Syd Goodwin of Bethesda brought her three kids down to Hains Point last week to see some sculpture. "They're all over there on that toe," she said matter-of-factly. And sure enough, there they all were standing on the summit of the right foot of J. Seward Johnson's "The Awakening."
Next, they went to work on the left leg. "Hey, Mom!" came the call from 12-year-old daughter Kris as she worked her way up the ankle to the molded aluminum shinbone. "It's a race to the top," she cried, which in this case was the knee.
"When you see things on TV or in the newspaper it doesn't have the same impact," Goodwin said as her children squeezed through the giant's cluthing fingers, leaped across its cavernous mouth and considered scaling the treacherous heights of an outstretched arm until cooler heads prevailed.
"Everything's just like a real man," said 11-year-old Dwayne Crawford Johnson of Denton, Maryland, as he assessed the sculpture's anatomical accuracy from his vantage point on an oversize toenail. "I don't know if the sculptor meant for it to be used this way," said his sister, Odette Hawkins of Washington, "but the kids sure love it."
The 100-foot giant, temporarily left behind following the 11th International Sculpture Conference held here earlier this month, will be waking up in East Potomac Park through October. Several score of additional sculptures and constructions brought to Washington for the conference will remain on display through June and some through July; a few of the works will be removed soon after the Fourth of July weekend. Unless another date is given, all the pieces mentioned here will be on display through July.
Over on the lawn of the Botanic Garden at Third and Independence SW, Fujiko Nakaya's untitled water-mist configuration looks at first glance like a steaming, primordial pit. Passers-by, as if transfixed by the sculpture's minimal nature, gather at the rim of the pit and stare into the humid void. Even the slightest breeze sends fine mist swirling out over the grass.
"I had to come over to see it," said Bill Tenhoor, a policy coordinator at the Department of Health and Human Services, just across the street. "I think it's a great gimmick, but it's really strange to look out the window and see this thing."
In curious juxtaposition to the water-mist pit is William Tucker's welded steel "Rim," sited several yards away, a massive permanence in striking contrast to the transient, ephemeral steam.
Over in Rock Creek Park, in a clearing just off a bike path near the Shoreham hill bridge, Lloyd Hamrol's stair-stepped construction of rough-hewn hardwood timbers invites climbers and sitters alike. "Where'd they get the wood to make this?" one young climber asked his mother, who was sitting on the bottom step and didn't know the answer. "I hope they didn't chop the park down to build it," the little boy said.
A wonderful laser sculpture by Washington artist Rockne Krebs can be seen from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Jefferson Memorial, daily through July 5. Krebs' eerie greenbeam creations have previously involved several sites; this one, "The Source," is supposed to incorporate lasers and mirrors at the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument as well, but that part of the installation has been plagued by mechanical problems. Even if he can't get the whole thing to work (he's still trying), the sculpted light that originates within Mr. Jefferson's memorial and bounces off two mirrors before traveling north up 16th Street is a wonder and a thrill to see. m
On the Mall, perched on a windowsill outside the Smithsonian Castle, is Charles Simonds' miniature "Dwelling" of tiny, unfired clay bricks, a village-like habitat that's at once both toy and art. Another miniature construction worth a quick look is "The Vertiginous Way" by Anne and Patrick Poirier, a temple-like, archeological environment of charcoal and painted wood. Their delicate sculpture, dominated by an evocative central stairway, is carefully installed in a darkened room at the Rudd Studios, 52 O Street NW. Hours are noon to 5 weekends, 10 to 6 Monday through Friday, through July 5.
A 10-foot non-figurative sculpture, an untitled granite work by Isamu Noguchi, decorates the entrance to the American Institute of Architects at 1799 New York Avenue NW. Half a block away, at 17th and New York, Louise Nevelson's "Night Wall's Progression" of corten steel occupies the Corcoran Gallery's prime corner.
Along 17th, six more sculptures can be found in the park areas between New York and Constitution Avenues: Ronald Bladen's painted-wood "Boomerang"; William Christenberry's wood-and-steel "Dream Building" with signs; Nancy Holt's "Inside Out," a gazebo-like steel construction with geranium beds; William King's cut-aluminum "Story," showing a human figure in three planes; Brower Hatcher's "The Interrelation of Things," a construction of stainless steel, aluminum, copper and concrete resembling a huge, circular box-spring gone wild; and David Nash's "Running Table," a four-legged seven-foot platform made from unmilled and rough-hewn wood.
At the Forrestal Plaza, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, eight sculptors are represented, including Nancy Graves, whose hilarious but shocking construction is made from camel legbones.
Among other works displayed in conjunction with the sculpture conference are Stephen Antonakos' "Neon for the Apex Building," at the Apex Building, 633 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; Beverly Pepper's cast- and fused-steel constructions at Ninth and Independence; Douglas Hollis' "Ghostown" at the National Arboretum, 24th and R Streets NE; and Max Bill's stainless steel construction at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW.