Posts tagged with "Sculpture":

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Extensive Alexander Calder exhibition now on display at the Whitney Museum

An extensive exhibition featuring works by Alexander Calder, who renowned for the use of kinetic movement in sculpture, is now on display at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. The exhibition, Calder: Hypermobility, offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience the artist’s works as they were meant to be—in motion. Previously, the dynamic pieces of art were thought to be difficult to show in museums and were often left static. The moving pieces of artworks are motorized and wind-propelled, creating a choreography of rotations and unpredictable movements. Some of Calder’s earliest works are on display, including his early motor-driven abstractions and wall panels with suspended active elements, as well as other major examples from his later years. While people could actually touch Calder’s works themselves during his lifetime, the sculptures at this exhibition can only be set in motion by ‘activators,’ people who are trained to handle the delicate pieces. There’s an intrinsic relationship between the art and the city that only a location at the Whitney can offer. The exhibition space on the eighth floor of the Whitney Museum, where the works are on display, opens up to the city and creates a connection between the city and the gallery space. “This is a show that can only happen in New York,” Jay Sanders, curator of performance at the Whitney, said at the press preview, adding that the exhibition exaggerates the inter-relation between the urban bustle and the artist’s works. “Calder’s works is a wonderful hinge between these realities.” In addition to the gallery display, there will also be a series of performances, concerts, screenings, and episodic, one-time demonstrations led by the Calder Foundation. These contemporary artists will work in dialogue with Calder’s works. Calder: Hypermobility is on view from June 9 to October 23, 2017, at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
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Artist Martin Boyce uses architectural forms to create surreal sculptures

British Turner Prize–winning artist Martin Boyce is presenting Sleeping Chimneys. Dead Stars. at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Chelsea. In the exhibition, Boyce uses sculpture and architectural forms to explore themes of melancholy and abandonment. Many of the works use an angular, oblique design language derived from work by French sculptors Joël and Jan Martel—longtime inspirations for Boyce, who lives in Glasgow. Audiences can witness this in the first part of the exhibition, There was a Door, which, unsurprisingly, is a door, but one that doesn't open to the exhibition, or in fact anything. There was a door, however, is a precedent for the rest of Boyce's work on display. Details down to the wall-mounted door's bronze keyhole and peephole reflect the intimacy of the inanimate objects on display. "I enjoy the stillness and melancholia of an object such as a lamp or table of which can appear lonely or abandoned," said Boyce speaking to The Architect's Newspaper. On the ground floor, furniture can be found along with four apparently "sleeping" chimneys (officially titled, Still Life Landscape with Sun). The furniture is mostly metal, with Boyce weathering some to give a false sense of history; the works appear as if they sat outside for some time. To do this, Boyce said he brushed the metal with Scotch-Brite, vinegar, and filings. The furniture then sits adjacent to white, wall-fixed moldings, creating a contradiction with what we would usually expect to find inside and outside. Likewise, the same could be said for the array of chimneys that create a roofscape within the all-white-walled gallery ground floor. Made from jesmonite, the chimneys have been stained with acid to give the impression of being exposed to the rain. Their oblique sculpting is a scaled-up reference to the smaller motifs that feature throughout. To complete the roofscape scene, the chimneys have television aerials attached to them and, in the background, a paper lantern acts as the sun behind the chimney-tops. However, this isn't the only star of the show. Another light, or rather a Dead Star, can be found in the form of a circular lamp hanging over a table. This lamp, though, emits no light. Like the supposed electrical fittings, the lamp was made from cast bronze and hence will never be able to shine. "Because of this, it really becomes about shape and structure, it is a purely sculptural, combatant, and broken lamp," remarked Boyce. Other light fittings throughout Sleeping Chimneys. Dead Stars are also made from bronze and their absence of illuminance amplifies their lonely presence.
On the floor above is another contradiction: a fireplace. Unsurprisingly there is no fire and the fireplace, located above the chimneys, dons oblique motifs present throughout. Inside the fireplace, a miniature yellow hanging lantern and set of stairs can be seen. The stairs lead nowhere and the lantern—a reference to another functioning one on the same level—emits no light. "It acts as a device that plays with perspective in the room, becoming an an architectural space within a theater," said Boyce. "With a lot of the works, it's more about being with the 1:1 objects and then within that chimney, it's stage-like." Sleeping Chimneys. Dead Stars. is on view now and runs through June 16 a the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (521 West 21st Street, New York, NY 10011).
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Two Cuban artists uniquely capture Detroit’s built environment—both its decay and hope for the future

