- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

The roadside sculptures in Hyattstown are capturing a lot of attention from drivers on Route 355 just as residents had hoped they would.
There is a giant pink angel, made of foam, with lace wings atop a white, 12-foot-high pole. Across the street is an iron post sprouting long metal rods like tree limbs, with "fruit" of crosscut slices of tree trunks hanging on the end of each limb. Mr. Potato Head is crudely carved out of a chunk of wood, and an iron-rod arm, connected by a spring, is gently waving a big, white-gloved hand in the breeze.
Drivers on Route 355, known as Frederick Road, invariably slow down for Mr. Potato Head. And that's the purpose of the 15 handcrafted sculptures to slow drivers to the posted 30-mph speed limit.
"That's the whole idea," said Linda Totens, 48, whose 197-year-old house sits about 12 feet off the roadway. "Thirty miles per hour wasn't even close to what these people were doing."
Tractor-trailer trucks, many of them seemingly avoiding the weigh station on nearby Interstate 270, would downshift on the sloping road through the Montgomery County town.
The noise is enormous and powerful, said Miss Totens, who added it shook a stone wall loose of a 198-year-old house up the road.
Miss Totens first appealed to Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, then to county and state police.
Periodic police patrols were ineffective because there was not enough room on each side of the road to pull over drivers.
The police loaned a radar gun to Miss Totens and other members of the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project. They took turns clocking the cars and trucks.
"The average speed was 45 miles per hour," Miss Totens said.
Project director Bobby Donovan stuck white signs reading, "Please slow down," in yards along the road. Miss Totens said the signs worked for a short time.
It was Mr. Donovan who suggested the sculptures. Miss Totens wrote letters to Hyattstown residents, who gave approval for sculptures to be placed in their yards or made their own.
One of the first was a series of various-shaped, orange flower pots arranged on a chair like a human, with old tennis shoes for feet and dripping flowers for hair.
It was created by Giselle Butt, a finance officer for a Frederick company. Her husband, Dan Butt, helped her with the project.
"For the first couple weeks, it slowed them down," said Mr. Butt, who works for Montgomery County public schools. "I guess they've got sort of used to it and it's not so effective."
The pink angel was created by Cindy Donovan, Mr. Donovan's wife, who operates the Hyattstown Mill Arts Center.
"We still need more sculptures," said Miss Totens, who earned a degree in art at the University of Maryland two years ago.
"Every once in a while you get that car passing, and they'll be pointing at them, and the cars behind them have to slow down, too," said Miss Totens, who created six multicolored pinwheel fans spinning in front of a U.S. flag protruding from her porch.
Drivers are alerted by signs at town limits about "The Road Show Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit Presented by the Residents of Hyattstown."
The sculptures have been in place about a month and all of them, except Mr. Potato Head, soon will be replaced by new ones. Mr. Potato Head was hewn by Tom Barse, an artist and high school teacher.
"We may move it, but it will still be on display," Miss Totens said.

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