Posts tagged with "art":

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Figment Island

After nearly a year of waiting, we've now seen the new designs coming to Governors Island sometime in the future. But there is also some exciting architecture, art, and, most importantly, mini golf coming to the island this summer, part of the fourth annual Figment arts program that has been populating the island with exciting activities and edifices since the park first opened. On Friday, Figment announced the winners of its call for entries for the aforementioned projects, namely an architecture pavilion, 17 sculptures, and a 10-hole mini golf course. Eschewing the flashy forms of the three finalists they beat out, Ann Ha and Behrang Behin took a creative yet affordable approach with their winning Living Pavilion, tethering together milk crates to create planters for a garden that proceed to fold in on themselves, forming a wave-like tunnel sodded with grass. Check out the architecture finalists plus a few of the winning sculptures after the jump.
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The Dispersion

“We all have day jobs, and we don’t all live in the same city, or even on the same continent,” said Andrew Lyon, one of the six members of the multi-disciplinary design collective The Functionality. “But we all have a shared desired – to make something.” Lyon was standing beside Colin Harris, a civil engineer and fellow member of The Functionality. Huddled together against the cold last Saturday, the three of us barely fit inside W Project Space, a diminutive storefront gallery on a grubby block of Division Street, in a neighborhood that’s become a kind of lightning rod for just the kind of art practice the Functionality seems interested in pursuing: work that’s categorically messy, temporary, and site specific. Here, in the tiny storefront there’s a sixer of beer on the floor, half empty. Late '90s hip-hop issues cheerfully out of the tinny speakers of a portable boom box. Honestly, anything louder would overwhelm the space. It’s like being invited to an art opening inside a VW Bus. Over our heads hangs the reason for the gathering: a seductively tactile, monochromatic felt membrane entitled “Feel It, Take It,” designed and installed by The Functionality for a span of time as brief as W Project Space is small. The Functionality “explores issues of technology, culture and economics, through considered research and tactile experimentation,” according to the collective’s spartan website. Its members include architects, artists and engineers who treat the group as a counterpoint to the five-year timetables of institutional architecture, a venue for ushering something real into the world in short order. Something gone but never forgotten. Hence “Feel It, Take It,” an assemblage of 140 strips of felt—custom-designed and -cut scarves, actually. The form of the piece was created using procedural modeling software. Formally organized along the graph of a catenary, “Feel It, Take It,” hangs from the ceiling of W Project Space, its form both alien and inviting. The idea is that tonight, at the end of the closing party (scheduled to take place one day after the opening), the installation will be disassembled and distributed to the attendees, each of whom will then disperse into the night. The work will dissolve into the city. Within minutes of my arrival, a stream of people began to descend on the miniature space, some invited by The Functionality, others just curious about the miniature gallery and the lovely object it contained. Within 30 minutes, around 50 people were jostling around the tiny space, sipping canned Pabst beneath the installation’s voluptuous folds. But as the moment approached to begin sending “Feel It, Take It” out, piecemeal, into the five boroughs, the city itself took dispersal into its own hands. It’s hard to fit so many architects into a space that’s roughly the size of a walk-in freezer without a little raucous spillover into the Chinatown night. As if on cue, a battery of NYPD cruisers converged on the space just before nine. As Lyon and Harris pleaded their case to a stony-faced sergeant—he was clearly not interested in generative processes or the beauty of interrelated systems—most of the crowd quietly evaporated. But what’s design without unexpected complications? An email the next morning announcing “Scarves for All” invited another (decidedly more tame) visit to W Project Space on Sunday to collect a scarf. For those who couldn’t make it, The Functionality will be making the felt strands available to anyone who sends postage and a self-addressed envelope, potentially increasing the distribution radius of “Feel It, Take It” by hundreds or even thousands of miles.
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Building Traveling Thinking

We urbanites have all cursed the slow-moving, camera-toting tourists, snapping photos of the iconic buildings in the cities we hustle through daily. As residents, with the dulling nature of time, our appreciation of these structures is diminished. As tourists, they are like vivid stage-sets captured in our minds, but, like all other memories, they are fleeting. We return home and try to explain them to our friends with words, charades-like gestures, and amateur photographs.  Artist Susan Giles explores these ideas in greater detail with her current exhibition, Buildings and Gestures, currently on display at Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago through March 13. Travel and tourism are not new subjects in her work and the expansion of these themes to include architecture is, for her, only natural. Giles, not a native Chicagoan, says she got interested in architecture because it’s a rich part of this city’s history. “I spent a couple years abroad in touristy places and I’m interested in buildings as icons and that you can get these souvenirs of famous buildings, but they’re only a small fragment of the experience. That memory is always slipping away.” The exhibit includes four small sculptures fusing together iconic building models into an architectural gobstopper. Some of the paper sculptures are freestanding and others appear to be exploding out of the wall or ceiling, composed of all or some component of postcard worthy sites, like Big Ben, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Duomo. It is easy to recover our own travel imagery with the vaguely anonymous minarets, domes, turrets, and arches of these pieces. And this is exactly what participants in her video, Buildings and Gestures, seek to do.  The video’s subjects are describing a piece of architecture in layman’s voice, complete with curly-q descriptions and accompanying hand gestures.  It is smartly edited and sectioned  into awkward pauses, use of architectural buzz words, like “gothic” and obligatory “-esques”, and sweeping charades, which prohibits the viewer from ever recognizing the structures that the subjects are earnestly trying to describe. The video itself is housed in a large-scale corrugated cardboard and wood structure that compliments the anonymous descriptions.

