raise more awareness about the arts in Havre de Grace and at the same time raise funds for a local charity or even our downtown beautification.
And of course an aesthetically interesting public art display is bound to draw media attention and visitors who would want to see the wildly decorated waterfowl sculptures up close and personal.