Volume 13, Issue 28 ~ July 14 - 20, - 2005

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Follow the Sun to an Out-of-This-World Trail
Planet Walk’s Pluto has risen
by Carrie Steele
Now you can travel through space without having to leave Chesapeake Country, without sacrificing the comfort of gravity and without donning a bulky space suit.

Planet Walk, the newest public art project on the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail, lines up all our solar system’s planets with the sun. The sun sculpture went into place last fall. Just last week, a crane hoisted the 25-foot Pluto, the farthest planet from the sun, into orbit.

The real Pluto is 2.7 billion miles from the sun, making this sculpture, just across from the Earleigh Heights ranger station on the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail, comfortably close to all of Chesapeake Country.

The public art project of galactic proportions burst from the energy of a small idea: Let there be educational signs.

“Then we decided the best way to teach is to have art,” said Elizabeth Wyble, president of The Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails. What evolved was, Wyble said, “a unique project that would fit on the trail, and open up avenues other than science like art and education.”

To design the nine sculptures, The Friends chose Judy Sutton Moore from three interviewed artists. Moore began with the sun, conceiving and crafting a disk of concentric stainless steel rings with the center light-diffusing crystal prisms.

Second came Pluto.
“This the last planet. It’s also a gateway to the trail. I wanted people to understand that they’re entering into the Planet Walk,” said Moore, who’s had an interest in science for years and had previously created sculptures with the sun alignment. She’s been working on the Planet Walk for two years.
For Pluto, Moore made a long stainless steel beam projecting upward into what looks like a satellite dish of concentric rings. The small black Pluto orbits the outermost ring which takes three grown men to lift, says Moore.

As the crane lifted the sculpture, Moore, of Silver Spring, waited anxiously. With hardhat protecting her grey hair and pink work gloves covering the artist’s hands, she looked on from the concrete foundation where she would receive the 4,000-pound sculpture and guide it onto the four mounting bolts that will hold the piece in place.

One of the driving forces of Pluto’s designs, said David Greene of the Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails, is potential for vandalism. Two weeks ago, about a fourth of the sun’s crystal prisms were heisted.

“Pluto’s stainless steel and too tall to shimmy up,” said Greene. Even standing on someone’s shoulders, thieves couldn’t reach the orbits.

When Pluto had risen, you could see where in the world you were.

“This sculpture anchors the southern end [of the trail] and gives the Planet Walk more visibility,” said project manager Romaine Kesecker. Now that Pluto’s in place, there’s inspiration for designing the landscaping and paving.

“As you walk farther out, you get a feel for how far Pluto and some of the planets are,” said Kesecker. The planets are spaced according to scale although they are not sized to scale.

But there’s more work to be done.

“We’re out fundraising for the rest of the planets,” said Greene.

The Planet Walk is supported by a conglomerate of groups and organizations: Maryland Department of Transportation gave a $200,000 grant, which covered the sun and Pluto sculptures. NASA and URS, an engineering firm, donate time and resources to help plan the educational signs that accompany the outer space art.

Before creating each planet, Moore makes a small model of her idea, then shows it to the Friends to evaluate. For Pluto, the committee wanted a spire added to the top. It made sense to Moore, and she tweaked the design. These models will eventually be a collection that will travel with Friends’ president Wyble to presentations.

Next in line for Severna Park orbit are Venus and Mars. Both will be more spheric. But for Mercury, all of the planets leading up to the sun have been approved by the Friends committee.

“Earth will be bronze with a wave pattern and sculpted relief of animals,” Greene said.

You get a good hike out of the Planet Walk; it’s 4.6 miles from the sun to Pluto. You’ll also learn about the solar system by way of informational signs designed from the perspective of kids, Greene said.

For instance, at the sun station, you’ll learn that “If you could ride in a minivan to the sun, it would take 160 years to get there with no bathroom breaks.”

“The signs will explain what’s behind the planet and what it means to us,” said Barbara Lambert of NASA’s Goddard Space Center. “We’ll make sure that the content is the best possible.”

All nine solar system planets should be in orbit by the end of 2007.

