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'Giant Fun' Dots Fields In Anne Arundel County

The Capital of Annapolis

DAVIDSONVILLE, Md. (AP) -- They might be giants.

What else explains the 10-foot metal ball and shackle and 6-foot high ball and jacks sitting in fields around Davidsonville Pediatrics on Rutland Road?

Kids, er, patients at Dr. Robert Graw's office have been engaged in a contest trying to solve the puzzle. Contestants have been submitting artwork or a story about who escaped from the giant ball and shackle across the road from the office. We'll know the winner this week.

Maybe it was Shrek? What if there is a great big beanstalk nearby?

Meanwhile, just among us adults, the back story emerged Friday.

The large metal art works are the creation of Vermont-based artist David Tanych, whom Graw befriended through a common friend. Tanych has been spending winters, and more, on the West Coast and needed a place to keep the larger-than-life pieces as he tries to sell them.

Unless you have a really big yard or a very understanding homeowner's association, the steel structures are definitely in the public art realm.

Out in the country, Graw needn't worry about such.

"It is for the children," he said.

The doctor has cows and sheep and a pride of peacocks wandering the field next to the office. He had picture windows installed just so the children can peer at the menagerie. Graw is especially happy to see mothers stopping their cars to let their children look at the ball and jacks with cows and sheep wandering amidst the steel.

"To see the wonder in their eyes, it is a joy," he said. "My goal is to expose kids to other things. I want them to know there is more to life than lacrosse and football."

As for the artist, Tanych took to metal work after a career in his family's building supply business. His wife, artist Meryl Lebowitz, encouraged him to pursue art.

He had always built houses, furniture, most anything with wood ever since his father put a saw, hammer, nails and a piece of wood in his hands when he was 10.

First, he built a smaller ball and jacks sculpture, then larger pieces came to him. The shackle and ball is called "Free at Last." Others find their meaning in the movement through the stages of life. The giant screw and wing nut, which sits in a field at the rear of the Davidsonville office, is called "Unattached."

And the ball and jacks, which he calls "The Big Game," is just playful.

That reflects the fortunate place in life that he finds himself.

"I had three or four successful businesses. Out of that I can follow my passions, creating for the sake of creating," Tanych said, from his studio in Los Angeles where he and his wife spend their winters.

He hopes his Davidsonville pieces provide a little lightness for a sick child -- and their parents.

"My heart goes out to kids," he said. "If I build a piece and they say, `Wow, look at that.' That's a good thing."

Just what the doctor ordered.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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