Members of the Essex Gateway Landmark Sculpture Work Group were instrumental in the development and completion of the newly unveiled Essex Landmark Sculpture, which sits at the intersection of Eastern Boulevard and Virginia Avenue near the Back River Bridge.

Essex now has a new hard-to-miss monument located on one of its main thoroughfares.

In a special ceremony hosted by the Chesapeake Gateway Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) and the East Baltimore County Task Force (EBCTF) on the evening of June 10, the Essex Landmark Sculpture was unveiled. The sculpture unveiling was a culmination of more than 15 months of planning, collaboration, design and community input.

EBCTF co-chair Cliff O’Connell was one of the individuals responsible for spearheading the project and played a significant role in coordinating the hour-long ceremony at the intersection of Eastern Boulevard and Virginia Avenue – the site of the new sculpture. O’Connell essentially grew up in Essex, and noticed the area where the sculpture is has declined drastically, which led him to take action.

The Essex Landmark Sculpture project was one of several undertakings by O’Connell and those who work alongside him on the EBCTF with the objective of inspiring local residents to be more mindful in maintaining a clean community.

“I used to ride a bicycle down there when I was a kid and I’ve just seen it go downhill – a lot of vacancies, trash, graffiti, junk cars. It was really getting bad down there and I wanted to try to clean it up,” O’Connell said.

“We wanted a change and we wanted people to see a change along The Boulevard, hoping it would reenergize people to start picking up trash. You know, a new attitude.”

The landmark sculpture, formed by sculptor Tim Scofield and local artist Camila Leão, reflects the uniqueness, history, culture and communities of Essex and features a variety of color schemes and modern designs. Bypassers, whether in a vehicle, on a bike or on foot, will find it hard to miss the tall, luminescent structure that sits near Back River Bridge.

Imagery on the Essex Landmark Sculpture depicts some of the historical and notable sites near and dear to the Essex area, including Cox’s Point Park, Rocky Point Golf Course, Martin State Airport and the Essex Day Festival. The sculpture replaces the Essex Cube, which sat at the intersection for more than 40 years. The cube is in storage at O’Connell’s body shop and will be reconditioned and relocated to the Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River (on a date to be announced).

Present at the ceremony were about 80 attendees, including local political figures, business leaders, community leaders and local residents. CGCC President Sharon Kihn gave opening remarks and acknowledgements, followed by O’Connell, Del. Robin Grammer, Councilman Todd Crandell, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Olivia Ceccarelli-McGonigal, Baltimore County Department of Planning’s Mark Landolina, Scofield and Leão.

Kihn also delivered closing remarks before the evening concluded with the sculpture unveiling, symbolizing a new chapter in Essex. Across the street from the monument is a lot once riddled with trash and junk cars, O’Connell pointed out, which prompted him and his colleagues to solicit cleaning services from Baltimore County.

“We’re hoping people look at [the sculpture] and it brings back to their mind that there is some good stuff here in Essex. Essex is a great place. We got our issues, but there’s a lot of good things to work for to bring it back,” he said.

“There’s a lot going on here that’s good and people need to be reminded of it. Not saying that monument is going to be the answer, but I’m just hoping that we’ll see a change.”

The project was a collaborative effort between the 10-member Essex Gateway Landmark Sculpture Work Group, EBCTF and CGCC, and was funded by the State of Maryland and the Baltimore County government.

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