Susan Giles: Buildings and Gestures

Kavi Gupta

835 W. Washington Blvd, Chicago

Through March 13

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Such Great Heights

Winter makes Chicagoans crave a sense of escape. An intriguing new exhibition of Maya Lin’s work at the Arts Club of Chicago provides a timely opportunity to visit, visually at least, some fascinating terrain. With its small and large-scale sculpture and installations, viewers can travel from mountain peaks to the bottom of the sea. Chicago’s streetscape is flat, melding almost seamlessly with the shores of Lake Michigan. Lin’s work challenges the viewer to explore topography and geologic phenomena of greater depths and heights, pushing us to consider the natural environment far beyond our immediate surroundings. Through April 23, the public can view eleven of Lin’s works, including the room-filling Blue Lake Pass (2006)  and Flow (2009), the latter mimicking the undulation of wave swells. Much of the work is a continuation of the solo exhibition Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes that was organized by the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, WA and traveled to several major museums. For the show at the Arts Club, Lin created a site-specific work, Reversing the Flow (2010), where the Chicago River is cast with straight pins in its two dimensional map shape. And at first glance, one might confuse the three-dimensional plywood model next to Flow as a sonar reading of Lake Michigan, when it is actually Caspian Sea (Bodies of Water series, 2006). Maya Lin The Arts Club of Chicago 201 E. Ontario Street Monday – Friday, 11-6 Through April 23
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Full Steam Ahead

While the preservation experts at Beyer Blinder Belle are typically busy making old structures look new with new components that look old (like, say, the signage at a certain skyscraper), BBB's designers also from time to time design from whole cloth. Or whole bronze, as is the case for a pair of murals created for a recent lobby renovation to 230Park Avenue, the former Helmsley Building that caps Grand Central. Last Monday, Monday Properties president Anthony Westreich, the building's owner, dedicated the murals along with local pols Scott Stringer and Daniel Garodnick and Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Robert Tierney. Weighing more than a ton, the murals—which were drawn by Chris Ludlow and sculpted by Joan Benefiel under the direction of BBB—hark back to the building's history as the former headquarters for the New York Central Railroad, depicting a train speeding by with the distinctive profile of 230 Park in the background. See more photos from the dedication and shop after the jump.
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New Gams for Lever House

The British artist Richard Woods is known for using patterns from historical sources such as Tudor architecture and the designs of William Morris in his Pop inflected works. His new installation at Lever House, entitled Port Sunlight, wraps the ground level elements at Gordon Bunshaft's mid-century masterwork in vibrant panels, and while there isn't a snowflake in sight the effect is festive. Nine patterns, applied to columns and benches, and as carpet-like floor pieces, are used on the exterior and interior of the lobby. They vibrant colors draw the eye across the ground level, highlighting Bunshaft's layering of indoor and outdoor spaces. While Lever House's classic lines hardly need to be improved upon, Port Sunlight invites you to see the building with fresh eyes. On view through January 31, 2010, Park Avenue at 54th Street.
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Art On The Gridiron

Thirty-five years ago in Austin, Texas, Willie Nelson forged an historic accord between the hippies and the rednecks. Today, some 200 miles to the north in Arlington, Texas, Gene and Jerry Jones, owners of the Dallas Cowboys, are forming a similar pact, this time between the artists and the jocks. The Jones family has kicked off an ongoing initiative to commission contemporary artists to create site-specific installations for the newly completed Cowboys Stadium. The initial blitz of 14 works includes pieces by such art world luminaries as Franz Ackermann, Annette Lawrence, and Oafur Eliasson. See more after the jump. "From top to bottom, we're taking a whole new approach to what a national sports arena can be," said Jerry Jones in a press release. "Cowboys Stadium isn't just a place to go and see a game or a concert, it's an experience you share with your family and your community. That will include things that a lot of people wouldn't anticipate seeing at a stadium—like contemporary art. Football is full of the unexpected and the spontaneous—it can make two strangers into friends. Art has the power to do that too, to get people talking, and looking, and interacting. It's not just about what you see on the field or on the wall, it's about creating exciting experiences." The works will be installed in the areas of the stadium that have the highest concentration of pedestrian traffic, including the four principal entries and the two monumental staircases. The artists have already begun the installation process, and most of the initial 14 pieces will be in place in time for the first regular season game against the New York Giants on September 20. "We're breathing new life into a tradition that extends back to the Greeks and Romans, who integrated the art of their time in stadiums where the best athletes gathered to compete," said Gene Jones. "The art program at Cowboys Stadium brings this dialogue between art and sport into the modern day. We're making it possible for some of the worlds leading contemporary artists to create work on scale unimaginable anywhere else and we're connecting new audiences with their work." An advisory council helped the Jones family select the artists and works for the program. The members of this committee included Michael Auping, Chief Curator, Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth and Charlie Wylie, Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art, Dallas Museum of Art. Other artists selected include Ricci Albenda, Mel Bochner, Doug Aitken, Teresita Fernandez, Terry Haggerty, Dave Muller, and Lawrence Weiner. As part of the initiative the Jones family will also be creating an art education program, which will include art tours of the stadium.
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Making Buildings Dream

