Posts tagged with "public art":

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Honoring the forgotten: Melbourne-based artist Robbie Rowlands makes Detroit’s abandoned houses come to life

The deteriorating floorboards and walls of abandoned homes appear to defiantly reassert their existence in artist Robbie Rowlands’ exhibition, Intervention. While on residency in Detroit, Michigan, the Melbourne-based artist drew attention to abandoned houses by ripping out certain sections and creating track-like extensions of their fixtures—so that the otherwise nondescript wall seems to implore, “pay attention to me.” The idea is to take a rundown structure and bring it back to life, even if only in the metaphorical sense, saving inanimate objects from forgetfulness by giving them an unprecedented reincarnation. Rowlands thus navel-gazes on the nature of decay to convey the truism that we only pay attention to these ever-present objects when they begin to break down. Most of Rowlands’ pieces resemble rollercoaster tracks gone haywire as sections of the pockmarked wall curl outward and sweep the floor. Intervention consists of pieces sporting forlorn, personifying titles like Singled out, Sorry for the Intrusion, and Feeling exposed. To Die with No Fear features the boards of a gutted shed curled on a dusty floor, illuminated by a single shaft of light through a chink in the disintegrated woodwork. Rowlands’ previous work involved cut-up pianos, an overturned basketball hoop cut into sections, spiraling cartoonishly over the ground as if made from rubber. Rowlands also eviscerated a desk, cutting it, too, into sections to make it look vaguely like it was raising its wings in a “notice me” overture. “If the former object is largely unrecognizable in the new sculpture, the process is not one of violence. Rather, there is a sense of redemption, as if the object has been liberated from obsolescence, from forgetfulness,” writer Simon Cooper wrote in an essay accompanying Rowlands’ Disintegration exhibition in 2008.
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Navy Pier’s new “Wave Wall” by nArchitects lays a modern Spanish Steps at the foot of a Ferris wheel

Navy Pier is three years into a $278 million overhaul, and the new face of Illinois' most visited tourist attraction is beginning to emerge—most recently a grand staircase titled “Wave Wall" washed over the foot of the pier's famous ferris wheel. The peninsular mall and mixed-use amusement park has many major changes still in store, courtesy of a design team led by James Corner Field Operations. But photos available on the website of designers nARCHITECTS reveal a completed portion of the project collectively called “Pierscape” that creates an outdoor amphitheater from a simple stairway. (The full design team includes dozens of consultants.) The form of the new public space, which faces south into Chicago Harbor, resembles a sweeping wave or a wending draft of wind. Treads made of composite materials domesticate the snarling steel risers. Glass beneath the steps allow passersby indoors at the Pier to glimpse activity on the steps outside. From the bottom of the stairs, the project unspools into an audience seating area for public performances, and also frames the historic Navy Pier Ferris wheel—a 196-foot tall wheel will soon replace the current one, itself a stand-in for the 264-foot icon first transported to the spot from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The designers say “Wave Wall” was inspired by the Spanish Steps in Rome.
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A pair of Chicago architects planted this electric pink porch in downtown Vancouver

A stand-alone porch with a psychedelic paint job opened earlier this month on Vancouver's Robson Street, beckoning passersby to inhabit the lighthearted public space for the fifth round of the city's Robson Redux design-build competition. Porch Parade, by Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer—together, Design With Company or Dw/Co—is a temporary shelter from the summer sun that will be recycled after its residency on the 800 block of Robson Street with the help of a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The young Chicago architects schemed up the space in collaboration with Jana Yeboah. “The design features a collection of porches that appear abstract at first, but when full of visitors, becomes a lively and familiar atmosphere for downtown Vancouver,” according to the project description by Viva Vancouver, the public art entity that stages Robson Redux. "Porch Parade" (Design with Company) Hicks and Newmeyer were also featured in the eclectic Graham Foundation show Treatise: Why Write Alone?, put on earlier this year by Jimenez Lai. Their whimsical installation Shaw Town opened last month for visitors to The Ragdale Foundation's annual Ragdale Ring pavilion. The design played off original Ragdale architect Howard Van Doren Shaw's arts-and-crafts forms with a collection of architectural pillows stored in a giant toy box. Their winning entry for Viva Vancouver was selected by a jury of “prominent Vancouver urban thinkers,” said spacing magazine, from more than 80 entries exhibited at the Museum of Vancouver in March. "Porch Parade" (Design with Company) Honorable mentions went to: #icu by Jeanie Lim, Jason Pielak, Grace Chang, Christine Chung, and Samuel McFaul; Robson Reclaimed by Haeccity Studio Architecture – Travis Hanks and Shirley Shen; Basic Re-Purpose Design – Theunis Snyman; and Jorge Roman; and Greenest Block by D’Arcy Jones Architecture – D’Arcy Jones, Matthew Ketis-Bendena, Craig Bissell, Dea Knight, and Caralyn Jeffs.
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Last year a labyrinth, now a giant ball pit: National Building Museum hosts indoor beach in its Great Hall

