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Art gone wild - Baltimore's 16th Annual Kinetic Sculpture Race

Some of the wild and wacky kinetic sculptures and the colorful people who made the event memorable.
Some of the wild and wacky kinetic sculptures and the colorful people who made the event memorable.David L. Jennings

Vikings, pirates, newlyweds and a host of colorful characters mounted their Kinetic Sculptures to the delight of thousands of spectators. It all took place as part of the American Visionary Art Museum's 16th annual Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race. The totally human-powered works of art race is a testament to the vision of Rebecca Hoffberger, founder of the American Visionary Art Museum. Hoffberger met Hobart Brown, credited with starting the first ever Kinetic Sculpture Race in California, to help with the establishment of an East Coast Championship. Theresa Segreti has led the American Visionary Art Museum's sponsorship of the race since the beginning in 1999, according to the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race brief history.

The American Visionary Art Museum sponsored the 16th Annual Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race 2014
The American Visionary Art Museum sponsored the 16th Annual Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race 2014David L Jennings

This year saw the return of old favorites like Fifi the giant poodle, Bumpo the Elephant, and a returning version of PLATYPUS (Personal Longrange All-Terrain Yacht Proven Un-Safe). A new entry and winner of the Grand Mediocre East Coast Champion award, Art award, People's Choice award, and Marine Posse Favorite award, was Tick Tock the Croc. An articulating crocodile that looked at home in the water, on the streets, and through the sand and mud pits. One of the details of this sculpture that pleased the crowd was the smoke that surrounded the croc as it entered the water at the Canton Waterfront Park.

The 14-mile course began at the American Visionary Art Museum with a LeMans race type start, then the Kinetinauts, pilots of the moveable art, made the steep climb up Battery Avenue, down Riverside and around the Inner Harbor, to the Canton Waterfront Park. The teams then had to demonstrate the seaworthiness of their creations by rolling into the harbor and navigating around the pier and exit the water. This is the spot where Doodle 2 earned a Golden Flipper Award for the most interesting water entry.

The racers then move to Patterson Park for the sand, mud and pagoda challenges. Cornography, a large combine design, and one of the heaviest and tallest engineered pieces was stymied in the sand challenge but was presented with the Best Pit Crew award. Other awards went to Max's Rat Patrol for speed, Name Your Game won the Golden Dinosaur award for the first sculpture to break down. More award information is posted at the 2014 Baltimore Race Preliminary Results.

The crowds were as colorful and wacky as the entrants to this marvelous tribute to engineering skill and artistic endeavor. The creators of the event have always encouraged silly clothes, goofy hats, something in your colored hair, like little yellow birds, sequined dresses or something left over from Halloween or your New Year's Eve costume party. This year the weather was cooperative and the pink and purple hair, wild hats and friendly pets all came out to cheer on the teams.

Mark your calendars for the next year's 17th annual race and enjoy a day with fun loving creative designers and engineers.