- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

A sculpture that has drawn thousands of visitors to Hains Point for 27 years has been sold to a private developer and will be dug up and moved to the National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

“The Awakening” by J. Seward Johnson, a 70-foot cast aluminum sculpture in five pieces, depicts a giant breaking free from the earth at the tip of Hains Point. It has rested there on National Park Service land since a 1980 citywide public art exhibition. The artist donated the work to the Sculpture Foundation, a nonprofit arts group in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2000.

Since then it has been on loan to the Park Service while the foundation sought a buyer. The Park Service served only as its caretaker and never expected to keep the sculpture permanently, spokesman Bill Line said.

Developer Milt Peterson purchased “The Awakening” from the foundation last year for $725,000. The sale was announced Sunday.

Now the giant, nicknamed Charlie, will be dug up over the coming months to be restored and put on public display as the centerpiece of a beach being constructed on the Potomac River for the National Harbor development by next April. The beach will lead to a plaza with other works of art and an entertainment space near the grouping of restaurants, stores and hotels near the east end of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge.

“We’re keeping it on the Potomac as public art,” Mr. Peterson said, adding that other parties interested in the sculpture included a group from Japan. “Washington has very few public spaces on the water, so we want to be Washington’s waterfront.”

He said the art “sets the right tone” for the creation of a small new city on the river. Mr. Peterson is considering adding other sculptures of historic and patriotic figures and a pair of bald eagles overlooking the harbor.

“We’ve had several inquiries. This one was the good one,” Helen Fitzgerald, associate curator of the Sculpture Foundation said of the sale. “We were very reassured by the accessibility to the general public in the new location.”

No admission fees are planned for visitors to the National Harbor’s sculpture area, but the development will charge for parking, Mr. Peterson said.

Mr. Line said many people have assumed that “The Awakening” was federal property. “The national parks are not a repository for works of personal art,” he said. “This is an unusual situation.”

Congress has declared that works of art on the Mall should be memorials or monuments to commemorate people or events.

“We know that [the sculpture is] popular, and that many Washingtonians and many people from out of town go there,” Mr. Line said. “We are well confident Hains Point will remain the very popular location that it always has been.”

Three golf courses, tennis courts, a swimming pool, bicycle paths and the cherry blossom trees will continue to draw people to the parkland behind the Jefferson Memorial, Mr. Line said.

The prominent point where “The Awakening” rests has already been listed in city plans as a potential site for a future memorial.

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