Posts tagged with "Biennial":

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Review: Manifesta 12 is the real deal

Manifesta 12’s The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence, which opened on June 16 in Palermo, Sicily, is a sprawling and at times fragmented series of venues and events. But unlike other art and architecture biennials whose main purpose is to deliver trends, Manifesta 12 is the real thing. This is an exhibition that’s been hardwired into the city’s fabric, and while undeniably the city of Palermo completely upstages the Manifesta exhibition, this must have been the prime intention of the curatorial team from the start. Manifesta 12 is Palermo, and therefore the exhibition is a diagram to explore the city and to discover some of the most fascinating and haunting architectural spaces anywhere in the European-Mediterranean region. It is precisely this urban-based formula that the Dutch-based Manifesta “franchise” is best known for, and therefore the impressive success of this exhibition has much to do with the way the curators have been able to weave their fertile themes into the city’s fabric. There is art, there is architecture, and there is the city. Given how much there would be to cover in a review of this size, I will try to present some of the biennial’s bolder highlights. Much of the credit for Manifesta’s achievements is thanks to OMA’s partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli who led the curatorial team. Laparelli succeeds in cracking Palermo’s urban code, precisely because he trains his lens on Palermo’s convoluted urban fabric, its magnificent cardo and decumanus, the overgrown gardens, the abandoned urban masterplans, and melancholic housing estates. As Laparelli notes in the opening introduction to OMA’s Palermo Atlas, “the Biennial’s thematic and geographic organization are intertwined, triggering a journey through the city like a section through anatomy; from the abandoned and derelict heritage of the old town to the failed utopia of the outskirts; from the glorious history of its Gardens to its neglected and toxic coast.” This is especially true of the city and its dramatic relationship to its old town, one of the largest historic city centers in Europe. And yet this impressive segment of the city lies in some kind of lethargic black hole when compared with the adjacent districts of Palermo that grew in the thirties and then expanded exponentially in the sixties. The one constant is the draw of the periphery, which serves as the cash cow for the city’s black economy while the old town lies in neglect and disrepair—a condition the city continued to submit to well into the nineties. In order to better comprehend where Palermo was headed, Manifesta enlisted politicians, local associations, patrons of the arts, and institutions to suggest ways to engage the city, to establish new routes of access, and to generate new kinds of cultural experiences. By and large, it’s a project that has pervaded into different levels of society, and it’s not uncommon on the streets to hear locals discuss Manifesta’s merits or problems. And there are viable results: Massimo Valsecchi and his wife Francesca have made it their mission to restore the magnificent Palazzo Butera in the heart of the city. Valsecchi, whom I spoke with during Manifesta’s opening, saw the renovation of Palazzo Butera as a stopgap measure, a way to decisively reengage the city’s historic axis by reasserting the building’s role as both palatial seawall and monumental gateway to the ancient city. For what turns out to be the price of a single Gerhard Richter painting, the purchase of Palazzo Butera by these important Lombard contemporary art collectors could impact the city’s future. But for now, the palace’s impressive interior renovation, in preserved ruin style, frames Manifesta’s verdant exhibition Garden of Flows. Not far from Palazzo Butera one can enter the historic Botanical Gardens, another destination in the procession of Garden of Flows, to become entangled in the rhizomatic plant cultivations. Much of the same could be said about another architectural monument, Palazzo Forcella de Seta, an old bastion with a casino built above it from the 17th century. It’s aligned perpendicularly with the seafront and is just as mesmerizing a stage for this exhibition. This Moorish-influenced venue is one of the spaces around the city that are assembled together and are “Out of Control,” along with the Palazzo Ajutamicristo where we are confronted with projects investigating different conditions on immigration, data, and identity. There are projects by Forensic Architecture’s offshoot, Forensic Oceanography, where they investigate the militarized control of the Mediterranean, and Tania Bruguera’s look at the Mobile User Objective System, known as MUOS, the cordoned off American base in southeastern Sicily directing remote drone warfare. But it’s the urban conundrum that remains most compelling, and beyond the layers of 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings, streetscapes, and gardens. There is also a ponderous stratum of Fascist-era buildings, many in near states of abandon, but all intriguing for what they once represented in the time of Fascistization when Sicily’s mafia was subjugated and Mussolini’s regime added its symbolic stamp to the island. One building in particular, the Casa del Mutilato, stands out for its unfinished beauty and troublesome iconography. Designed by the architect Giuseppe Spatrisano in 1939, the modern rationalist style building remains surprisingly intact with most of its original statues, icons, murals, furniture, and memorabilia. Inside its main interior hall is Cristina Lucas’s Unending Lightning, a mapping of the long and fatal history of aerial bombing. There’s also an intervention by Alessandro Petti’s "De-colonizing Architecture” developed by the students attending the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Their workshop and symposium, “The Afterlife of Colonial-Fascist Architecture,” featured a scissor lift that extended up into the open dome of the central courtyard, inserted there to disrupt the building’s regimented spatial order. When I asked Petti about their intentions, he responded by saying: "With the re-emergence of today’s fascist ideologies in Europe–and the arrival of populations from north and east Africa–we have had to ask ourselves: how do the material traces of the Italian empire today acquire different meanings in the context of migration from the ex-colonies?” This point is especially onerous because not much inside this building has changed since its opening, and the building still features the original Fascist era maps of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Petti went on to note: “We have had to ask who has the right to reuse this fascist colonial building? Shouldn’t people arriving today from these countries that suffered fascist colonial occupation have the right to re-inhabit these kind of buildings?” But it doesn’t end here. Post-war Palermo continues to be fraught with good architectural intentions gone sour. Nothing encapsulates this urban dilemma more than ZEN (Zona Espansione Nord), a public housing expanse from the late sixties designed by Vittorio Gregotti with a team that included Franco Purini. Like many of these largescale mass housing projects built from this era, ZEN’s reputation belies its origins. According to an interview with Purini from 1998, the strength of this project was in its desire to replicate regional territorial characteristics, specifically the fenced citrus groves found all around the area. Purini, who would go on to develop the master plan for earthquake-devastated Nuovo Gibellina, recalled Gregotti’s close relationship with the Sicilian publisher Sellerio, who sought to ground Gregotti in the island’s local building culture, which resulted in the project’s unusual compactness. Evidently, the project stripped of its amenities was doomed to failure. But here is where Gilles Clément, author of The Third Landscape and guru behind Manifesta’s Planetary Garden concept, is making a significant comeback, precisely in these original disaffected groves. To get the perfect overview of Palermo, one can make his or her way up to the top of the peak Pizzo Sella, where the group Rotor has transformed one of the many unfinished and illegal private homes, basically a concrete frame into a spectacular viewing platform. Manifesta 12 is worth the time and the space. Some might worry it prefigures a wave of gentrification that will certainly kill all that is so enchanting about this city: the entropic streets and gardens, the ruined palaces, the many multi-cultural public spaces, polyvalent cuisines, and the sublime beauty of the city. But I don’t think so, or not just yet given the unusual political direction the city is taking under its current mayor. Leoluca Orlando, a veteran of previous campaigns against the Mafia, sees a bright future for the city in welcoming new immigrants. Palermo should not be considered a European peripheral city, but rather the center of the greater Mediterranean region: Sicily is at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East, and the Ionian islands with a centuries-old history of multi-ethnicism and multi-culturalism. I see Palermo as an alternative model for living, outside the tired economies and nationalistic concerns of an older Europe. It will be interesting to see if Manifesta 13 will keep this kind of critical edge when it lands in Marseille in 2020. Manifesta 12’s The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence is curated by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Mirjam Varadinis, Andrés Jaque, Bregtje van der Haak and is on view through November 4.
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Flux Factory revives a “threat to the motoring public” with the first Fung Wah Biennial

