Join DC Community Public Art Workshop Presentation June 22nd

The upcoming community presentation on June 22nd at the Landon Park Recreation Center will provide a platform for Ward 5 residents to view and discuss the proposed design for the memorial. This event is not only a preview of the memorial but also an invitation for the community to contribute their voices to this landmark project.

The memorial aims to be a poignant reminder of the systemic racism and exploitation that have marred American history, while also celebrating the resilience and enduring legacy of those who were enslaved. Situated in the nation’s capital, this tribute will join the ranks of many other monuments and memorials, enriching the narrative with stories of those who have been historically marginalized. As the Nation’s capital, monuments and commemorative works have typically been focused on or reserved for commemoration to individuals or subjects of national importance within the monumental core, the original L’Enfant City, and mostly in Wards 1, 2, 3, and 6. Many of these subjects participated in slavery, systemic racism, and the mistreatment of, or took actions that suppressed equality for, persons of color, certain groups of people, and women.

In a historic move to acknowledge and honor the invaluable contributions of enslaved individuals who helped build the U.S. Capitol, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH), in collaboration with the DC Office of Planning (OP), has selected WGS Co-Director Michael Janis to design the Ward 5 Public Art Memorial. This significant project aims to shed light on the often-overlooked role of over 200 enslaved people whose labor laid the foundation for one of the most iconic symbols of democracy.

Date: June 22, 2024

Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Location: Landon Park Recreation Center, 2901 20th St NE, Washington, DC 20018

Janis, Co-Director of the Washington Glass School (WGS), has been actively engaging with the DC Ward 5 community to ensure that the memorial resonates with the local residents and accurately reflects the historical significance and human stories behind the Capitol’s construction. This community-centered approach underscores the importance of collective memory and inclusivity in public art.

DC’s Commemorative Works Program reviews proposals submitted by sponsors, but since the program was established in 2001 has received only a handful of applications for local subjects. OP’s Commemorate DC work includes technical assistance to community partners in Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 to identify commemorative subjects and sites before supporting efforts in Wards 1, 2, 3, and 6. The Office of Planning’s partners are convening meetings with community groups and residents to discuss subjects to commemorate, appropriate sites, and concept designs of commemorative works. Concept designs will be reviewed by the Commemorative Works Committee who will make a recommendation on each proposal to the Mayor and District Council, who have final review and approval. A link to the 4 initial Commemorative projects here.

The DC Public Art Memorial is more than a work of art; it is a symbol of reconciliation, education, and recognition. It will invite all visitors to reflect on the past and encourage ongoing dialogue about equality and justice.

Join Michael Janis, the DC CAH & OP along with the Ward 5 community on June 22nd to participate in the outlining of a project that seeks to honor the past and inspire a future of inclusivity and acknowledgment. This is an important occasion for Washington, DC, and for the nation, as we begin this transformative initiative. 

 More images and info on Michael Janis’s project here : http://washingtonglassschool.com/wgs-michael-janis-selected-as-artist-to-create-new-washington-dc-memorial

WGS’ Michael Janis Selected as Artist to Create New Washington, DC Memorial

New Memorial Concepts for Washington, DC

As the nation’s capital, Washington, DC is home to many monuments and memorials honoring individuals and events of national significance mainly within the monumental core, the original L’Enfant City, and mostly in Wards 1, 2, 3, and 6. Many of these subjects participated in slavery, systemic racism, and the mistreatment of, or took actions that suppressed equality for, persons of color, certain groups of people, and women.
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH), in partnership with the DC Office of Planning (OP) selected WGS Director Michael Janis as the artist to create DC’s Ward 5 Public Art Memorial to commemorate the Enslaved People Who Built the US Capitol.
Contributions of more than 200 enslaved people helped build the U.S. Capitol, an international symbol of Democracy.

Artists engaged by DC CAH to create the new Public Art

From 1792 to 1800 enslaved people, many from the Baltimore area, arrived in DC on Bladensburg Road and were forced to quarry stone, clear the building site, create sculptures, and work long hours in inhospitable weather six days a week.

