Leaders hope to spotlight creations under new effort
by Timothy Sandoval
Riverdale Park wants to be recognized as an arts destination — and has launched a public art campaign to reach its goal.
“There are a lot of people who do really good art that are among us,” said Jeffrey Yorke, president of the Riverdale Park Arts Council. “Now, we are going to beat the bushes and ring them out and show them.”
On March 4, the town council passed a resolution for the Public Art Initiative, an effort to bring art to public spaces in Riverdale Park in fiscal 2014.
Councilman Jonathan Ebbeler (Ward 1), who authored the resolution, said public art projects would beautify the town and hopefully attract more artists and visitors. As a start to the initiative, he said, he used $5,000 of his own money to kick-start the program, and hopes the town will provide more during the fiscal 2014 budget process.
Riverdale Park borders the Gateway Arts and Entertainment District, which offers tax incentives to those who sell art in the area and create spaces or businesses geared toward the arts or entertainment. Brentwood, Hyattsville, Mount Rainier and North Brentwood make up the arts district.
“We are moving the arts up the Route 1 corridor and trying to make the area a tourist destination for people who are interested and engaged in visual pieces of art,” Ebbeler said.
Stuart Eisenberg, executive director of the Hyattsville Community Development Corp., which is working with town on the initiative, said there was discussion of adding Riverdale Park to the arts district in 2001, when the district received its state designation. But, he said, state officials were wary of the district becoming too large, as it is the largest arts district in the state, totaling 286 acres.
“In my view, it is as big as it can be,” he said.
Eisenberg advocated for the state designation for the arts district as a resident when it was first approved in 2001.
Marita Novicky of Riverdale Park said she was encouraged by the town’s initiative, because she felt public art has helped improve the look of other communities, such as in Washington, D.C.
“Anything the town does to support the arts is good in my mind, because we are enriching our lives and our children’s lives here,” she said.
Eisenberg said the CDC is working with Riverdale Park because it helps Hyattsville and the arts district to have their neighbor displaying public art.
“The more art, the better,” Eisenberg said. He noted that the emphasis on public art in the district has boosted the number of visitors to the area.
He said public art gives outsiders a good impression of a community.
“What it says when you have art on display is that we care about our community,” Eisenberg said. “We care enough to enhance and display the ideals that are shown by the particular works of art we have here.”