Remember the Fung Wah Bus? Posing an "imminently hazardous and potentially deadly risk for its own drivers, passengers and for the motoring public," the Chinatown bus provided fast, dirt cheap service between New York and Boston before the company shuttered in 2015. Now, thanks to New York–based arts nonprofit Flux Factory, eager riders can re-live the experience: For three Saturdays in March, the arts group is commissioning 24 artists for the first Fung Wah Biennial. The daylong, site-specific exhibitions will take place on trips from New York to Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia, three of the most popular Chinatown bus routes. (Although Fung Wah ran buses on one route only, Flux uses "Fung Wah" as metonymy for the network of buses that ferries passengers from Chinatown to Chinatown in the northeastern U.S.) On the ride, artists will share sound installations, video projections, performances, and other pieces that "tease out the nuanced politics of transit." Commissioned pieces explore the loneliness, isolation, and fun of travel; travel and migration; and the history and infrastructure of Chinatown buses. Tickets, priced from $36.87 to $47.12, are a far reach from Fung Wah's $10 fares, but there's art! Most passengers will be ticketed Biennial-goers, although those just trying to get from point A to B are in for a real surprise. The idea for the biennial, curated By Sally Szwed, Matthias Borello, and Will Owen, arose from conversations around the high cost of living and studio space is forcing artists out to other cities; travel for leisure, work, or necessity; and a comment on the network of privately operated, affordable transportation between Chinatowns. Below are participating artists and their designated routes:

