A 22-foot tree made from light-catching stainless steel and featuring numerous life-size ravens perching in some of its 64 branches will be installed this summer at Wakefield Valley Park in Westminster, thanks to a Maryland State Arts Council grant of just over $43,000.
The sculpture, titled “Raventree,” is being created by Westminster artist Thomas Sterner and will be installed in July.
Raventree will be Sterner’s 11th sculpture and he will begin working on the piece in March. A miniature model and design plans have already been completed.
The Westminster resident began his sculpting career with the creation of Sprouts, a public art piece designed to reflect the idea of growth and installed outside of the city administrative offices at 45 W. Main St., in Westminster.
“All public sculptures are big, just because they’re more impactful,” Sterner, 62, said. “I like working big.”
The metallic tree is designed to stand out among natural trees and will be installed at the top of a hill so that it can be seen throughout the park, Sterner said. The artist hopes that the way the steel sculpture captures and reflects light will entice onlookers to examine Raventree closer and that parkgoers will stop to consider its unusual nature.
“I think successful sculptures can be appreciated from every angle and from every distance,” Sterner said. “I wanted it to be eye-catching from a distance and then for there to be a lot more to see as people go up to discover it and check it out.”
The work was not intended to pay homage to the Baltimore Ravens, Sterner added, though he said any interpretation of the art is valid.
Installing an artist-driven piece in a public park at no cost to the city is a win for Westminster, Mayor Mona Becker said. The park is being created on a former golf course and has been in the process of a revamp for several years, with grant funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The city is currently accepting construction bids for a new pavilion to be located near the Raventree sculpture.
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“It’s a huge green space and cities don’t get the opportunity to do something with a really large green space very often,” Becker said. “Having this in Westminster has been fantastic.”
Trees will be planted in 22 acres of the park, thanks to funding from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. And the Durbin House, located in the park and constructed in 1767, received $25,000 of heritage grant funding in 2020 to help restore and repurpose it.
Any grant-funded project that further improves Wakefield Valley Park is more than welcome, Becker said.
Sterner said Wakefield Valley Park could be an incredible location for a sculpture park if artists could rally to win grants or find other funds to help them spruce up the green space.
“Incorporating art into nature is pretty powerful,” Sterner said.
Partnerships with the Carroll Arts Council could be possible, Becker added, although it is not clear what such a partnership would look like.
“Getting sculptures, especially by local artists, would be fantastic there,” Becker said. “I think people would come to see some of the artwork in a public setting and it’s beautiful at Wakefield Valley.”