Uncommon Common Art Tour 2016

Uncommon Common Art Tour 2016
By Debbie Gudgeon Harris

I have become a big fan of public art. I’ve had the privilege of visiting a few galleries over the years and that is always a wonderful experience. But there is something about finding art where you least expect it, or, like the Uncommon Common Art (UCA) project, searching for a specific installation in and around your own community that I really love. The annual UCA project not only gives you opportunities to experience new art every summer, but it also encourages you to get out and explore the area in which you live.

I first learned about UCA in 2013 when I came upon an installation at the Charles Macdonald Concrete House Museum. That was “Why not?” by Kevin West (a fish a day keeps the frowns away!). A number of brightly painted wooden fish were perched on top of posts in the yard. I was hooked. I did a little googling, found some information on the project, and since then, I look forward to the launch of the UCA project every June.

This year was no exception. I had already visited eight of the 16 installations with family and friends when I noticed that The Grapevine was giving away two tickets for a UCA guided tour. All I had to do to qualify for the ticket give-away was to tell The Grapevine on Facebook what UCA stop I was most excited to see. Two days later, I found out that I had won!

On August 6, about a dozen of us, armed with our cameras and iPhones, spent a whole day together visiting eight of the UCA installations. The tour was led by UCA’s Creative Director, Terry Drahos, and we also had UCA’s Guest Curator, Jessica Winton, along with us on the adventure. Both women provided interesting perspectives and an insider’s look at UCA. In addition to learning about UCA’s inception and history, we also learned about its current partners and sponsors, and its important commitment to art education in area schools. We also met four of this year’s artists – Miyoshi Kondo, Holly Carr, Alan Bateman, and Nicole Evans – and were treated to an inspiring tour of both Holly Carr’s and Alan Bateman’s studios. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Haze, including a delightful cider tasting by the Annapolis Cider Company, and we ended the day sipping wines at a tasting at Domaine de Grand Pré. Such a great day – meeting new people, seeing art in nature, and enjoying local food, libations, and hospitality – all in our own backyard!

I encourage everyone to pick up a UCA brochure and start looking for art in beautiful Kings County! I have two more stops that I have yet to see, and I may enlist my three-year-old granddaughter, Edith, to help me find the last two on my list. And what stop did I tell The Grapevine I was most excited to see? It was Stop 9 – Forest Bell, by Alan Bateman. It did not disappoint. I will be returning to that one again!

I would like to thank The Grapevine for treating me and my husband to the UCA Art Tour. And I thank UCA and its artists for making art accessible to us all!