As beautifully crafted a piece of art may be, sometimes it’s the bizarre that stand out the most. There are what seems like hundreds of statues and public art works all over D.C., but few match the oddities here. Go out of your way on your commute home today for some of the strangest sculptures and art the district has to offer.
National Harbor (formerly at Hains Point)
Fort Washington, MD
One of the most scream-inducing scenes in the horror classic “Carrie,” spoiler alert, is when the title character’s hand juts out of the grave to grab her tormenter. Imagine if the scene continues and Carrie makes her way out of the grave. Now imagine if Carrie was a giant. A terrifying sight to see at any size, this 70-foot aluminum giant protrudes from the earth as he struggles to break free. J. Seward Johnson, Jr. creation was originally placed in Hains Point, as part of the International Sculpture Conference Exhibition in 1980. A hand there, a knee here, an exhausted face over there, this sculpture is probably the largest bizarre art in D.C.
Run-Over Fireman Monument
2219 Lincoln Road Northeast
Washington, D.C. 20002
A monument to a heroic fireman is not out of the ordinary, and is certainly justified. What makes this monument bizarre is that one of the reliefs shows how the fireman died. Benjamin Grenup was a young firefighter who, in 1856, was run over by his company’s fire truck/water wagon en route to a fire. The relief shows Grenup as he is being run over and his fellow firefighter’s reaction to the tragic event. Charles Rousseau’s sculpture takes the macabre to another level.
National Sculpture Garden
7th St. and Constitution Ave. Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20408
Continuing with the macabre, Magdalena Abakanowicz’s 30-piece headless “crowd” sculpture could easily play a part of your nightmares. Each individual sculpture is unique, making the piece even more lifelike, and therefore even odder. The oddity fades as you learn the meaning behind the piece. Drawing on her own experience of World War II, and stories she was told, Abakanowicz created these pieces in reaction. Bizarre at first glance, it is so much more than that.
Hopscotch Bridge (Hopscotch Kids Mural)
H Street Bridge
Between 1st and 3rd streets Northeast
Designed by Deirdre Saunder as the gateway to the then Capital Chidren’s Museum, this mural spans the length of the H street bridge with children happily hopscotching their way across. This mosaic is another victim of uniformed first glance. If you are new to H street, perhaps riding the X2 to Sticky Rice, you might see the mural as just a bunch of oddly shaped, featureless faced creatures. Even if you don’t already know what the piece is about, the multiple colors and childlike whimsy surely comes across.
The Maine Lobsterman
Maine Avenue and M Street Southwest
The 1939 New York World’s Fair was the second largest American world’s fair of all time. The Maine Lobsterman was commissioned for Maine’s exhibit into the fair. It’s a sculpture created to represent Maine resting obscurely in D.C. Well, the replica was created and moved to D.C. as a memorial to Maine’s lobstermen. As the model for the statue, H. Elroy Johnson, has passed, it now serves as a memorial to him as well.
Folashade Oyegbola is a freelance writer covering all things D.C. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.