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photo by M.L. Faunce
Jim Martin visits Onyx, the official greeter at ArtFX gallery in Annapolis, as owner Megan Evans looks on.
Chesapeake’s Canine Customers
Pet-friendly establishments in Chesapeake Country
by M.L. Faunce
When I moved to my Bayside Southern Anne Arundel County community, so many black Labrador retrievers meandered the neighborhood and shoreline that I wondered how my dachshund duo would fit in. When one of my doxies proved to be an accomplished swimmer, the fit was seamless.

Anne Arundel County’s Labs and dachshunds contribute amply to America’s 65 million dogs spread over some 40 percent of all U.S. households. The county boasts four dog parks, including Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis with its dog-only swimming beach. No surrounding county can match Anne Arundel’s official canine friendliness.

Calvert County has just announced the opening of its first dog park, on Sixes Road in Prince Frederick.
But dogs and their owners cannot live by parks alone, especially when you’re hungry and thirsty and yearn to socialize. When you hanker for a hot cup of coffee, a cool drink or more but have your pup in tow, where to go?

In Annapolis, there’s City Dock Coffee at 18 Market Space. “We’re welcoming to pets, though not indoors because of health regulations,” says Megan Brown. “Most of our morning crew of regulars bring their dogs.” No water bowls are put out; that’s up to the dogs’ masters. But Megan says she notices “they do get bagels,” presumably handouts from their owners enjoying morning coffee.

Bay Weekly reader Bob Doyle pondered the same dilemma recently, citing several places he found dog friendly: Magothy Seafood in Arnold, Sly Fox Pub Beer Garden at Reynolds Tavern in Annapolis and Jetty Dock Bar in Grasonville on the Eastern Shore.

Magothy Seafood confirmed that dogs are welcome, “as long as they are on a leash … and you clean up after.” Jetty Dock Bar gave the nod, too, “as long as they are on a leash.”

On a walk through downtown Annapolis to test dog-friendly waters, I spoke with innkeeper West Burge at the historic Reynolds Tavern on Church Circle. Burge confirmed, “pets that are pet-friendly, that get along with others, are welcome here.” The kitchen staff remembered one client who went out and got a puppy just to fit in, and “one couple came from Baltimore for dinner recently because they could bring their dog.”

“The word is out,” says Burge. “For lunch or dinner, any outdoor seating in our outdoor courtyard terrace is accessible to pets.” Accompanied by human diners, of course.

Downtown Annapolis offers other entertainments for dog and human partners. Up West Street to ArtFX Gallery, and a current exhibit, Man’s Best Friend — a collection of dog prints and original paintings by artist Marjorie Weiss — sets the tone. The dog-friendly posture is not new to gallery owners Erik and Megan Evans or the shop’s official greeter, Onyx. Their two-year-old Lab-chow mix from the SPCA lures customers in by his own coy fashion, lying on his back waiting to be petted.

Annapolis turns out to be a small goldmine of dog-friendly places.  PAWS, a Pet Boutique at 64 State Circle — where artist Nancy Hammond formerly celebrated black Labs — is all for dogs and dog lovers. “I’m passionate about my pets,” says owner Michelle Kownacki. Her two-year-old Jack Russell, Davis, comes “upstairs to the shop” only when invited, or “when canine friends come to call,” Kownacki says.

Both gallery and pet boutique contribute to SPCA and other pet fundraising and rescue efforts. They’ll also direct you to other dog-friendly establishments. Riordan’s and Griffins, at City Dock, are two.

“But do they accept lap dogs?” asked a friend and another dachshund owner.

I’m guessing, yes, as long as they sit on their owner’s lap.

Annapolis newcomer, Karyn Gayno, lately of Colorado found this out for herself as her Bichon Frise, Aspen, perched on her lap when she sat down outdoors at Riordan’s.
Calvert County’s dog park is so new there’s as yet no sign. Follow Route 4 south of Prince Frederick to Sixes Rd.; follow signs to Battle Creek Cypress Swamp. Continue another mile to the gravel parking area and dog park on the left.

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