A new 25-foot-tall statue of an Afro pick now stands outside The Africa Center in East Harlem, New York. All Power to All People, created by conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, was erected last Friday in its temporary location on 5th Avenue. Designed in collaboration with the Kindred Arts cultural equity initiative, the steel sculpture is intended to honor and celebrate cultural identities of the African diaspora. Thomas worked with fabricator Jeff Schomberg to imagine the larger-than-life Afro pick, which sits at an angle on a black podium and features a handle in the outline of a clenched fist. The design is an iteration of Thomas's 2017 sculpture made with Monument Lab in Philadelphia for Thomas Paine Plaza. In connection with the Afro pick’s distinct cultural and political identity, the piece symbolizes the strength, comradery, and perseverance of the African-American community, as well as the ongoing pursuit for equal rights, justice, and belonging. Marsha Reid, executive director of Kindred Arts and producer of the project, noted the important location of the installation. “Representation matters,” she said, “and this monumental art is placed here at The Africa Center in the heart of the community, with the purpose of inspiring conversation and facilitating a space where communities might affirm cultural citizenship and freely express identity.” All Power to All People will be on display through July 7, 2019, in the public plaza outside The Africa Center at 1280 Fifth Avenue in New York City. A slew of public programs will coincide with the monumental installation. For more information, visit The Africa Center’s website.
Posts tagged with "Public Art":
Two major players in art and design fabrication are merging into one powerhouse. UAP (Urban Art Projects) announced this week that it is acquiring the near 50-year-old, New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry. The merger, according to a press release, will give both businesses a stronger geographical foothold and connect them to more artists, architects, designers, and developers. Together, both mainstay institutions have over 70 years of experience with the fabrication of fine arts and architectural projects. UAP, a global firm with 8 satellite offices, helps clients deliver bespoke structural art and design pieces for public and private use. The New York team has recently collaborated with Kohn Pederson Fox on the newly-opened 10 Hudson Yards, the Public Art Fund on the 2017 exhibition Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, as well as SHoP Architects, and the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Polich Tallix, established in 1968, has worked on public art projects with prominent artists like Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, and Richard Serra. The company has also worked alongside major architectural studios such as Zaha Hadid Architects, John Portman & Associates, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, and Herzog & de Meuron to produce special art pieces for building projects. UAP’s Group Managing Director Matthew Tobin noted the importance of the acquisition. “UAP’s global reach, collaborative vision, and investment in advanced manufacturing and design robotics,” he said, “combined with Polich Tallix’s unmatched knowledge of traditional manufacturing, makes us a strong, dynamic and highly responsive art and design resource for world-class creatives.” Dick Polich, founder of Polich Tallix, expressed a similar sentiment: “Our greatest asset is the skill of our craftspeople and by joining forces, our firms have boldly expanded our capabilities and expertise.” A previous version of this article said that Polich Tallix's facility would be moving, however, we have since learned that is not the case.
This June, the Public Art Fund will install the seminal billboard, Untitled, 1989, by Cuban-American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and WorldPride New York City. Set to rise above Sheridan Square’s Village Cigars at the intersection of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue, the powerful project will be on view throughout the month. Untitled, 1989, the first of Gonzalez-Torres’s iconic billboard artworks, was originally commissioned by Public Art Fund 30 years ago for the exact location it will be placed this year. The piece commemorated the 20th anniversary of the historic 1969 riots that helped catalyze the gay rights movement. Gonzalez-Torres’s large-scale signs—all of which feature two lines of white text set across the bottom of a black background—were designed to look like non-artworks and non-ads. “Gonzalez-Torres had a deep belief in the right for individual viewers to experience and interpret the work on their own terms,” the Public Art Fund stated in a press release. There isn’t a single label or an artist’s signature accompanying the installation. Untitled, 1989 reads the following:
People With Aids Coalition 1985 Police Harassment 1969 Oscar Wilde 1895 Supreme Court 1986 Harvey Milk 1977 March on Washington 1987 Stonewall Rebellion 1969As a series of moments and monumental figures with dates beside them, the text isn’t set up in chronological order. It also doesn’t distinguish between public and private histories. It’s open to interpretation by the viewer, but also stands as a “visual reference, an architectural sign of being, a monument for a community that has been ‘historically invisible,'” according to the statement which cites Gonzalez-Torres’s vision for the billboard. “Direct public engagement is fundamental to [Gonzalez-Torres’s] artistic practice, which expanded the possibilities for creative expression both within and beyond the museum walls,” said Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “His integration of personal and political content that can bring about both awareness and action in the view has continued to inspire artists and audiences.” Untitled, 1989 is presented in collaboration with The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation with support by Google. It will be on view from June 1 to 30, 2019, in Sheridan Square across the street from the historic Stonewall Inn.