BOSTON: Marco Castro, Eric Doeringer, Fan Letters (Alex Nathanson + Dylan Neely), Sunita Prasad, Joshua Caleb Wiebley, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Kristoffer Ørum, Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

PHILADELPHIA: Michael Barraco, Chloë Bass, Adam Milner, Marjan Verstappen + Jessica Valentin, Meg Wiessner, Joshua Caleb Wiebley, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Kristoffer Ørum Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

BALTIMORE: Dillon De Give, Ursula Nistrup, Kristoffer Ørum, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Fan Letters ( Alex Nathanson + Dylan Neely), Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Kristoffer Ørum, Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

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Four Boston design firms fill the Rose Kennedy Greenway with art at the intersection of architecture

Through September 25th, emerging architects and designers are being celebrated in Boston's 4th Design Biennial. The program features installations, created by four, jury-chosen design firms, exhibited along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. “This fourth installment of the Biennial highlights emerging designers who reflect the diversity and vitality of Boston’s academic and professional architectural scenes,” explained Chris Grimley, one of the exhibition’s curators. “At a time when the mayor has brought forth much-needed questions about the quality of buildings being produced in the city, the Biennial demonstrates how Boston’s new design talent can be drawn on for its innovative thinking and ability to respond to the challenges we will face in the future.” Over the years, 23 winners have had the privilege of showcasing their work in the event, which represents Boston's finest up-and-coming designers and architects. Among the winners from this year's Biennial are GLD Architecture, MASS Design Group, Cristina Parreño Architecture, and Landing Studio. Each design firm created site specific installations that are sure to make a typical walk along the highway-topping park an atypical one. Made from eight Boston Harbor shipyard recycled oak pilings, Marginal by Landing Studio (pictured at top) calls on a nautical New England from its industrial shipping era. This 18-figured installation was sliced into more than a thousand 2-inch thick cross-section pieces. Each piece is divided into three types—Rounds, Chewies (ends slightly chipped and chomped away), and oblongs—then stacked to form this totem pole–styled installation. GLD created a softer, almost dreamlike piece. What appears to be a cross-pollination between a mushroom and a massive jellyfish, the Grove is a fused resin and fiberglass shell that is said to create a "strangely intimate new enclosure in an open public landscape," as stated on the Boston Biennial's website. Other installations include Cristina Parreño's Tectonics of Transparency: The Tower, a 17 foot installation composed of 350 compressed glass blocks resembling a mini skyscraper and MASS Design Group's Lo-Fab, which is made of more than a thousand wood and metal components that transform into a geodesic hemisphere serving as an impressive gathering space. Learn more about the Design Biennial Boston on its website.
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Here are the 60 designers exhibiting at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial

