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Posts Tagged ‘public art’

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Photo: Terry Smith/ AthensNews.com
“The American Woman,” a sculpture by the late David Hostetler in the Wolfe Garden on Ohio University’s College Green, is part of the 144-mile Ohio Art Corridor.

How encouraging to see communities embrace initiatives that lift people’s spirits and to read that towns are actually spending money on those things! It’s true that parks, trees, and art in a municipality offer economic benefits, but things are also worth doing just because they’re good.

I bet that Ohio’s 144-mile arts corridor, which is meant to lure tourism dollars to an area that has been struggling in recent years, is pretty successful at making the locals feel happy. Nothing wrong with happiness. Nothing wrong with a sense of pride and well-being.

Nancy Trejos writes at USA Today, “Southeastern Ohio is trying to attract visitors by giving them something unique to look at. … The founders believe The Ohio Art Corridor is the largest outdoor gallery in the world, surpassing one in Stockholm that covers 70 miles.

“ ‘Our desire is to draw people out of the big cities, to take a drive through the beautiful Appalachian country of Ohio, to learn, grow, and have experiences that they otherwise would not have,’ says Rebekah Griesmyer, executive director of The Ohio Art Corridor.”

Reporter Fred Kight from Athens News has more.

“The corridor extends 144 miles through Athens, Morgan, Fairfield, Muskingum and Pickaway counties. It currently consists of eight sculptures and two large murals, and organizers hope to add new works.

“ ‘I love the idea. … Public art is wonderful,’ said Athens Mayor Steve Patterson. …

“Griesmyer said, ‘We are attempting to draw people to small cities and towns with outdoor art. It is a huge project, and we couldn’t be more excited to see it implemented and adopted by cities like Athens.’ …

“In order to be included on a Corridor map, the art must [now] meet three criteria. It must be outdoors and free; it must be large; and if the art is not large (over 12 feet) as one piece, it must consist of three sculptures in one place.”

The idea’s originator is Griesmyer’s brother-in-law, David Griesmyer. He “operates a metal fabrication business in Malta, across the Muskingum River from McConnelsville. Creation of the Corridor combines his love of art with a desire to bring new life to the region.

“ ‘This part of Ohio is so rich with beauty, talent and creativity,’ he said. ‘I see southeast Ohio as a large stone ready to be carved, only to reveal a masterpiece hidden within.’ ”

More at the Athens News, here, and at USA Today, here.

Photo: WGRZ-TV
This section of the Ohio Art Corridor is located on the Muskingum Parkway across from the Morgan County Fairgrounds.

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Photo: Bloomberg Philanthropies
Theaster Gates, an artist and activist, was a leader of the project called “Arthouse: A Social Kitchen,” which won a million dollars for Gary, Indiana.

Bloomberg Philanthropies have seen that public art can revitalize communities, so the nonprofit is renewing its Public Art Challenge.

Ben Paynter writes at Fast Company, “Several years ago, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a competition to award struggling cities $1 million each for trying a novel approach at revitalization. It was called the Public Art Challenge, with the goal being that each place should think up some big, unifying, and life-improving masterpiece.

“That effort has paid off beautifully. According to Bloomberg’s math, the four winning projects … generated $13 million for those four places, both in terms of new jobs, related neighborhood investments, and visitor spending. More than 10 million people are estimated to have viewed those works. …

“Bloomberg Philanthropies head Mike Bloomberg liked the idea so much that he green-lit another round. Any city with a population of 30,000 or more may apply for the 2018 Public Art Challenge. …

“At least three winning metros will earn another $1 million a piece for a concept tackling some critical issue inside city limits. Bloomberg has pledged to cover ‘project-related expenditures including development, execution, and marketing,’ although cities will be expected to share some of the other costs, according to a press release. …

“The initial wave of exhibitions was ambitious. In Los Angeles, artists created a series of installations related to the theme of water conservation amid concerns of drought and storm water waste. In Gary, the community founded ArtHouse, a ‘social kitchen’ to bring people downtown for art displays and culinary classes that work like job training.

“In Spartanburg, police and neighborhood groups helped build fun light displays that also created more safety in public places. In Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, officials and volunteers mapped out and then lit up stacks of vacant buildings — places that were otherwise hidden in plain sight — as ripe for revitalization. The project both spruced up the surrounding neighborhoods and clearly illuminated for officials and investors where future civic bright spots might be.” Fast Company has more here.

In the process of of posting this piece, I learned something about the artist behind the winning project in Gary, Indiana, and I thought you’d be interested.