DC Ward 5 Public Art Memorial

The Capitol would not have been constructed without their labor and craftsmanship, yet much of their history has yet to be documented and brought to light.

Michael has been meeting with the Ward 5 community groups and the first community presentation of the concept is scheduled for June 22, 2024, from 2-4 pm at the Landon Park Recreation Center, 2901 20th St NE, Washington, DC 20018.

Promotion of Public Art Project featuring Michael Janis “The Artist”.

If you are interested in participating – click link to sign up (at bottom of page) for updates from Commemorate DC. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to be a part of history!

Ribbon Cutting at Bladensburg Library

Bladensburg Library – Architect: Gant Brunnett Architects

The official ribbon citation ceremony of the new Prince George’s County Memorial Library Bladensburg Branch (4820 Annapolis Rd, Bladensburg, MD, at 11 am). The ceremony featured remarks from PGCMLS Interim CEO Richard AmRhein, County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County Councilwoman Jolene Ivey (District 5), Bladensburg Mayor Takisha James, PGCMLS Board of Library Trustees President Angela D. Smith, and PGCMLS Chief Operating Officer for Support Services Michael Gannon.

The glass mural, titled “Reading the Water” by Washington Glass School is the centerpiece of the new library.

At the heart of this artwork is a message about the importance of environmental stewardship and the need to protect our natural resources. Much of the glass mural is made using recycled glass and components. By drawing attention to the beauty and fragility of water, “Reading The Water” encourages viewers to reflect on their own relationship with the natural world and to consider how they can contribute to a more sustainable future.

Kisha Mason, PG Arts & Humanities Council at the lectern enthuses about the artwork. WGS artists Erwin Timmers and Michael Janis.
recycled glass, sustainable design for public art in Maryland Bladensburg Library
View to artwork from balcony at Bladensburg Library, Bladensburg, MD.
WGS artists/Co-Directors Michael Janis and Erwin Timmers at Bladensburg Library

Artworks Selected for Mt Rainier Public Arts Banner Project

Image of Michael Janis’ work as proposed to Mount Rainier Council

During the November Legislative Meeting, Mount Rainier Mayor Celina Benitez and Councilmembers unanimously voted on the artworks presented by the Mt Rainier Arts Commission at the November Legislative Meeting. The Lamp Post Display Art Project was launched by the Commission to showcase the talent of Mt Rainier-based artists while invigorating the City’s downtown.

15 artworks were carefully selected based on a set of criteria. The pieces will be displayed on banners that will hang on the City’s lamp post for two years. Mayor and Council commended the Commissioners for spearheading the project and selecting pieces representative of the City’s diversity, culture and people. Part of the Gateway Arts District, Mount Rainier is home to over 150 art studios that contribute to the enrichment of the community. Congrats to our Michael Janis – and we look forward to seeing the banners installed!

Laurel Library Public Art Makes the Map!

The Public Art Archive (PAA) is a free, continually growing database of completed public artworks. The Archive aims to raise awareness about the value of public art and help make it possible for stakeholders to advance the professionalism of public artists and practitioners in allied fields.

The Laurel Library artwork “Involve Me and I Learn” made by Washington Glass Studio.

The PAA has an easy-to-use website that allows one to search for completed public artwork on its site using various descriptors. It also creates a fun graphic map of the artworks across the United States and PAA map can also be used to create awareness and help guide tours of public art in local communities.

We are proud to announce that our Laurel Library public art project “Involve Me and I Learn” community-based sculpture was selected from over 500 submissions representing diverse and innovative public art from all 50 US states for inclusion in the new map. The PAA website also includes other Washington Glass Studio public art projects, including the Library of Congress doors, Florida’s West Palm Beach Tourism Office, and the Beanes Community Center, and others.

