In a few short years, the term placemaking has migrated from wonky urban planning circles to neighborhoods across the country—that communities come together around public space is no groundbreaking observation, but when successful the idea can be revolutionary on a local scale. So hopes Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council, who this weekend will sponsor “Old Place New Tricks,” a bid to “activate” neighborhoods from Englewood to Ravenswood with public space interventions that range from a “healthy eating happy hour” to “Selfie Sunday.” In all 18 events will rally neighborhoods across the city (and in the suburb of Blue Island), starting today and running through Sunday. MPC put together a map of them, which you can explore here. “Placemaking gives people the power to transform their neighborhoods, one space at a time,” said MPC’s Kara Riggio in a statement. “We at MPC hope this challenge provides communities an opportunity to tackle those vacant or underused spaces they've been eyeing for a while. Most of all, though, we hope it's a chance for people to get together with friends and neighbors for a great summer event!” No one’s under the illusion that pop-up art installations and weekend get-togethers can untangle the mess of problems plaguing many Chicago neighborhoods, but there’s hope that a community event focused on violence prevention in Austin, for example, or a peace-themed conference in Englewood may constitute a good start.
Posts tagged with "Public Art":
Through Saturday night, a public art project by LAND studio is turning Cleveland’s downtown malls into canvases for light displays including sweeping rainbows, iridescent discs, and high-definition projections. “Light Up Cleveland!” runs August 7–9 and is sponsored by a slew of companies and nonprofits. You can see a map and full schedule of events on ahacle.com. The installations include The Global Rainbow, which is visible from miles away, Jen Lewin’s responsive Pool of variegated stepping stones, and Drawing Lines—a maze of ropes strung up across the Cleveland Public Library's Eastman Reading Garden. Artist collective Obscura Digital will project high-resolution light works on the side of the city’s Public Auditorium, using 3D video mapping for a tactile and mesmerizing effect. LEDs abound in downtown Cleveland this weekend, which project coordinators LAND studio say reflects a growing excitement about ongoing efforts to revitalize the city's urban core. “AHA! is the perfect opportunity for people from all over the region to come downtown and enjoy the beauty of our city in a way we have never seen it before,” said LAND’s Ann Zoller in a statement. Earlier this year Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to mount a similar exhibition along the Chicago River. That proposal was widely criticized as “frivolous,” though city officials maintain it would boost tourism. UPDATE Tuesday Aug. 12: See below for an added gallery of photos from the event, copyright Frank Lanza via LAND Studio. Featured artists include Yvette Mattern, Obscura Digital, Jen Lewin, and Iván Juárez. LAND Studio says the event brought thousands of visitors downtown over the weekend.
Barcelona-based artist Jaume Plensa said the first thing he does after checking into his hotel during stays in Chicago is drop by Crown Fountain, the digital waterwork that features human faces spitting water, just to make sure his popular downtown installation really exists. “Sometimes I think it was just a beautiful dream I had 10 years ago,” Plensa said at a press conference Tuesday. Millennium Park, which turns ten years old in 2014, counts Plensa’s whimsical fountains among its more popular installations. A new piece of his, on loan from the artist through the end of 2015, attempts to build on that momentum. Entitled 1004 Portraits, the new installation features three cast-iron heads some 20–23 feet tall, their tranquil expressions facing west toward Crown Fountain and Michigan Avenue. Walk around the visages, though, and their volume drops away—the figures, all portraits of young girls with their eyes closed, are warped and stretched along their vertical axes. Their names are Laura, Paula, and Ines. A fourth head—this one 39 feet tall, bleach-white, and made of resin—watches over the entrance of Millennium Park at Madison Street and Michigan Avenue. That piece is entitled, Look Into My Dreams, Awilda. (The other 1,000 portraits referenced in Plensa's title refer to the LED projections that cycle through as the backdrop for Crown Fountain.) “I invite everyone in Chicago to dream with me and with my heads in Millennium Park,” said Plensa.
Flint, Michigan kicked off a series of events celebrating education and the arts Friday, unveiling interactive installations cooked up over a year-long after school program local students have dubbed Museum of Public Schools. Produced by the Flint Public Art Project, the ongoing exhibition will culminate in a series of proposals by students to change their school system. Mott Middle College plays host to the ongoing event. “Usually students just experience their own educational opportunity and journeys,” Mott Principal Cheryl Wagonlander said in a press release. “It's rare for them to step out of the role of experiencing and become the seekers of information about how varied educational access and opportunities are in their own community and beyond their own community.” On the corner of South 2nd Street and Saginaw, students installed chalkboards that asked the public, “What is the purpose of education?” Answers varied widely in tone, from sarcastic to self-reflective. The Museum of Public Schools program is just one of several summer events planned as part of the growing Flint Public Art Project’s programming. Upcoming events include a “porch light initiative” to illuminate the city on June 19 to celebrate the day in 1865 when Union soldiers announced the end of the Civil War. More information is at www.flintpublicartproject.com.