The magnificent, four-story Great Hall of the National Building Museum is now a site for executing cannonballs, rolling on the floor laughing, and other acts of gleeful revelry. A giant ball pit filled with recyclable translucent plastic orbs cuts between the colossal Corinthian columns, bounded by an enclosure made from scaffolding, wooden panels, and perforated mesh all painted stark white. A mirrored wall at one end creates the illusion of an unending abyss of translucent orbs. Bordering the enclosure is a 50-foot “shoreline,” filled with umbrellas and monochromatic beach chairs for lounging in the sunshine that filters through the window-laden ceiling four stories above. Adults can recline on “dry” land with a book, play paddleball, or have a drink at the snack bar. The installation, titled The BEACH was dreamed up by Brooklyn-based design firm Snarkitecture, which bills it as “an exciting opportunity to create an architectural installation that reimagines the qualities and possibilities of material, encourages exploration and interaction with one’s surroundings, and offers an unexpected and memorable landscape for visitors to relax and socialize within.” The fun-fest is part of the National Building Museum’s ‘Summer Block Party’ series, which last year hosted Big Maze by the Bjarke Ingels Group. Visitors wandered through an 18 foot-high maple plywood structure inspired by ancient labyrinths, garden and hedge mazes of 17th and 18th-century Europe and modern American corn mazes.
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New York City converted this dingy subway tunnel into a colorful underground museum of street art

For a long time, the 900-foot pedestrian tunnel that leads to the 1 train in Washington Heights was one of New York City's creepiest spaces. Now, it's been transformed into one of the city's best places to see art—or at least take some impressive Instagram photos. As part of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Beautification Project, the dingy tunnel was recently transformed into a colorful, art-filled corridor. NYCDOT picked five teams of artists (out of 150 submissions) and gave them each a 200-foot piece of the tunnel to use as a canvas. As you can see, the result is pretty dramatic. NYCDOT has a nice rundown of what visitors and commuters should expect as they make their way through the tunnel:

At the entrance to the tunnel, local Washington Heights artist Andrea von Bujdoss, also known as Queen Andrea, welcomes pedestrians with her mural entitled, 'Primastic Power Phrases,' a series of typographical designs that include phrases such as, 'Today is Your Day,' 'Live your Dreams' and 'Estoy Aqui!' As one travels further into the tunnel, Maryland-based artist team Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn have created, 'Caterpillar Time Travel,' a series of colorful, geometric designs. Next, Queens-based artist Nick Kuszyk takes viewers through 'Warp Zone,' a geometric design that plays with perspective and 'warps' the tunnel walls. Chilean artist Nelson Rivas, also known as Cekis, has created a dense jungle landscape with, 'It’s like a Jungle/Aveces es como una jungla.' At the end of the Tunnel, local artist Fernando Cope, Jr., also known as Cope 2, created 'Art is Life' to remind pedestrians to 'Take Your Passion, Make it Happen' and to 'Follow Your Dreams.'

If you're wondering why the DOT oversaw this project, it's because the tunnel is technically mapped as a city street. Anyway, onto the pictures!
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Creative Time’s Anne Pasternak appointed director of the Brooklyn Museum

Former president and artistic director of Creative Time, Anne Pasternak, has been appointed the director of the Brooklyn Museum, replacing outgoing director Arnold L. Lehman, who has served the museum since 1997. Pasternak, who built Creative Time into one of the world’s leading art organizations, will continue Lehman’s publicly-engaged mission going forward, bringing her own take on public art and programming and the “other ways that artists want to contribute to public ideas,” as she put it in a 2013 interview with Paper Magazine. Pasternak joined Creative Time as their only employee in 1994, when the fledgling organization had a budget of $375,000. She saw the budget increase to over $3 million, and, over the course of 21 years, she shed light on many rising artists, including Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat and Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz. Much of her latest work has been engaged with ideas about cities such as urban development, gentrification, and placemaking. She has taken positions and organized events that tackle big ideas, taking public art beyond the realm of the spectacular and into a more engaged, civic-minded discourse about the issues in the world today. This has included everything from the Tribute in Light at Ground Zero by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Julian LaVerdiere, Paul Marantz, Paul Myoda, and Richard Nash Gould, in memory of 9/11, to the annual Creative Time Summit, which has become the standard for art conferences, and the largest art and social justice gathering in the world.
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This netted, aerial sculpture above Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway looks like lace but is stronger than steel

