By Noah Hale
On Thursday, Sept. 22, a crowd gathered outside the Arundel Center at 44 Calvert Street in downtown Annapolis to celebrate the recently completed artwork spanning one of its walls. Now the biggest mural in Anne Arundel County, “The Best Place—For All” mural is a monumental depiction of the people and places that make the county unique.
It is just one in a series of county-wide efforts to beautify its properties with public art. “We decided to do this about a year ago,” said Loni Moyer, beautification manager for Anne Arundel County. “But the effort itself has been underway for three or four years.”
Funded in part by the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, a committee was formed in February to find an artist who would design a mural that aligned with the county motto, “The Best Place—For All.”
“They were told it had to represent Anne Arundel County as the best place for all and it had to be interactive—the design was up to them,” said Erik Evans, executive director of Downtown Annapolis Partnership and the Annapolis Arts District.
After receiving and reviewing submissions from 39 different artists from across the country, the design jury struggled to decide between two local artists and instead asked if they would work on the mural together. The artists, Cindy Fletcher-Holden and Comacell Brown Jr., agreed to collaborate on the project and soon they were both standing on a scissor lift with spray paint cans in their hands.
Annapolitans witnessed the mural progress over the last few months. “Then, six weeks later, after working in the scorching heat, 10 hours a day, seven days a week … being a generation apart, from two different cultures, and vastly different technologies, we created this,” said Fletcher-Holden. “I don’t think any other mural illustrates Anne Arundel County like this one does.”
The mural represents men and women of different backgrounds—medical and military professionals, chefs, musicians, teachers, and even self-portraits of the painters. More than that, it captures what can be found in different parts of the county. Look to the right and you’ll find a thoughtful heron; next to that, the Blue Angels soaring out of frame. Look down and you’ll find a farm; below that, sailboats on the Bay. All of this alone would make this mural one-of-a-kind—but besides being the largest mural in the county, it might also be the first mural on the East Coast that can boast an augmented reality display. Brown and Holden-Fletcher worked with an animator to bring the mural to life, allowing visitors to scan a QR code on the site with their smartphones and see the mural move.
Brown believes the interactive mural will help bring the community together. “I hope that this project will not only stand the test of time but bridge the gap between people of all races and ages,” he said.
County Executive Steuart Pittman expressed his admiration for the mural during a press call. “It’s a true celebration of what this county is,” he said. “And if we had to rename it—which we won’t—it should be the Gratitude Mural. You can’t look at this without feeling some sort of gratitude… it will make you smile.”
Watch a timelapse of the mural here: Time Lapse Video