“5×5, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’s new temporary public art project, will result in twenty-five groundbreaking temporary public art installations that will be installed concurrently throughout the District of Columbia. DCCAH is seeking five highly-experienced and innovative contemporary art curators to select and work with five artists each to develop and present exciting, temporary art works in public spaces throughout the District of Columbia. The resulting twenty-five projects will activate and enliven publicly accessible spaces and add an ephemeral layer of creativity and artistic expression to neighborhoods across the District.”
Participate in Creative Placemaking!
Soon, hundreds of projects led by local artists will bring new life and vibrancy to the Central Corridor Light Rail Line in Saint Paul, thanks to a new partnership between Springboard for the Arts, Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the City of Saint Paul. Called Irrigate, this initiative spurs artist-led creative placemaking spanning the six miles of the Central Corridor Light Rail line in Saint Paul during the years of its construction. This is a unique opportunity that brings together huge infrastructure development, a high concentration of resident artists on both ends of the corridor, a diverse ethnic and cultural mix among the neighborhoods, and a city with a strong track record of artist community engagement. By mobilizing artists to engage in their community, Irrigate will change the landscape of the Central Corridor with color, art, surprise, creativity and fun.
Placemaking is the act of people coming together to change overlooked and undervalued public and shared spaces into welcoming places where community gathers, supports one another, and thrives. Places can be animated and enhanced by elements that encourage human interaction – from temporary activities such as performances and chalked poetry to permanent installations such as landscaping and unique art.
How to Get Involved
If you are an artist – of any level, experience or discipline – who lives, works or has a personal investment in Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) neighborhoods, Irrigate invites you to join the creative placemaking movement! Use your creative talents to have an impact on your neighborhood, your local businesses and organizations, and the light rail corridor. Starting October 22, Irrigate is offering creative placemaking training workshops, after which artists will be eligible for collaborative placemaking project funding through a simple application process. For more details and registration information for Fall 2011 workshops click here (http://tinyurl.com/PMworkshops).
If you are a business, non-profit, community group, or other entity that is has a presence on the light rail corridor in Saint Paul, and would like to connect artists to your work, please contact Peter Haakon Thompson, Project Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-789-0679.
If you are a fan of artists and placemaking, revisit the website after October 15! We will have a live map to which anyone can share ideas about where placemaking can happen along the corridor, AND, over time, you can see artist-led projects take shape, find out ways to participate, and discover placemaking activities and sites to visit.
For more information, see www.irrigatearts.org
Other questions, contact Jun-Li Wang, Artist Community Organizer at email@example.com or 651-789-0679.
Reclaim Market Street! is an exhibition and series of public programs created by the Studio for Urban Projects and hosted by SPUR (the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association), in San Francisco, CA.
Studio for Urban Projects is an art and design collaborative that, according to their website, “perceives art as a means of advancing civic engagement and furthering public dialogue.” Together, the Studio’s core members–Alison Sant, Richard Johnson, Marina McDougall, Kirstin Bach and Daya Karam–operate a storefront in the Mission District of San Francisco and have created public art projects for the city of Seattle, and the 2010 01SJ Biennial.
This research-based exhibition largely consists of a curated set of examples of public projects and interventions that have had positive impacts in other cities that is held together by a clever exhibition design consisting largely of cardboard–cardboard seats, walls, signage, kiosks, and even flooring. The meat of the project lies in its public programs of walking tours, guided bike rides, impromptu parks, and outdoor events that challenge the public to participate in redefining what they expect from (and how they interact with) city streets.
Indoors, I found the way the exhibition challenges people to take immediate action most refreshing. Within SPUR are work stations displaying applications where you can immediately apply to “Create a Park,” “Make Your Own Bike Lane” or “Plant the Sidewalk.” Outdoors, their project is about gathering people together to acknowledge history while contributing to aspirational scenarios of the future.
This project is a perfect example of how artists are using their practice to help create solutions to real-world problems. Market Street is the central transit corridor of San Francisco. On one side is Ferry Plaza and the bustling Financial District, on the other side is the colorful Castro District where shops and cafes line the street. In the middle is the Central Market District. Originally a theater district, years of economic decline have left it more known for strip clubs, panhandlers, graffiti, and empty storefronts. The City of San Francisco has launched a revitalization campaign and other organizations such as the San Francisco Arts Commission and Gray Area Foundation for the Arts have been actively working to literally bring art to the street.