June brought good weather to Cleveland, and those who rang in summer with a visit to the Cleveland Public Library encountered an airy installation of white frames and threads crisscrossing the Eastman Reading Garden. It’s not the first piece of public art to active the space outside the Cleveland Public Library. Last year a giant reading nest designed by LAND Studio and New York artist Mark Reigelman took wing in the library’s Eastman Reading Garden. This year’s piece, by X. studio founder Ivan Juarez, is the fifth installation in the library’s “See Also” public art program, which is organized with help from local designers LAND Studio. The program is funded through an endowment established by Lockwood Thompson, a former library trustee and art collector. Juarez will use almost 15,000 feet of rope before the piece comes down at the end of October. Dubbed Drawing Lines, the installation aims to help visitors “discover new spaces, shadows and frames” in the garden, per a press release from the Cleveland Public Library:
“A continuous thread will move across new and existing elements in the garden to filter the natural light and create new passages and spaces to gather and reflect. At the same time, the installation’s architecture is being broken apart. Its walls are transparent.”LAND Studio is also engaged in a makeover of Cleveland's downtown Public Square and a rails-to-trails project along Cleveland's old RTA Red Line.
A new, mid-rise, rental building on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn looks like many of the new, mid-rise, rental buildings in the borough—at least from the front. The GF55-designed building’s brick and glass facade is fairly nondescript, but around the corner, on the building's eastern flank, a new 45-foot-wide, 75-foot-tall mural could become one of the most iconic—certainly the most Instagrammed—pieces of public art in the neighborhood. The mural, titled Sign Language, was created by Cre8tive YouTH*nk—an arts-based, youth development collective—and overseen by street artists Chris Stain and Billy Mode. The building’s developers, Quinlan Development Group and Lonicera Partners, commissioned the project, which was unveiled at the under-construction building in May. The mural is an adaptation of a 1978 photograph taken by celebrated photojournalist Martha Cooper and depicts a young boy climbing up a street sign to grab a bicycle tire. Cooper worked with the students on the mural and appeared at its unveiling. To take her photo and turn it into a multi-story mural, the young artists essentially broke the image up into about 90 pieces. Those pieces became panels that were individually painted offsite. Putting those panels in place added another challenge because they were installed before the building was actually completed. “Normally with a mural you paint directly to the building, so you adjust your design to the building on-site,” said Mode at the unveiling. “With this, there was a bunch of back-and-forth with the architect. We gathered a lot of information about where windows were going to land, the colors, the cutouts.” The developers said that they commissioned local artists for the mural as a way to add something unique to the project, and to the neighborhood. “They wanted to do something cool that had some aspect of the community,” said Jerry Otero, the founder and director of Cre8tive YouTH*nk. “Not just about it, but that was it somehow.” As new developments continue to rise in Downtown Brooklyn and its surrounding neighborhoods, there will be many opportunities for developers to do something like this—to turn an otherwise blank wall into a canvas. And if at least some of them do, it could go a long way in adding design into an area many believe is being overrun with generic architecture.
An art installation along Philadelphia’s Northeast Amtrak corridor is adding some color to the travel experience for 34,000 daily riders. Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has been commissioned by the city’s Mural Arts Program to transform seven sites alongside the tracks with vibrant (and environmentally friendly) coats of paint: Orange and white streak across a warehouse, green and white do the same on an abandoned brick structure, and hot pink cover brush and boulders. The installation, titled psychylustro, began unveiling itself in late April and will “unfold in a series of seven passages—from vast, dramatic warehouse walls to mall buildings and stretches of green spaces—meant to be framed through the windows of the moving train, creating a real-time landscape painting that explores shifting scale, perspective and the passage of time.” The Mural Arts Program has committed to maintain the work in “world-premier conditions” for its first six months. After that, the installation is intended to age, weather, and disappear altogether.
A nonprofit in Detroit is calling on artists and designers “to breathe new life into the historical viaducts at Second and Cass Avenue in Midtown.” In partnership with the New Economy Initiative, Midtown Detroit, Inc. will sponsor public art and light installations in the TechTown District of Midtown Detroit. Accepted proposals win $75,000 per viaduct. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, April 30. Applicants can propose interventions for one or both viaducts. Apply here. The two viaducts, located between Baltimore and Amsterdam Streets in TechTown, were fully operational railroad bridge grade separations. Originally constructed in 1934, they’ve fallen into disrepair. While Detroit’s been happy for international design attention in recent years, this competition has a residency requirement. It’s open to “all professional artists, architects, designers, design firms and/or teams consisting of these entities located in the following eight southeast Michigan counties: Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne.” Non-residents can join a design team as long as the project lead can prove physical residency in southeast Michigan. Read the full list of guidelines here.
