It’s open season for public art in St. Louis, according to the groups behind Sculpture City St. Louis 2014—an ongoing festival “intended to draw attention to the rich presence sculpture has in the visual landscape of our region.” The programming leads up to and continues after an April conference.
Art exhibitions throughout the year aim to continue the conversation. For instance, Art of Its Own Making, a show at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts that features sculpture, installation, film, and performance works through August 20.
Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston
5601 Main Street
December 19 through March 9, 2014
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) is hosting an eye-opening exhibition this winter that will uncover the rich history of the ancient trade routes of the Arabian Peninsula. Organized by the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., in association with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), Roads of Arabia will feature objects recently excavated from more than 10 archaeological sites, and give insight into the culture and economy of this ancient civilization. Recently discovered objects along the trade routes include alabaster bowls and fragile glassware as well as heavy gold earrings and monumental statues. All of the artifacts are testament to the lively exchange between Arabs and their neighbors, including the Egyptians, Syrians, Babylonians, and Greco-Romans.
In Brooklyn, a new temporary public artwork brings the asphalt plane of 4th Avenue to a playful, three-dimensional life. On the avenue’s concrete median between 3rd and 4th streets, the New York City Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program has chosen work by artist Emily Weiskopf for its latest public art installation.
Unparallel Way is a 120-feet-long sculpture comprised of two parallel aluminum strips in the same bright yellow as the double traffic lines guiding vehicles driving on adjacent roads. In a clever distortion of those painted stripes, Weiskopf’s parallel lines sweep from the ground at irregular heights, creating parabolic curves that rarely match.
Museum of Contemporary Photography
660 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Through December 20
The Museum of Contemporary Photography’s exhibition, Of Walking, explores how the simple act of walking gives rise to countless intricate thoughts. Although walking may be perceived as one of mankind’s most simple acts, it triggers a series of emotions and contemplations. Of Walking shows that it is not just about putting one foot in front of the other, nor is it solely the motion from point A to point B. The curators sought to demonstrate how the process of thinking is made possible by the act of walking.
Jennifer Steinkamp: Street Views
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Blvd, St. Louis, MO
Through December 23
The Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis has inaugurated Street Views, an exhibition featuring a series of works by digital installation media artist Jennifer Steinkamp. As part of the 10th anniversary of CAM’s building, the museum will be turned inside out, as its exterior will be transformed into a gallery with large-scale video art being projected onto its facade.
On Friday night at Riverfront Studios, motion-picture soundstages on 3 acres of East River waterfront between the Williamsburg Bridge and the Navy Yard, the newest art project by Doug Aitken called Station to Station was launched. Aitken did the “destruction” of Gallery 303 last year, Creative Time’s Broken Screen Happening at the Essex Street Market and Sleepwalkers projected on the wall of MoMA’s Sculpture Garden.
On the site of the former Schaefer Brewery, spotted in the crowd was Agnes Gund, Klaus Biesenbach, Chrissie Iles, Roxana Marcoci, Linda Yablonsky, Lisa Phillips and other art world luminaries. This event marked the inaugural nomadic “Happening” that moves in an Aitken-designed train from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Coast stopping at nine different locations each time for a one-night-only live event in September. The scene was set for live performances that included a colorful site-specific smoke bomb installation by Olaf Breuning; food happening created by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija; and an original performance choreographed by Jonah Bokaer inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s Pelican (1963) on the occasion of work’s 50th anniversary and more.
Unfortunately for the Detroit Institute of Art, red ink may yet claim its city-owned collection. This week the museum confirmed Christie’s Appraisals had been hired to appraise a portion of the cultural institution’s holdings. But an appraisal is not a sale.
The Chicago Loop Alliance will wrap the Century Building at 202 S. State Street with a mural depicting a downtown overrun by giant sea creatures.
“Float,” by St. Louis artist Noah MacMillan, calls to mind one of the many action movies in which outsized monsters have laid waste to the Loop in computer-generated battle royales of late. But these octopi and puffer fish appear to float along benignly.
MacMillan’s surreal illustrations and designs have been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, the Washington Post and elsewhere. His 500-square-foot mural, which will be unveiled Tuesday July 16, was commissioned by building owners The General Services Administration, who asked MacMillan to ponder the relationship of citizens and their government. The 16-story building was designed by Holabird and Roche.
Chicago Loop Alliance’s other recent programs include of the Pop-Up Art Loop, a year-long art gallery series, and The Gateway, a “people plaza” on State Street.
In an ongoing endeavor to blend public art, architecture, and urbanism by artists Siyuan and Hwee Chong, The Doors Project subversively projects a series of doors onto public spaces in Singapore, reflecting the struggles of the urban poor and underprivileged. But while commenting on despair, the real message is one of faith, hope and empowerment. “We wanted to make a statement about life, and jolt people to think,” the artists said in an interview at Yolo. “Instead of following the light at the end of the tunnel, why not carry our own lights, and create our own doors! It’s really about rolling up our sleeves, and creating the opportunities we want for ourselves.”
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) debacle in New Jersey over a unilateral decision to destroy a sculpture by landscape artist Athena Tacha has begun to slip into the public consciousness. The irony that the plaza piece, titled Green Acres, is to be destroyed by a department with environment in its name has not been lost on many.
Apparently, the DEP has a $1 million EPA grant burning a hole in its pocket and plans to replace the sculpture with eco-friendly pavers. The waste has not gone undetected. Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron writes in today’s column: “There is nothing wrong with the DEP’s making its property more sustainable. But why start with the little plaza when its offices are surrounded by sprawling parking lots paved with the usual impervious asphalt?” Now it remains to be seen whether the agency will be impervious to its critics.