Reclaim Market Street! adds to this local dialogue and is about using Market Street as muse in a public conversation around expand the use cases for city streets beyond automobile traffic to include safe and engaging spaces for bikers and pedestrians. Because Central Market Street District is a place people are more likely to pass through quickly, Studio for Urban Projects has created a framework that challenges people to spend time on the street. A particularly interesting program that will take place on October 15th is “Temporary Urban Experiments in Creating New Public Spaces.” Child-friendly urban planning more often than not sequesters children within fenced off playgrounds. But what if play was incorporated back into street life?
With public funds for the arts dwindling, revitalization of cities through the arts and culture is one area that is receiving greater attention in recent times. As an example, the NEA is echoing this call for a revitalization of cities through the arts by recently announcing its inaugural “Our Town” grants that help 51 communities, including San Francisco and San Jose, CA, revitalize their neighborhoods through strategies involving the arts. Creative placemaking is a challenge to reclaim our urban centers, which is precisely what Studio for Urban Projects is doing in focusing their energies toward the Central Market Street District.
Much of what Studio for Urban Projects suggests is common sense. Safe and scenic bike paths through the city, reclamation of under utilized spaces, and a move away from automobile centric civic design. It’s the thoughtfulness of the exhibition design and their collaborative ethos (Reclaim Market Street! also showcases contributions by Futurefarmers, Rebar, and the San Francisco Bike Coalition) that works best in using the arts to promote conversations that have the potential to create lasting change.
So the question is, what urban spaces would you like to reclaim?
Arriving late Thursday night in Istanbul after a full day of teaching and a drive from Milwaukee to catch my connecting flight to Frankfort from O’Hare… I am jetlagged. I’m in Istanbul for the ISEA (International Society of Electronic Artists) Festival and Conference. Given that I am two days late for the festival, my account will be limited and personal. I’ve already missed much, and will miss more. Simultaneous events are scattered all over Istanbul, and navigation is tricky.
I made it to the conference in the sub-sub-basement of a financial complex, and sat through several sessions of artists and curators presenting papers. Topics included “The Body and Digital Space,” “Philosophy and Ethics of Bioart,” “Locative Sound,” “Robotics, Interactivity and Public Space.” For more information, click here and select Paper Sessions:
That evening, I groggily traveled by funicular and tram to the Sultanamet area of the Old City and went to a Turkish bathhouse to see Southern Ocean Studies by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily and Jonathan Mackenzie.
Projected on the domed entrance hall ceiling of the 427-year-old Çemberlitas Hamam, the artwork depicts the Southern Ocean circulating Antarctica. According to the artists, the project software runs in real-time generating the ocean currents on the fly, to which are mapped various other ecological data sets.
The back-and-white visualization of wind and tide evoked phenomena both small and large: lines of crawling ants and storm-tracking satellite maps. I like the idea of superimposing vortex-like imagery on a dome, and data from a cold place onto one that features heat. As with many new media works with a sociopolitical or scientific agenda, this one was more interesting to me in terms of its real-time data mapping content and symbolism than as a formal artwork. Both the intellectual and aesthetic impact of the piece might have been served by a larger, more encompassing projection in one of the huge domed hot rooms where bathers sweat on their backs while looking upward. For technical or cultural reasons, these options may not have been feasible in a traditional hamam.
I decided to have a Turkish bath.
Bruce Charlesworth is an artist, writer and filmmaker. He one of the pioneers of postmodern staged photography and among the first artists to use video and audio to power aspects of physically immersive “narrative environments.” He teaches in the Department of Film/Video/New Genres at the University of Wisconsin Peck School of the Arts in Milwaukee. He previously reported on Ars Electronica in 2009 for Public Address.
A group of guest writers have been invited to contribute to Public Address throughout 2011. Sue Bell Yank is a Los Angeles based writer and arts organizer. She is currently the Assistant Director of Academic Programs at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and adjunct faculty in the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. Her writing has been featured in the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, the Huffington Post, Mammut magazine, and various arts blogs including her ongoing essay blog entitled Social Practice: writings about the social in contemporary art (www.suebellyank.com).–JA
Teenaged, bespectacled Magali Bravo confronts the camera straight on as she and her small brother make their way to school through the streets of South Los Angeles. Weaving past the chain link of empty lots, nondescript motels and broad, shadeless expanses, the pair enters three corner markets in search of fresh produce. In crisp white polo shirts and khaki shorts (dress code of choice for LAUSD public schools), Magali and her brother move with a confidence that bespeaks their belonging to the neighborhood – but her face betrays disgust at the processed food choices available. Wrinkling her nose at the camera, the only fresh “produce” she finds are a few sad crates of withered potatoes and bruised bananas on the floor of one liquor store.
