- Photo courtesy of Erwin Timmers.
Groceries and fine art rarely collide. Says Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle, “I think if we’ve used art, I’d characterize it as ‘on a selective basis.’”
Indeed. Other than a student-created painting outside the Georgetown Safeway, Muckle recalls an artistic experiment at a store in Pikesville, Md. “Some historic art,” he says. “I forgot what that was. That’s going back a couple of years.”
This fall Safeway steps up its aesthetics with the work of Erwin Timmers of the Washington Glass School. With a store on Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda set to be demolished and rebuilt, the company engaged Timmers to create a piece for the new store. Muckle says it made sense to feature art in the Bethesda store, as Bethesda has a “pretty thriving arts community.”
Timmers, who works with used materials, salvaged all of the glass for his mosaic series from the former Safeway. “There’s no real avenue for recycling [glass],” he says. “It just gets tossed along with the other materials.” Timmers took most of his material from freezer doors and partitions and is now constructing a metal framework with mosaic panels in it.
The design is herb-themed, with the glass cast in leaf patterns. “We sort of wanted to reference what Safeway is about, but not make it an advertising thing,” Timmers explains. The leaves include a basil or bay leaf, a variegated leaf in the manner of cilantro or parsley, and a rosemary-type needle leaf. It’s not exactly Andre Serrano in terms of controversy, but Timmers says this is Safeway’s first foray into public art. “So it’s a new process for them too,” he says. Maybe we’ll save the crucifixes for the new Alexandria store.
Timmers and his team are out working almost daily, trying to work around the scaffolding and construction going on around the site for the mosaics. The grand opening of the store is Oct. 12. “I think everyone’s going to love it,” he promises.