According to his website, “Theaster Gates was born in Chicago in 1973. He first encountered creativity in the music of Black churches on his journey to becoming an urban planner, potter, and artist.

“Gates creates sculptures with clay, tar, and renovated buildings, transforming the raw material of urban neighborhoods into radically reimagined vessels of opportunity for the community.

“Establishing a virtuous circle between fine art and social progress, Gates strips dilapidated buildings of their components, transforming those elements into sculptures that act as bonds or investments, the proceeds of which are used to finance the rehabilitation of entire city blocks.”

Pretty great, huh?

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Sculpture: Nancy Whelan
Cat sculpture “Henry VIII — Six Wives, Nine Lives,” Catskill, New York.  See and hear the artist’s description, here.

Sandy and Pat attended a family wedding at Lettterbox Farm in upstate New York recently and took a little time to check out the local sights. They loved the cat sculptures in the town of Catskill and the owl sculptures in Coxsackie, whose name is thought to come from an Indian word for “owl.”

Ariél Zangla wrote at the Daily Freeman, ” ‘Cat’n Around Catskill’ is celebrating its 10th anniversary. …

“Visitors come from local communities, but also from out of state. [Catskill Association President Tina Annese] said she knows of at least one family that has visited the cats each year as part of their summer vacation. She said people come to see the cats, get their pictures taken with them, and then visit area businesses.

“ ‘It brings tourism into the area, without a doubt,’ Annese said. She added that with neighboring communities doing their own art displays, visitors can stop in multiple areas. Annese said she loves that — and the more public art displays, the merrier.

“Locally, Saugerties once again has its decorated horse statues on display, while Greenville will have its ducks for the second year.”

More about the cats at the Daily Freeman, here. And if you are on Facebook, you will want to check the Cat’n Around Catskill page, here.

As for owls, it was last September that Coxsackie decided to get into the act.

Melanie Lekocevic of Columbia-Greene Media wrote about the effort at the Daily Mail: “Catskill has its cats, Cairo has bears, and Ravena had trains. Now, it’s Coxsackie’s turn.

“A volunteer committee has been working for several months to get a new project off the ground – ‘Hoot of the Owl,’ a public art exhibit that will bring sculptures of creatively decorated owls to the community.

“Owls have long been the symbol of Coxsackie; indeed, some translations of the name ‘Coxsackie’ – said to be of Native American extraction – are thought to reference owls, according to an article by Coxsackie Town Historian Michael Rausch on the town website. …

“Like the Catskill cats, once completed each owl will be posted at locations around the village for several months, and later auctioned off at an extravagant gala.

“Visitors to [the early September] Coxsackie Farmers Market got a taste of what is possible in creating an owl when local artist Ellen DeLucia put on display an owl she created just to get the creative juices flowing around town.

“ ‘When we started, we decided to buy one owl prototype and have Ellen DeLucia paint it to give people an idea of what it would look like,’ said Committee Chair Joseph Ellis, also a village trustee.” More at the Daily Mail, here.

Horses, ducks, owls, bears, cats. Dragons, Anyone? I’d definitely go out of my way to see dragons.

Photo: Melanie Lekocevic/Columbia-Greene Media
Artist Ellen DeLucia created the owl “Freedom” to give artists an idea of what a finished owl can look like.

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Christo is known for making impossible-seeming public art, and just recently, he made some again. Margaret Rhodes reported the story at Wired magazine.

“It takes serious engineering to let 640,000 people walk on water. Luckily, that’s exactly the kind of technical and creative challenge that Christo — the artist who wrapped the Reichstag and dotted Central Park with 7,503 orange panels of fabric—excels at. …

“The new project, the ‘Floating Piers,’ comprises two miles of marigold-yellow walkways gently bobbing on top of Lake Iseo, a small lake in northern Italy, connecting the waterside town of Sulzano with two small islands. …

“Making them work was tricky. Marinas often use temporary, floating piers; a common technique involves propping them atop styrofoam cubes. ‘We discovered very soon that this cube system was perfect for us,’ says Wolfgang Volz, Christo’s project manager. So in the fall of 2014, Christo’s team ran a secret simulation of the Floating Piers in Germany. But the styrofoam blocks were too small and too dense.

“So they built their own blocks—220,000 in total. They’re about 20 percent bigger than the ones marinas use, and more buoyant. A Bulgarian company supplied the materials, and Christo hired four different manufacturing companies to ensure they’d have enough.