Magali’s video, entitled “You Can’t Put a Price on That,” is one of five videos produced through a collaboration between an interdisciplinary artist-run collective and consulting group called Public Matters, the South Los Angeles Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) Initiative, and high school students at The Accelerated School.This youth media project dedicated to exposing the challenges of healthy food access in South L.A. was only one aspect of an integrated action plan that included developing a partnership with the local city council office, creating a “youth ambassador” program at The Accelerated School, bringing together various community organizations, businesses and advocates, and culminating in two Market Makeovers. One of these “makeovers” occurred at Coronado Meat Market, a corner market run by Magali’s godfather, and her video documents members of HEAC as well as her classmates moving displays, repainting, marking clear prices, and generally redecorating the store to highlight fresh produce and healthy food options . Magali was clearly the impetus behind her godfather’s participation, and her energy is palpable, infusing her fellow teens and rendering the peppiness of the thirty-something HEAC project leaders somewhat redundant.
Public Matters, LLC, a self-described “rag-tag group of consultants” , is the artist-run initiative behind the production of compelling videos like Magali’s, and the connective tissue linking constituents in many-tendriled collaborations like the South L.A. Market Makeovers (2007-2009). Their goal, simply stated, is to “work with community members to create media about their neighborhoods…to develop in them a sense of ownership over these places and a belief that they can directly shape their neighborhoods’ future. The media content reflects and benefits the community that has helped create it, advancing a specific community defined agenda or initiative.” Though the precise role of Public Matters shifts over time and within projects, their tendency to involve themselves in social issues of great magnitude (such as tackling South and East L.A. food deserts  to provide increased access to healthy food and education about nutrition) necessitates a mode of working that includes multiple partners. For Public Matters, the size and scope of these partnering institutions often matches the enormity of the problems they take on – the group has gone from working with the community organization HEAC to a research center at UCLA Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance, or REMAP), to a major inter-university research institute called the UCLA-USC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. Along with huge university bureaucracies also come massive funding opportunities, and additional state and federal governmental entities to answer to – for example, the current round of East L.A. market makeovers is funded by a 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Their lack of interest in one-offs and commitment to durational, sustainable projects that bring social benefit places Public Matters in an undefined, hybrid, interdisciplinary realm with many other artist-run initiatives that lack a traditional relationship to object-making and the commercial art market. By their university partners, Public Matters are perceived not as an artist collective, but primarily as on-the-ground liaisons with the most direct contact with schools and community organizations. They bring a way of engaging stakeholders through participatory media production that differs dramatically from traditional methods of public health messaging. From within their own organization, the boundaries between art, public health, social benefit are fluid, and become labels of convenience for different situations. Creative director Reanne Estrada maintains a separate studio practice, but sees herself engaged in a “continual practice of creative, collaborative problem-solving” in which her solo practice would suffer without Public Matters, and vice versa . Mike Blockstein, principal and founder of Public Matters, very much considers the collective his art practice, and the various other consultants have diverse relationships to what they do as part of Public Matters. In his treatise on art and politics entitled Dark Matter, artist Gregory Sholette sums up this ambivalence towards definition when writing about similarly fluid practices: “I allow those who claim to make ‘art’ define it on their own terms, even if their identification with the practice is provisional, ironic, or tactical, as for example when art Steve Kurtz (with Critical Art Ensemble) insists ‘I’ll call it whatever I have to in order to communicate with someone.'”