Two Cuban artists, Alejandro Campins and Jose Yaque, feature in the City of Queen Anne’s Lace exhibition now on view at the Wasserman Projects gallery in Detroit. Using painting, sculpture, and drawing, they embody the emotion of Detroit's past, present, and future. Campins' works, laconic in style, are similar to those of Polish artist Joseph Schulz, whose Form 14 (archetypal of Schulz's style) exhibits architecture without detail. That work was cited by critic Stephen Parnell in his essay "Post-truth architecture." "Stripped of just a few elements, such as lettering, mundane architecture can reveal an uncanny elegance," Parnell said. The same could be said of Campins' paintings, if not for the moody tones and visible brush strokes (he used oils, watercolors, and also pencil) that convey the opposite. His works represent an abandoned Detroit, yet, despite their sense of silence, there are symbols of optimism: A green traffic signal and blank billboard can be interpreted as signifiers of opportunity. Yaque's work, meanwhile, is more explicitly optimistic. Made from Detroit's recycled trash, a large-scale installation rises up from the ground, topped with grass, flowers, and other greenery. The work appears at a glance to be molded by layers of sediment and soil (and Detroit's history)—almost as if a section of the earth's crust lifted from the ground. The piece physically dominates the gallery; exactly what is atop the chunk of recycled earth is unknown and out of sight, but we know from what we do see is that the land upon which is grows is evidently fertile. This piece also references the exhibition's name. Also known as a "Wild Carrot," Queen Anne's Lace is a flower that is commonly found sprouting from the city's decaying buildings. While most often associated with Detroit's downfalls, the plant has substantial nutritional value. Yaque also uses a more traditional medium. Like his Cuban counterpart, he draws, though Yaque employs charcoal to depict Detroit's urban vernacular. Yaque's technique allows his drawings to be nostalgic as they don the faded aesthetic of a century-old photograph. Smudging, often applied to the based of a work, connotes energy—the lost energy of the lonely landmarks and time passing by, wind-like and invariably contributing to the building's demise. Unlike his built work, these images hark back to a Detroit that is certainly consigned to memory, with buildings either no longer used or repurposed. However, in a similar vein to his sculpture, this reference point is only implied. City of Queen Anne’s Lace has been curated by Rafael DiazCasas, an art historian and independent curator based in New York City. The exhibition came about after Wasserman Projects founder Gary Wasserman saw Campins' works while in Havana. Through DiazCasas, the two discussed the parallels between Detroit's and Cuba's history. Inspired by this, Campins visited the Michigan city for himself, later introducing Yaque to the city too. The pair encountered much Wild Carrot during their foray into Detroit. According to a press release, they found the flower to be symbolic of change and natural rebalancing. This sentiment formed the basis of their work for the exhibition, promoting a feeling of hope while looking at Detroit through an alternative lens. City of Queen Anne’s Lace is on view at Wasserman Projects through June 24, 2017.
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Roxy Paine’s surreal dioramas go on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City