Bulgarian-born artist Christo is making a triumphant return to the large-scale building wrapping projects that he’s famous for, with plans to fully envelop Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. From April 6 through April 19, 2020, Parisian bystanders, tourists, and art patrons will be able to view l’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l’Étoile-Charles de Gaulle). Using nearly 270,000 square feet of recyclable silver-blue polypropylene fabric bound by 23,000 feet of red rope, one of the city’s most famous, and visible, public icons will be reduced to pure form. The project is moving ahead after winning approval from France’s government and the Center for National Monuments yesterday. Wrapping the archway has been a dream of Christo’s since 1962, when he sketched the monument while living with his artistic partner and late wife Jeanne-Claude in Paris, later returning to create additional studies in the ’70s and ’80s. That the piece is being realized now, Christo’s first wrapping project since the death of Jeanne-Claude in 2009, is no coincidence. l’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped will run concurrently with Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Paris at the Pompidou Centre, which will document the couple’s formative period in Paris, where they lived from 1958 through 1964. The show will put previously unseen works on display, including sketches and paintings, as well as trace the lineage of the pair’s most well-known works, such as the wrapping of the Pont-Neuf in 1985. “Thirty-five years after Jeanne-Claude and I wrapped the Pont-Neuf, I am eager to work in Paris again to realize our project for the Arc de Triomphe,” said Christo in a statement. While the arc above is wrapped, the eternal flame at its center, installed in 1923 above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will continue to be fully maintained.
New York–based practice SOFTlab recently completed an interactive installation on the waterfront of Alexandria, Virginia. Titled Mirror, Mirror, the eight-foot-tall circular construction features a faceted surface made of acrylic lined with one-way mirror film. During the day, the acrylic is opaque, creating a crystalline mirrored exterior and a brightly-colored rainbow interior. At night, however, when LED lights behind the acrylic turn on, the construction becomes a lively lighthouse. Microphones pick up ambient noise and translate it into a flashing light show. When the area is quiet, the lights pulse with a wave-like flow. The work, not from the banks of the Potomac River, took inspiration from Alexandria's historic Jones Point Lighthouse, which used advanced lens technology in the 1800s to guide mariners to safety. Mirror, Mirror opened on March 30 and will be up through November, 2019. It is the first artwork in Site/See: New Views in Old Town, a program run by Alexandria’s Office of the Arts to bring attention to the city's historic core.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s flagship Beaux-Arts facade on Fifth Avenue will soon host art for the first time in the building’s 115-year history. Installing work along the museum’s historic frontage is part of a larger slew of contemporary art exhibitions announced by the institution last Thursday. The move to display new pieces, some of them site-specific, is a clear effort by the museum to fill the void created by winding down its presence at the Met Breuer. It was announced last September that the Met would be vacating the brutalist Breuer building in 2020, only four years after its renovation and rebranding, so that the Frick Collection can temporarily continue to operate there while its flagship house-museum undergoes an upgrade. From September 9 through January 12, 2020, sculptures from Nairobi-born artist Wangechi Mutu will adorn the facade's niches. Mutu’s designs will be the first in a newly-announced annual series of installations along the building’s stone facade, which was completed in 1902 by architect Richard Howland Hunt. Although Mutu's exact sculptures have not been revealed yet, her work has previously used collage to touch on elements of diaspora, African culture, and inequality. Additionally, Canadian Cree artist Kent Monkman has been tapped to create enormous, site-specific new paintings for the museum’s Great Hall, which will be on view from December 19 through April 12, 2020. Multidisciplinary Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson will also premiere Death is Elsewhere, an immersive multi-channel video installation in the Robert Lehman Wing atrium, from May 30 through September 2. Other than marking a shift towards highlighting contemporary and new pieces, the three exhibitions also make greater use of the Met’s building itself to display them. "Artists have long engaged with The Met's collection, drawing connections between contemporary practices and 5,000 years of world culture," said Max Hollein, Director of the Met, in a press release. "These projects are a manifestation of The Met's desire and ability to collaborate with artists and current artistic production in an unusual way. The Met itself, the building, and its public spaces will become temporary platforms for presenting new work, offering powerful opportunities to display contemporary art for our broad audience to experience."