“Once Christo had his blocks, he, Volz, and a few dozen workers started connecting the cubes into 50- by 330-foot sections. They attached the cubes with giant screws, right on the water, in a corralled section of Lake Iseo.

“One by one, workers pushed the white styrofoam rafts out into the lake and anchored them to 5.5-ton concrete slabs arranged on the lake floor in a configuration conceived by Christo. ‘Very tedious work,’ Volz says. ‘Every day the same.’

“It took four months, with workers doing shifts of two weeks on, two weeks off the job. ‘The same as an oil rig schedule,’ Volz says.’ ” More here.

Temporary, like most of Christo’s work, the walkway was scheduled to come down early this month and get recycled. But it lives on in photographs — and the memories of those who visited and got a chance to walk on water.

Photo: Wolfgang Volz
Christo’s project the “Floating Piers” comprised two miles of marigold-yellow walkways on Lake Iseo in northern Italy. Visitors walked the path without handrails.

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I find so many more photo ops in summer than in winter, although that may mean I am not paying enough attention when it’s cold out. Surely there are great shadows everywhere.

Here are a few pictures from the last two weeks.

From New Shoreham: a field with Fresh Pond in the upper left corner, yellow lichen taking over a stone wall and trees, roses growing by a gate, children warming up in the dark sand. In Providence: a shady walk on the west side of the Providence River, a painted butterfly on the path, a swan preening, a distant view of the so-called Superman Building, public art with a muskrat fishing (?), a poster explaining the art project. In Massachusetts: shadows on a tree, a chipmunk on a lichen-covered rock.

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111315-Lawrence-Weiner-artistLawrence Weiner discusses art in Dewey Square.

The latest Greenway mural in Dewey Square comes courtesy of MIT’s List gallery and is the work of Lawrence Weiner.  I admit to liking it even though it seems to be nothing more than bright orange letters on a blue background, with words saying, “A translation from one language to another.”

I am letting it sink in. Perhaps it’s about the translation from the artist’s idea to a work that others see. Perhaps something is lost in the translation. Perhaps it’s about how differently we understand one another, even without so-called language barriers.

Here’s what the Greenway writes, “Lawrence Weiner is considered a key figure in the Conceptual Art movement, which includes artists like Douglas Huebler, Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, and Sol LeWitt.

“A primary motivating factor behind Weiner’s work is the desire to make it accessible, without needing to purchase a ticket or understand a secret visual language. He contended that language reaches a broader audience, and situating language in contexts outside traditional art-viewing settings, such as art museums, furthers that reach.

“Thus, he began creating works consisting of words and sentences or sentence fragments that he displayed in public spaces, books, films, and other accessible media, as opposed to the cultural institutions that might deter broad and diverse viewership. Click here for an interview with Lawrence Weiner.” More at the Greenway site.

Malcolm Gay at the Boston Globe adds, “For Weiner, the work is less about art historical knowledge, outrage, or relating to other people. It’s about a viewer’s individual response to an object in the world — an object that’s been created by another person.

“ ‘Our job is not to throw things at people,’ he said. ‘The work doesn’t exist unless somebody decides to deal with it. You can pass it on your way work, and it’s not going to screw up your day. But if you pay attention to it, it might screw up your life.’ ”

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Today I sat on a shady bench next to Fort Point Channel and ate my Vietnamese noodles from the food truck. In front of me, floating on a green platform visited by cormorants, were two sheep — a big one and a small one. As the breeze and the tide nudged the platform, it turned slowly, showing the sculptures with different shadings and from different angles.

Steve Annear at the Boston Globe says, “The installation, called ‘Who Wears Wool,’ was created by artist Hilary Zelson, and pays homage to the Fort Point area’s former wool trade. … Earlier this year, FPAC [Fort Point Arts Community] put out a request for proposals seeking an artist who could weave together a prominent display connecting the neighborhood’s arts community with residents and visitors.  …

“For the project, Zelson said she layered EPS foam — or expanded polystyrene — to create the bodies of the sheep. The layers are held together with a spray adhesive, and the sheep are bolted to the dock with an armature of steel rods. Once built, the sheep were covered in packing peanuts to create the look of wool, before the entire thing was covered with a white acrylic latex coating …

“Zelson started working on the project in August. The first six weeks alone were dedicated to planning, she said.

“ ‘Once I was able to get the foam to my studio, I was working seven days a week,’ she said. ‘It was probably a 300-hour project.’ … The project — from the 3D renderings to the welding to the stacking of foam — was documented on Zelson’s Instagram account”

More here.