New York–based artist Roxy Paine has two series of artworks—both distinct and striking—on display at Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea. The first are the "Dendroids," the latest iteration of a long-running group of all-stainless steel sculptures that meditate on how the industrial transforms into the natural. These gleaming artworks feature man-made objects, human organs, and other abstract forms seamlessly melded with trees. But the exhibition's other trio of works—the "Dioramas," titled experiment, Meeting, and Desolation Row—are even more surreal and provocative. experiment portrays one of the CIA's "MKUltra" experiments, which lasted from the 1950s to 70s and had scientists observe the effects of LSD on subjects, sometimes without their permission and coupled with various forms psychological manipulation and torture. No photographs of these experiments exist, but Paine has crafted a vision here. He situates the viewer in front of an MKUltra experiment, with a CIA observation room looking onto a testing area (a generic, hotel-like bedroom and bathroom). The former is dark gray, the latter all yellow. Most remarkably, an incredibly acute forced perspective compresses the two small rooms together. From a certain angle, the vanishing point and scale are flawless, but any slight movement reveals the extreme compression of the observation room furniture. No glass separates the viewer from the two spaces, but the yellow hotel room feels miles away. The collapse of visual perception in experiment, combined with its subject matter, forces the viewer to confront paradoxes of perception, reality, and control, all to very chilling effect. Meeting is far more ghostly. It depicts the windowless meeting room of a twelve-step substance abuse program; the diorama features models of generic office furniture and bright white fluorescent lighting. As with experiment, the forced perspective is flawless, but the diorama's eye-level placement and realistic coloring heighten its strangeness. From afar, with its harsh fluorescent illumination, the room appears photo-realistic. But as the diorama pulls you closer, rough and unfamiliar textures appear on the floor and chairs. As you approach the far corners, it appears as though the scene has been put under a fisheye lens. Unlike Meeting, there are no shadows. All these effects make experiment pass from surreality to almost nightmare. The last diorama is Desolation Row, which depicts a smoldering landscape of blackened earth and burnt trees, still glowing with orange light. There's no use of forced perspective here—at least, none that I could see, though the diorama's farther trees do shrink in scale. Desolation Row evokes a cycle of growth and destruction, as well as themes of control, man, and nature that run throughout all the exhibition's artworks. Architects will certainly appreciate the care taken with these dioramas; Paine's attention to detail and perspective is remarkable. However, while architectural models aim to explain, elucidate, and convince, these do the opposite—they disturb, provoke, and question. The show—titled Farewell Transmission—is on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery at 293 & 297 Tenth Avenue, New York City.
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Checking in on the Fort Moore Memorial restoration in L.A.

In the two years since restoration work on the largely-forgotten Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial restoration in Downtown Los Angeles began, the areas around the isolated military memorial fountain have begun to see signs of change. To the north, the LA Plaza Village project, a new mixed-use development by architects Johnson Fain and landscape architects SWA Group, will likely transform the area when its 355 housing units and 46,000 square feet of commercial spaces come online in 2018. That project will take over several Los Angeles County–owned parking lots occupying the relatively isolated blocks east of the memorial. These formerly-neglected hillside lands are populated mostly by encampments, parking lots, and planted slopes and are relatively difficult to access on foot. The LA Plaza project will feature, however, a central, stepped paseo connecting across several blocks, linking the memorial with the pedestrian life of the Olvera Street area to the east. The Civic Center area to the south of the memorial, meanwhile, is working toward implementing the initial phases of a new, transformative master plan that seeks to convert the bureaucratic enclave into a mixed-use residential neighborhood in its own right. If there’s anything in the air around these parts, it’s change. Work on the Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial continues in pursuit of these changes, as the fountain—its waters shut off since the 1977 drought—is meticulously restored by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works under the guidance of Conservator Donna Williams and Civic Art Collections Manager Clare Haggarty. The memorial is located atop the stubborn slope that gives Downtown Los Angeles’s Hill Street its name and is dedicated to the Mormon Battalion and the New York Volunteer American military forces that first raised the American flag over the recently-conquered California territory on July 4th, 1847. The memorial is situated in a sunken plaza that features a large, running-bond brick expanse on its northernmost end. Next follows the 80-foot-wide waterfall backed by small, colorful tiles. The southernmost portion of the memorial contains a 78-foot by 45-foot terra cotta bas relief installation designed by renowned German sculptor Henry Kreis depicting the flag raising ceremony mentioned above. The bas relief installation also features a trio of symbolic narrative compositions celebrating the area’s conquest via Manifest Destiny. The uppermost panel celebrates the post-indigenous Spanish ranchos and agricultural pioneers of the area. The central panel depicts a “prairie schooner,” a type of stagecoach used by the early American settlers “who made Los Angeles a city,” while the lowest panel celebrates the might of industrial “water and power” that allowed for the region to be inhabited on a mass scale. The overall memorial was designed by Southern California architects Kazumi Adachi and Dike Nagano between 1947 and 1957 and officially dedicated in 1958. The memorial also features a 68-foot-tall triumphal pylon designed by American sculptor Albert Stewart. The pylon is itself embossed by a 16-foot by 11-foot sculpted eagle bas relief and an inscription dedicated to the “brave men and women” who played a role in “extending the frontiers” of the United States westward. Haggarty spoke to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) via email, explaining that work on the memorial restoration is well underway, with the restoration of the waterfall’s tile backing proceeding toward completion. Craftspeople are recreating replacement tiles for the wall by hand in an effort to match the original installation. Haggarty explained that when the waterfall was turned off during the 1977 drought, the monument began to fall into disrepair, but that many of the artistic components are in decent shape, otherwise. She explained, “The materials [like] grout, tiles, etc. started to get brittle and began to delaminate” when the water was originally shut off and that after over 40 years of neglect, “the plumbing for the waterfall needs to be entirely replaced.” A goal of the restoration is to return the monument to its original function as a fountain, assuming there is enough water to go around. Haggarty explained, “It is supposed to be a fountain and turning it off caused most of the issues. Another big issue is graffiti and prior methods of removal that have done more harm than good.” A broad, sandblasted patch along the brick wall portion of the project is a testament to that fact. Haggarty and Williams will both be presenting at the Los Angeles Visionary Association salon on Sunday, April 30th. The event, organized by preservation advocates Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, will include lectures from the women behind the restoration project as well as a tour of the restoration site. Schave told AN via email, “The Fort Moore Memorial is a huge part of the downtown landscape, poorly understood, and neglected, and now, thanks to the LA County Arts Commission, it is coming back into focus.” Schave added that the restoration “allows us to reassert the lost history of [Fort Moore] Hill—the demolished layers from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including the people who lived there—and the monument itself.”
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Robert Stadler and Noguchi Museum join forces for sculpture and weird furniture in new exhibition

