Community Input Sought for Next Public Art Project

June 24, 2011

In 2007, a unique public art project captivated residents and tourists in the Frederick area that still have people talking today. That project, called the “Keys to Frederick,” placed thirty large fiberglass keys decorated by local and regional artists on public display throughout the streets of historic downtown Frederick.

The Frederick Arts Council, which spearheaded the 2007 project, recently gained approval from the City of Frederick to tackle a similar project next year and is asking the public for suggestions of what the icon or symbol should be. Keys were an obvious choice for our first endeavor. They were truly unique to our community. That was evident by the fact that we had to get the mold made for us.

This time around, organizers want to hear from residents what other icon or symbol best represents the community. We had great public participation in the Keys to Frederick project but not until after the artwork was on display. This time around we would love to have involvement from the very beginning.

Suggestions are being accepted through July 3rd. Individuals can make suggestions three ways:
1. In person at the Cultural Arts Center,
2. By phone by calling the FAC at 301-662-4190
3. Or by emailing the suggestion to

During July’s First Saturday, the Cultural Arts Center will have a ballot box with a couple of keys on display from 5:00-9:00 p.m.

All suggestions will be vetted by a committee and the finalist will be announced in mid-July. Finalists will be determined based on various criteria, including connection to Frederick, reproducibility, and artistic capacity. The public will then have another chance to help determine the next icon or symbol by a voting process through the end of July. In the fall, the Frederick Arts Council will begin seeking artists and sponsors for the 2012 project, which is expected to make its debut on the streets in the Spring.

Individuals, companies, and groups are encouraged to participate in the project throughout the duration. Anyone interested in joining the planning committee should contact the arts council office. Although the organization hasn’t started soliciting sponsors yet, the Tourism Council of Frederick County has already come on board as the first one.

The 2007 project engaged thirty artists whose designs ranged from the abstract and whimsical to historic and participative. The majority of the artists were from Frederick County, Maryland. However, artists also come from Washington County, Allegheny County, and Howard County in Maryland as well as Southeast Pennsylvania.

Public art projects of this nature celebrate the important role the arts play in communities by making the arts visible and accessible to everyone. The Keys to Frederick project really excited and engaged the community and we expect the next one to be no different. It is projects like this that invigorate the arts scene and demonstrate that Frederick is an arts destination.