A multicolored aerial sculpture lords over the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston in spiderweb fashion, casting rippling shadows over the pedestrian-friendly highway topper. While it appears to be as delicate as lace, the contraption, comprising over 100 miles of knotted fibers, is 15 times stronger than steel and weighs in excess of one ton. Artist Janet Echelman hand-spliced and knotted the colored rope into half a million nodes, with the entire structure suspended from three adjacent skyscrapers like a hammock 600 feet above the traffic below. Mystically titled As If It Were Already Here, the mid-air spectacle symbolizes the history of its location. The three voids in the sculpture are a nod to the three hills of Boston, which earned the city its “Tri Mountain” appellation before the mountains were razed in the 18th century to extend the land into the harbor. “It is a physical manifestation of interconnectedness and strength through resiliency,” Echelman wrote on her website. Meanwhile, the bands of color in the netting refer to the former six-lane highway that once dichotomized downtown and the waterfront. In 2008, it was converted into the Rose Kennedy Greenway. By day, the sculpture blends almost entirely with the sky, so that the striated colors appear as a misty, mirage-like sheen that shifts according to wind speed changes detected by sensors that register fiber movement and tension. This data also determines the color of the light projected onto the sculpture, so that when any one element moves, the entire sculpture is affected. By night, the sculpture illuminates in various colors. The intricate feat of engineering was first modeled on a software program developed in connection with Studio Echelman and Autodesk, featuring a custom plug-in for exploring net densities, shape, and scale while simulating gravity and wind. The sculpture will be on view from May through October 2015 as part of the Greenway Conservancy's Public Art Program.  
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Detroit city council asks, graffiti: art or vandalism?

Graffiti: art or vandalism? For some there's an absolute answer to that question, but for most there's room for debate. In New York City, police chief Bill Bratton calls graffiti "the first sign of urban decay," while work from Banksy (and sometimes lesser-known street artists) fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at New York auctions. Detroit became the latest city to grapple with this question in an official capacity, with city council members previewing ordinances designed to cut back on blight that have brought a somewhat philosophical question into sharp legal focus: How do you distinguish between blight and art in a city renowned (or reviled) for both? Council member Raquel Castañeda-López told Detroit's MetroTimes she and her colleagues are considering a variety of ordinances. One would fine building owners for not promptly removing graffiti on their property, and offer tax incentives for installing deterrents like security cameras. To exempt legitimate works of art, Castañeda-López also said they're looking into creating a citywide registry for street art. That's a complex task, however, especially for a cash-strapped city like Detroit. They're trying to avoid repeating an embarrassing mistake made last year, when city officials issued more than $8,000 in fines to commissioned graffiti galleries along the city's Grand River Creative Corridor. Collectives like the Heidelberg Project and individual artists like Brian Glass, known as Sintex, continue to battle with city officials who must enforce vandalism statutes while enjoying the creative community's substantial tourist draw. Funding for the citywide registry could come from a “one percent for art” program that earmarks public development money for cultural programs. "We're deciding what makes the most sense for the city," Castañeda-López told the MetroTimes' Lee DeVito. The city will schedule public meetings later this month to continue the conversation.
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Des Moines Dialogue by Substance Architecture

Zinc and glass unite riverfront pavilion and pump house.