To most, "accessorizing with Noguchi" means adding that famous coffee table or a paper lamp to the living room. Unlike regular people, though, designer Robert Stadler had the famous sculptor's whole catalogue on hand, choosing, among others, Big Id—a phallic marble sculpture—to complement his own work in an exuberant new show at the Noguchi Museum. Solid Doubts: Robert Stadler at The Noguchi Museum is the museum's first exhibition to feature another designer's work in such close dialogue with Isamu Noguchi. It's an opportunity, said Executive Director Jenny Dixon, to "layer contemporary voices into the museum." But it's also a high-stakes conversation—in addition to being one of the most peaceful places in New York, Noguchi designed the original galleries himself. How to create a space of your own and respect Noguchi? As its title suggests, Solid Doubts complicates the artists' work down to its very definitions. The first impulse is to pick out Noguchi from Stadler, Where's Waldo? style, but that's not the point. The actual fun is in the adjacencies across four installations that fold work from Stadler and Noguchi into each other. Stadler, who's based in Paris, and curator Dakin Hart arranged these tableaus in an intense collaboration they jokingly referred to as a "long-distance date." In the main gallery, Stadler's Cut_Paste #4 hosts two Noguchi sculptures, one in chunky slate and the other, a delicate gold anodized aluminum piece clinging to a marble shelf. The arrangements resist easy categories: Can you put a drink on it? Sit on it? Well—in the Cut_Paste series, these everyday distinctions don't really matter. "It's all designed to be used," Stadler said. "It's not meant to be sculpture." "They play with the typology of furniture but doesn't sit evenly or comfortably in any category," Hart added, noting that Stadler's confusing and borderline gaudy assemblages are supposed to recall leftovers from a bad 1980s luxury condo development. Two other galleries are reserved for more elaborate tableaus. In one, two fictional scenarios join together: Noguchi's set pieces for Martha Graham's ballets are placed among Stadler's digitally-milled PDT furniture in a meeting of fantasy and function. The room is organized, loosely, around Stadler's Anywhere #2, a moveable ceiling lamp which the artist guided around the room to illuminate Noguchi's props and his own ashlar table, bench, and mirror. In the other gallery, a deconstructed Chesterfield sofa melts against one wall, like tar, guarded by a pouf in the same material and flanked by sit-upons that would be at home at a Girl Scout meeting. The "biomorphic assault," as the museum calls it, underscores the subtly of Noguchi's lighting: two of his Akari lanterns anchor the walls, while one of the rarest Noguchi lamps, on loan from a private collector, surveys the room from above. The unencumbered layout—developed collaboratively with Stadler and the museum—lets visitors move in and around the works as they please (the accident-prone should note that this arrangement is easy to trip over). Outside, in Noguchi's garden, Stadler installed two works, playful riffs on cheap plastic garden furniture. Cast aluminum mockups of the white table and chair, looking sturdy in spite of their mottled surfaces and missing pieces, are placed apart from each other, a deliberate break from the table→chair→sit progression as well as a comment on the long-term sustainability of these familiar but flimsy items. For those reluctant to make the trek to Queens, Solid Doubts coincides with two upcoming opportunities to see Stadler's work in New York: He will have another Noguchi pairing at the Collective Design Fair next month, and at Weight Class, a solo exhibition at Carpenters Workshop Gallery that begins April 27. But really, why not go to the museum first? Solid Doubts: Robert Stadler at The Noguchi Museum opens April 26 and runs through September 3, 2017.
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Coachella art installations are a riot of color and whimsical forms

