Public Art

The Frederick Arts Council is currently in the process of developing a Public Art Master Plan for Frederick County, in partnership with the Ausherman Family Foundation. You can read our official press release about the launch of this initiative here

For those interested, some FAQ’s about public art and the planning process:

What is public art?

You can find public art all over Frederick. Murals, statues, glass and metalwork, and other types of installations have become part what you see every day as you go about the city and the county.

“Public art” is usually defined as original, site-specific works of art created by an artist (or a design elements created by an artist collaborating with a design team) that are visually accessible to the public.

Public art comes in a variety of art forms — including visual arts, environmental art, literary arts, dance, music and performance. Public art can also functional as well as aesthetic qualities, such as artist-designed metalwork.

Public art is located in places where public life occurs, such as streets, plazas, parks, open spaces and similar places that are openly accessible and visible to anybody who is interested.

Why is public art important to Frederick?

Frederick has already demonstrated how visionary public art projects can enliven public places and strengthen community life — the Community Bridge and Sky Stage are leading examples.

Communities across the country are finding that public art can help them fulfill their visions for the future, stimulate creatively, strengthen community and support the local economy. A key goal of this planning process will be to find out which approaches to public art can help Frederick best achieve its goals.

Who will use plan and how?

The plan will set new aspirations for public art in Frederick, and highlight opportunities and priorities for new projects. It will provide guidance to the City, the County and the towns throughout the County, to business and civic organizations, to artists and the rest of Fredrick’s growing creative community.

Who is paying for it?

The planning process is being paid for by the Ausherman Family Foundation. “It’s time to be purposeful and strategic about public art in Frederick,” said Marvin Ausherman, Chairman and Co-Founder of the Ausherman Family Foundation. “With the right procedures in place, we will be able to collaborate to use public art as a way to express our community’s identity, making Frederick even more of a special and unique place.”

How is the government a part of this?

So far, the City and County have been helpful in providing guidance to the plan. We hope that one outcome will be public art policies that the City and County can adopt.

What is the public art commission’s involvement?

The Arts Council will be working closely with the City’s Public Arts Commission. Several of its members are on the steering committee for the project.

How do we approach the balance between enabling local artists versus working with national artists?

A good public art strategy will include room for the contributions of artists in the community who are interested in public art. This can be accomplished by creating opportunities for artists at a variety of levels of experience and by providing support for local artists who want to develop a public art practice.

However, a good public art strategy will also include room for artists outside the community to participate. Every community can benefit from the creative collaborations and exchange of ideas that occur in the public art world, and Frederick’s artists will benefit from opportunities they will have access to as part of a broader public art network.

When do we declare a theme? When does that normally happen in this process?

Sometimes a public art plan identifies a theme, but not always. It’s not clear what the right approach will be for Frederick.

Frederick’s public art plan will answer three basic questions: How can new public art projects help the community advance its visions and goals? What are the best opportunities for doing that, in terms of projects or locations? And what tools are necessary to support new public art projects?

Past Public Art Projects of the Frederick Arts Council:


The spirit of creativity and ingenuity has been at the heart of Frederick from its earliest beginnings until today. A new public art project in the Fall of 2012 captured the important role arts play in the community through the placement of Pink Ribbons sculptures with an array of artistic interpretations by local artists.

Eighteen artists were chosen and finished sculptures were displayed  throughout the heart of Downtown Frederick during the month of October 2012, with special emphasis on locations within the Arts and Entertainment District. The Ribbon sculptures were auctioned in November 2012, with proceeds going to benefit the Frederick Arts Council and the FMH Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund in Frederick County.

Thank you to all of the artists who donated their time and talent to this important project.


The Pillars of Frederick mural project, which was dedicated in September 2011, celebrates Francis Scott Key and visionary leaders from Frederick’s past.  The unprecedented public art project conceived by artist Yemi has received support from business leaders and residents who were motivated to preserve the area’s rich history and bring local attention and tourism to Frederick.

The Pillars of Frederick mural, located on the building exterior of the McCutcheon’s manufacturing facility in downtown Frederick, features 40 colorful portraits of individuals from Frederick’s past that have made significant contributions in business, education, the arts, health, and other sectors.

“I’m very pleased to see this project come to life after working closely with prominent business leaders in the Frederick area and Frederick Arts Council to marry the history of the past with the present and to make the Pillars of Frederick an art history centerpiece for the town,” said artist Yemi.  He continued, “The contributions made by people like Francis Scott Key, William McCutcheon, William Delaplaine, Dr. Ulysses Bourne, Claire McCardell and others will continue to inspire the community.”


In June 2009, a new piece of public art was installed along Carroll Creek Linear Park, near the intersection of Patrick and Bentz Streets in downtown Frederick.  Becky the Calf is a bronzie calf sculpture by Frederick artist Adam Lubkin and pays tribute to Frederick’s past and current agricultural contributions.  Frederick County is the number one dairy producing county in the State of Maryland.  This permanent public art installation was made possible by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council and supported by the Frederick Arts Council.


In celebration of the organization’s 30th anniversary, the Frederick Arts Council launched a public art project that featured thirty fiberglass keys on the streets of downtown Frederick. The six-foot tall pieces of artwork were placed throughout the city’s Arts and Entertainment District from August through October 2007.

Keys were selected in recognition of the city’s ties to Francis Scott Key, the author of the Star Spangled Banner. Over thirty artists had their hands in creating the artwork, which ranged in themes from whimsical and abstract to historical and participative. Artists were primarily from Frederick County, but also drew participation from Washington, Allegany, and Howard Counties in Maryland as well as Pennsylvania.

Throughout the two-month public display period, several special events and activities encouraged participation by local residents, including walking tours, scavenger hunts, photography contests, and other unique activities. At the end of the project, the keys were auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting the Frederick Arts Council. Over $50,000 was raised in support of the arts.