The interdisciplinary, shifting, and hybrid nature of Public Matters by no means implicates a lack of definition in purpose or goal. Rather, their organizational structure is tactical and deliberate, designed to maintain a nimbleness and flexibility supple enough to react effectively to a highly charged and overwhelmingly huge social issue. Perhaps for this reason, Public Matters has chosen to incorporate as an LLC rather than a non-profit – both Blockstein and Estrada worked extensively in the non-profit sector and understood the hierarchical professionalization necessary for such tax-exempt status. They were interested in forging “a new way of doing things as a social enterprise,” becoming essentially a for-profit entity but without any interest in generating profit – rather as a tactical method through which to form useful partnerships yet maintain elasticity in complex public situations . By no means are they alone in this tactical organizing – Gregory Sholette explains that artists today are expert at imitating “a product particular to the post-industrial economy of our time” – the institution – which bespeaks a skill-set “that provides an edge when dealing with the society of risk beyond the longstanding adaptation to structural precariousness.” In the case of Public Matters, this aptitude can be extrapolated beyond the precarity of artists’ positions as cultural producers and applied to the broader situations in which they insert themselves. In response to the “failed states” and “derelict institutions” that perpetuate problems as large as food deserts in the middle of enormous urban centers, artists “take up pieces of a broken world, transforming them into an improved, second-order social reality…”
This oppositional motivation is perhaps too strong in the case of Public Matters, which is an extremely positive, collaborative, and optimistic organization. Yet the specific propensities which run through artist-initiated organizations like this that Sholette identifies, like “a propensity for flexible work patterns, developing gift-sharing networks, and a capacity for non-linear problem solving” allows artists to uniquely “mimic, exaggerate, or otherwise reshape given reality.” Yet the ability of Public Matters to take on, maintain, and implement innovative projects alongside enormous university partnerships over long periods of time cannot be attributed to a flexible structure alone – in fact, issues of capacity and staffing plagues their ambition, and the work can be all-consuming. Rather, the success of the Public Matters model is related to a distinction between artistic and organizational practices that Irit Rogoff discusses in her article “Turning,” quoting a series of essays by philosopher Gerald Raunig. These essays mark a deep difference between “constituent” practice, in which an organization or collective exists to produce a series of protocols for both the representation and governance of their work (either in opposition to an existing market, or in spite of it). The problem that Rogoff identifies with constituent practice is that it is too easily pre-occupied with the processes through which an assembly is legitimated, and thus sabotages its own innovation and flexibility, opting instead for a regulatory ossification . Rather, Raunig reveals practices like Park Fiction in Hamburg (and I would add Public Matters), as “instituent” practices. These organizations create “instituting events” that bring together a diversity of constituent practices (as in community organizations, schools, governmental entities, universities, individuals), and this plurality counter the closure of the processes at work. As Raunig describes, “The various arrangements of self-organization promote broad participation in instituting, because they newly compose themselves as a constituent power again and again, always tying into new local and global struggles.”
This replicative capacity, the ability to re-invent themselves through a shifting diversity of strategies and networks, is why Public Matters can take on the kinds of projects they do with such limited capacity, and why they can navigate that fine line between “indulging the need to push boundaries and take risks, and being responsible to what we are charged with.” According to Reanne Estrada, this becomes the most integral part of the work, its most interesting and challenging aspect . Public Matters faces a new aspect of this challenge in working with the USC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities on their current round of East Los Angeles market makeovers. The Center is charged with researching and evaluating the work on a large scale with enough rigor and integrity to someday impact policy, and this kind of research agenda and resources were never before available to an organization like Public Matters (nor similarly scaled artist-run initiatives). The research context poses both an exciting possibility for affecting change and rigorously assessing impact, but also becomes an enormous challenge to the flexible, non-linear work patterns and instituent events that defines Public Matters as an organization. They are learning now to work around concerns about data contamination, defining control and intervention areas, and other such problematics from the research perspective. Yet perhaps it is their very nimbleness and the “license to explore” that they grant to themselves and all of their participants that will allow them to adapt to this new reality as well.
 “Where do I get my 5?” Public Matters, LLC, http://www.publicmattersgroup.com/?page_id=721.
 Reanne Estrada, interview with author, June 6, 2011.
 “What is Public Matters?” Public Matters, LLC, http://www.publicmattersgroup.com/?page_id=2
 Food deserts are manifested by a scarcity of mainstream grocery stores, and where they do exist, they have poor quality produce and high prices. The South Los Angeles food desert is one of the largest in the country, spanning 60 square miles and encompassing 800,000 people. “South Los Angeles,” Public Matters, LLC, http://www.publicmattersgroup.com/?page_id=719
 Reanne Estrada, interview with the author, June 6, 2011.
 Gregory Sholette, Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (New York: Pluto Press, 2011), 5
 Reanne Estrada, interview with the author, June 6, 2011.
 Sholette, Dark Matter, 152.
