Public Space & Old Tires

Photo credit: City of Chicago

Few cities do public art as well as Chicago.  Place the point of a giant compass at the intersection of State and Madison, and a circle with a radius of about 1,000 yards will encompass works by Calder, Picasso, Dubuffet, Chagall, Miro, Richard Hunt, Jaume Plensa and Anish Kapoor. Through April 2018, a public installation of sculptures by artist Chakaia Booker fills the Boeing Gallery, a comfortably shaded outdoor promenade that runs the length of Chicago’s Millennium Park.  These seven steel and rubber sculptures manage to remain lighthearted and invitingly interactive, though much of Chakaia Booker’s oeuvre is freighted with poignant allusions to race, class, and social mobility.     Continue reading

Fitting the Human Within Nature

Umbel Series, by Jenni Ward. Photo by Bill Bishoff, courtesy of UCSC Arboretum.

Nature is inspiration to many artists. But while natural form has inspired generations of artists, today many are finding source material not purely within the plants and animals, the leaves and seeds, flowers and rocks that we think of immediately when we consider the definition of “nature.” More and more commonly, artists are drawn to the juxtaposition between the natural world and the human world. Continue reading

Art in the Eastside – 20:20 Billboards

Tom Pfannerstill Sculpture

Tom Pfannerstill, Heads Installation. Photo by George Robb.

The billboard project does not have the conventional markers of public art. It’s not put out to tender, heavily funded or permanently sited; the images that temporarily dot the roads of East Belfast are not even made with this format or their location in mind. Instead, they are snapshots of artists’ practices, blown up and quietly slipped into the public sphere for a few weeks at a time. Continue reading

Shape-Shifting: The Need for Sculpture

Laura Moore Sculpture

Laura Moore, One Man’s Junk (installation photo by Paul Cimoroni)

I want to talk a bit about context – specifically, what sculpture can do to our experiences and expectations of public and private spaces. It’s all about shape-shifting.

I’m drawn back to this because of an exhibition recently opened at the Maclaren Art Centre in the city of Barrie, Ontario, just north of Toronto. Laura Moore’s One Man’s Junk is a seemingly simple and understated installation: essentially a wooden shipping pallet carefully stacked with a number of carved limestone sculptures – 1:1 scale – of old cathode-ray tube computer monitors. The contextual part of this has to do with the work’s placement in a small, interior courtyard at the gallery that is shared with an adjacent café. There are plants in concrete containers, and a few tables and chairs. Moore’s work sits off to one side atop a concrete slab. Continue reading

Into the Woods

Michigan Legacy Art Park Sculpture

Fallen Comrade, 2009. Artist: David Greenwood. Photo courtesy of the Michigan Legacy Art Park

This sculpture park took shape around 14,000 years ago, when a retreating glacier raked out the vistas and hills that now comprise the rugged terrain of the Legacy Art Park, a thirty-acre patch of earth not far from Michigan’s famous Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  But credit certainly also goes to the late David Barr, a visionary sculptor and poet, who had the tenacity to found an art park and educational center in which contemporary sculpture could unobtrusively integrate into nature.  Continue reading

barrangal dyara (skin & bones) – Jonathan Jones, the artist as historian

Jonathan Jones Sculpture

Aboriginal agriculture: Bruce Pascoe and Jonathan Jones during the first Symposium Spot Fire 1: Landscape and Language. Photo: Kaldor Public Art Projects

We are the result of our history, there is no doubt about it, but this very fact also raises many questions that don’t meet an easy answer. Should we forget the past to move forward? Or we’d rather keep it present so that it sways our actions? In this context, the idea of art as a way of historical memory has been inarguable during centuries until the irruption of Abstract art deprived critics and public of any reference to past events. At present, artists collaborate with researchers from other disciplines; historians, archaeologists, sociologists -just to mention humanist disciplines- and adopt the role of a project manager who coordinates and merges all this information as part of the final work. Continue reading

Pokemon Go Finds Public Art

Pokemon Go Sculpture

Left: the infographics of the central panel of “Desert Feud” mural by D. Ross “Scribe” located at Foxx Equipment in Kansas City, Missouri. In many cases, the information given to viewers about a Pokestop is missing, incorrect or incomplete. After some simple research more information about the artist was located. Center: View of the area in the Pokemon Go app including “Desert Feud” as a Pokestop. Right: Image of “Desert Feud” by D. Ross “Scribe” in Kansas City.

It’s estimated that Pokemon Go has already peaked in users but some estimates put daily users still around 20 million in the United States alone. At the time of writing this, less than a month has passed since Niantic Labs, Pokemon and Nintendo dropped a bomb on the world in the form of the smartphone app and game. Nintendo’s stock prices have skyrocketed along with news stories involving the app and its users with buzzwords like “augmented reality” – the combination of a virtual world with the physical. Pokemon trainers, the term for people searching for Pokemon to capture and evolve, are easily spotted walking with faces in their cell phones or gathered around physical locations important to the game. The app has already displayed its great potential in exposing millions of new users to public art throughout the country and a possibility for significant cultural mapping systems used by artists, museum and municipalities. Continue reading