More than 60 design firms across four continents will contribute to a new festival of design that aims to become the largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America, co-artistic directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda announced Tuesday. The Chicago Architecture Biennial kicks off October 3 and lasts through the year, comprising one-time events and ongoing exhibitions across the city. The festival will be based at the Chicago Cultural Center, but activities will extend to sites including Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue's City Gallery, 72 East Randolph Street, and the Theaster Gates–rehabbed Stony Island Arts Bank. Chicago officials announced the biennial in June. Until now details were scant on the festival, which takes after the Venice biennale. Questions remain, however, on the content of the participating designers' expected contributions, and on the city's ability to fund what has been advertised as a major tourist draw with global cultural significance. Oil giant BP agreed to donate $2.5 million for the inaugural show—a contribution that was reportedly solicited personally by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And Tuesday Biennial organizers announced a $1 million gift from SC Johnson. But the city’s still looking to raise at least half a million dollars more. “The Biennial team affirms with confidence that the fundraising goal will be met,” said a spokeswoman. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Graham Foundation will present the show, with programming in partnership with the American Institute of Architects and the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Iwan Baan will exhibit a photo series about Chicago, the organizers announced in November, and the show will pay homage to Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman, who in 1977 helped mount a seminal conference that gave today's biennial its name: The State of the Art of Architecture. Here's the full list of participating firms, as of April 14: Al Borde (Quito, Ecuador) allzone / Rachaporn Choochuey (Bangok, Thailand) Andreas Angelidakis (Athens, Greece) Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation (Madrid, Spain; New York, USA) Aranda\Lasch (Tuscon, USA; New York, USA) Assemble (London, UK) Atelier Bow-Wow (Tokyo, Japan) Iwan Baan (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Erin Besler / Besler & Sons (Los Angeles, USA) Tatiana Bilbao S.C. (Mexico City, Mexico) Bjarke Ingels Group / BIG (Copenhagen, Denmark) Santiago Borja (Mexico City, Mexico) Carlos Bunga (Barcelona, Spain) Bureau Spectacular / Jimenez Lai (Los Angeles, USA) Csutoras & Liando (Jakarta, Indonesia; London, UK) Design With Company (Chicago, USA) El Equipo de Mazzanti / Giancarlo Mazzanti (Bogota, Colombia) Frida Escobedo (Mexico City, Mexico) Didier Faustino (Paris, France) Moon Hoon (Seoul, Korea) Indie Architecture + Paul Preissner Architects (Denver/Chicago, USA) John Ronan Architects (Chicago, USA) Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles, USA) junya.ishigami+associates (Tokyo, Japan) Kéré Architecture / Francis Kéré (Gando, Burkina Faso; Berlin, Germany) Kuehn Malvezzi (Berlin, Germany) Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal and Frederic Druot (Paris, France) Yasmeen Lari / Heritage Foundation Pakistan (Lahore, Pakistan) Lateral Office (Toronto, Canada) LIST / Ido Avissar (Paris, France) MAIO (Barcelona, Spain) Marshall Brown Projects (Chicago, USA) Mass Studies / Minsuk Cho (Seoul, Korea) MOS / Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample (New York, USA) New-Territories / Francois Roche & Camille Lacadee (Paris, France/Bangkok, Thailand) NLÉ / Kunlé Adeyemi (Lagos, Nigeria; Rotterdam, Netherlands) Norman Kelley (Chicago, USA) OFFICE / Kersten Geers David Van Severen (Brussels, Belgium) Onishimaki + Hyakuda Architects (Tokyo, Japan) OPEN Architecture/ Li Hu & Huang Wenjing (Beijing, China) Lluís Ortega / Sio2arch (Chicago, USA; Barcelona, Spain) otherothers / David Neustein & Grace Mortlock (Sydney, Australia) Pedro&Juana (Mexico City, Mexico) Pezo von Ellrichshaussen (Concepcion, Chile) Plan:b Arquitectos / Felipe Mesa & Federico Mesa (Medellin, Colombia) PORT (Chicago, USA) Productora (Mexico City, Mexico) RAAAF [Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances] (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Bryony Roberts (Los Angeles, USA; Oslo, Norway) RUA Arquitetos (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) Rural Urban Framework (Hong Kong) SO-IL (New York, USA) Sou Fujimoto Architects (Tokyo, Japan) studio Albori (Milan, Italy) Studio [D]Tale (Harare, Zimbabwe; Capetown, South Africa; London, UK) Studio Gang / Jeanne Gang (Chicago, USA) TOMA (Santiago, Chile) UrbanLab / Sarah Dunn and Martin Felson (Chicago, USA) VTN / Vo Trong Nghia Architects (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) WAI Architecture Think Tank (Beijing, China) Weathers / Sean Lally (Chicago, USA) Amanda Williams (Chicago, USA) WORKac+ Ant Farm / Amale Andraos & Dan Wood, Chip Lord & Curtis Schreier (New York, USA) A full list of the festival's sponsors and partners is available on chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org.
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Inaugural Chicago architecture biennial has a name, and a show by Iwan Baan

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement that Chicago would launch an international festival of art and architecture—its own take on the famous Venice biennale—drew jeers and cheers from the design community both near and far from The Second City. AN called for the show aspiring to be North America's largest architectural exhibition to go beyond tourism bromides. Now the upstart expo has a name, as well as its first show. The inaugural Chicago architecture biennial will begin in October 2015, and will be called “The State of the Art of Architecture,” in reference to the controversial conference organized in 1977 by architect Stanley Tigerman. Tigerman's show celebrated the postmodern rejection of Chicago's old masters like Mies van der Rohe, forging the position of architectural protest group The Chicago Seven. A press release from the organizing committee alludes to the upcoming exhibition's wide scope:
More than a profession or a repertoire of built artifacts, architecture is a dynamic cultural practice that manifests at different scales and through various media: buildings and cities, but also art, performance, film, landscape and new technologies. It permeates fundamental registers of everyday life—from housing to education, from environmental awareness to economic growth, from local communities to global networks.
The biennial's first commission was announced Wednesday by co-directors Joseph Grima—a former curator of the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and director of the Ideas City platform of the New Museum—and Sarah Herda, director of the Graham Foundation and AN editorial advisor. Renowned photographer Iwan Baan will contribute an original photo essay about Chicago featuring aerial shots taken at sunrise. The work will “capture the city during a moment of its daily routine,” according to the press release. “Like the Biennial itself, Baan’s expansive photographs interpret Chicago as a realm of architectural possibility, past and future.” The free festival's home base will be the Chicago Cultural Center, but organizers say it won't be restricted to downtown. “Using the city as a canvas, installations will be created in Millennium Park and other Chicago neighborhoods, including new projects and public programs developed by renowned artist Theaster Gates on Chicago’s south side,” reads a press release. “The Biennial will also feature collateral exhibitions and events with partner institutions throughout the city, and will offer educational programming for local and international students.” Tigerman, whose 1977 exhibition is the inspiration for the 2015 show's title, sits on the biennial's International Advisory Committee, which also includes architects David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, and Frank Gehry, along with critic Sylvia Lavin, Lord Peter Palumbo and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Ty Tabing, former executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance and founder of Singapore River One, will serve as the biennial's executive director. Oil giant BP has agreed to donate $2.5 million for the show, but Mayor Emanuel is reportedly seeking $1.5 million more.
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Chicago announces inaugural architecture biennial to begin in 2015