 Sholette, Dark Matter, 153.
 Sholette, Dark Matter, 152-153.
 Irit Rogoff, “Turning,” in Curating and the Pedagogical Turn, eds. Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson (Amsterdam and London: De Appel and Open Editions, 2009), 44.
 Rogoff, “Turning,” 45.
 Reanne Estrada, interview with author, June 6, 2011
Public Address invited Cezanne Charles to guest blog about Art X Detroit. See also her earlier post on Transitions, Transformations, and Traditions – Artist’s Role in the De-industrial City.
Art X Detroit was a five-day multidisciplinary celebration that exclusively presented newly commissioned works created by the 2008-2010 Kresge Eminent Artists and Artists Fellows, from April 6-10, 2011 with an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit ( MOCAD) and public art continuing to April 24, 2011. An exciting program of dance and musical performances, literary readings, workshops, panel discussions, public art and special exhibitions, Art X Detroit was hosted at more than a dozen venues located throughout Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center and was free to the public. Art X Detroit is supported by the Kresge Foundation.
For this first outing audiences were given the opportunity to cloud spot and shoe gaze. They could make and march wire cars in an inspired dream cruise. They could brixelate their city online and see their brixelations on buildings throughout midtown. They could view a new permanent work of public art from one of Detroit’s legendary artists and for 5 days they could pound the pavement of Detroit’s cultural corridor that encompasses Cass, Woodward and John R from Hendrie to Harper. Just the pedestrian activity that these 5 days generated made this car town feel like a different city. The festival attracted standing room only crowds for the majority of the events and a packed to capacity opening at MOCAD with live performances ensured a highly charged start to it all. While April 6 – 7 at Rust Belt to Artist Belt were devoted to discussing and showing the way that artists and creative practitioners can transform a region through a hybrid and socially engaged practice, Art X Detroit presented how artists can transform a region through – art.
This was ecstatic practice from the Kresge Eminent Artists and Artist Fellows. The public art included what will be a new permanent work by Charles McGee, Spirit Renewal.
Artist Susan Goethel Campbell offers us a guide to Cloudspotting Detroit, which focuses on the unique atmosphere of Detroit. The accordion-style brochure includes a key to identify cloud types and a map showing a bike route to interesting cloud spots in the city. Clouds in this case are manmade and often the result of industry, but there are also natural cloud formations included. Wheelhouse Detroit will be arranging guided tours of the suggested route later this season. This is a different point of view of Detroit – science meets art, meets phenomena and eventually meets bikes.
Chido Johnson’s Wire Car Cruise is a public performance/action – a wire-car cruise on the historical Woodward Avenue was performed to the formation of Detroit’s version of Soul Train, The Scene. The participants made their dream car and chose their favorite cruising song for the performance. The cruising music and wire-cars made by diverse communities within Detroit, its vicinity and others as far as Zimbabwe, was exhibited in the lobby of the old Dalgleish Cadillac Dealership, now TechTown and a video, titled a Dance for Diego documenting the performance was shown at MOCAD. Chido, a native Zimbabwean, creates cross-cultural transpositions and transformations in his work making links between Detroit, the US and Africa. In this case the making of wire cars pushed with sticks is a cultural practice popular in the southern and central regions of Africa and Woodward Avenue is where the Highland Park Ford Plant became the first automobile production facility in the world to implement the assembly line. Woodward Avenue for years served as the home of the US auto industry and in the 50s spawned woodwarding or crusing the boulevard.
Cedric Tai created the project Brixels, a web-based and physical mural project for midtown Detroit. Tai’s Brixel project is designed as a “generative piece of art, that evokes textiles and Razzle Dazzle Battleships from WWI by drawing parallels between the camouflaged ships that eluded their enemies and a city that avoids being reduced to an essentialized narrative.” Visitors were asked to join the process through creating their own tessellations at www.makebrixels.com.
Finally, inestimable and inimitable Tyree Guyton created the public installation Street Folk, formed from 10,000 paired and unpaired discarded and donated shoes. This piece highlighted the plight of the homeless in Detroit and once again sees him using his abilities to engage critically into the social and environmental fabric of the city.
