The Pike by Donald Lipski
Artist Donald Lipski was selected in 2013 to create a work of public art for Arlington’s Western Gateway, near Columbia Pike and South Jefferson Street. This project will mark the entrance to Arlington from Fairfax, and is being commissioned in conjunction with the County’s Multimodal Street Improvement project at that location.
In The Pike, artist Donald Lipski explores how an object can be transformed into sculpture and its meaning changed through a whimsical combination of materials and place. Constructed from a reclaimed 50-foot tall wind turbine wing, the artwork serves as a gateway into Arlington County from Bailey’s Crossroads in Fairfax County. Historically, a literal pike, a weapon, was held parallel to the ground, to mean “Halt!”. In contrast, the sculpture suggests the welcoming, upright position of a toll gate. Columbia Pike is one of the oldest thoroughfares in the region. In 1810, the U.S. Congress chartered to build the Pike, then a toll road, to connect outlying areas to the District of Columbia.
The base of the sculpture is studded with thousands of coins from all over the world collected from Arlington County residents. These coins further reference the history of Columbia Pike as a toll road while also celebrating Arlington as an ethnically-diverse and culturally-rich community. Residents of Columbia Pike collected, counted and sorted the donated 4,784 coins from 117 countries and every continent (except Antarctica). The artwork’s form and materials reference this history, signaling all are welcome in Arlington.
Less than 0.1-mile south of the The Pike is the SW6 boundary stone, located in the median strip of South Jefferson Street. These sandstone boundary markers from 1791 and 1792 are the oldest federal monuments, denoting the perimeter of the original 10 miles square that defined the Washington, D.C. footprint. Of the 40 original stones, thirty-six are still in place at or near their original locations, including the SW6 boundary stone.
Donald Lipski was in town on September 18, 2017 to speak about the project at the Columbia Pike Library. Watch his talk online.
More info about the Multimodal Street Improvement Project.
Learn more about Donald Lipski.
Check out this interview in Artcritical with Donald Lipski.
Review the project timeline.