The Coachella Arts and Music Festival kicked off this weekend in the desert outside Los Angeles with a bang, debuting a series of cute and colorful, large-scale art installations for concertgoers to revel among. One consisted of a “mirrored lighthouse for immigrants” by Brazilian artist Gustavo Prado. The work is expressed as a tall lighthouse for travelers—pivoting, curved mirrors sit every which way atop a series of metal armatures, reflecting views and sunlight in a multitude of directions. In a statement, Prado explained the structure as “a way to empirically present how the mind turns the continuous interconnectedness of phenomena into separate beings.”
Brooklyn, New York–based studio Chiaozza (pronounced like “wowza”) designed a garden installation consisting of a series of whimsical, desert-inspired plant structures. Like some type of Martian golf course, the stucco-clad, Dr. Seuss-ian masses—tall and knobby, in some cases, bulbous and squat in others—are wrapped in Memphis Group–inspired squiggles and dots and sit atop circular bases made of astroturf. Adam Frezza of Chiaozza explained in a statement that the group wanted “to create a visual bath, something you can explore and get lost in” with their acre-sized installation.
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Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Olalekan Jeyifous created Crown Ether, an un-occupiable home supported by a series of angular, tree trunk-like pillars. The work, according to Jeyifous, is inspired by the artist’s longstanding interest in the intersection between public architecture and displacement, here symbolized by the tension resulting from the visual accessibility of the structure that cannot actually be occupied.
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Lastly, United Kingdom–based artists Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan created a massive installation that works as a visual pun for the phrase “elephant in the room” made up of large masses of faceted, brightly-patterned elephants. The 75-foot tall herd stands in a rough circle, with various exposures of each creation wrapped in a different geometric, colorful pattern. The installations will be on view through April 23.
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Here’s where art on the facade of the Brooklyn Heights library will go

Last week the Department of Buildings (DOB) approved demolition permits for the Brooklyn Heights branch library, clearing the way for a 36-story tower but raising questions about the ultimate fate of the art on the library's facade. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that exterior demolition at 280 Cadman Plaza West will begin in late March, and take about three months to complete. The new tower, designed by New York's Marvel Architects, will add 133 condos, retail space, and a STEM lab for young people in the neighborhood. An almost 27,000-square-foot library will occupy the development's mezzanine, part of the ground floor, and a below-grade level. Though it's smaller than the low-rise building it's replacing, the city maintains that the new branch will contain more usable space. Moreover, the sale of the city-owned property to developer Hudson Companies for $52 million is set to generate $40 million in capital repair funding for the BPL. Although site work has begun, the library sale and delayed transfer of ownership have remained a point of contention for activist groups like Citizens Defending Libraries, which maintains that no work should begin until the deal between the two parties is signed. So, with plans filed and permits in, there's just one more question—what's happening to the art on the library facade? The Architect's Newspaper previously reported that New York City's Public Design Commission (PDC) had to weigh in on the two bas–relifs by Clemente Spampinato before they could be removed. Keri Butler, deputy director of the PDC, shared the latest on the art's final home in an email:
The Public Design Commission has reviewed the methods and materials for removing the artworks from the facade of the library and temporarily storing them, and has found these methods to be appropriate with the understanding that a proposal for relocating the artworks within the new development at 280 Cadman Plaza West will be submitted by September 2017.
Displaying Spampinato's work in the new library underscores its civic function while preserving the art more-or-less in situ for public enjoyment. There's no word yet, though, on where in the new building the reliefs will be hung when it opens in spring of 2020.
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The High Line announces a new major stage for sculpture on the park’s new section

The Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square, a high-profile venue for a changing program of temporary commissioned artworks, has inspired a similar landmark destination in New York: the High Line Plinth. New York’s plinth will be a visible stage for sculpture located on the High Line's new "Spur" section at West 30th and 10th Avenue; the plinth and the Spur are scheduled to open together. High Line Art (which describes itself as "Presented by Friends of the High Line," the non-profit group that funds and maintains the famous rails-to-trails park) has said construction is expected to begin in 2017, with the opening coming sometime in 2018. According to The New York Times, the plinth will likely change shapes and sizes depending upon the artwork showcased. "High Line Art continues to reach a broad, diverse audience—including more than 2.3 million New Yorkers annually—with free, world-class artwork 365 days a year," said Robert Hammond, cofounder and executive director of Friends of the High Line, in a statement. To determine what artworks should inaugurate the plinth, 12 international artists have been shortlisted by Hight Line Art and an international advisory committee. Models of the artists' proposed sculptures will be displayed from February 9 to April 30, 2017, on the High Line at West 14th Street. Of the twelve, two will be the first High Plinth commissions. The first artwork will be installed in 2018, and each piece will be available for viewing for 18 months. The artists include Jonathan Berger, Minerva Cuevas, Jeremy Deller, Sam Durant, Charles Gaines, Lena Henke, Matthew Day Jackson, Simone Leigh, Roman Ondak, Paola Pivi, Haim Steinbach, and Cosima von Bonin. See the gallery above to sample some of their proposals. The Friends of the High Line also reported that the Spur will provide storage space for park operations, maintenance, horticulture, and new public restrooms for the park. "The High Line Plinth will expand the program's impact by creating a one-of-a-kind destination for public art on the Spur, a new section of the park with even more space for public programming and dynamic horticulture,” Hammond said.
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Artist Drew Conrad cannibalizes his old installations to create new sculptures

The Desert is a Good Place to Die, curated by Mitra Khorasheh, is a new exhibition of works created by Drew Conrad that utilizes dismembered parts of his old installations to build new sculptures intended to reflect ceremonial shrines of distant cultures. The structures vary in size, delicacy, and complexity, and call to mind feelings of vulnerability, dependency, and our fundamental ties to sentient beings. Conrad explained the theme in a statement: “A piece of me went missing when six years of creative output was erased from the world, now existing only as a ‘phantom limb.’ I have been known to say that the desert is a good place to die. This foreboding thought has existed since the first time I set foot in the arid lands of the Southwest, and traveled across and upward into the Rockies. It is a harsh, rugged, beautiful terrain that beckons me like my own modern day Manifest Destiny, but at times exudes a feeling that death is lingering in the air just beyond the horizon.”

Drew Conrad: The Desert is a Good Place to Die CUAC 175 East 200 South Salt Lake City Through January 13, 2017

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Public art component added to San Diego’s “Super Prime” Pacific Gate development by KPF

