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CALLBX_090908_29.JPG: Redoing the gold leaf
CALLBX_091129_01.JPG: Art on Call #9
Mount Pleasant Street, ca. 2004
During the second half of the 20th century, housing in Mount Pleasant was relatively affordable. Recent immigrants, students, young professionals, and families from diverse economic backgrounds populated the neighborhood. In 1986, residents wishing to preserve the neighborhood's architecture helped gain historic district statue for Mount Pleasant. In the late 1990s, the cost of housing increased dramatically. Higher housing costs attracted wealthier residents, but also made it difficult for some longtime residents to remain.
Today,. Mount Pleasant is a vibrant neighborhood with an active citizenry and a reviving commercial district. Roughly 12,000 people live within its boundaries of 16th Street, Harvard Street, and Rock Creek Park. As of 2004, Mount Pleasant is one of the most ethnically, racially, and economically diverse neighborhoods in the city.
Mount Pleasant Unveils DC's First Art on Call Boxes
Washington, DC (July 19, 2004) – Mount Pleasant is the first of dozens of DC communities to refurbish its abandoned fire and police call boxes as street icons combining art and heritage.
On Saturday, July 24, Cultural Tourism DC, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Historic Mount Pleasant, and Mount Pleasant artist Michael K. Ross will present nine sculptures placed inside the neighborhood's boxes as part of the citywide Art on Call initiative.
Council Member Jim Graham and DC firefighters and police officers will perform the formal unveiling of “Recalling History: Mount Pleasant's Art on Call boxes” at Hobart and Mount Pleasant sts., NW, at 11 am.
The community celebration features a mariachi band, festive decorations, and tropical refreshments. The artist and neighborhood volunteers will lead walking tours of all nine boxes starting at 12 noon. An open house, featuring an exhibit of Ross's work and refreshments, will be held at 3163 18th Street, NW, from 12 to 6 pm. All activities are free and open to the public.
More than 35 neighborhood organizations are currently working on 600 call boxes as part of Cultural Tourism DC's Art on Call program. These coalitions of residents, artists, and historians are transforming the obsolete street furniture with history, color, and design.
With Cultural Tourism DC as citywide program coordinator and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities as major funder, Historic Mount Pleasant and local artist Ross have coordinated Mount Pleasant's Art on Call effort.
“We are thrilled to be the first to finish our Art on Call boxes,” says Jeff Brechbuhl, Historic Mount Pleasant board member. “We invite Washingtonians from across the city to come to our neighborhood, discover these beautiful sculptures, and learn more about our history.”
“Washingtonians can soon look forward to seeing restored call boxes across the city,” says Cultural Tourism DC executive director Kathryn S. Smith. “Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill, and Brookland are only a few of the neighborhoods that are next in line.”
“Recalling History: Mount Pleasant's Art on Call Boxes” recreates scenes from the neighborhood's history, starting with the area's Native Americans and moving through the arrival of today's multicultural immigrants. Ross's bronze sculptures fit neatly inside the call boxes where emergency telephones were formerly located. Plaques explain the historical context for each artwork.
The call box sculpture located at Hobart and Mount Pleasant sts., NW – where the formal inaugural will take place – is titled, The Trolley Arrives in Mount Pleasant. It features residents riding a miniature trolley car and illustrates how the trolley line (now bus line 42) helped transform a small village of wood frame houses into a bustling Washington City suburb just after the turn of the last century.
Casualties Arriving at the Mount Pleasant Hospital, May 1864 is located at Park Road and Mount Pleasant Street. This dramatic scene shows the arrival of wounded soldiers on a horse-drawn ambulance wagon as medical staff rush to their rescue. Fast-forwarding to the 20th century, Mount Pleasant Street Today (at Kenyon and Mount Pleasant sts.) depicts modern day people going about their business. Residents walk down the street, pet a dog, and eat in a neighborhood restaurant.
“It was important to me that the sculptures be relevant beyond the particular times and places they represented. They are not just illustrations of particular events,” says Ross. “I like to think the sculptures have a more universal relevance, because they describe emotions and relationships that occur between people in any time, any place.”
Born in Oslo, Norway, Ross is a Norwegian American realist painter and sculptor who has lived in Washington most of his life. The University of Maryland, College Park, graduate now resides in Mount Pleasant. His Art on Call works reflect delicate craftsmanship, anecdotal attention to detail, and sensitivity to the dramatic aspects of history.
The police and fire call boxes were once the mainstay of public safety efforts throughout the city. They were first installed in the 1860s. Built to last, they have – well beyond 1976 when the city instituted the 911 system. Untended and often vandalized until recently, most of the call boxes are still firmly embedded in the city's sidewalks.
In 2000 Cultural Tourism DC launched Art on Call in partnership with the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities, Downtown DC Business Improvement District, the District Department of Transportation, and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
More than 35 community organizations and 200 volunteers from all wards in the city identified and assessed more than 850 call boxes.
The District Department of Transportation recently stripped, primed, and prepared the boxes for refurbishment. In the meantime, neighborhood organizations have researched their community's history, recruited local artists, and created plans for their call boxes. The resulting projects display a range of styles – from the avant-garde to the traditional. An advisory committee, headed by Cultural Tourism DC and the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities, reviews the resulting proposals and allocates grants of up to $250 per box. The neighborhood organization is required to match these funds and raise any additional monies. The committee has approved proposals for 125 call boxes so far.