The public art that was part of Art X Detroit really didn’t deal with a broken city or its broken buildings, which perhaps is both compliment and critique in general to the public art that largely is created by artists that are located here. Much of the public depictions that come by way of the New York Times and recent photo books of the city follow the formula of ruin porn – and while some of the photography is beautiful, haunting and yes filled with promise and opportunity – it is harder perhaps to depict the illusive, ephemeral and transient. This is exactly what these artists have tried to capture. As exciting as these projects were, for me it was the public coming out in droves for a series of art events that will stay with me now that Art X Detroit has come to a close.
Cezanne Charles is an artist and curator who co-founded the hybrid art & design practice rootoftwo. She is Director of Creative Industries at ArtServe Michigan and directs the professional development program from the Kresge Artist Fellows.
Photo credits: Cezanne Charles
A group of guest writers have been invited to contribute to Public Address throughout 2011. Our first “guest” post is written by Ulrika Andersson, an artist, designer and curator who splits her time between San Francisco and Berlin. Her work can be seen at The Exploratorium, The Fort Mason Center in San Francisco and at www.weststarland.com.
The opening of Terminal 2 at the San Francisco airport brings five new artworks to this site, which was accredited by the American Association of museums in 1999, a first among airports. Much has been written about the nature of airports and their place in contemporary culture and imagination: usually colored with great ambivalence towards these busy, commercially promiscuous and stylistically limited environments. While theorists have sometimes wrung their hands over the idea that these crass places can contain something as venerable and delicate as fine art; artists have let their imagination soar into the grand meeting places, parting places, cathedrals of rapidly evolving technology and finance, surrounded by a bazaar of bustling enterprise.
Airport-commissioned artworks have a certain role to play as celebrations of flight and the human longing to fly, to travel, to meet each other and to wax philosophical about it. In many ways they claim the position that a downtown would hold if passengers had the time to visit it, or that formerly was held by the grand railroad stations: inspiring pride in locals and confidence in visitors. It’s safe to say that airports in general have approached this task with mixed results, while the ever-expending expansions provides ongoing opportunities. At San Jose’s SJC there is a new series of data-driven works that are especially ambitious: blending input from weather reports, security cameras and passenger mood messages to surface in innovative places like the luggage carousel. The Hafermaas, Goods and Koblin piece eCloud (2010) uses switchable glass material to create a man-made cloud responsive to global weather reports. The Foreign Policy writer Walter Russell Mead called airports symbolic of “man’s triumph over the forces of nature” and claims that “not even farmers are as painfully exposed to the vagaries of weather as those who seek to travel by air”. It’s doubtful that this is literally true, but it’s a germinal statement and a nice accompaniment to a piece that considers both natural states and rapidly changing global human endeavors; the same factors that make airports and such potent sites for artists. It provides an impressive welcome hall to the Nation’s high-tech capital while leaving itself open to ambivalence, even fear of flying.
At SFO artworks have so far been of a more contained nature, and the new terminal offers no variation on that. Terminal 2, the new home of Virgin America is sure to be reasonably trendy and the terminal does offer a very representative welcoming hall; decked with local food and comfortable furniture (though the interior style would be more closely associated to Copenhagen than San Francisco). At the newly opened terminal there are five new artworks and twenty re-installed pieces from the existing collection: all selected by the San Francisco Art Commission. Also at at the Terminal 2 Community Open House on April 9th the art was joined by guest appearances by local musicians, seemingly as part of the ongoing You Are Hear program at SFO -a great idea that someone should get a raise for. From the entry hall visitors at the open house were first greeted with Janet Echelmans Every Beating Second, the swooping net construction in the ceiling that was most prominently featured in the press for the T2 project. Alongside the folk bands, local food and promises of sustainability it brought the mind to the macrame playgrounds of Bolinas from the seminal books on hippie aesthetic like Native Funk and Flash. This is as it should be in a trend-sensitive space: Native Flash and Funk is an increasingly hard-to-find book as it is being rediscovered along by a new generation of artists embracing the craft sensibilities of the early 70’s.
The cool of the terminal in contrast with the warmth of the artworks is enhanced in Walter Kitundu’s Bay Area Bird Encounters. This wall piece largely consists of images printed onto wood with the shading and grain of the wood panel outlining the rest of the shapes in this landscape piece. In front of the wall stands two low crescent shaped benches in the shape of birds’ wings. The wings feathers have been fashioned into blocks to be played by mallets like a xylophone, along with a corresponding instrument on the wings of one of the birds on the wall. Walter Kitundu is a devoted wildlife photographer and spends a great deal of his time studying these neighboring flying San Franciscans. So much so that he has tuned the instruments in the piece to mimic the birds’ calls when played on marked blocks left to right. At the T2 opening event he was watching delighted children pound the instruments, partially obscuring the devotion he has left at the lower right for his father: Dr. Peter Kitundu. This very much hand-made offering by an earthy, no-nonsense builder and musician is such a solid and dignified corner in the terminal, it made the familiar airport current of stress and alienation stand still.