Images of the selected USA Public Art installations are currently being made into the new map by Colorado-based illustrator Kara Fellows, which we will share with all upon its completion.

Original Public Art map – in the new version – Laurel Library will be in all its glory!

DC’s MLK Jr Library Features Washington Glass Studio on Public Art

View of Green Community Gateway by Washington Glass Studio

The District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) is a dynamic source of information, programs, books and services, among them is their Makers Program, that includes a Fabrication Lab. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library’s “Fab Lab”, complete with 3D printers, a laser cutter, soldering equipment, other machines is part of a new movement of public libraries embracing the “maker movement.” DCPL’s maker program is the largest of its kind in a public library, as they see the program as a force to bring together makers, artists, and creative people of all types and from all fields and backgrounds, encouraging cross-disciplinary cooperation. As part of the public engagement, the DCPL Makers & DIY Program is hosting a series of artists lectures at the newly refurbished MLK Memorial Library auditorium.

Image of Community workshop at Washington Glass School.

On Saturday, May 21, 2022, from 1:00pm – 2:00pm, Michael Janis, co-director of the Washington Glass School, will give a lecture on how the Washington Glass Studio created the “Green Community Gateway” with art made with the help of the community in Ward 7.

The “Green Community Gateway”, public art sculpture marks the symbolic entrance to the Kenilworth/Parkside section of DC’s Ward 7. Through a series of glass “quilting bees”, Washington Glass Studio brought together neighborhood residents, students of the high school, and the staff of the newly constructed Unity Healthcare facility to make glass art that would become an integral part of the arch.

This lecture program will take place in the auditorium at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20001. Register at bit.ly/labsclasses

The renovated Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC, originally designed by Mies van der Rohe, the landmark library was rejuvenated by Mecanoo and OTJ Architects.

Public Art: Rockville Town Center “Compositions In Light”

“Compositions In Light” public artwork sculpture at Maryland’s Town Center Phase 2.

Washington Glass Studio was commissioned to make a new, two-part public art sculpture installation for the new mixed use residential development, Ansel, in Rockville, MD. Working with the project’s art consultant Artists Circle Fine Arts, the outlined goals were to enhance the location and the urban environment, as well as creating welcoming and colorful place markers that enlivens Rockville Town Center. The client – Duball, LLC – asked that the street placemaking artwork allow for a sense of fun and discovery.

The site – Ansel, 33 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD

The development was named “Ansel”, as spiritual nod to incredible American photographer Ansel Adams. Adams was considered a master of his craft and his experimentation with light gradations, degrees of exposure, and new techniques. Best known for his dramatic photographs of the American West, Adams achieved a popularity that few other photographers have known. Dedicated to wilderness preservation, he succeeded in changing the way Americans perceived their natural environment.

Creating a strong visual element for the streetscape – while maintaining clear pedestrian circulation – Washington Glass Studio focused on creating an internally illuminated vertical tower – approx 11′ high.

Named “Compositions In Light”, the sculpture is made of cast glass and powdercoated metal. The inset glass panels in the artwork incorporates artistic references to renowned photographer Ansel Adams – with artistic takes on his photos of still lifes, architecture, and landscapes; his love of nature, and sculptural interpretations of Adams main instrument – cameras.

The powder coated metal structure is arranged in triangular format to reference the classic photographers camera tripod. The shape also gives greater strength both structurally and in profile. The vertical structure supports the LED lighting and allows an even light to the glass wall panel opposite. The glass panels are inset into a removable grid section that is bolted to the structural frame. Each cast glass panel is set into silicone within metal angle surrounds. The metal base has a removable section to allow access to electrical source to tower.

Dimensional inset panels made of handmade cast glass presents tactile images of nature and objects that refer to Ansel Adams work and career. The varied nature of the artwork mounted in separate panels would invite investigation and exploration.

Shay Summers coldworks one of the artwork inset panels.

