The team at Level Green Landscaping volunteers a lot throughout the year, cleaning up school gardens with students and teaching the community to get their hands in the soil.
Their latest volunteer project is a departure, putting their hardscape skills to work to help install a compelling bronze statue at the renowned Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in downtown Washington DC.
Level Green crews poured a concrete base and installed the work of art, called “When I Was Naked,” at the foot of the Cathedral steps.
The life-size bronze sculpture portrays Christ as a homeless man, naked and clinging to a piece of cardboard to keep warm. His hand is outstretched in a plea for help.
The art, by Canadian sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz, was unveiled and blessed by Rev. Monsignor W. Ronald Jameson Nov. 17, on World Day of the Poor, as parishioners gathered outside on the sidewalk along Rhode Island Avenue to watch and pray.
Washington-area residents Michael and Sandy Huke donated the sculpture. The Cathedral is the perfect location for the meaningful piece, says Huke, chairman and CEO of CIH Properties, Inc. in Silver Spring, MD.
“St. Matthew’s has a major ongoing initiative to help those who are homeless and in need, and there are often those in need present in front of the Cathedral,” Huke says.
The sheet of heavy plastic that covered the statue, designed to hide it until its unveiling, disappeared early on, he says, “most likely serving as shelter for someone in need, so it’s in good use.”
Brad Barton Ball, a DC-based professional landscape architect, worked with Huke to create the site plans and obtain permits needed for the installation, and Ball approached Level Green to install the piece.
Level Green concrete experts mixed and tinted the concrete to complement the hues of the adjacent brick and nearby stone steps and poured a 12-inch high base, then drilled the base to mount the bronze statue.
“It was a different kind of project for us,” says James Kole, a branch manager at Level Green Landscaping who worked on the project. “Landscaping changes all the time and needs to be updated. This sculpture will last 100 years, if not longer. It’s very exciting.”
The statue will get a lot of attention, installed outside one of the most famous churches in Washington.
The church is the seat or cathedra of the Archbishop of Washington. As the Mother Church of the archdiocese, it plays a major role in the Catholic life of the nation’s capital.
The funeral Mass for President John F. Kennedy was celebrated in the Cathedral. Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have all visited there.
Schmalz has large-scale sculptures installed worldwide, including in historical churches in Rome and at the Vatican.
Level Green was honored to install the piece.
“We love giving back to the community,” Kole says. “We were happy to do it.”
Huke says he’s grateful to Ball and Level Green for donating their services to the project.
Level Green “has unique skills and talents that couldn’t have been more perfect for our needs,” Huke says. “You all were a blessing for your help in completing this wonderful project. God willing, this sculpture could be there for 1,000 or more years.”