What I see in my photo are a ewe and a lamb — and cormorants.
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In 2007, conceptual artist Yoko Ono established the John Lennon Peace Tower in Iceland, a beam of multiple, heaven-directed lights that is intended to appear every year from John Lennon’s birthday, Oct. 9, to Dec. 8. It was most recently relit in 2014.

Wikipedia says, “The Imagine Peace Tower (Icelandic: Friðarsúlan, meaning ‘the peace column’) is a memorial to John Lennon from his widow, Yoko Ono, located on Viðey Island in Kollafjörður Bay near Reykjavík, Iceland.

“It consists of a tall tower of light, projected from a white stone monument that has the words ‘Imagine Peace’ carved into it in 24 languages. These words, and the name of the tower, are a reference to Lennon’s peace anthem ‘Imagine.’

“The Tower consists of 15 searchlights with prisms that act as mirrors, reflecting the column of light vertically into the sky from a 10-metre wide wishing well. … The power for the lights is provided by Iceland’s unique geothermal energy grid. It uses approximately 75 killowatts of power.

“Buried underneath the light tower are over 1 million written wishes that Ono gathered over the years in another project, called Wish Trees. … Iceland was selected for the project because of its beauty and its ecofriendly use of geothermal energy.” More at Wikipedia.

Says the Peace Tower website: “One of the mesmerising features of the Imagine Peace  Tower is that the strength, intensity and brilliance of its light continually changes with the prevailing weather and atmospheric conditions unique to Iceland – creating a clear pillar of light on a cloudless night, beams irridescing with rainbow refractions in rain or snowfall, and brilliantly reflecting off and through any moving layers of cloud.” More.

Photo: McKay Savage
“Imagine Peace” Tower

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On the corner of Congress and Farnsworth, there is a parking lot, and on the Fort Point Channel side of the parking lot, there is a Lego-size police station. In case you are ever lost around there and need to ask for directions. If LL Bean is more your thing, there’s one by the parking lot, too. I took two pictures.

The clouds at dawn have been especially good lately. I include two shots in case you are not up early. Roses need no elaboration, but I am quite proud of how the yellow mullein turned out the second time I tried to capture it. A granddaughter was with me at the time, in the stroller.

Moving right along, there is a shot of the fishing fleet in Rhode Island. The country road photo was supposed to show you a goldfinch, but even when I zoom in, it is too tiny to see. The still pond is called John E’s Tughole. A tughole is a place where peat is harvested, but I don’t think it happens much anymore. Maybe in Ireland. I know James used to harvest peat. And burn it, too.

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I love the Fort Point area of Boston, across a channel from where I work. But even on a moderately stormy day, the water rises so high it threatens to overflow the banks. So the thinking behind one of the latest art installations there is no joke.

Peter Agoos’s “Tropical Fort Point” ( April 28 – June 15, 2014) is part of the the spring public art series presented by the Fort Point Arts Community Inc. Agoos says about his floating palm trees, “The struggle for quality public open space in the neighborhood and the likelihood of climate change-induced rising sea levels are the conceptual parents of Tropical Fort Point.”

There are several other new presentations around the area. “I Wandered,” by Kate Gilbert and Karen Shanley, “celebrates the joyous arrival of spring and invites you to explore the Fort Point through poetry. Large graphic daffodils and select phrases from ‘I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud,’ William Wordsworth’s 1807 poem about discovering a ‘host of dancing daffodils,’ can be found in five different spots around the neighborhood—encouraging us to … reconnect with the lost art of meditative walking.”

“Silver Lining,” by Elisa Hamilton, “is an inclusive exploration of our relationship with hope that invites the public to engage in the brilliance of possibility.” See photos and artist statements at Fort Point Arts, here.

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I love Amtrak, and I love writing, but I don’t think I am ever going to do an Amtrak Artist Residency, so I am passing along the info so you can apply. It sounds like fun. Just glimpsing the exposed backs of houses along the tracks with their hints of the private lives lived in them is inspiration for a ream of stories.

William Grimes writes for the NY Times blog ArtBeat, “The wheels have begun moving on Amtrak’s plan to offer writers a rolling residency aboard their trains. … Up to 24 writers, chosen from a pool of applicants, will be given a round-trip ticket on a long-distance train, including a private sleeper-car room with a bed, a desk, and electrical outlets. …

“The idea was born in December when the novelist Alexander Chee, in an interview with the magazine PEN America, casually mentioned his love for writing on trains, and added, jokingly, ‘I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.’

