Getting to the Art of Germantown
Six outdoor sculptures to see.
Outdoor public art unites a community’s history with the surrounding architecture and the artist’s vision to produce a work that reflects the culture and values of the community.
In Germantown, outdoor scupltures can be found from the open fields of the Soccerplex, to shaded paths through woods to shopping centers. Here are a few you may have seen:
1. Homage to an Era | Germantown Train Station, at19311
Mateny Hill Road.
A strange looking red structure sits next to the Germantown Train Station. It resembles a tractor, but also kind of like a locomotive. “Homage to an Era” by Mike Shaffer was created in 1990 after the rebuilding of the station. It is an assemblage of found metal objects that Shaffer put together to illustrate both the agricultural heritage of the area and the coming of the train, which changed farming methods. It was originally painted bright orange and was set on a concrete base lined with railroad ties. The artist based his creation on the theme of turn-of-the century farm machinery and train locomotives of the time. Shaffer lives in Ijamsville, Md., and more of his creations can be found at the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project just up the road in Hyattstown.
2. Old Germantown-1920s | 12900, Middlebrook Road, next to the Germantown Commons shopping center
“Old Germantown- 1920s” by George Greenameyer” was erected in 1991 in front of the Upcounty Regional Services Building when that building housed Germantown Library. It depicts Germantown in the 1920s with a train, the train station, the Liberty Mill, a coal truck and people. The coming of the train in 1873 transformed Germantown from a sleepy little crossroads town to a thriving agricultural center, and the Liberty Mill, the second largest mill in the state, contributed greatly to the economy of the village. The people in the sculpture are based on real people. The older gentleman in a suit and the older lady are Charles and Clara Bowman. The Bowman brothers built the first mill on the site. The younger woman is Louise Gott Bowman, daughter of Nathan Gott, of the prominent Gott family of Boyds. The little girl is taken from a photograph of school children in front of the Germantown School; and the man with a beard is the artist. He liked to put himself in his creations.
3. Leap Frog | 12210 Stoney Bottom Road
Always bringing a smile to the faces of viewers, the fanciful “Leap Frog” by Ann Hanson is one of our hidden treasures. It was placed in a protected wetland and is meant to express a joy and whimsy in nature. A frog was chosen as the subject because frogs are dependent on the fragile wetland environment for survival. Frogs are so sensitive to their environment that they can be seen as a bellwether for environmental problems. The sculpture was dedicated in 1993. The artist is a resident of Washington, D.C. and spent part of her life in Montgomery County.
Her work can be found at the National Museum of Women and in collections
worldwide. The cast bronze sculpture is next to a nature trail leading from Waring Station Park to the trail around Gunners Branch Lake. The park is on Stoney Bottom Road at Waring Station Road, and the trail is on the other side of the soccer field. The Leap Frog sculpture is halfway down the wooden boardwalk on the trail at Stoney Bottom Road.
4. Field of Play | Schaeffer Road and Central Park Circle, just west of traffic circle
You may have noticed on your way to the Soccerplex, a tall structure standing in the field next to the entrance. Two posts support a body that resembles a man without a head. “Field of Play” is a painted aluminum, steel and concrete sculpture by Jim Gallucci was completed in 1992. It is important to note that when the jury selection panel met to choose the art for this site, in September 1991, the planned park was supposed to have baseball fields, basketball courts and a couple of soccer fields. The Soccerplex was not a part of the plans at that time. According to the artist, the focus of the sculpture was to reflect the activities planned for the park at that time and to contain the geometric elements of grids, squares and circles that dominate those fields. If you watch the sculpture you can see it being slowly moved by the wind, which is part of the playful interaction between the viewer and the work of art.
5. Family Balancing Act | Neelsville shopping center between the Sandy Spring Bank and Starbucks
Privately funded work, “Family Balancing Act” by Lisa Kaslow is at the Neelsville shopping center between the Sandy Spring Bank and Starbucks. It was commissioned by GFS Realty, a subsidiary of Giant Food, Inc.
6. Chinese Lions | Zen Institute Buddhist Temple at 19225 Liberty Mill Road
Winning the prize for the oldest works of art in Germantown are the two “Chinese Lions” standing sentry in front of the Zen Institute Buddhist Temple at 19225 Liberty Mill Road. They are more than 200 years old and came to Germantown from China via Taiwan. Each is carved from a single piece of stone, representing Ching Dynasty carving. They are guardians and also symbolize good luck.