A mile south of the Capitol, a koala has gone missing.
The metal marsupial was one of 10 animal sculptures installed on streetlights and signposts last month by the District Department of Transportation, which funded the “Alphabet Animal Art” project. “Maybe we should have called the police and filed a missing koala report,” says sculptor Davide Prete, who’s working on a replacement koala to perch higher up on the pole. Ideally, that will help it stay put this time, says Hannah Jacobson of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, which managed the project. “Our goal was to make people look up and notice … that you are in a creative and vibrant community down here in Eastern Market and other parts of Southeast,” she says. See if you can find the other Capitol Hill critters, which, last we checked, are still where they’re supposed to be. Hint: Each animal shares its first initial with the street it’s on.
When artist Beth Baldwin polled her friends for an “e” animal, most said “elephant,” but she decided on the less political emu instead.
Sculptor Susan Champeny made this ladybug entirely from recycled material. The body is a snow sled, the legs are barbecue scrapers and the head is a CD player.
Artist Evan Reed made this ibis about four times the size of the real bird, so it would be easy to spot despite it’s lofty perch. He created the sculpture using D.C. license plates and plates from states that have Capitol Hill streets named after them.
When artist Charles Bergen got saddled with a street with two names, he made a sign featuring two animals: The Creosaurus potens, informally known as Capitalsaurus, was discovered a half-mile south of the Capitol during sewer construction in 1898. Bergen depicted the carnivore chasing a flightless feathered dino known as Falcarius.
The missing marsupial had an outstretched paw, as if to “help people cross the street,” says Prete, who is also an art professor at the Corcoran. It was made of lightweight aluminum, painted black.
This pod of narwhal whales, sculpted by Undine Brod, was made of clay and drill bits. Waterproofing the ceramics, so that they wouldn’t crack in the winter, was a major challenge, she says.
The green, plastic grasshopper outside of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop was made by Carolina Mayorga, who has been teaching there for about a decade.
Novie Anne Trump created this trio of Viceroy butterflies as a symbol of transformation, to remind people that anything is possible, and to bring whimsy to D.C.’s busy pedestrians.
On Capitol Hill, the only thing more popular than dogs is partisan bickering. Artist John Yanson depicted one leaping through a ring of fire because, despite their popularity, many canines land in animal shelters.
Several people thought Breon Gilleran’s spider web — near the Southeast branch of the D.C. Public Library — was an early Halloween decoration, but it’s actually an homage to “Charlotte’s Web.”
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