As throngs of tourists and New York City residents descend on Manhattan’s far west side for the opening of Hudson Yards’ first phase, AN joined the first tour of the Thomas Heatherwick–designed Vessel (interested visitors can reserve free tickets). Bill Pedersen, founding partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), Thomas Woltz of landscape architecture studio Nelson Byrd Woltz, representatives from Heatherwick Studio, and Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross, who paid to construct the Vessel out of his own pocket, were also on hand to dive into the design behind the development. With the first phase of Hudson Yards opening to the public today, plenty of ink has already been spilled over the new neighborhood’s “fortress-like” nature, the accusations that it intentionally and discordantly stands apart from the street grid and city as a whole, and that the development is a playground for the one-percent financed through $6 billion in tax breaks (though some might passionately dispute that characterization). Those points have been argued elsewhere. What is definitely true is that the 11-million-square-foot, $16-billion first phase of Hudson Yards is now mainly open, or will open shortly, and it’s likely to draw shoppers, tourists, and High Line hikers to what was formerly an open-air staging area for the Long Island Railroad. The second phase of the megaproject over the still-uncovered western railyard will hold five more residential towers and a commercial project from architectural heavy hitters like Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, and Robert A.M. Stern. Related expects that infrastructure work on the second phase will begin next year before the site is decked over. Vessel, Heatherwick’s $150 million not-quite-a-sculpture, not-quite-a-building sits at the center of Hudson Yards’ Public Square and Gardens. The climbable installation is made up of 154 flights of stairs connected to 80 landings, and it balloons up to 150-feet-wide at its 150-foot-tall summit. As project architect Stuart Wood explained, Vessel (explicitly not “the Vessel”—although Related will rename the structure later, anyway) was designed to be open in its programming while not “jamming up” the plaza. “The project was built entirely from staircases and landings. They're public, publicly accessible, free to use spaces. It's non-prescriptive. That was absolutely our intent from the outset. This should be a project that is open to interpretation. It's open to different natures of use.” The underside of the piece is clad in warm, reflective metal paneling that distorts the glass towers around it and brings a sense of liveliness to the “sculpture” as more visitors gather at its base. As visitors scale Vessel, climbers see themselves reflected overhead as the panels act as mirrored ceilings; that interactivity is intentional. On the topside, Heatherwick has used wood railings, darkened steel, and stone for the steps and landings in reference to the site's industrial heritage. With a form so often compared to a beehive or garbage can by outside observers, actually entering Vessel produces an unusual effect. Standing in the sculpture’s base feels akin to entering a towering atrium, with the glass handrails resembling windows. Climbing the structure’s numerous staircases, at least when devoid of the crowds that will surely descend on it after the official opening, felt slightly dangerous. The view of Hudson Yards, the Shed, shops and dining areas, and across the Hudson River, open up towards the top, and might induce the same sense of vertigo found on construction sites. For mobility impaired visitors, Heatherwick Studio has added a glass elevator that travels along a curving track along Vessel’s inside rim, though it only stops at one landing per story. The plaza in which Vessel sits is elliptical and gently spirals out to each of the buildings on the site, a decision that Nelson Byrd Woltz came to in tandem with Heatherwick Studio. As such, it serves as the epicenter of Hudson Yards’ public space, and its central location in the neighborhood’s main plaza visually cements that status. Vessel, for better or for worse, is intrinsically at home in Hudson Yards and wouldn’t fit anywhere else in the world. And even if it wasn’t, as Wood explained, Related has copyrighted the design.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign raised over $76,000 to launch the world’s first “space sculpture” into orbit, plans to deploy the 100-foot-long reflective balloon have been put on hold thanks to the record-breaking U.S. government shutdown. Orbital Reflector was conceived by American artist Trevor Paglen through a partnership with the Nevada Museum of Art. The ambitious satellite-based installation was supposed to deploy its angular, self-inflating payload once in orbit and create a sky-high “mirror” that would circle the globe for two months. The diamond-shaped, polyethylene balloon is coated in a titanium dioxide-finish that would have reflected sunlight back down to the Earth at night—a gesture the Nevada Museum of Art hoped would inspire in viewers all over the world “a renewed sense of wonder.” The satellite carrying Orbital Reflector successfully made it into space on a December 3, 2018, launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with 63 other satellites, most of them CubeSats. A CubeSat is sized in standard U units; one “U” is equal to 4-inches-by-4-inches-by-4-inches; the satellite carrying Orbital Reflector is only 3U, about the size of a brick. Because of the government shutdown, only half of the satellites from that December launch have been able to detach from the rocket and move into independent orbits, as every satellite requires a unique ID number so that it can be tracked. According to an update posted on the project’s Kickstarter page on January 22:
A division of the United States Air Force known as CSpOC (Combined Space Operations Center) is faced with the task of properly identifying each of those satellites so that they can be tracked as they orbit the earth. Six weeks post-launch, that task is still not complete; only half of the satellites from the launch have been properly identified. Many of the satellites that launched together remain in a cluster and until they separate it is difficult to correctly identify each one. Prior to the holidays, we had been working very closely with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and other relevant space-related authorities to deploy the balloon at the right time for a safe trajectory. The FCC had asked us to wait for their go-ahead before we deploy the balloon. Since the government shutdown began, communication with the FCC has been suspended, as they are not operational at this time.When the tracking information for Orbital Reflector becomes available, terrestrial art patrons can track the installation via the Star Walk 2 app. The sky-high conceptual piece was supposed to orbit the Earth for two months, completing a rotation around the planet every 94 minutes. It remains to be seen whether the time spent in limbo will eat into that period, or if the satellite will be able to deploy before the orbit of the SpaceX rocket it’s attached to begins to decay.