Chicago, in a bid to boost its tourism industry and cultural cachet,  will host an international design exhibition next year modeled after the Venice Biennale, which every two years draws contributions from architects and artists from around the world. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the Chicago Architecture Biennial Tuesday. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin, Emanuel said he hopes to use the city’s reputation as a hub for modern architecture to encourage economic development:
"Obviously there's an economic benefit in tourism and travel. Chicago will continue to be seen worldwide as an epicenter of modern architecture… The real question is: Why wasn't Chicago doing this before?"
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Graham Foundation will present the show, which will be based in the Chicago Cultural Center. The Chicago Architecture Foundation, whose annual Open House Chicago will coincide with the start of the initial biennial, will help coordinate the first exhibition, which is planned for October 1, 2015 through January 3, 2016. Oil company BP donated $2.5 million for the first show. Kamin reported that Emanuel personally solicited BP’s grant funding, and that the city’s still looking to raise $1.5 million more. While the Chicago event makes no secret of taking after its prestigious namesake in Venice, there will be several differences from that event, which reportedly drew more than 175,000 visitors in 2012. Admission to Chicago’s event will be free, and the show will not have national pavilions. It will have a theme, which has yet to be determined, and will seek to compete in an increasingly crowded field of international design exhibitions. Venice has mounted its exhibition 14 times in 34 years, deviating occasionally from its biennial schedule. If Chicago’s initial event is deemed a success, officials say they’ll duplicate it every two years. Joseph Grima, who co-curated the Istanbul biennial in 2012, and Graham Foundation Director Sarah Herda will co-direct the inaugural Chicago event. Another Chicago-based design curator, Zöe Ryan of the Art Institute of Chicago, is coordinating Istanbul’s next biennial, which will run concurrently with Chicago’s.
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Denver Explores the City With “Draft Urbanism” Exposition

The Biennial of the Americas’ 2013 exposition Draft Urbanism, headed by Colorado-based curator Cortney Stell, has rounded up the most engaging art, architecture, and film dialogues from across the Americas to turn Denver into a enormous fair. The exposition kicked off last week on July 16. Now through September 2, four full-scale architecture exhibitions will tackle important urban matters throughout downtown, where new and existing billboards, posters, and other urban signage are used to exhibit art. The public is encouraged to stop by each work and to thereby transform the city itself into a living, urban museum. The title, Draft Urbanism, refers to Denver’s reputation for craft brewing and the fact that the city is continuously transforming. In an attempt to confront the conventional idea of a biennial, which is generally limited to art and architecture, the curatorial team has incorporated speeches and panels normally coupled with conferences or symposiums. Architectural installations include:
  • Mine Pavilion by Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Larimer St & Speer Blvd), a display involving several building types that render it a billboard to drivers but a tunnel to pedestrians.
  • The Hotel Rehearsal by Alex Schweder (1535 Welton St), an installation depicting the automobile as an icon of suburban sprawl and the elevator as an icon of urban density.
  • Skyline Cloud by plan:b arquitectos (Skyline Park between 15th & 18th Sts), a collection of matching shade structures in Skyline Park, a notoriously vacant space in spite of its central location.
  • The Mirror Stages by June14 (16th St Mall between Cleveland & Court), a project surrounded by distinct socioeconomic and ethnic populations that forms a shared identity through butterflies.
Check out full descriptions and the complete list of installations, billboards, and urban signage.