Category Archives: waterfront

More from Hains Point

Hains Point - Southwest Washington, DC
Hains Point – Southwest Washington, DC Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Wine with that?

“Awakening” to Sleep: Public Sculpture, Private Owner

The Awakening - Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC
The Awakening – Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

“The Awakening” is set to move.

Hains Point, a mile-odd-long strip of land located at the convergence of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, has long served as a sort of recreative refuge for Washington residents and savvy tourists. Though boasting a golf course, a three-plus-mile scenic cherry-tree-lined waterfront walkway, a recreation center, and a grassy field surrounded only by water and views (of Washington, of Alexandria, and of the many planes taking off overhead from National Airport), Hains Point is also well-known for being the site of “The Awakening”: a metal sculpture of an apparently panicked giant trying to escape from the earth. (Err, from wood chips.)

Giant, indirectly - Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC
Giant, indirectly – Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

The ground-bound beast was installed in 1980, temporarily – a sure sign that it would stay forever. But due to some skullduggery within the National Park Service, the sculpture has apparently emerged as the property of private developers, who wish to abscond with it to Prince George’s County’s new “National Harbor” development, across the river from Old Town Alexandria.

Though Hains Point doesn’t really need “Awakening” to secure its worth, the sculpture’s loss has aroused vehement protest, as it has been installed for so long that many consider it public property. The ugly truth of its ownership leaves an aftertaste of governmental failure, much as with Silver Spring’s initial “roll over” attitude when a private developer banned public photography in an outdoor, public space. In short – it isn’t going over well.

(I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to learn that “The Awakening” was sculpted by one J. Seward Johnson, also responsible for a gleefully tacky, poorly-received exhibition of three-dimensionalized Impressionist masterworks at the Corcoran. Though, it seems like the twenty-odd years have done good by Mr. Johnson’s technical skills – those who look critically at “Awakening”‘s giant might question the poor fellow’s proportionality.)

Oh, yeah, and the kicker? The Silver Spring photography ban and the purchase of Awakening were both committed by the same entity – The Peterson Companies, led by Milt Peterson. Perhaps local governments should hire this man to find their legislative weaknesses.

She’s a brave one – Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Hains Point

Rivers - Hains Point (Southwest Washington, DC)
Rivers – Hains Point (Southwest Washington, DC) Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

When good traffic cones go bad

During the height of the Cherry Blossom mania.