Posts tagged with "public art":

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Austin’s ‘Ghost Tree’ is a Symbol of Drought in the Lone Star State

Austin’s new temporary art installation, THIRST, is inspired by Texas’ ongoing periods of severe drought since 2011. According to studies conducted by Texas A&M Forest Services, over 300 million trees have succumbed to the state’s extremely dry conditions over the past three years. Located between the Pfluger Pedestrian Crossway and the Lamar Boulevard Bridge, a white-ghostly tree now hovers over Lady Bird Lake and is surrounded by a floating barrier. The public art installation symbolizes the lack of water that plagues Austin and other Texas territories. Its purpose is to trigger emotion and dialogue about the tragic number of trees that have died due to a serious lack of rainfall and increased human water usage in the region. The tree was staged by Women & Their Work, a visual and performing art organization founded in 1978 and best known for their pioneering artistic spirit and commitment to the enrichment of the Texan cultural experience. Through their work, they seek to engage the community at large in issues that pertain exclusively to the local culture and the built-environment. The tree is a 35-foot cedar elm which has been painted white and stands atop a pedestal over the water. Another major component of this art piece is the installation of 14,000 prayer flags on which black trees have been imprinted. THIRST on Lady Lake seeks to acknowledge the devastating impacts of drought in Austin and to address water conservation issues in Texas. Its striking appearance and levitating stance aims to trigger a discussion about the impacts of climate change and seeks to promote action for conservation, sustainability, and the general well-being of the eco-system. This project is also unique in the sense that it did not receive any city funding. Contributing artists include Beili Liu, Emily Little, Norma Yancey, and Cassie Bergstrom. THIRST will on view publicly until December 26, 2013.  
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New Public Art in Brooklyn Lends Transportation a Sense of Play

In Brooklyn, a new temporary public artwork brings the asphalt plane of 4th Avenue to a playful, three-dimensional life. On the avenue’s concrete median between 3rd and 4th streets, the New York City Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program has chosen work by artist Emily Weiskopf for its latest public art installation. Unparallel Way is a 120-feet-long sculpture comprised of two parallel aluminum strips in the same bright yellow as the double traffic lines guiding vehicles driving on adjacent roads. In a clever distortion of those painted stripes, Weiskopf’s parallel lines sweep from the ground at irregular heights, creating parabolic curves that rarely match. The installation piece is a public art extension of Brooklyn Utopias: In TRANSITion, a current exhibition at Old Stone House (OSH) exploring 19 artists’ visions of New York City public transportation and its relationship to public space. DOT has partnered with OSH for the display of these utopian artistic ideas addressing issues within urban public transit. Unparallel Way underwent an official on-site unveiling ceremony this morning with presentations by associates from OSH and DOT.
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Los Angeles Mayor Announces “Great Streets” Program

Last Thursday in his keynote address to the Transit Oriented Los Angeles conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the "Great Streets Initiative."  In an executive directive—his first since taking office on June 30—Garcetti outlined a program that "will focus on developing streets that activate the public realm, provide economic revitalization, and support great neighborhoods." Garcetti defined "great streets" as accessible and walkable, with landscaping, shade, larger sidewalks, improved storm water drainage and green features. Turning to aesthetics, Garcetti said simply: "design matters."  Los Angeles' streets should make room for sculptures and murals, and not just functional components, he argued. The "Great Streets Working Group" will direct the initiative. Led by Garcetti's Deputy Mayor of City Services, the gathering will include representatives of Departments of Planning, Cultural Affairs, Transportation, and Economic & Workforce Development, plus the Department of Public Works's Bureaus of Engineering, Street Services, Street Lighting, and Sanitation. Their  first task will be to develop a plan in which 40 streets are identified for upgrades.
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Fiber Dome Glows in Response to CO2 Levels in Saginaw, Michigan

A web-like dome in Saginaw, Michigan changes colors to reflect the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Solar-powered LED lights connected to an onsite CO2 monitor illuminate the structure’s fibers in timed patterns to create the appearance of an organic response. On display in Saginaw’s First Merritt Park through October 31, the installation is part of the Great Lakes Bay Region’s “Art and Sol” celebration of art, culture, and science. The structure of Loop.pH’s SOL Dome was inspired by molecular biology. SOL Dome, eight meters in diameter, was constructed on site by volunteers over three days.
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Artists and City Government Collaborate for Urban Improvement in St. Paul