The gorgeous, illuminated tower is made up of colorful, tactile cast glass that defines each corner of the site. The inset glass panels are varied, but color coordinated with accent color panels to give a vibrancy to the design. The tapering form leads viewers eyes upward to a unique finial endcap, a cast sculpture that makes a fun, witty and distinctive statement. Dimensional inset panels made of handmade cast glass presents tactile images of nature and objects that refer to Ansel Adams work and career. The varied nature of the artwork mounted in separate panels would invite investigation and exploration.

Sparkling in the daytime and backlit with energy efficient LED, the glass artwork in “Compositions in Light” will always be a visible presence on the street. The metalwork and thickness of each glass panel make the artwork strong for a streetscape environment. In the history of American conservation, few have worked as long and as effectively to preserve wilderness and to articulate the “wilderness idea” as Ansel Adams. He spent decades in the battle to protect the environment. Helping reinforce the background of Ansel Adams as an environmental activist are the color directions for the artwork. Blues and greens are the colors most associated with nature and the environment.

The interplay of sculpture, the colors & quality of cast glass and the prominent location makes this an integrated urban design that brings focus to the site. The freestanding nature of the installed artwork encourages visitors and residents to walk around the artwork and experience a dynamic sense of place. A sense of playful fun caps each sculpture and helps define the paired artworks. United by form, colorful towers reinforce their connection to the artwork of Ansel Adams with finials inspired by the master photographer’s artwork.

“Compositions In Light”

Project Address: 33 Monroe St, Rockville, MD 20850

Client: Duball, LLC

Maryland’s Rockville Town Center Phase II includes 400 apartment units; 250 market-rate luxury apartments and 150 senior affordable apartments to be owned and managed by the Housing Opportunities Commission.

Artwork Project Team: Erwin Timmers, Christina Helowicz, Tim Tate, Michael Janis, Shay Summers

Art Consultant: Artists Circle Fine Arts

John Henderson Creates Baltimore Public Art Sculpture

John Henderson; Peoples’ Community Lutheran Church. Dimensions: 8ft x 18”, Glass/cast glass and cloth on wood panels.
Title: God Is Great

John Henderson, glass artist sculptor (and a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pimlico) recently created, designed, and installed an outdoor art sculpture for People’s Community Lutheran Church of Baltimore.

John Henderson; “God is Great”; Glass/cast glass and cloth on wood panels.

The sculpture represents all of the African Descent congregations’ connectiveness, in the DEMD Synod.

John Henderson; “God Is Great” detail.

The artwork, titled “God is Great” consists of kilnfused glass Adinkra symbols, layered on Kente fabric and dimensional cast glass panels measuring 16″x16″. The symbol called “Gye Nyame” represents the supremacy of God.

Bishop Gohl, of the Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA enthused about the newest public art sculpture.

Congratulations to John and the Peoples’ Community Lutheran Church!

The Process: Public Art – “Essential Connections” in Arlington, VA

“Essential Connections” by Washington Glass Studio, 18’L x 4’H, cast glass, LED. 2021

The Process: Public Art – “Essential Connections”
Washington Glass Studio (WGS) –J-Sol Apartment Complex, 4000 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA

Daytime view of “Essential Connections” sculpture in Arlington, VA.

Jefferson Apartment Group with Mitsui Fudosan America developed the Arlington, VA corner site formerly home to the sports bar CarPool into a 22-story, LEED Gold-certified high-rise called J-Sol, with residential units atop ground-floor retail and parking. Working with Toronto, Canada art consultant Oni-One Sourcing owner Paula Fleck, the preliminary designs were initiated in April of 2019, well before the pandemic lockdowns. Different concepts for both design and location of artwork to enhance the new J-Sol residential development were presented to the client.

Original concept sketch
Erwin Timmers and Michael Janis review the structural steel.


Framing the corner location of the new plaza at Fairfax Drive and North Quincy St. in Arlington, VA, the sculpture is made of almost 100 individual hand cast glass panels set into a bold geometric framework of acute angles that references the sculptural qualities of the new J-Sol building. The sculpture defines the location and creates a new sense of place with the layering of color, light and shadow. Merging architecture and design with their signature material, glass, the overall presentation of the sculpture is aimed to reflect our modern society and urban space.

