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Chickens Flock to West Street in Annapolis

The Anne Arundel Arts Council hopes to draw attention to Annapolis' arts district by installing dozens of colorful 5-foot ceramic chicken sculptures around downtown.

The first of what could be dozens of 250 pound ceramic chickens arrived downtown this weekend to start hatching the arts in Annapolis.

"We wanted to do something different. Maryland is famous for chickens on its eastern shore," said Gavin Buckley, who developed the project. "But the idea came about because chickens were kind of a bit of a talking point at all the City Council meetings lately. It’s a bit tongue and cheek on that front."

In April, Annapolis City Council voted 6-3 to allow residents to keep up to five chickens on their properties.

Buckley had the first 5-foot-tall bird placed in the garden next to his restaurant  at 167 West St. this Saturday.

"Four more chickens will follow within the month, and the goal will be to add four or five every month," Buckley said. "To be effective I think we need three or four per block."

Unlike real chickens, the sculptures are made from wood and fiberglass foam painted white. They stand on metal legs with large, concrete feet. Buckley said the chicken outside Lemongrass won't remain white for long.

The plan is to recruit local artists to paint, dress up and decorate each bird as he or she sees fit. The bird next to Lemongrass will be decorated on site by Severna Park-based artist Walker Babington.

The other chickens will be installed in the district after they are decorated. 

Buckley said the idea is similar to the New York Cow Parade where artists decorated life size cows that were placed on public and private property all over the island of Manhattan. Like the New York cows, these chickens will roost for about a year before being auctioned off for charity.

Annapolis' project is called Hatching the Arts in Annapolis, and it's a part of an Anne Arundel Arts Council plan to draw attention to the Capital Central Arts district in the city. The council's Executive Director April Nyman said she thinks giant, colorful birds certainly will be hard to miss.

The Arts District starts at Calvert Street and includes the Stanton Center, which plans to have its own chicken out front. The district travels down West Street to Westgate Circle, and goes out to Maryland Hall, which also will host a chicken.

Buckley said there are plans to have one in front of the on West Street,  and . Nyman added that and Buzzutto have also expressed an interest. She said she hopes a few chickens wind up on city property.

"We are working with the city to try and designate to work out liability, and where they are going to be placed," Nyman said.

She's also continuing to work with local artists to develop concepts for the upcoming birds. If you're an artist interested in decorating a chicken sculpture, you can email the arts council by clicking here.

Buckley said he hopes the chickens will spark conversation—even if the exchanges focus on how silly people may think the birds are.

"I think it really makes you think you’re in an arts district," Buckley said. "It’s good if we get a reaction."

How would you decorate on of these chicken sculptures if you could?

Melissa August 13, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Chickens? More Eastern Shore than Annapolis. And anyone who is not wrapped up into City Council fight for Chickens is not going to get it. Visitors don't think of chickens when in Annapolis, they think of crabs or boats.
Sharon Tinkler August 13, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Seriously? The Sailing Capital of the World is promoting itself with chickens? Interesting. And quite a stretch.
hawkeye August 14, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I hope no one decides graffiti is an art form.
Anna Staver (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 04:31 PM
That's a good point. I will have to follow up with Buckley to see if they plan on taking any precautions against vandalism.
MD Resident August 15, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I agree that chickens don't make sense for Annapolis. There are so many other things that are more symbolic and representative of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay region.
JamesRich August 19, 2012 at 06:10 PM
The Poultry industry is a MAJOR polluter of the Bay. I think chickens are a bad choice which illustrates the need for more education. Are we promoting Annapolis or the "Farm to Table" mantra of The Metropolitan Cafe, the restaurant the project leaders own?
Darin Gilliam August 20, 2012 at 03:41 AM
graffiti is an art form. that is something that has already been decided by many. i can assure you that you have bigger things to think about other than painting chickens leading to graffiti.

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