About 40 people mingled on the lawn next to Lemongrass on West Street Wednesday evening to sip drinks and meet the six artists chosen to decorate 5 and a half-foot chicken sculptures for Annapolis.
"We wanted to introduce the artists and thank the sponsors of this project," said April Nyman, executive director of the Anne Arundel Arts Council.
The chickens are part of Hatching the Arts, an outdoor art exhibit the council hopes will draw attention to the Capital Central Arts district in the city. The district starts at Calvert Street and travels down West Street to Westgate Circle before heading out to Maryland Hall.
Lemongrass owner and creator of the chicken sculpture idea Gavin Buckley said he hopes to have three to four sculptures per block inside the district when the project is completed.
"It’s a bit tongue and cheek on that front," Buckley said.
Artists Jimi Haha and Jeff Alan Huntington painted the first chicken sculpture on location in the garden next to Lemongrass this August, and it will roost there for at least one year before it's auctioned off for charity.
Walker Babington also will bring his chicken to life in the garden. But Babington's chicken will have to cross the road to get to its final home, which Buckley said is likely to be in front of the Loews Hotel.
When asked to describe his design, Babington said, "He's basically a historically futuristic multi-dimensional chicken overlord whose job has become obsolete and has since become a junkyard warrior."
The other four chickens will be created in the studios of area artists in the coming weeks, and will hopefully be on display around town before the Annapolis Fringe Festival, which Nyman said is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 21.
Terri Borges plans to create an iChicken made from recycled computer parts that emphasizes her belief that our society is over connected.
"I was going to call it e-chicken for email, but I was told I was outdated," Borges said; her son Christopher Borges smiling beside her. "He told me iChicken would be more up to date."
Casey Johnson said he plans to make his chicken resemble the chickens he encounters in his everyday life: frozen.
"It was really between a crispy chicken or a raw one," Johnson said.
His chicken also will feature an ice block around its head. He said he thinks maybe the proposed spot in front of the 7-Eleven on West Street would work well since the store sells chicken.
Matt Mercer said he plans to paint a colorful, swirling pattern on his chicken. He was inspired by a painting he was working on for a Florida client who lives in a coastal town. He's from College Park, and the only artist who isn't based in Annapolis for this round of chicken sculptures.
"I'm so excited to be chosen. This is my first public, juried arts show," Mercer said. "My dad was a chicken farmer."
Buckley took a moment during the festivities to thank the artists and Buzzuto and Severn Bank, both of which sponsored the initial round of chicken sculptures.
"You guys were amazing and volunteered money to get this thing started," Buckley said. "Restaurants and artists go in and turn neighborhoods around ... This is going to make a huge different on West Street."