Dock of the Bay
Vol. 9, No.30
July 26 - August 1, 2001
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At Quiet Waters, Dragons and Other Racket

Sculptor DH Banker's eight-year-old son, Robert Doyle, helped her get ‘Spirit Dragon's,’ nose just right.

From the resounding roar emanating from the woods, you would not guess you were in a park named Quiet Waters. As you approach the footpath just to the right of South River Overlook Circle, the angry din grows louder. Something is moving in the trees, and as you creep closer, you can make out a magnificent dragon perched on the edge of the path. The creature wags his mighty head, baring his giant teeth as smoke rises from his flared nostrils. Sawdust and shards of chewed-up wood fly through the air in a red-oak-scented cloud.

Suddenly, the noise stops. The sawdust settles, and the smoke clears to reveal a woman standing proudly in the shadow of the six-foot-high, 25-foot-long beast. Her head is only inches away from his formidable jaws. She is wielding a chainsaw.

Hardly a damsel in distress, DH Banker is actually master of this majestic creature, the Chinese-inspired “Spirit Dragon.” Banker has carved the fanciful animal from a fallen oak in the park over a period of six weeks. She officially unveiled her unfinished masterpiece this month, along with four other sculptors chosen to permanently display their work in the park.

But for Banker, an artist and teacher who recently led her Anne Arundel Community College Sculpture 1 class in creating “Sportsmanship,” the new sculpture displayed at Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation (see “Parks and Rec Keeps Up with the Cows”), reception day went a little differently than expected. Planning to join the reception at the Visitor’s Center, she showed up early to work on the piece, which she expects to complete in the next month. She got caught up in the work, and before she knew it, a crowd was making its way down to her.

“It was better that way,” says Banker. “They could ask questions while I worked and really see how I made him.”

Talking to park visitors as she sculpts, she says, has been one of the highlights of creating this piece. Of the five new sculptures in the park, Banker’s dragon is the only one forged on site using indigenous objects. Banker checked out a number of spots with Ranger Amanda Proudfit, then chose this one for the dragon-like appearance of the dead wood - and for its proximity to the public footpath.

“Feedback from the people was really helpful,” said Banker, whose eight-year-old son, Robert Doyle, helped her to get the nose just right. “Especially from kids, who are always very matter of fact.”

Sometimes visitors to the sculpture take issue with the specifics of the fanciful creature. Recently, an interested party left a note attached to the sign in front of the sculpture: “Dragons don’t have ears. They are reptiles.”

Banker’s creation, in fact owes its look to a plethora of animals. “Since dragons are made up, it’s up to the imagination to decide how they really look,” explains Banker. “Chinese lore gives them the nose of a camel, the ears and whiskers of a lion, the horns of a deer, the body of a reptile and the talons of an eagle.”

Banker even took some inspiration from non-human visitors, the insects and reptiles that frequent the spot. A slithering king snake became the model for the dragon’s body.

“It’s just fascinating to see what lives in a dead tree,” said Banker. “Although I wasn’t as crazy about the ones that bite!”

Visitors to the sculpture will be just as fascinated to see what Banker has brought to life in a dead tree. And don’t worry, this one won’t bite, so leave your armor and your shield at home.

But bring your earplugs.

Other new sculptures gracing the grounds of Quiet Waters include Al Zaruba’s Light Hunter, a 75-foot land-locked ship with a sweet-gum tree for a mast; Sandy Wilcox’s Collection Basket, a suspended metal globe floating in front of the Visitor’s Center; Gaia Torso, Claire McArdle’s marble rendering of the Greek Earth goddess, which presides over the Sculpture Garden at the Visitor’s Center, and Jon Dawes’ Escape, a flying crane.

- Rachel Presa

Parks and Rec Keeps Up with the Cows
Student-artists worked 1,300 hours creating ‘Sportsmanship 2000,’ which was hauled and lifted into place at the entrance to Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks.
photo by Gail Howerton

It’s a case of keeping up with the cows.

