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New bridge just begs for works of art

Tony Henry, owner of the Deer Park Pub on Leesburg Road, is happy enough with the new bridge that runs over some railroad tracks on Spring Street, though he’d rather there not be what he calls a suicide fence along the bridge. It interferes with one of the traditions at his watering hole.

Every Halloween, Henry gets the biggest pumpkin he can find. Patrons pay a dollar to guess the weight, and whoever comes the closest to the correct weight wins the pot – unless they’re not present for the weighing ceremony. Then they only get half the pot and the rest goes to a soup kitchen.

Once the contest is over, the practice has always been to take the pumpkin to the middle of the bridge, toss it over the edge and watch it spatter on the ground.

That suicide fence has ruined that tradition. Lifting a gigantic pumpkin over that fence is now impossible, Henry says.

As one tradition ends, though, another might be just beginning.

I got a message from a woman the other day who wanted to know why there was a teapot mounted on the new bridge.

I took a drive over to inspect the situation, and indeed, someone has mounted a teapot on one of the concrete pedestals for the bridge.

This isn’t a real teapot. It appears to be made of concrete. The top doesn’t come off. It’s all one piece. The handle is broken, revealing a little piece of wire. The pot is painted to give it a tarnished, metallic look. Some people might call it a piece of art, though not the type of work you’d expect to see in a high-end auction.

Harrumph, I thought. There’s this bridge. It’s right next to the Deer Park Pub. There’s a piece of art. I bet Tony Henry has something to do with this.

So I called Tony, but he didn’t have the faintest idea what I was talking about. He hadn’t even noticed the teapot, but it’s there, firmly cemented in place in what appears to be a small puddle of epoxy glue.

This little corner of the world and that bridge seem to be Tony’s domain, so I suspected he’d at least have some idea where the little piece of art came from.

He had no idea.

Inspecting the teapot and looking over the bridge, though, made me realize something. The top of every pedestal on the bridge is absolutely flat. Each one lends itself as a perfect location for a work of art.

The bridge, I realized, is practically begging to be turned into an outdoor sculpture gallery.

One might argue that any such gallery would prove to be a distraction for motorists, but motorists are plenty distracted as it is, given their GPS units and cellphones and texting and so on. Most of them probably wouldn’t even notice works of art.

I don’t know how the county would react to a collection of sculptures adorning the pedestals of its new, $2 million bridge, but a little artwork never hurt anything, as far as I’m concerned.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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