St. Mary’s County Arts Council (SMCAC), supported by the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) and Southern Maryland Folklife Center (SMFC), in collaboration with St. Mary’s County Department of Recreation and Parks (SMCR&P), has announced an opportunity for professional public artists. The project involves creating a site-specific mural in Lexington Park, Maryland, commemorating Tulagi Place.

Tulagi Place, a significant landmark, served as Lexington Park’s commercial and community hub, formed to support the community around the Patuxent River Naval Air Station (NAS Pax). This initiative celebrates the area’s past, present, and future through artistic expression. The mural will be located on the southern exterior wall of the Three Notch Theater, overlooking the Lexington Manor Passive Park (LMPP), a centerpiece of the area’s revitalization efforts.

Lexington Park’s history dates back to the 1940s, rapidly transforming with the establishment of military installations post-Pearl Harbor. Once a small rural and water-industry community, the area witnessed dramatic changes with the arrival of the NAS Pax River, leading to industrial prosperity. The mural will honor the historical significance of Tulagi Place, which has been sold for redevelopment, marking an end to its longstanding role in the community.

The chosen mural location is the south-facing wall of the Three Notch Theatre, characterized by a brick exterior and plywood-covered window. The project may involve replacing or removing the plywood and potentially installing a window film for a cohesive design. The mural will add to a series of art installations in LMPP, designated as an “Arts Park,” further enhancing the park’s appeal, which already features festivals, events, and a community garden.

Eligibility for this opportunity is limited to artists residing in Maryland. The project has a budget not exceeding $37,500, funded through MSAC and SMFC Arts Relief General Operating Support (ARGOS) funds, with additional sponsorship efforts underway.

The selection process includes several stages:

  • Request for Qualifications deadline: December 15, 2023.
  • Notification of finalists: January 4, 2024.
  • Proposal presentations: February 9, 2024.
  • Community feedback: By February 24, 2024.
  • Final design selection: March 8, 2024.
  • Final design presentation: March 15, 2024.
  • Installation: Summer 2024.

Three artists chosen to submit mural designs will receive a $600 honorarium, with an additional $500 for the artist presenting their design to community stakeholders and city staff. The selection committee, comprising community stakeholders and representatives from SMCAC, SMFC, and SMCR&P, will review applicants’ portfolios and proposals.

The SMCAC and SMCR&P will conduct community outreach and host public meetings to gather ideas and themes for the mural. The process aims to engage the community actively, ensuring the mural resonates with Lexington Park’s rich history and evolving identity.

Artists interested in this project must submit their applications online, including digital images of past works, a bio/CV, a cover letter detailing their approach and experiences in community engagement, and references from recent public art commissions. Proof of workmen’s compensation and liability insurance is also required.

This public art initiative presents a unique opportunity for artists to contribute to the cultural landscape of Lexington Park, celebrating its historical roots while looking toward its future.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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