In St. Paul, Minnesota, public art is valued as more than just decoration. Susannah Schouweiler of Walker Magazine reported that the city has been proactive in the encouragement of artist-city government collaboration for nearly three decades, long before initiatives like ArtPlace became popular. City Artist in Residence positions exist on the government council, City Art Collaboratory puts artists in conversation with scientists to embed themselves in the “ecology” of the city, and art start-ups are encouraging business growth on “Central Corridor.” This cross-disciplinary relationship is only expanding in what Schouweiler calls St. Paul’s “quiet revolution in public art” and the city is reaping the benefits. Public Art St. Paul, a non-profit set up in 1987, provides private funding for creatives to hold City Artist in Residence positions within the city government. These artists are incorporated into city-led projects and initiatives, working with government officials, engineers, and public works officers on various capital projects, which create or renovate public buildings, public spaces, and streetscapes within St Paul. Since the enactment of a 2009 ordinance for the support of public art, St. Paul has integrated its artists even more into key planning, development, and improvement projects. Current resident city artist Marcus Young has worked directly with the Public Works Department since 2008. His public art initiatives have included Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, a successful idea to replace broken sidewalks with new sections inscribed with poetry. The City Artist in Residence program was expanded in December 2012. Young now has a team of two other artists with which he works, Amanda Lovelee, a visual artist, and Sarah West, who is focused on improving streetspaces with "architectural and large-scale public art installations." Additionally, grassroots initiatives by local artists have brought pop-up shops to retail vacancies, explored an artistic reaction to the current light rail construction, and pondered an artist’s ability to improve the ecology of the Mississippi River. Exemplifying a forward-thinking relationship, the Public Art Ordinance states: “Public art strengthens public places and enhances and promotes Saint Paul's identity as a livable and creative city and a desirable place to live, work and visit.” With a government whose attitude toward art encourages these conversations, St. Paul continues to beautify, develop, and improve its public places.
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Painted Fire Hydrants on Display Throughout Chicago

Chicago area artists age 12 to 87 have painted larger-than-life fire hydrants for a public art project on display throughout the city until November 11. The project, called the Great Chicago Fire Hydrants, aims to decorate 101 five-foot-tall fire hydrants (one for each Chicago firehouse) before November 11, when a public auction of the hydrants will raise money to benefit the 100 Club of Chicago and “other fire-related charities.” Find the hydrants on this map. Most are downtown, but Mt. Greenwood’s Funkie Fashions, Gordon Tech High School, and Swedish Covenant Hospital are among the neighborhood spots. Check out the website's gallery of completed fire hydrants if you can’t hoof it to all the locations. And if you'd like to decorate one, reach out here to the organizers here.
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Flint Flat Lot’s Floating House draws criticism

When London-based Two Islands took first place in Flint, Michigan’s first Flat Lot Competition for public art, images of their floating, mirror-clad meditation on the foreclosure crisis turned heads. Six months later the project has been built, but it faced challenges and has drawn criticism making the leap from rendering to reality. Photos posted to the website designboom elicited a flurry of comments that decried the execution of Mark’s House, whose smooth reflective sheen turned out more like Reynolds Wrap, they said. Photos on MLive show a much more wrinkly mylar coating: The texture has drawn criticism. But some came to the project’s defense. One commenter writes:

"While the project did not turn out the way intended I find it very saddening that so many people find the need to put down the architects whose vision this was […] All in all I believe that the original effect was not attained by the material used. Do I think that the project was a smashing success absolutely not, but do I think that some good came from it yes. People from around the world CARED about Flint Michigan, “The Most Dangerous City In America” and they wanted to come to Flint to do something."

Permit issues delayed the project, but with the help of volunteers, $25,000 in prize money and an extra $15,000 boost from online donors, construction wrapped up late Summer.  
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Flight Delays: “Lack of Sophistication” Delays Public Art LAX’s New Tom Bradley Terminal

LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up for “Appreciation Days” got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called “a lack of sophistication on LAX’s part” in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didn’t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.
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Architecture Research Office Designs Public Art Display Panels for NYC’s Pedestrian Plazas

Streets occupy nearly a quarter of New York City's land, however there are limited outdoor spaces to socialize, sit, and enjoy city life outside of parks. As part of an effort to improve the quality of public space for all New Yorkers, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has been developing new public open space by converting underutilized street spaces into pedestrian plazas. With dozens of plazas already open and functioning across the city, the NYCDOT has been looking to polish the new spaces, installing permanent designs, improved benches, and now, specially designed signs to showcase public art. Ten art display cases were on view from May through late August 2013 at Brooklyn’s Willoughby Plaza—one of the city’s first asphalt strips once dedicated to cars and subsequently transformed into a pedestrian space. The signs were part of NYCDOT's Urban Art Program and were part of its inaugural show titled There is no US Without U. The sail-like panels were designed by the NYC-based architectural and urban design firm Architecture Research Office (ARO) and were fabricated by Rhode Island–based custom composite construction leader Goetz Composites. Each panel is composed of three integrated elements: a sail-like field material involving an anti-graffiti coating, beveled panel edges clad in stainless steel, and stainless steel panel bases connecting the panels to the ground. The idea takes inspiration partially from recreational equipment and incorporates materials typically associated with boats. DOT sought a prominent boat builder to collaborate with the design team to create the construction details and assemble the prototype, which was exhibited last year at Bogardus Plaza and Water and Whitehall Plaza. Through an art therapy program at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, veterans created the featured artwork shown on the new display kiosks. The exhibit will now be moved other public spaces around New York City. All images by James Ewing / Courtesy NYCDOT.
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Inside Ball-Nogues Studio’s Canadian Vault

