Late artist’s ‘Great Blue Herons’ lands in Riverdale Park

"Great Blue Herons," a sculpture designed by the late Joanna Blake, was recently installed at the corner of East-West Highway and Route 1. Photo courtesy of Hyattsville Community Development Corporation

A new sculpture sits at the corner of a busy intersection, part beautification and part environmental meditation.

On Feb. 7, the Town of Riverdale Park dedicated a new sculpture recently installed at East-West Highway and Route 1 at the J.D. Williams Office Building. The sculpture, “Great Blue Herons” by the late artist Joanna Campbell Blake, marks the first permanent commission in the town’s Public Art Initiative, which currently features five sites for yearly-changing sculptures sprinkled around Riverdale Park.

The dedication event, attended by 50 guests, included local residents and artists, as well as representatives from the town council, the Department of the Environment, the County Arts & Humanities Council, District 3 County Chair Dannielle Glaros, the County Gateway Arts District, and State Delegate Alonzo Washington, Riverdale Park Arts Council and the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area/Maryland Milestones. The dedication was organized by the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (Hyattsville CDC) and recognized Blake’s renowned attention to detail, her enthusiasm for the artwork’s theme of Environmental Public Art, and her considerable legacy of artworks throughout the D.C. area. Following the reception, guests visited the sculpture and previewed the newly-unveiled plaque, which will be installed in upcoming weeks.

Riverdale Park Mayor Alan Thompson noted with sadness that the two people most excited by this commission, Blake and Williams, each passed away prior to the artwork’s final installation in October 2017.

In her artist statement, Blake described her piece: “My design for the Environmental Public Art Project takes its inspiration from regional wildlife, the Great Heron, often seen near the Anacostia Watershed. The sculpture depicts three heron in flight, their outstretched wings touching to create the international symbol for recycling. The sculpture is cast of recycled aluminum to reinforce the idea of a greener lifestyle.”

Browse photos from the dedication and photos of the Public Art Initiative’s 2018 Walking Tour online, courtesy of the Hyattsville CDC.

The Hyattsville Community Development Corporation contributed to this article.