“I was always giving people directions to our building by telling them to turn left at the cow sculpture,” explained Dennis Callahan, director of Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks, which is down Harry S

Truman Parkway from the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Everybody knew where Ag was; its cows were a landmark.

Anne Arundel County Rec was nowhere.

No more. Last week they cut the ribbon on “Sportsmanship 2000.” Callahan’s answer to the cow is kids:

“Sportsmanship 2000” is a soccer-playing boy and girl, in uniform, carrying their cleats and ball as they walk together. Standing eight feet tall, it marks the entrance to the County Public Utilities/Recreation and Parks building off Truman Parkway.

In the quest for a “visual landmark” to represent his department to the community, Callahan found a partner in Anne Arundel Community College sculptor instructor DH Banker.

Taking the theme of sportsmanship, Banker and her spring 2000 students created six designs. Their favorite happened to suit Callahan and county officials, as well. County Executive Janet Owens loved the idea.

Moving from vision into reality took 18 months. Callahan sought funding from several sports leagues; the Anne Arundel Youth Soccer League came forward to match county funding for the $8,000 project. Banker, eight students and 11 volunteers went to work finding the materials and sponsors. Donations - ranging from chemicals and expertise to hauling - came from ABC Transport & Checkered Flag Towing; Chaney Enterprises; Glen Clary of CTI Mid-Maryland; Ray Sears and Son; Andrew Hise, Keith Michalek; and Lewis Smith. Eighty-nine-year-old John Kucera, Banker’s teacher at Maryland Hall 15 years ago, advised on the complexities of concrete.

When ceilings and door of the college were not large enough to accommodate the two- to three-ton concrete casting, Banker offered her Cape St. Claire garage and driveway to the artists. There it lived for five months, as student-artists Carrol Redington, Andrew Eutsler, Herb Kobayashi, Barbara Cantor, Donald J. Anderson, Jeff Dant plus teacher Pamela Thompson worked nearly every weekend, putting in more than 1,300 hours.

Getting the sculpture to the site was the next challenge. “I had my car towed and noticed the truck said‘equipment moving,’” recalls Banker. “The driver was a retired engineer who gave me tips on how to design the piece so it could be hoisted onto a flatbed with a crane.” Serendipity moved that mountain, and many another one as well.

“We were very lucky. I hadn’t done anything on this scale in concrete before. At each stage of the project, we found the help we needed,” said Banker.

Last December, a moving crew assembled and hauled the sculpture to sit atop its new foundation. Everything went smoothly except for a broken ear promptly repaired. “This is not a boxing sculpture,” joked Callahan.

With the spring, the sculptors added the finishing touches.

Meanwhile, Parks and Rec staff had fun dressing up their kids in holiday attire and Baltimore Ravens garb for the Super Bowl.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 19, Owens and Callahan dedicated the community’s only permanent sculpture created by students. “It has been a real boost to morale,” said Callahan. “Those cows don’t have anything on us anymore.”

- Gail Howerton
Help Raise $200k in 2001 at Calvert’s 20th Cancer Gala
Kathy Milor - honorary chair of Calvert County’s 20th annual Cancer Gala - with Linda Hinsley, Mary O’Dell, Gerald Donovan, Cathy Gray and Mary Lanham.

Cancer will strike one-half of all men and one-third of all women in America. “It does not discriminate,” says Kathy Milor, honorary chair of Calvert County’s 20th annual Cancer Gala, but “challenges many people regardless of age, race or gender.”

Milor is no exception, as she prepares to honor the memory of her late husband, Ron, a firefighter and labor organizer lost to cancer less than a year ago. Together, Milor and the American Cancer Society team up with Gala host and Rod ‘N’ Reel owner Gerald Donovan, who is also mayor of Chesapeake Beach, to make this year’s August 2 Gala the most successful yet.

Calvert County benefits directly from the Gala, with almost 40 percent of proceeds staying local. Programs begun with help from Gala include Road to Recovery, where cancer patients are driven to and from treatments by volunteers, and Look Good … Feel Better, where female patients get help from cosmetologists in dealing with the physical tolls of cancer.

