HYATTSVILLE – City residents gathered in the lot behind the Franklin’s restaurant on Route 1 Saturday to transform the bridge and concrete walls into a series of murals commemorating the War of 1812 and city history.
The Bursting in Air public art party featured performers, artists, local vendors and community groups working together to revitalize the public landmark while celebrating their history.
“Along Route 1 there’s an interest in local heritage, history, the arts and specifically for this event we wanted a way that we could see public art applied to the bridge, a way that we could involve community members,” said Justin Fair, economic development coordinator for the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation, which organized the event.
Performances included Blue Sky Puppets, Arachne Aerial Arts and 1814: The War of 1812 Rock Opera.
The opera is performed by a five-musician band accompanied by 14 performers who act out scenes from the War of 1812.
“What’s fun about our show—and it’ll be good with this crowd—is there’s the history people that will get the jokes and understand the lines in the song and know who the characters are,” said founder and guitarist Dave Israel. “Then there are the people that are into the zany fun rock songs, then they get to learn a bit about it.”
Along the concrete wall under the overpass, Edward Williams, of The Studio 33, painted a scene of bombs bursting in air surrounded by the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner.” The artist also welcomed volunteers to join in painting the mural, emphasizing the community aspect of the event.
“The community output has been awesome,” Williams said. “I can’t believe how many people want to paint, it’s been really nice.”
The other professional artists painting the bridge were Mark Walker and Arthur Kwon Lee.
Richard Cote, Cottage City Commissioner and member of the Battle of Bladensburg task force, walked around the event in a historic War of 1812 costume.
“I think it’s great, it’s been wonderful,” Cote said. “We had a beautiful puppet show here earlier this afternoon, there’s going to be a band here later so I’m just trying to get people involved in the Battle of Bladensburg for the upcoming event on August 23rd.”
The August event is “Undaunted weekend,” which will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg with reenactments, entertainment and fireworks.
The event was sponsored by Maryland Milestones, which preserves and promotes history, art and nature, and is organizing the August 23rd event.
“It’s not just history and war of 1812,” said Aaron Marcavitch, Maryland Milestones executive director. “It’s interesting and fun and exciting and a new way of looing at history.”
Also at the event was Alonzo Washington, a Maryland state delegate, whose district includes Hyattsville.
“This is great,” Washington said. “Bringing 1812 to life here in Hyattsville and throughout the Gateway arts district and also bringing the community together on this grand scale around this event. I’m excited to be here.”