Charles Sowers is emerging as an artist and designer of public art works; often involving elements of fluidity, materiality and currents. His work can be seen at The Exploratorium, The Randall Museum, The Fort Mason Center and the LIGO Science Education Center in Livingston Parish, LA. At T2 his Butterfly Wall makes an impressive presence: guarded as the butterflies are by thick, greenish plate glass and stainless steel footing. Like the massive time pieces at The Long Now Foundation, the ephemeral has a tendency of making itself known with the most solid of objects. Inside the glass tank twenty butterflies are hauled up on transparent cables as visitors to the piece crank the handles to propel them. As the cable stops spinning, the butterfly falls and glitters to the ground, its plastic wings casting blinding reflections around itself. The San Francisco Art Commission took some risk in commissioning this piece, as the rest of the artworks don’t contain moving parts. The piece delivers as it is the only piece in the airport collection that uses flight as an experience and as a medium, rather than as an abstract topic of inspiration.
SFO would do well in allowing for more interactivity and fluidity in the newly commissioned artworks, and it would have been nice to see more of the works embrace the data-driven and kinetic possibilities in exhibiting at an airport. While the craft-oriented artworks, Scandinavian furniture and wood paneling makes T2 is a significantly more fashionable terminal than your run-of-the-mill terminal, there is a lot of room for greater ambitions for the artworks at this site.
Had a great time last night at the fundraiser for Public Art Saint Paul, which featured “Public Art the Musical” (pdf). The musical was a true community effort, directed by PASP staffers Ashley Hanson and Nic Hager with star turns by PASP President Christine Podas-Larson kicking things off with a little soft shoe; Allen Lovejoy, Principal Planner at City of St. Paul; retired senior partner at Faegre & Benson, Michael Murphy; spoken workd artist Karyssa Jackson; University Avenue Project maestro Wing Young Huie; Brady Lorenzen, a student at Perpich Center for Arts Eduction; and a host of others. It was entirely fun with a clever script by Tom Eggum, Hager, Hanson, and Marcus Young that blended inside-the-capital St. Paul jokes with popular Broadway tunes. The starrest turn, for my money, was by Marcus Young, the Wizard of Oz “Non-Prophet,” who brought it all home, so to speak.
Bravo! Public Art Saint Paul.
“‘Sorry I Couldn’t Be There‘ is a crowd-created video series. Developed by members of @Platea, the social media art collective directed by An Xiao, the series features artists from around the world explaining briefly why they couldn’t attend #rank and swing by Miami. Ultimately, the video would highlight concerns around geographic access and about who’s left out during large art fairs. For too long, the influential art centers have been located in major metropolitan regions such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Paris, London, Beijing and Seoul. We want to highlight the parts of the world where artists are working.”–William Powhida via Hashtag Class.
The Big Print is based on public art events around steamroller printing during the 2008 “Thousand Print Summer,” including Northern Lights’ The UnConvention during the Republican National Convention. The resulting prints by 1180 kids and adults are now installed at St. Olaf in NorthField, MN. Congratulations ArtOrg! Join the celebrations at the Big Print Block Party 2 to 4 pm, Sunday, November 21, 2010, in Buntrock Commons, St. Olaf College.
“ArtOrg started printing for kids and adults with steamrollers in the fall of 2006. The first small steamroller event for kids was at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that September, and that was followed by a large steamroller printing event in October for a Day of the Dead celebration in Northfield. Dave from ArtOrg then successfully applied for an artist grant from Forecast Public Art to build an ongoing public art event around steamroller printing which we call the “Thousand Print Summer”. The Big Print is comprised of 1180 works of art from the 2008 Thousand Print Summer. The art was created at during ten different events: Walker Art Center, Anderson Center in Red Wing (twice), Owatonna, Stillwater, St. Cloud, Rochester, Northfield Crazy Days, Northfield Just Food Co-op, and “The Unconvention” on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis”
“At the time of its construction, the water level of the lake was unusually low because of a drought. Within a few years, the water level returned to normal and submerged the jetty for the next three decades. Due to a drought, the jetty re-emerged in 2004 and was completely exposed for almost a year. The lake level rose again during the spring of 2005 due to a near record-setting snowpack in the mountains and partially submerged the Jetty again. Lake levels receeded and, as of spring 2010, the Jetty is again walkable and visible.”