Patients in Calvert also benefit from research advances elsewhere, says Peggy Morgan, American Cancer Society’s Calvert County staff liaison. “The strength in research dollars is through putting them collectively together. Research done in California can benefit someone in Calvert County or anywhere else. Throughout the years, the Society has focused on funding young and upcoming researchers, 30 of whom have gone on to become Nobel Prize winners.”

The Society devotes $100 million annually to research programs that have enabled such advancements and discoveries as cancer-fighting drugs and the link between cigarettes and lung cancer. They also offer programs for youth, such as the Terry Zahn Memorial Scholarship for aspiring students with histories of cancer. Calvert County’s Sarah Gray of Huntingtown received the scholarship this year.

It is for children like Sarah, and all of the other families touched by cancer, that gala organizers are hoping to raise $200,000 to add to the $1 million from the previous years. “This has been the largest per-capita fundraiser in our Mid-Atlantic Division,” adds Morgan. “It has truly become the event of the summer in Calvert County.”

The hundreds of volunteer cooks, waiters, entertainers and organizers make it a night to remember for the 1,500 expected to attend. From 7:30-10pm, you can enjoy Rod ‘N’ Reel’s array of seafood, from Maine lobsters to oysters and crabs, as well as plenty of turf food like ribs and filet mignon. Dessert, an open bar and live musical performances by 2 for U, Music Room and Second Coming add to this special Celebration of Life.

The support of every individual and business is important. “I can’t say enough about the volunteers and sponsors in Calvert County,” Morgan says.

7:30-10pm August 2 at Rod ‘N’ Reel, Chesapeake Beach. $75 in advance at Calvert Bank or Rod ‘N’ Reel; $90 at the door: 301/855-8351.

- Amanda Lofton

Way Downstream ...

In New York, millions of readers had the opportunity Sunday to read about progress in cleaning up Chesapeake Bay in a New York Times article. The Bay recovery effort was held out as a bellwether for other watersheds. “If we can’t scrape together the money here, it’s really hard to believe we’re going to pull it off anywhere else,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Michael Hirshfield told the Times reporter …

In Norway, salmon farmers are getting rich from European fears of Mad Cow Disease. Rather than carving up steaks, Europeans are eating Norwegian salmon grown in giant cages in fjords that stretch above the Arctic Circle. Fish farming has grown from almost zero to a $1 billion industry in Norway since the 1980s …

In Canada, a Quebec City man was recovering last week from an attack by his pet cat that was so savage that it drew four carloads of police, two ambulances and an animal control officer. The National Post newspaper said that the cat, Touti, mauled 80-year-old Gerard Daigle after the cat was accidentally sprayed with water. The man lost a pint of blood and needed stitches to close his wounds …

In Bombay, another odd cat tale unfolded when 30 protesters unfurled a banner outside the U.S. consulate to protest the name of President George W. Bush’s cat, India. “Indians are lion, not the cat,” read the banner. Actually, Bush’s cat is named India Ink; the president also has two dogs, Spot and Barney …

In Germany, an Austrian artist named Wolfgang Flatz shocked Berliners last week when he performed his latest work: He dropped a dead cow stuffed with explosives from a helicopter 120 feet to the ground. Several thousand people had turned out in a trendy part of Berlin to witness the drop into an abandoned building, where the explosion was said to be muffled and the gore minimal …

Our Creature Feature comes from New Zealand, a down-under country enduring a sight similar to that in rural Chesapeake Country, opossums everywhere. It’s a real problem in New Zealand, where the possum population is estimated at 70 million and the nocturnal creatures are devouring native plants.

A farmer, Bryan Bassett-Smith, has a solution: “Possyum.” Possyum is canned pet food made from possum meat, and Bassett-Smith likens the taste to corned beef. “It’s got a nice odor and dogs just go quite bananas over it,” he told Reuters news service.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly