In a public square next to the Cosi on 11th and G streets NW, the handful of towering bronze sculptures might go unnoticed by harried shoppers and lunchtime crowds. But the sculpture garden, a commission by African American artist Richard Hunt, one of the most prolific public sculptors in the United States, are among Washington's artistic treasures.
"I've been following his work 20 years, as a book collector," says the historian McQuirter, who chanced upon an exhibit of Hunt's work in Washington decades ago and was instantly struck by it. "I've always been attracted to abstract art, but what's interesting is that usually the artists you hear the most about are ones who deliberately depict African Americans in some way."
Not so with Hunt, who rose to wide fame in the 1970s and '80s with steel abstractions that are full of feeling, if not message. Hunt, who is based in Chicago, has a deep relationship with Washington: An exhibit organized by then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on the White House grounds included a work by Hunt, and a bronze piece, "A Bridge Across and Beyond," is installed at Howard University. And Hunt also was a member of the highly exclusive jury that selected Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The objects at Metro Center, installed in 1992, are some of the most accessible markers of his legacy. "It's huge, gorgeous and lyrical," McQuirter says of his work. "It's like wings -- it's hopeful."
-- Lavanya Ramanathan (Jan. 27, 2012)