Spiral Jetty was completely exposed when I visited, and I walked around and along it easily. Nevertheless, it was “hard” to see. Like driving through Yosemite earlier in the week and feeling as if all I could see through the windshield were the views of Ansel Adams.
I walked up close to Spiral Jetty. I walked out to the edge of the water, now far from the jetty. I climbed the hill overlooking. Sat still. Walked some more. In the end, I was not disappointed. It wasn’t the pictures of Spiral Jetty I was seeing. It wasn’t like the Mona Lisa, behind its bullet-proof glass, where the crowds were more “interesting” than the artwork. It was somehow, still, the thing itself.
I’m heading home after an amazing 01SJ Biennial. What should I see on the way?
“[Outpost for Contemporary Art] mounted a project titled “This Here and That There,” in which artist Vlatka Horvat continuously rearranged a series of 50 chairs in the [Los Angeles River] over the course of eight hours. The performance took place near Silver Lake, below the Fletcher Bridge in Elysian Valley.”
via Culture Monster
“In some arrangements, the stage seems to be set for many different scenarios: meetings, presentations, discussions, exams, interrogations, concerts, riots… Other chair configurations tends to defy altogether the everyday codes of chair-arrangement in public spaces, suggesting instead more intimate, abstract, or enigmatic encounters.”–Outpost for Contemporary Art
The Department of Urban Development, Taipei City Government (DUD) along with the Bureau of High Speed Rail, MOTC is holding an international competition that invites art consultation / advisory teams to submit artist proposals for a public art installation project, to correspond with the “Bureau of High Speed Rail, MOTC Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Access MRT System Construction Project.” The selected art installation project will be located somewhere along the new airport MRT route—the specific location to be determined by the artist. The project seeks a design that will be consistent with its surrounding site and that takes into consideration visual movement, public open space, and interaction between people and public art. The airport route serves as a unique platform for the artwork to be seen by a large range of people and the competition offers an amazing opportunity to truly express the meaning of public art.
More Information: Please refer to the DUD website (http://www.udd.taipei.gov.tw/) or the tendering notice on the Council for Cultural Affairs’ public art website (publicart.cca.gov.tw).
Contact: Miss Rou-lan Hung in the Urban Design Division
I just returned from San Jose working on the 2010 01SJ Biennial where, among other projects, I worked with Jaime Austin and Shona Kitchen to install “Small Wonders,” a cabinet exhibition based on the idea of the wunderkammer at the new expansion of the San Jose International Airport – which has some amazing public art, and you should definitely fly through there next time you come to the Bay Area.
“Small Wonders” includes work by Saul Becker, Jim Campbell, Center for PostNatural History, Peter Chilvers and Sandra O’Neill, Beatriz da Costa, Amy Franceschini, Ken Goldberg and Karl F. Böhringer, Tad Hirsch, Misako Inaoka, Natalie Jeremijenko, Eduardo Kac, Erik Klein, Robert J. Lang, Christopher Locke, Frank Oppenheimer, John F. Simon, Jr., SuttonBeresCuller, Stephanie Syjuco, Daina Taimina, and Gail Wight.
“Wunderkammer, also known as cabinets of curiosities, were diverse collections of objects popular during the Renaissance and considered an early form of the museum. Literally meaning “wonder room,” a wunderkammer was meant to invoke a sense of wonder and often included a wide range of objects from natural history specimens (such as taxidermy) to geological artifacts (such as precious stones) to cultural objects (such as handicrafts). Small Wonders presents a range of objects by mostly local artists. The displays are meant to evoke the wonder of the early history of Silicon Valley, and computing in general, with projects making use of the early Minitel for animations or a hack of an Altair computer. Other wonderful ‘curiosities’ that artists create employ various forms of technology from blogging pigeons, to spying coconuts, to a lifelike origami peregrine falcon.”
ZER01 also commissioned a project by SuttonBeresCullter, The Wunderkammer, which they are almost finished installing. Here is a video stream of a talk they gave about the project tonight.