A Wave and a Sail — Broad Reach Sculpture Dedication Oct. 14


Broad Reach sculpture representing a wave and a sail, by artist David Hess. Photo credit: Jane Jewell.

The Town of Chestertown and the Chestertown Arts & Entertainment District invite the public to the Saturday, October 14 dedication of the David Hess sculpture Broad Reach, which is being installed in Wilmer Park as the first artwork commissioned under Chestertown’s Public Arts Master Plan.

The ceremony will begin at 4:00 p.m. and will feature music by Jigs and Reels, poetry by Meredith Davies Hadaway, greetings from the artist, and a Chester River blessing of the large-scale steel sculpture. A reception will follow at the site.

Broad Reach pays tribute to Chestertown’s nautical past and strong connection to the Chester River with a 20-foot-tall sail, a breaking wave and grassy berms that mimic a ship’s wake.  In it’s article “Point of Sail”, Wikipedia explains the nautical term “broad reach” “When the wind is coming from the side of the sailing craft, this is called reaching. … In a broad reach, the wind is coming from behind the sailing craft at an angle. This represents a range of wind angles between beam reach and running downwind.”

The Sandbox on Cross St. in downtown Chestertown in 2015.  The program moved to the Washington College campus in 2016.

The artwork is being dedicated in honor of artist and arts advocate Alex Castro, who broadened Chestertown’s artistic and cultural horizons during his time here as a resident and Washington College faculty member.  At the college, Castro lectured in Art and was for several years the director of the Kohl Gallery.  Castro was the driving force behind the Sandbox, a creative arts program of Washington College.

The stainless steel sculpture, which was constructed in Washington, Pa. came to Chestertown Oct. 2 on two large trucks. The concrete foundations had already been laid by Yerkes Construction, and a large crane arrived around 1 p.m. to hoist the metal pieces into place. Hess and several of his workers, including his son Eli, were on hand to perform the installation, and Hess remained in town for several days to polish the metal and oversee other details of the process, including building the earth berms around the base of the sculpture.

Sculptor David Hess (left) with his son Eli at the site in Wilmer Park on Oct 2, waiting for the sculpture to arrive.

Hess, a Baltimore-born artist and engineer, has designed public art for sites all around the country, including several in Baltimore and vicinity. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he works in a number of media, both large and small sculpture and works on paper. He studied with realist wood sculptor Fumio Yoshimura, whose humor and precision made a strong impression on him. His exhibit, ‘”Gun Show,” 80 sculpture-assemblages constructed from “found items” like vacuum cleaner parts and gas station pump nozzles to resemble guns, appeared at Washington College’s Kohl Gallery in February 2015, shortly after his design for Broad Reach was selected to be installed in Wilmer Park. Click here for short interview of Hess about the “Gun Show” exhibit.

Waterline by David Hess.  Visit his website to see more of Hess’s work.

In addition to dressing up the entrance to Wilmer Park, Broad Reach is meant to be a “playscape” – unlike traditional sculpture, it is designed for children (adults are allowed, too!) to climb on, slide down, and use their imaginations to incorporate it into their games and stories. At the same time, its nautical theme echoes the town’s history as a river port, dating back to Colonial days, and the thriving recreational activity along the nearby Chester River.

Castro chaired the jury that selected this first installation, which was presented to the Mayor and Council in January, 2015. Broad Reach was one of a dozen designs from artists all around the country submitted in response to the town’s request for proposals. The jury, made up of seven local arts professionals, made the selection based on appropriateness to the town and the site, functionality, feasibility, ease of maintenance, safety and fun. The installation was originally planned for a site nearer the center of the park, but the site was changed to make it more visible from the road and to provide more shade when children are playing on it.

Alex Castro

Castro was also an integral part of the Public Arts Master Plan process. His friends and admirers raised the majority of the funding to make Broad Reach a reality. Other large donors include the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program, the SFW Foundation, the Chestertown High School Class of 1967 and many other groups and individuals who contributed funds and services.

While the funding of the artwork itself is complete, the Town still seeks gifts to complete the landscaping, site work and installation.  For example, the piled earth berms around the sculpture will be landscaped.  Tax-deductible donations can be made online at Go Fund Me – Ctown Sculpture or by check marked “Broad Reach donation,” made payable to Town of Chestertown and mailed to 118 N. Cross Street, Chestertown, Md. 21620.

Below is a gallery of photos from the installation, from Oct. 2 to the date of publication, Oct. 11. Photography by Kees de Mooy, Peter Heck, and Jane Jewell.

The two trucks arrive at the corner of Maple Ave. (Rt 213) and Cross Street.

Photo by Peter Heck

Passing the old train station. Photo by Jane Jewell

Concrete pads poured by Jay Yerkes Construction in preparation for Broad Reach. Photo by Jane Jewell

Photo by Kees de Mooy

Up it goes! Photo by Kees de Mooy

The Wave imitating a blimp coming in for a landing. Photo by Kees de Mooy


The Sail makes landfall. Photo by Kees de Mooy

The Sail swinging into place. Photo by Kees de Mooy

Drilling bolt holes. Photo by Kees de Mooy

Securing the Wave. Photo by Kees de Mooy

photo by Jane Jewell

David Hess, the sculptor, arrives. Photo by Kees de Mooy

Kees de Mooy, Chestertown Zoning Administrator, pitches in to help cordon off the installation site. Photo by Jane Jewell

Installation of Broad Reach sculpture accomplished. Waiting for Dedication Oct 14, 2017. Photo by Jane Jewell


Sign in front of Broad Reach installation site in Wilmer Park. Photo by Jane Jewell




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