“Many neighborhoods have enthusiastically stepped up to the plate,” says Paul K. Williams, Art on Call coordinator. “The Cultural Development Corporation has secured $45,000 for Downtown's call boxes, and the Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood has obtained $15,000.” Mount Pleasant's project cost $15,000, with $5000 provided by Historic Mount Pleasant and Cultural Tourism DC. Additional local sponsors are Main Street Mount Pleasant, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Mount Pleasant ANC 1D.
“It is an exercise in community building,” says Smith. “People all over the city are coming together – many for the first time – to explore their heritage in creative ways. They are deciding how best to present the unique flavor of their communities through art.”
Williams says, “The process, as well as the final product, is rewarding for everyone. Because Art on Call works are permanent, we hope they will become cherished neighborhood icons, reflecting the spirit and energy of Washington's local residents for many years to come.”
# # #
Art on Call is a project of Cultural Tourism DC in partnership with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Downtown DC Business Improvement District, the District Department of Transportation, and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. Additional sponsors are Historic Mount Pleasant, Main Street Mount Pleasant, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Mount Pleasant ANC 1D.
About Cultural Tourism DC: Cultural Tourism DC is a nonprofit, membership-based coalition dedicated to encouraging residents and visitors to experience the diverse heritage and culture of the entire city of Washington. For more information on Cultural Tourism DC, visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org or call 202-661-7581.
About Historic Mount Pleasant:
Historic Mount Pleasant is a non-profit community organization dedicated to the preservation of the architectural heritage of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. It was incorporated in 1985 by neighborhood residents concerned with maintenance and enhancement of the community's physical environment. For more information visit www.historicmountpleasant.org.
About Michael K. Ross:
Michael K. Ross is a Norwegian American realist painter and sculptor currently living in Mount Pleasant. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2000 and has exhibited widely in the Washington area, including at the Walters Museum in Baltimore. For more information visit www.michaelrossart.com or call 202-460-5569.
The above from http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/dch_tourism2608/dch_tourism_show.htm?doc_id=233133
CALLBX_091129_22.JPG: Art on Call #6
At Home and Abroad: The War Years 1941-45
Even before the United States entered World War II in 1941, thousands of workers from across the country streamed into Washington to fill new military and government jobs. The swelling population needed more housing, and, to accommodate them, many single-family rowhouses in Mount Pleasant were converted into rooming houses or multi-family buildings. As the war dragged on, rationing of gasoline and good became a fact of daily life, adding to the stresses of overcrowding and worry for loved ones overseas.
During the course of the war, District residents enlisted with the Marines, Army, Navy, and Coast Guard. Of those who served, 3,300 did not make it home.
CALLBX_091129_43.JPG: Art on Call #5
The Trolley Arrives in Mount Pleasant
Until 1900, Mount Pleasant was still a small village of wood-frame houses about a mile outside the City of Washington. In 1903, the city extended and broadened 16th Street, separating what is now Columbia Heights from Mount Pleasant. At about the same time, the trolley lines in downtown Washington reached up to Mount Pleasant along what is now Metrobus Route 42. These changes connected Mount Pleasant with jobs and commerce downtown, ensuring the neighborhood's rapid development.
Most of the rowhouses and apartment buildings in Mount Pleasant were built between 1900 and 1920, shortly after the trolley arrived. Many were architect-designed, evidence of the relative prosperity of this upper-middle-class neighborhood. New stores opened along Mount Pleasant Street, and several churches, Bancroft Elementary School, and the Mount Pleasant Library were built to accommodate the growing populations.
CALLBX_091129_55.JPG: Art on Call #7 -- Apparently vandalized
Turbulence and Change: The 50s and 60s
On May 17, 1954, the US Supreme Court made its historic decision in Brown vs Board of Education to end segregation in public schools. One of the lawsuits that made up this decision involved the DC schools, and the following September, Washington opened its schools to all. The rocky process of adjusting to desegregation continued over the next years, and in many ways continues today. Civil rights struggles continued in the 1960s, just as the nation was sending its young men to fight in Vietnam. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 provoked devastating riots along 14th Street in Columbia Heights and to a lesser extent along Mount Pleasant Street.
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2009 photos: Equipment this year: I mostly used the Fuji S100fs. I've also got a Nikon D90 and a newer Fuji -- the S200EHX -- both of which are nice but I still prefer the flexibility of the Fuji.
Trips this year: (1) quick jaunt to Niagara Falls, (2) quick jaunt to New York City, (3) the Civil War Preservation Trust annual conference in Gettysburg, (4) out west for the San Diego Comic-Con and various places, and (5) the Civil War Preservation Trust Grand Review in Springfield IL .
Ego strokes: I had a picture of a Lincoln-Obama cupcake sculpture published in Civil War Times and WUSA-9, the local CBS affiliate, ran a quick piece on me. A picture that I took at the annual Abraham Lincoln Symposium appeared in the National Archives' "Prologue" magazine. I became a volunteer with the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Number of photos taken this year: 417,000.