“When Jessica Gross, a writer in New York, echoed the sentiment on Twitter, Amtrak arranged for her to do a trial residency on the Lake Shore Limited from New York to Chicago. She agreed.

“Her account of the trip, ‘Writing the Lake Shore Limited,’ published by The Paris Review in February, grabbed the attention of The Wire, The New Yorker and The Huffington Post. Soon after, Amtrak decided to turn the trial run into a full-fledged program.” More on when and how to apply.

Even before that series of events, there was the Whistlestop Arts Train, you know. I blogged about the rolling public art project by Doug Aitken last July, here.

Trains for dreaming. Holiday model train layout at Amtrak’s South Station, Boston.

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The Street Pianos are in Boston and getting some enthusiastic use. Today was a lovely day to be outside, and I saw several people of varying skill levels playing the two pianos in Dewey Square.

Occupy Boston’s time in the square having failed to do anything to change the tragedy of homelessness, a loose-knit fraternity were hanging out, listening to the music or taking a turn. A group of us from work went over to hear an economist/musician play duets with strangers and then start taking requests.

Since the pianos are supposed to stay outdoors in Boston until October 14 — sunshine, rain, or snow — several colleagues were wondering about how the Celebrity Series folks, who are sponsoring them, intend to keep the pianos safe. We concluded that the huge pieces of plastic nearby were placed there in the faith that public-spirited passerby would do the right thing in case of a cloudburst.

It was a beautiful day for a work break singing Gospel, rock, “Climb Every Mountain, and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (for a toddler in a stroller whose mom stopped to watch).

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You may recall a past post about the Greenway mural by Os Gemeos, Brazilian twins who had a show at the Institute of Contemporary Art and painted street art around Boston when they were here. I posted pictures of their work-in-progress for the Greenway, here.

Geoff Hargadon photographed the finished work for the Boston Globe, below.

That giant mural is gone now, and Matthew Ritchie is working on the next one. I took a picture of it today and plan to take more for the blog as Ritchie wraps up.

Geoff Edgers at the Globe gives some background on this new piece. “The Institute of Contemporary Art has commissioned British-born Matthew Ritchie, known for using scientific principles to inspire his work, to take over the enormous outdoor canvas.

“Ritchie’s 5,000-square-foot seascape will be installed the week of Sept. 16 and remain up for as long as 18 months.

“The collaboration … is part of a residency for Ritchie that will include a multimedia performance with members of the rock bands The Breeders and The National, concerts at the museum and elsewhere, and a video project to be produced with the ICA’s teen program. But the biggest splash for the public will come on the exterior of the Big Dig ventilation building in Dewey Square.”

Read more at the Globe, here, and at the Greenway site, here.

Photo: Suzanne’s Mom

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Along the Greenway, there is a changing array of public art. This photographic display was borrowed from New York City. The themes are Home, Streets, Creatures, Play, and People. The artists are all topnotch, but the location — set way back from the sidewalk and alongside a superhighway — makes me think that not many people are going to take a good look at it.

Ilona Szwarc entered this one in People/Rodeo Girls.

The artist says, “Rodeo Girls is an ongoing portrait project about young girls from Texas who compete in rodeos. These individuals have a fundamentally different idea about their femininity and a contrasting attitude towards gender roles. … They grow up according to a male archetype and I am examining how their lives and identities are shaped by their surroundings. The photographs celebrate the beauty of the terrain and the idiosyncrasies of this old fashioned American tradition, which is recently vanishing.”

The Fence is “a summer-long, outdoor photographic exhibition that explores the essence of community across cultural boundaries and geographical lines. The Fence is a site-specific exhibition stretching over 1000ft in length, culled from a call for submissions; we asked our community of photographers across the globe to respond to the question – ‘what makes up a community?’ ” More at the project’s website, here.

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I went out at lunch this week and took pictures of a public art project I had somehow overlooked: Boston Bricks. The bronze bricks are set among ordinary bricks in a narrow alley called Winthrop Lane, not far from Downtown Crossing and Macy’s. Although the styles look very different to me, the bricks are all by Kate Burke and Gregg Lefevre.

Here are eight of them. I include the artists’ credit brick, Boston in relation to the moon, a horseman who is either Paul Revere or George Washington, swans suitable for a Boston swan boat, tea bags suitable for a Boston tea party, directions to Provincetown, America’s first subway (1898), and the Great Molasses Flood.

If you are not from the area, that last one is no joke. The molasses flood was deadly. A book about it, The Dark Tide, is available at bookstores or online.

[8/14/13 new research showing that the type of molasses added to its destructiveness.]

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