In 2009, just as construction on its Principal Riverwalk pavilion was about to begin—and following years of funding-related stops and starts—Des Moines-based Substance Architecture received some unexpected news. The firm was commissioned to design a second building, a pump house, on an abutting plaza. At that point, recalled Substance's Paul Mankins, it had been about three years since the firm started work on the pavilion. "There was some discussion in the office about whether the pump house should be an independent piece, or whether it should be formally related to the pavilion," he said. "Our decision was that the pavilion would be stronger if it had this piece as a foil." Using a limited material palette of zinc and glass accented by Jun Kaneko's artwork, Substance succeeded in creating a dialogue between the two small riverfront buildings, despite their differing programs and dates of origin. The pavilion's form was shaped as much by practical circumstances as by a particular aesthetic vision. The Wallace Roberts and Todd (WRT) master plan for the Principal Riverwalk, a joint development of the City of Des Moines and the Principal Financial Group, determined the wedge shape of the site. "We're not a firm that typically does triangular buildings," noted Mankins, "but the inner workings of the floodwall were already in place before we started." The architects were further constrained by a tight budget. Rather than distribute the program across a single floor, said Mankins, "we were able to convince WRT to manipulate the plaza, tip it up to stack the program." The move cut the pavilion's footprint in half and allowed Substance to push the service functions down into the plaza itself, thus decreasing the cost of the envelope. The pavilion's focal element is its glass-enclosed cafe, stacked directly atop the cast-in-place concrete box housing the service functions. The architects created an outdoor seating area by pulling the building ten feet away from the floodwall. This gesture, too, was in part a pragmatic one, as it "eased conversations with the Army Corps of Engineers," said Mankins. "The end result produces an exterior terrace, which is fantastic. But it was not purely a design-driven decision; it was also a political decision."
  • Facade Manufacturer VMZinc (zinc), Bliss Nor-Am (glazing), Jun Kaneko with Derix Glasstudios (glass mural)
  • Architects Substance Architecture
  • Facade Installer Cramer and Associates
  • Location Des Moines, IA
  • Date of Completion 2013 (pavilion), 2014 (pump house)
  • System folded zinc over steel-framed glass enclosure
  • Products VMZinc siding and roofing, Ipe siding, Bliss Nor-Am windows and doors, Minnesota limestone
To mitigate solar gain, Substance shrouded the pavilion in folded black zinc that serves as both roof and wall. A broad overhang to the south provides shade in summer without sacrificing the view downriver. On the west side of the cafe, the zinc facade is louvered. "It's basically like an enormous blind with the fins oriented north," said Mankins. "It allows you to view directly north, which is upriver, unobstructed, but it blocks the western sun." The second project, the pump house, entered the mix following the flood of 2008. "We have a storm and sanitary sewer system that's cutting-edge technology for 1750," quipped Mankins. After two 500-year floods in less than two decades, the city decided it was high time to upgrade its flood management system. The pump station designed by Substance contains three pumps, one of which already existed. "There are other pump stations in Des Moines, typically just cinderblock walls around an emergency generator and several propeller pumps," explained Mankins. The architects took a different tack, echoing the neighboring pavilion with a two-part design. They encased the existing pump in translucent glass, then wrapped a triangular zinc wall around the two new pumps and associated components. Below the pump station's zinc walls, Substance used a type of Minnesota limestone deployed by WRT throughout the Principal Riverwalk development. Substance had already worked with artist Jun Kaneko on several pieces for the pavilion. The firm returned to ask for a final artwork, a multicolored glass mural. "When we were designing the pump station, we always wanted this glass mural," said Mankins. The designers collaborated with Kaneko and Germany's Derix Glasstudios on the mural itself, then engaged C3 Lighting Solutions and Commonwealth Electric to design and install an LED system for internal illumination. With the language of limestone uniting them with the rest of the Principal Riverwalk, said Mankins, the pavilion and pump station appear as "two objects placed on plazas formed by flood walls." Their relationship to one another is a (happy) marriage of opposites, thanks to the architects' strategic use of zinc and glass. "One is closed, the other open," said Mankins. "But they're clearly related to one another."
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Iowa City picks Cecil Balmond for downtown art project

Iowa City this week picked engineer-turned-artist Cecil Balmond to anchor an overhaul of the city's downtown pedestrian plaza. His sculpture will be the focal point of Iowa City's Black Hawk Mini Park Art Project, the first phase of an $11 million streetscape redevelopment project that officials hope to start next year. Balmond's work aims to enliven public spaces with forceful, architectural installations. His studio has strung shafts of light in Anchorage, Alaska, explored the Solid Void of sculpture with a forest of metal filigree in Chicago's Graham Foundation, and woven steel like rope to bridge a Philadelphia railway. The Chicago Transit Authority recently tapped Cecil Balmond Studio to contribute art for an overhaul of the 91-year-old Wilson Red Line station. An artist review panel consisting of Genus Landscape Architects Brett Douglas and Angie Coyer, and Iowa City staff Geoff Fruin and Marcia Bollinger selected U.K.–born Balmond over artists Vito Acconci and Hans Breder. Construction on the project is expected to begin next year.
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Chicago Placemaking Festival Aims to teach Old Places New Tricks

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.
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This Weekend> Giant rainbows and iridescent pools light up Cleveland

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.