Meticulously fitting glass into framework.

The varieties of techniques and layers of colors provide complex visual experiences is part of the works’ aesthetic pleasure.

Public art detail
An exploration of color, texture and pattern overlay.

The inspiration for the Arlington public artwork, “Essential Connections” is how much our world has changed. The artwork draws inspiration from our attempt to find new and innovative ways to reach out and connect with each other.

Night view of “Essential Connections” sculpture by Washington Glass Studio.

As WGS Co-Director Tim Tate noted of the work: “…Our goal was to create something memorable out of daily patterns of coming and going home.” The rainbow mix of colors – each a strength unto itself – is much more powerful in combined with others. The color palette itself references nature in its yellows, blues and greens, the sun, the water and sky, the grass and trees. Stylized elements of nature will be incorporated into several the crafted glass panels – emphasizing our renewed awareness of our environment.

The colors and patterns define this public space in Arlington, VA.

The artwork’s dynamic shape forms a translucent cornerstone of sorts – inviting all into the plaza for walking, sitting, and all manner of activities conducted in the park. The new artwork help create a place for people to enjoy, feel connected and remember. Using the timeless fundamentals of light and color to define the space we made a vibrant backdrop to define the area with exuberance and life.

The public response has been immediate – during installation many passerbys came up excitedly to the sculpture – wanting to take “selfie shots” at Arlington’s newest landmark.

The artworks’ youngest fan points out their favorite glass panel inset.
DC art enthusiast Anthony Adero strikes a casual pose at the new sculpture.

Project Details:

Location: 4000 Fairfax Dr, Arlington, VA 22203 (N Quincy St & Fairfax Dr)
Washington Glass Studio Public Art Team: Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Christina Helowicz.

Erwin Timmers and Christina Helowicz the sculpture’s internal LED lighting.

Structural Steel: Criss Brothers
Number of Glass Tile Insets: 97

WGS installation team L-R: Michael Janis, Ryan Henderson, Christina Helowicz, Erwin Timmers

John Henderson Creates Baltimore Public Art

John Henderson’s sculpture being installed at the park site.

This summer, WGS Studio artist John Henderson has been working with emerging young artists from Baltimore, MD to create new public art sculptures and murals. Baltimore’s “Arts On The Avenue (AOTA ) Program ” – is a place-based outdoor public arts initiative centered on residential neighborhoods and commercial districts undergoing community transformation. AOTA projects are site specific, with the intent of beautifying outdoor public spaces that promote peoples health, happiness, and well being.

Artist John Henderson presents certificates to each of the community participants.
All those who participated in the AOTA.

In addition to beautification of public spaces, another goal of AOTA is exposing children & youth to the creating process. This creative process or art therapy is more about the process not the outcome. In working with children and youth, this non verbal process in which the activities embodies the person and the expression is projected on the canvas. The end result is a finished mural. There can be discussions around what was created or not or a contemporary theme, such as “What is Family to You”, the therapy works to release emotions from deep within. We believe that this method of inserting young people to the visual arts has proven to be an effective efficient way of handling and overwhelmed PTSD, while at the same time creating a healthier community and improving the quality of life for the participants and residents in the community.

The community celebrates the completed works of art!
Baltimore City youth participating in a AOTA mural project

The Arts on the Avenue (AOTA) Program places culturally relevant artworks, created by local artist, along major vehicular corridors and identifiable gateways into a community. AOTA’s purpose is to stimulate revitalization efforts, in priority investment areas that align with local government neighborhood development strategies, attract new investments into communities, build strong connections with community stakeholders, and improve the quality of life for the residents through its ability to ignite the imagination, encourage thought and to prompt discourse.

Detail of the mural shows a bold, fun mix of colors.