Kinetic Sculpture Race

Brenda Schillaci

Kinetic Sculpture Race – Baltimore, MD

May 7, 2016

Here is how the website defines a Kinetic Sculpture Race: “Kinetic Sculptures are amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race. Each May, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) hosts the East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race Championship on the shore of Baltimore’s Harbor in central Maryland.  The eight-hour race covers 14 miles—mostly on pavement, but also including a trip into the Chesapeake Bay and through mud and sand.”

We arrived early in the morning to view and photograph the sculptures, the participants, and the viewers of the race. Everyone was invited to dress up, so costumes were seen everywhere, not just among the racers.  The sculptures ranged from fairly small and simple designs to large, elaborate floats.  All had wheels for the peddling, land based part of the race and lots of Styrofoam or recycled water bottle bases for the floating part of the by Brenda Schillaci

We had time to view all the sculptures, plus check out the views from Federal Hill, and view the various pieces of art around the museum, which is an amazing work of art in itself.

When the race began, participants started up on Federal Hill, then ran down to their sculptures, which were parked in parking spaces alongside the museum.  There was quite a traffic jam as the floats proceeded out of the parking lot, around the block, up and around Federal Hill, and back out onto the streets to head through the city to the water part of the by Brenda Schillaci

There were so many fun floats, it was hard to pick a single favorite.  I really liked The Bee’s Knees, Tick Tock Croc, Poe’s Toaster, and Kinetic Couch Reborn. All the floats can be seen at
I had to leave after this beginning part of the race.  The group took water taxis across the harbor, then I went off to Fell’s Point while Debbie, Gloria, and Karl continued on to the water aspect of the race.  Here is Debbie Mcintosh’s recap of the rest of their afternoon:

photo by Debbie McintoshThe club members headed for the nearest launch and boarded a water taxi to meet the race leaders at the water’s edge at Canton Waterpark.  There were already a few sculptures that couldn’t make it that far, but the favorites were all there:  Fifi, the Bees Knees, the Egyptian Mummy, and Tick Tock Croc.  Each sculpture had to enter the water and navigate past the pier to a cone and return on the other side of the pier.  Each sculpture was equipped with flotation and oars.
Spectators lined the edge of the waterway to get the best vantage point.  The crowd screamed as they watched the Pink Unicorn collapsing into itself while it was in the water!  Judges and volunteers had to fish several riders and part of the sculpture out of the drink!  But the race must go on, so the remainder of the sculpture with its team continued on its course around the pier in hopes it could still finish and head to the mud and sand pits.  The biggest splash had to be from Mobile Mobile.  That roller in the front kicked up quite a wave.  We watched and photographed the Egyptian Mummy open and billow smoke as it navigated the course, and Tic Toc Croc, probably the longest sculpture, navigated the course like a pro!photo by Debbie Mcintosh 

All in all, the weather held off, the members got to experience something new and by the time the water event concluded, they were ready to sit back and enjoy good food and each other’s company.