It’s open season for public art in St. Louis, according to the groups behind Sculpture City St. Louis 2014—an ongoing festival “intended to draw attention to the rich presence sculpture has in the visual landscape of our region.” The programming leads up to and continues after an April conference. Art exhibitions throughout the year aim to continue the conversation. For instance, Art of Its Own Making, a show at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts that features sculpture, installation, film, and performance works through August 20. St. Louis Sculpture City showcases public art, sculpture, and design throughout the year, before and after its April 10–12 conference “Monument / Anti-Monument,” which will encourage dialogue about art and public life. A full list of the shows and events that make up the ongoing examination of public art is available on the group's website. Non-profit institutions, for-profit enterprises, and government/civic art programs with programming within 100 miles of downtown St. Louis during 2014 can submit their program to Sculpture City St. Louis, which may list them on their website. St. Louis is a fitting place for the topic. From the two-block sculpture park dubbed CityGarden to plans for a revamped park at the base of the Gateway Arch, it’s a busy time for public space in St. Louis.
In his school project, Puzzle Facade, Spanish designer Javier Lloret decided to transform the exterior of an Austrian museum into an interactive piece of architectural entertainment: a giant Rubik’s Cube. Lloret wirelessly connected a 3D-printed handheld cube to a laptop responsible for controlling colors on the facade of a nearby building roughly shaped like a cube: the Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. The building proved to be an ideal canvas for the project as it was already furnished with an LED-lit media facade. The cube is equipped with electronic components enabling it to keep track of its orientation and subsequent rotations. The data is sent wirelessly via Bluetooth to a nearby laptop which runs software specifically designed for the project. The software enables the building to change color each time the handheld interface-cube is moved and twisted. Solving your own Rubik’s cube is difficult enough, but the 3D-printed controller for this larger-than-life version of the game presented even more challenging obstacles. The cube is white, making it harder for those who have memorized the color pattern of a regular Rubik's cube to solve the game. Moreover, due to the location and nature of the building, the player is only able to view two facades at the same time, which increases the difficulty in solving the puzzle. Javier Lloret developed this project as part of his thesis at the Interface Culture master program at the Universitat Kunstlerische and Industrielle Gestaltung Linz.
First proposed in 2011, Brooklyn's Silent Light installation has finally become a reality. Located at the intersection of Park Avenue and Navy Street under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) in Red Hook, the series of gates frames a pedestrian walkway that passes through an area of heavy vehicular traffic. The structures are covered in LED lights activated by surrounding noise from cars to create fleeting light shows of various colors and patterns. The project was conceived and executed by Valeria Blanco, Shagun Singh, and Michelle Brick who together form the Artists Build Collaborative. The trio collaborated with the Department of Transportation's Urban Art Program, the Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Red Hook Initiative to fund, construct, and install Silent Lights. The arches are intended to provide nocturnal aid to pedestrians navigating a potentially hazardous stretch of sidewalk. More broadly, the Collaborative hopes that by dramatically visualizing the issue, the installation will call attention to problems of noise pollution that plague the neighborhood by virtue of the BQE.
Crossing the street in Baltimore just got a lot more fun. The city has just unveiled its newest dispatch: a "hopscotch crosswalk" transforming the downtown street crossing at the corner of Eutaw and Lombard streets into an entertaining diversion for pedestrians. The project was a component of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts for the Bromo Seltzer Arts & Entertainment District’s desire in incorporate public art in various areas of the city. The piece is comprised of four crosswalks, each featuring a different footprint symbolizing the city’s many inhabitants. A shoe-print represents the business person, bird tracks mirror the flock of birds in the city sky, the boot portrays the labor force, and the footprint depicts the numerous artists bouncing around the city. Baltimore is one of many cities within the United States which has toyed with crosswalks by altering their main function as gateway between intersecting streets into a tangible piece of entertainment. Other cities such as Milwaukee and Miami have altered their crosswalks to create inventive pathways, transforming them into black-and-white oversized piano keys, or multi-colored lines. This artistic approach has been questioned for its safety, as playing a game of hopscotch in the middle of a busy intersection might not be the most responsible way to interact with traffic. The Baltimore Office of Promotion has assured skeptics, however, that they have worked collaboratively with the Department of Transportation who has approved the design for the project. Both agencies have said that the crosswalk is secure but that its users should remain mindful of the adjacent automobile traffic, stop lights, and other crosswalk signals.