‘Owl’s Eye’ maze comes back into focus at Chestnut Hill museum

    Last week’s floods swept damaged some pretty old and solid buildings.

    So what chance did a whimsical piece of public art made of hay stand in the face of those torrential rains?

    And so it turned out that Peter Brown, architect, spent a sweaty Friday in not quite  the way he’d expected.

    Brown won the Woodmere Art Museum’s competition to design the hay maze the museum plans to feature on its front lawn this fall.

    This is the second year the museum on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill has offered local families a hay maze filled with hidden treasures.

    Brown, an architect with the firm of Lenhardt Rodgers, calls his design the Owl’s Eye. Working hard through the Labor Day weekend, he’d toted, lifted and placed more than 900 bales of hay to form his many-pointed design with the circle in the middle.

    Then came rain. And some more rain.  And just for a change, a little more rain.

    The maze … well, it “kind of melted.”   The bales, sodden with water, sagged into the wet, sloping turf of the lawn.  Some toppled.

    So, under a newly discovered September sun, on Friday, Brown was back at it, working hard by himself, armed only with a little red wagon, trying to get the maze back into shape in time for opening reception Friday night.

    He made the deadline, but for a while there, it was a close call.

    “Well, it’s a work in progress,” he said Friday around noon, with a smile and a mop of a sweaty brow. “It’s kind of like jazz. There’s a score, but not all the notes are written down. You can kind of have to improvise.”

    Brown had a lot of work to do to create what he called the “iris” of the Owl’s Eye, the center circle kids will reach once they navigate the simple maze: “I want this to feel like a destination. I want them to feel a reward for getting to this point.”

    Jessica Jenkins, marketing coordinator for Woodmere, said the museum picked Brown’s design because “we thought it was so different, very interesting. And we liked how the Owl’s Eye picked up on a kind of Halloween theme, since the maze will be up until then.”

    Last year’s maze, the first at Woodmere, was called “Witch’s Boot.”  She said museum staff will hide small prizes around the maze, and give children “treasure maps” to help them find the loot.

    As traffic flowed by on Germantown, Brown said goodbye to a visitor and set back to work, trying to restore his vision of The Owl’s Eye.

    “Got to keep going,” he said. “Those bales are really heavy.”

    Woodmere Art Museum is at 9201 Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill.  The maze will be open weekend night from tonight until Oct. 30. Hours are Fridays, 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.; Sundays, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.Price of admission: ages 4–11 with adult, $8 per child ($6 members); $20 for families of three or more ($18 members).  Flashlights available for $3. 

    All proceeds benefit the museum.

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