The third annual Ice Breakers Exhibition has returned to the Toronto’s downtown waterfront, dropping five public installations across the edge of Queens Quay West. Ice Breakers is a collaborative public art experience jointly presented by the temporary arts advancement nonprofit Winter Stations, Waterfront Business Improvement Area, and PortsToronto, the Toronto port authority. This year’s Ice Breakers presents four winning designs from a variety of international teams, as well as a student entry from Ryerson University. The theme for the 2019 exhibition was “Signal Transmission,” and appropriately enough, each installation evokes sending or receiving a message. All five of the public pavilions for Ice Breakers were installed on January 19 and will remain on display through February 24. Chroma Key Protest, from Andrew Edmundson, principal of the Toronto-based Solve Architects Inc, references the language of protest. Twenty-five wooden buoys have been clustered and given blank signboards in chroma key green, the same color used in green screens. By appropriating the mechanisms of protesting but leaving the “signs” a color that can be anything, Edmundson invites visitors to project their own grievances onto the installation. Stellar Spectra, from the Toronto-based duo of Rob Shostak and Dionisios Vriniotis, is split into two occupiable pavilions. Each captures and refracts starlight through the dozens of tubes that make up the structure of Stellar Spectra, flooding each of the “lighthouses” with warm and cool-colored light. Connector, from the Hamburg, Germany–based Alexandra Griess and Jorel Heid, at first glance resembles a jumble of wires. That’s intentional, as the designers sought to reference the birds’ nests of communication wires that arose at the beginning of long-distance transmissions. Each of the mouthpieces corresponds to another, but participants will have to hunt for the appropriate end if they want to have a conversation. Tweeta-Gate, from Eleni Papadimitriou and Stefanos Ziras, founders of the Athens, Greece–based Space Oddity Studios (SOS), invites visitors to embark on an audiovisual journey. The series of yellow gates, made from painted wood and joined by metal connectors, are cut into shapes reminiscent of architectural styles from all over the world. Each gate is adorned with bells that can be activated by passersby, or the sway of the wind and natural elements. Tripix, the student submission from Ryerson University, seems purpose-made for the Instagram crowd. The faceted, panelized structure uses a high-contrast color scheme, red-on-white, to draw attention to its central pillar. An appropriate scheme, considering the goal of the exhibition is to get Toronto residents off the couch and into the snow.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus school by Walter Gropius, a bus modeled after the school’s historic workshop building in Dessau, Germany, will take to the streets worldwide. The miniature version of the modernist building, famous for its stark white volumes, enormous windows, and vertical Bauhaus signage on the narrow end, was designed by the Berlin-based Van Bo Le-Mentzel. Inside the 161-square-foot mobile apartment, dubbed Wohnmaschine (“living house” in German), an exhibition and workshop space will join a miniature reading room full of books about the history of the Bauhaus. The bus kicked off a 10-month-long worldwide tour on January 4 in Dessau outside of its full-size peer. The tour’s goal, according to design group SAVVY Contemporary, who is hosting a series of workshops and panels in the bus, will be to challenge the traditional colonialist narrative that has become intertwined with modernism. The Bauhaus bus and its associated lectures and shared learning are all part of SAVVY’s SPINNING TRIANGLES project, which aims to bring in design philosophies from areas of the world that have been traditionally marginalized. "We will face the relations of coloniality and design as well as its various visibilities and invisibilities," wrote SAVVY Contemporary in a statement. “For too long, practices and narratives from the global South have been kept at the periphery of the design discourse, been ignored altogether, or appropriated. This needs to change. And it can only do so if we start with new forms of learning and unlearning, that may perhaps actually be very old, but have certainly been overheard for far to[o] long.” From January 4 through January 22 the bus will be in Dessau, after which it will depart for Berlin. From January 24 through 27, the bus will be parked in the German capital to coincide with the opening of the 100 Years Bauhaus festival. After that, the mobile school will go abroad and land in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through forums and dialogues with design professionals in Kinshasa, a view of a collective modernity will be established. Five “masters” will take back what they’ve learned from Kinshasa to SAVVY Contemporary’s Berlin office to educate 40 students on their findings from July 22 to August 18. The bus’s final destination is the Para Site art space in Hong Kong, where the findings from its past trips can be expanded on.