Fabrikator
In 2011, a major expansion to Edmonton, Alberta’s Quesnell Bridge generated an ongoing effort to enliven the landscape surrounding the overpass, which connects the northwest and southwest portions of Canada’s fifth largest city. A resultant public art commission from the Edmonton Arts Council for Los Angeles–based multidisciplinary design-build fabricators Ball-Nogues Studio called for an engaging installation along the south side of the North Saskatchewan River, which sees a live load of 120,000 vehicles each day. While brainstorming the project, it was apparent to the firm’s principal and designer in charge Benjamin Ball that the areas immediately surrounding the bridge were not carefully considered by passengers. “It was a sort of no-man’s-land between the transportation infrastructure and the landscape,” he recently told AN. Drawing inspiration from the mundane—sand piles, gravel, and detritus from the trucking industry—and the majestic—talus and scree formations enveloping the base of surrounding cliffs—Ball and the studio’s cofounder Nogues applied their knowledge of sphere packing to echo the angle of repose of natural and man-made mounds.
  • Fabricators Ball-Nogues Studio
  • Designers Ball-Nogues Studio
  • Location Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Date of Completion October 2011
  • Material stainless steel, 360-millimeter stainless steel brackets
  • Process Rhino, CATIA, welding, hammering, screwing
“In this case, we wanted to make a conventional dome shape, combined with the talus pile concept,” said Ball. Designed in Rhino, the team worked with a structural engineer to optimize the form in CATIA. An architectural slip mold was milled from plywood into which 930 prefabricated, reflective, stainless steel spheres were poured and packed into an inverted dome shape. Three different sizes were used to maximize surface coverage while maintaining minimal spatial gaps that embody transparency and allude to the emptiness of the parabolic form. Using the prefabricated spheres was a conscious design decision made to take advantage of the lack of dimensional predictability that comes when hydro-forming the components. “We wanted those uncertainties,” said Ball. “When you pack those spheres together, it’s impossible to predict how they’ll relate to each other, so you have to build that into your design process, anticipate a surprise, and embrace it, versus working against it.” The team welded the spheres together with 360-millimeter stainless steel brackets and affixed them as 27 panels for shipment from Burbank, California, to Alberta, Canada. Once the cargo reached the site, even though the panels were numbered, reassembly proved challenging. “You have some kind of thermal expansion and contraction that comes from fabricating in 105 degrees and installing in 55 degrees,” said Ball. “The fact that it was fabricated upside down and erected as a dome shape meant there was a lot of on-site decision making. It needed some gentle nudges and persuasions from a hammer to fit.” Ultimately the sculpture was secured to the earth along a steel ring beam foundation on screw piles driven three feet into the ground. For the designers, the process behind realizing Talus Dome successfully embraced the capabilities of digital fabrication but simultaneously embraced some “fuzziness” in constructing it. “In design and fabrication today, there’s a tendency to try to eliminate any uncertainty or looseness in the process, and that’s done by choice,” said Ball. “But here, by choice, we’re accepting that and working within those tolerances.”
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Reading nest roosts in front of Cleveland Public Library

If you drop by the Cleveland Public Library to get lost in a book, you may find reprieve from modern life outside the library’s walls, thanks to a giant reading nest custom designed by New York artist Mark Reigelman and LAND Studio. The installation is the fourth in a series, called "See Also," which brings public art to the library's Eastman Reading Garden. It will be in place through October 18. The whirlwind of 10,000 palette boards and two-by-fours comprise a roost 13 feet tall and 36 feet across, reinforced with steel cable. Made from reclaimed wood from industrial sites in the Cleveland area, the nest creates an intimate, sheltered environment for reading or for staring at the perfectly framed sky.
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Flint Public Art Project’s Free City Fest Reclaims Razed Chevy Site

The ongoing efforts of artists and designers to reignite the spark of downtown development in aging industrial cities face no simple task. But as architects and developers begin to put pencil to paper, the best public art projects draw on the spiritual side of that renewal. Flint, Michigan’s inaugural Free City Festival, held May 3-5, did just that when it revived a mile-long stretch of now-razed Chevrolet plants with public art, transformational lighting displays and a reverberating gospel choir. “There was a such a sense of heaviness about this space. It was a place where so many people worked,” said Stephen Zacks, executive director of the Flint Public Art Project. “It’s a kind of cleansing experience, for it to no longer be a blank space.” They installed more than 75 projects, including work by NAO, Srjdan Jovanovic Weiss's firm, Boston-based architect Jae K. Kim, Flint’s Freeman Greer, Ann Arbor-based architect Catie Newell of Alibi Studio, New York-based architects Matthias Neumann and Natalia Roumeliotian, and an inflatable shelter by Michael Flynn modeled after Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago (above). The festival was produced with funding from ArtPlace, a consortium of national foundations in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The organizers are looking for sponsors to help repeat their success next year. It isn’t the only public art plot to rejuvenate the one-time home of General Motors. Recently London-based Two Islands took first place in the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, floating plans to erect a mirror-clad foreclosure icon that would douse a downtown public square with cool mists on hot summer days. “There are things people think they know about Flint, but aren’t really reflective of the city today,” Zacks said. “If we can create great spaces, we can start to consolidate a new image and identity of the place.”