Seeing the giant inflatable bunnies frozen in their poses on the lawn at Yards Park on the Capitol Riverfront is just another good reason to come down to this exciting redeveloped part of the city.
The enormous rabbits gracing this green space have nothing to do with Easter, by the way. No eggs, chocolate or pastels were used in the making of these sculptures. Rather, Australian artist Amanda Parer created the sculptures as a way to highlight the scourge known as the rabbit population in her native country.
The sign at the edge of the exhibit outlines how rabbits Down Under are “an out-of-control pest, leaving a trail of ecological destruction wherever they go.”
So what’s cute and furry to us is an infestation to them. Maybe in Australia, they’re cuddling roaches and stroking their smooth antennae while the critters repose in the laps of their admirers. Or not.
Big, Bold and Beautiful
Regardless, these colossal rabbits are a big draw to kids and adults alike. Made of heavy-duty nylon, some are so unwieldy they need guide wires to keep them from tipping over (or blowing into the river altogether).
So much art in the world comes with strict do-not-touch rules, it’s exciting to see pieces that welcome sticky little hands. Since the bunnies are snow white, you would expect to see some fingerprints and smudges, but how the dirt got way up onto their heads and noses 15 feet off the ground is a mystery. No matter; it won’t show in your pictures.
A Different Kind of Cubism
Also on display are Point Cloud and Cube, two light installations by artist John Ensor Parker. Like a gigantic Tinkertoy project, Point Cloud employs interconnected steel bars to make a block of boxes. Some boxes are obscured with white fabric and some are left empty. The result calls to mind a half-finished game of Don’t Break the Ice.
Another solitary white cube located a short distance from Point Cloud is called simply Cube. Don’t get this Cube confused with Ensor’s other Cube, a more substantial, wood-framed structure.
The Brooklyn artist is best known for his projection art, like this project he did in 2014 on the Manhattan Bridge Anchorage.
The light installation’s opening on Feb. 20 featured a dynamic projection display synced with a live DJ. Last week was a family affair — parents brought their kids to see the sculptures, get their faces painted and take turns plugging a peg into the giant Lite-Brite, which while much bigger than the one you had at home when you were little, dwarfed in comparison to the bunnies.
Performers were on hand as well, including jugglers and DJ Manifesto, who played an illuminated electric violin backed up by a stiff electronica beat. With temperatures in the low 40s and a stiff wind blowing, Mr. Manifesto was practically heroic in his efforts to entertain the crowd without gloves on.
The exhibit closes Sunday night, March 6. No special entertainment is scheduled for next weekend, so you might be able to get into one of the many restaurants down near the park, all of which were overflowing with eager diners last weekend.
If you haven’t been down to this area since its revitalization, now’s the time to go. You may have been to Nationals Park to see a game and marveled how this part of town has changed without ever getting a glimpse of Yards Park.
Some longtime DC residents may remember the Navy Yard Metro stop as a place you would hesitate to get off without a police escort — a neighborhood where you could buy a crack rock a lot easier than you could buy lunch — but all that’s changed now. You can get a Starbucks, stop into the Harris Teeter or eat at Gordon Biersch. No more pushing your money through the slot at the bottom of the bulletproof glass.
Some of the buildings from the old days are still standing, and they temper this rapidly expanding area — rife with brand-spanking new apartment buildings and commercial spaces — with a bit of a history. The National Museum of the U.S. Navy is there (warning, you can’t just walk in, you need to do paperwork first), and the Naval History and Heritage Command, the local repository of all things Navy.
If history isn’t your thing, you live in the wrong city. No, no, sorry — if history isn’t your thing, enjoy one of the many other offerings at Yards Park, including a canal basin for wading with a nearby fountain and a dog park for furrier progeny. Concerts are held every Friday night in the summer; the park has seating, but many bring their own chairs or blankets.
The park also connects to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, an evolving 20-mile multi-use trail that welcomes bikers, runners, skaters, people pushing strollers, meanderers and just regular people who like being outside.
The Yards has something for everyone, so head down as soon as you can to discover your favorite parts.