From Germany via Dangerous Minds comes this stunning 3-D architectural illusion: A square building appears possessed, its facade rippling, segmenting and mutating. Giant hands manipulate the building's surface and then dissolve. A wave ripples through the building's bricks as if it were shivering. It's called "How it would be, if a house was dreaming," and it's a trompe-l'oeuil video projection by Hamburg-based creative collective UrbanScreen. The title's perfectly apt, as these look like nothing so much as disjoint visions flitting across the subconscious of a slumbering building. The building in question is O.M. Unger's Galerie der Gegenwart in Hamburg, completed in 1997 as the final wing of the Kunsthalle Hamburg art museum. Its facade is flat, gridded, and largely windowless, severe by day, but a perfect pixellated canvas for UrbanScreen's fantasies by night. A steady stream of passers-by on the sidewalk below—some stopping to watch, others simply going about their business—make the metamorphosing building behind them seem all the more surreal.
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Art Island

The physical distance that separates Governors Island from most New Yorkers often offsets the draw and mystery of the place. This summer, however, everyone has a new reason to make the mini-pilgrimage—only 10 minutes by ferry—to the island that was for so many years off-limits. An art installation dubbed PLOT09: This World & Nearer opened to the public on June 27th and features artwork by 19 international artists. The site-specific works take visitors on a tour of the island and inside abandoned buildings, including an empty church. The artists had their pick of the place. Once they chose their site, they worked to interpret the island’s (primarily military) history, as well as its current “no-place” status, meaning it does not belong to any one group, explained the organizers. Themes explored include transcendent experiences, bizarre phenomena, uncertain futures, travel, and time. The Mark Beasely-curated installation is satisfying, though it was undoubtedly helped by the quality of the site. One request for future installations: less video art and more work highlighting the architecture and surroundings. Those that did that were the most engaging, while the video art fell flat in the context of the site. Here AN brings you a photo preview of the installation. Go any weekend this summer, the ferry is free. Bring a picnic basket and maybe even your bike—or rent one there—and enjoy.
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Fire On The Mountain

It's not every day that a scary fire burns within a few miles of a major cultural institution. Well in LA it sort of is, but that's beside the point. A recent drive on the 405 Freeway revealed to us what all the news reports are saying: There is a biggish blaze burning just one hill over from the Getty Center on LA's west side. The smoke is thick and brown, and on first look bulged out at the top, not unlike a mushroom cloud. Yikes. Helicopters are running regular passes over the thing, which is spreading in thin lines along the mountains facing the Getty, moving southward down the Sepulveda Pass. But fortunately it appears that firefighters have it under control (in California terms a 10-acre fire is only a mini conflagration), despite a forced evacuation of the Getty and nearby Mount St. Mary's College. Stay tuned... We hope we don't have to see if all that marble and granite will hold up to a good ol' California disaster. And for now, the biggest concern of drivers on the 405 is the threat of imminent traffic. Now that's scary.

Going Up

During our interview with André, the renowned hotelier talked about how he likes to give each of his hotels its own personality, a reflection of himself. Well, as the hotel continues its soft opening, it has gotten another personal touch, namely the above video by Marco Brambilla installed in the elevators. If you can't already tell, it's a trip from hell to heaven in concert with the elevator's ascent up the Standard New York's 20 stories. Which begs the question: If you're staying on the lower floors, are you trapped in purgatory?
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Get Set, Go, Party

Yesterday, we posted the feature from our current California issue, "On Their Mark," about a new show at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego highlighting seven local firms. While sending over the pictures of the exhibition, Mix: Nine San Diego Architects and Designers, that went into our slideshow, the fine folks at MCASD also sent along these nice photos from the opening party, which were taken by Lauren Radack. In case, like us, you couldn't make it. (And if you know anyone in these photos we may not have mentioned, do tell).