Trompe l'oeil - "that which fools the eye". Next time you are at a social
gathering throw that one out there to impress your friends. It sort of
rolls off the tongue, but what does it have to do with Frederick, MD? Mild
curiosity as to the meaning of the inconspicuous road signs proclaiming
"Community Bridge Mural" led us to the answer to that question as we discovered
a unique treasure in this seemingly ordinary old town.
We began our journey on foot at Market Street as we strolled along the
Carroll Creek Promenade. Expecting to find a project completed by high
school students or young children, we saw a stone bridge in the distance
and determined that the mural must be just beyond that. However, once
we were close enough to inspect the bridge more carefully, we realized
the bridge we were looking beyond was actually THE Community Bridge Mural.
We were totally stunned when we realized that all the rocks, hanging vines,
marble sculpture, and carved stones were nothing more than illusion, a
product of someone's vivid imagination and incredible talent. The artistry
originated from the talented hands of William Cochran and his assistants
who started the project in 1993 with a series of town meetings in various
communities to gather ideas from many different perspectives. The total
culmination of all his efforts is a 3-D illusion of more than 180 carved
symbols representing viewpoints of a 1000 different people that has to
be seen to be believed.
literally spent hours exploring the many nuances of the bridge, such as
a gate that looks so real you feel as if you can reach out and open it.
There were so many images intermingled among the stone paintings, it was
like a mini scavenger hunt. We were even able to find a motorcycle! It
is nice to know that bikers were represented as part of the "community"
effort. A bench is conveniently located under the bridge so we were able
to enjoy the shady and peaceful surroundings, completely oblivious to
the iron and concrete realities and the traffic rumbling just above. The
bridge created a sanctuary right in the heart of town. After surrounding
ourselves in the illusionary world of the bridge, it became almost impossible
for us to distinguish fact from fiction. In fact we had great difficulty
trying to determine if an actual manhole cover was real or just another
trick of the paintbrush without actually reaching out and touching it
As if the bridge were not enough of a treat, old town is definitely worth
visiting for anyone interested in antiques and unique shops. The Delaplaine
Visual Arts Center adjacent to the creek is a must see for anyone interested
in the arts. In fact, it provides the perfect vantage point for viewing
an unusual illusion on the bridge in which an angel appears to be coming
out of a window. There are many restaurants in town to choose from ranging
from casual bars to elegant dining. Frederick also offers an Annual Creekside
Festival of The Arts in the early summer which includes visual and performing
arts as well as many activities for the entire family to enjoy.
As an added bonus, there are three more life-like 3-D murals created
by William Cochran tucked in unexpected places in town. For those of us
who live for the little unexpected things in life, Frederick is the perfect
day trip and a vivid reminder that we should not believe everything we
Directions: Route 15 North/340 East from Virginia to Frederick. As you
enter Frederick, make a right onto South Street and then a left onto Market