A new public art installation by Jaume Plensa, the artist behind the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park, has been commissioned to adorn a plaza at the foot of the Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects (KPF)-designed Pacific Gate development in San Diego. The sculpture, made with stylized characters from the Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, and Hindi alphabets and inspired by the roots of rainforest trees, will stand about 25-feet tall. It takes the shape of a seated individual looking out over the Pacific Ocean. The sculpture was commissioned by Bosa Development, the firm behind the project, specifically to compliment the new tower. It will adorn the public plaza beneath the so-called “Super Prime,” 41-story high-end condo tower. Residences in the development are being priced between $1.1 million and $2.8 million for two-bedroom and three-bedroom units, respectively. The 215 units contained within the tower will run between 1,240-square feet and 2,608-square feet in size and will feature interior design by Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), a group known mostly for high-end hotel interiors. Overall designs for the tower echo the form of a sea shell, with the facade of the tower taking the shape of a pair of conjoined, nested-curve-shaped towers designed to maximize outward views from each unit. The residences are to be located above a three-story parking and retail podium that will house 16,000 square feet of retail space and 460 parking stalls. Interiors will feature automated climate, lighting, and window treatments that can be controlled via smartphone or tablet. The units will also feature custom-designed kitchens by HBA, with cabinets made from “grain-matched cathedral veneer hewn from single lengths of wood,” as well as custom kitchen hardware, also by HBA, as well as quartz countertops and appliances by Wolf, Sub-Zero, and Miele. The project’s master bathrooms will contain polished stone floors and stone mosaic walls. Vancouver, Canada—based Chris Dikeakos Architects acted as architect-of-record for the project. The Pacific Gate development is expected to finish construction toward the end of 2017.
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The Astor Cube is back, along with plaza and streetscape improvements by WXY