Just in time for this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach (December 6 through 9) and Design Miami (December 5 through 9), the Miami-based firm Rene Gonzalez Architect (RGA) has released the first look at a new public art space for the nonprofit Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation (BCF). RGA was approached to design the space in 2017, and the BCF is looking to break ground on Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard between 26th Street and 26th Terrace in 2020. The dramatically cantilevering concrete arts space has been designed from the ground up with input from the artists whose work will be featured within, allowing RGA to carve out spaces that will specifically highlight those pieces. Once complete in 2023, the new building will create a permanent home for BCF’s collection. RGA has pulled most of the gallery’s mass off of the street level and onto the second story, where the building terminates with a double-height window. The three-story, 45-000-square-foot art space will hold 30,000 square feet of exhibition spaces. Rotating galleries for traveling installations and work from the permanent collection will be located on the second and third floors. Much of the building’s shape was driven in response to the needs of two massive works in particular. Richard Serra’s Passage of Time, a sinuous, 218-foot-long corten steel sculpture will be given a dedicated courtyard area between the building proper and the garden. The viewing area will be closed off by a street-facing glass wall, allowing pedestrians to look inside. The other work is James Turrell’s towering Aten Reign. The 80-foot-tall light installation, first unveiled at the Guggenheim in 2013, will be located at the end of its own transitional hallway to give visitors time to adjust to the lighting conditions. Aten Reign will be positioned within the building’s tallest section; a skylight will allow natural light to filter in through the top of the cone through five tiers of rings, each embedded with hidden LEDs. The end result is a free-floating “light tunnel” that creates an enclosure using only light. “I am honored to be working with the founder and board of BCF to design and realize its vision for a new landmark building in Miami,” wrote RGA founder Rene Gonzalez. “We have worked closely with the Foundation, as well as several of the artists in their collection, to design an immersive and contemplative building that will enhance the city’s cultural landscape.” The building will be free to enter and open to the public when the project is complete, furthering BCF’s goal of highlighting international contemporary art.
Some consider the most formative date in San Antonio's history to be the fall of the Alamo, while others believe it’s the day the World’s Fair took over the city for six months in 1968. It was just a dusty city before more than 6.3 million attended the HemisFair ’68. A few of the original structures built for the fair still exist on the 92 acres in the heart of downtown, and many of them were left unused for decades. In 2009, the San Antonio City Council established the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC) to revitalize a 37-acre new development, including a 4-acre park designed by MIG. The project’s name, Yanaguana Garden, comes from a folktale told by the Payaya Native Americans of a blue panther that chases a bird through the night sky. A drop that fell from its wings left the blue hole that came to be the source of San Antonio’s river. This fable inspired the mosaic tile benches, panther sculpture, murals, and a blue paved pathway that represents the river, which snakes through the entire site. HPARC’s mission for Yanaguana Garden was to bring both children and adults to the city center. MIG focused on placemaking, designing a public space with courtyards, greenery, artwork, and playscapes. The park features a winding promenade, partly covered by a vine-draped pergola, which leads to the central square with giant checkerboard paving by Pavestone Company. The entire park is illuminated by Lumascape street light fixtures and lined with Victor Stanley benches. MIG also installed an outdoor theater with a dedicated seating area, play equipment by Landscape Structures, and a splash pad water fountain by Vortex Aquatic Structures. In addition to the frolicsome furnishings, the landscape includes mature trees to provide shade. The saplings prevent soil run-off and help maintain proper irrigation year-round. This environmentally sustainable approach will also be applied by the organization to expand and improve the rest of what used to be the HemisFair World’s Fair Grounds. Yanaguana Garden at HemisFair The ’68 World’s Fair Grounds, San Antonio Landscape Architect: MIG Landscape Planting: Bender Wells Clark Design Lighting: Lumascape Playground Equipment: Landscape Structures, Corocord Splash Pad Water Wall: Vortex Aquatic Structures Custom Precast Spheres: Quickcrete Products Corp. Benches: Victor Stanley Paving: Pavestone Company Mosaic Glass Artist: Oscar Alvarado