After two years in storage, New York’s Astor Place Cube is back for a few more spins, along with a reconfigured plaza and streetscape that are designed to make high-density urban living more bearable. New York City officials held a ribbon-cutting and sculpture-spinning ceremony today to mark the completion of repairs to the rotating Cube sculpture by Bernard “Tony” Rosenthal and the larger $21 million Astor Place/Cooper Square reconstruction project that provides an improved setting for it. Officially known as The Alamo, Rosenthal’s Cube was removed for safe keeping and cleaning on November 25, 2014, so it would be out of the way during plaza reconstruction. It was returned this month, signaling completion of public improvements designed by Claire Weisz of New York-based WXY, in conjunction with the city’s departments of Design and Construction (DDC), Transportation (DOT), and Parks and Recreation. "The redesign of Astor Place brings us yet another beautiful public space that New York City has wrestled back from the automobile,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We have now made the plaza space more welcoming for pedestrians and we have brought back distinctive elements—like the iconic Cube—that have long made this such a special gathering place and gateway to the East Village." Trottenberg wistfully recalled her own involvement at Astor Place. After graduating from Barnard in 1986, she said, she worked in publishing near the Wanamaker Annex back when that's what liberal arts graduates did. “This space means a lot to me,” she said. “I once sold used books under the Astor Place Cube, back when you could still make money selling books.” “The reconstruction of Astor Place—and the reinstallation of the East Village’s beloved Alamo—provides a terrific example of how well-designed public space can create a more unified,  better functioning public sphere,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “Fluid, attractive and walkable spaces like Alamo Plaza are crucial as we work together to create a greener, healthier New York City.” “I am thrilled the Cube is back at Alamo Square and that we are celebrating upgrades to another pedestrian plaza in our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Marking the heart of the East Village, Astor Plaza, and this iconic artwork stand as a crossroads for thousands of New Yorkers.” The 15-foot Cube is one of the best-known sculptures in the city, popular for the way it spins on its axis. First installed in 1967, the Cube is made of jet-black Cor-Ten steel, weighs 1,800 pounds and spins easily when touched, making it a favorite late night toy for neighboring college students and others. Rosenthal (1914 to 2009) created the Cube as part of Doris C. Freedman's Sculpture in Environment installation, sponsored by the New York City Administration of Recreation and Cultural Affairs when the East Village neighborhood was a Bohemian haven. Symbolizing the constant swirl of urban life, it is as contextually emblematic as the Financial District’s 1987 Charging Bull by Arturo Di Modica. It was the first permanent contemporary outdoor sculpture installed in the city of New York. The reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square were completed as part of an effort to upgrade infrastructure throughout New York City, to give residents and visitors public spaces that provide a relief as the city becomes more densely developed. The city has a goal of ensuring that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of quality open space. The Department of Design and Construction managed the project for Transportation and Parks. The community enhancement project created two new pedestrian plazas and expanded and renovated two others, bringing 42,000 square feet of new pedestrian space to the neighborhood. The redesign incorporated an existing subway station and created a safer configuration for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It introduced larger sidewalks; 16,000 square feet of planting areas with new trees and automated, in-ground irrigation systems; 6,700 square feet of permeable pavement; 2,100 square feet of curbside rain gardens for improved drainage; and racks for more than 100 bikes. The Cube was renovated at a cost of $180,000. According to a statement from the Department of Design and Construction: “Astor Place is one of Manhattan’s busiest hubs. With nearby institutions like New York University, Cooper Union, and Parsons School of Design, thousands of cars and pedestrians flow through the area every day. Activity in this plaza space has only intensified in recent years with new buildings rising and businesses moving in to accommodate Manhattan’s population growth.” In addition, the DDC statement notes, “Astor Place is the site of a tricky intersection. Three avenues meet one another, where they form two adjacent triangles. Because of this, the area has been notoriously difficult for pedestrians to navigate. You could very easily find yourself standing in the middle of a traffic median with no access to a protected crosswalk. For years, the surrounding community and city planners saw an opportunity to transform Astor Place into a calmer, safer space.” To reimagine Astor Place, the city agencies turned to WXY, an architecture and urban design firm with a track record for working in complicated parts of the public realm. “We tend to get projects that have gone a long time without being solved, like undersides of bridges or areas surrounding viaducts,” said principal-in-charge Claire Weisz, in a statement issued by DDC. “It’s really about bringing design thinking to unusual problems, or problems that people put off solving.” The redesign was intended to reduce stress for everyone in the area. It creates sidewalks and roadways that are more clearly delineated to calm and guide drivers, and it provides more space for pedestrians, especially in Astor Place’s Alamo Plaza. Custom-designed tables, chairs, and umbrellas encourage pedestrians to stop and take in the view. There are also more trees and benches in Astor Place. At the southern tip of the Astor Place area is Cooper Triangle and Village Plaza. Cooper Triangle got new street fixtures, including steps that provide seating and meeting areas for pedestrians. More pedestrian space was added by narrowing the width of the adjacent road. Reconstruction of Astor Place began in 2013 after the local Community Board approved the plan. Besides moving public art, work included relocating underground utilities and installing new features such as lighting, bicycle racks, and plantings. Planners say in-depth traffic studies were a key step in redesigning and rebuilding roadways to calm the flow of cars. Weisz said she used the unusual geometry of the area to reimagine pockets of under-used public space.  “How do we reconnect people to their environment, not just by views, but by interacting with it?” she said. “The more options we have and the more developed our infrastructure is, the more possibilities we have for continuing our density in the city.” While Astor Place is a high profile project, planners say, areas throughout New York City are receiving similar treatment on a smaller scale. The DDC launched its Plaza Program in 2008, inviting New Yorkers to nominate their own neighborhoods for a plaza redesign. Earlier this year, the DDC and DOT also completed Fordham Plaza in the Bronx and La Plaza de las Americas in Manhattan. Others in the works include George B. Post Plaza, Lowery and Bliss Plazas, Putnam Plaza, Roosevelt Island Plaza, and Times Plaza. Although the Cube was immortalized as a mosaic landmark at the nearby 8th Street-NYU Subway Station by artist Timothy Snell in his Broadway Diary mosaics (2002, for the MTA Arts & Design program), residents have long had concerns that the frequently and roughly used sculpture may change with the area. An Alexander Calder sculpture was planned in 2011 to take the place of the Film Academy Café during 51 Astor’s development but never arrived. The lobby of that building itself now features Jeff Koons’s whimsical 16-foot-tall Balloon Rabbit (Red), 2005-2010, ironically greeting all visitors to Big Blue. During the same plaza redevelopment in 2014 that prompted the Cube’s temporary disappearance, the Department of Transportation removed around 6 light posts encased with episodes of Mosaic Trail, a classic, yet illegally installed hallmark of the East Village begun around 1984 by local street artist Jim Power.