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.
Last Thursday in his keynote address to the Transit Oriented Los Angeles conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the “Great Streets Initiative.” In an executive directive—his first since taking office on June 30—Garcetti outlined a program that “will focus on developing streets that activate the public realm, provide economic revitalization, and support great neighborhoods.” Continue reading after the jump.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, public art is valued as more than just decoration. Susannah Schouweiler of Walker Magazine reported that the city has been proactive in the encouragement of artist-city government collaboration for nearly three decades, long before initiatives like ArtPlace became popular. City Artist in Residence positions exist on the government council, City Art Collaboratory puts artists in conversation with scientists to embed themselves in the “ecology” of the city, and art start-ups are encouraging business growth on “Central Corridor.” This cross-disciplinary relationship is only expanding in what Schouweiler calls St. Paul’s “quiet revolution in public art” and the city is reaping the benefits.
Chicago area artists age 12 to 87 have painted larger-than-life fire hydrants for a public art project on display throughout the city until November 11. The project, called the Great Chicago Fire Hydrants, aims to decorate 101 five-foot-tall fire hydrants (one for each Chicago firehouse) before November 11, when a public auction of the hydrants will raise money to benefit the 100 Club of Chicago and “other fire-related charities.”
Find the hydrants on this map. Most are downtown, but Mt. Greenwood’s Funkie Fashions, Gordon Tech High School, and Swedish Covenant Hospital are among the neighborhood spots. Check out the website’s gallery of completed fire hydrants if you can’t hoof it to all the locations.
And if you’d like to decorate one, reach out here to the organizers here.
When London-based Two Islands took first place in Flint, Michigan’s first Flat Lot Competition for public art, images of their floating, mirror-clad meditation on the foreclosure crisis turned heads. Six months later the project has been built, but it faced challenges and has drawn criticism making the leap from rendering to reality.
LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up for “Appreciation Days” got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called “a lack of sophistication on LAX’s part” in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didn’t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.
Streets occupy nearly a quarter of New York City’s land, however there are limited outdoor spaces to socialize, sit, and enjoy city life outside of parks. As part of an effort to improve the quality of public space for all New Yorkers, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has been developing new public open space by converting underutilized street spaces into pedestrian plazas. With dozens of plazas already open and functioning across the city, the NYCDOT has been looking to polish the new spaces, installing permanent designs, improved benches, and now, specially designed signs to showcase public art.
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In 2011, a major expansion to Edmonton, Alberta’s Quesnell Bridge generated an ongoing effort to enliven the landscape surrounding the overpass, which connects the northwest and southwest portions of Canada’s fifth largest city. A resultant public art commission from the Edmonton Arts Council for Los Angeles–based multidisciplinary design-build fabricators Ball-Nogues Studio called for an engaging installation along the south side of the North Saskatchewan River, which sees a live load of 120,000 vehicles each day.
While brainstorming the project, it was apparent to the firm’s principal and designer in charge Benjamin Ball that the areas immediately surrounding the bridge were not carefully considered by passengers. “It was a sort of no-man’s-land between the transportation infrastructure and the landscape,” he recently told AN. Drawing inspiration from the mundane—sand piles, gravel, and detritus from the trucking industry—and the majestic—talus and scree formations enveloping the base of surrounding cliffs—Ball and the studio’s cofounder Nogues applied their knowledge of sphere packing to echo the angle of repose of natural and man-made mounds. Read More
The ongoing efforts of artists and designers to reignite the spark of downtown development in aging industrial cities face no simple task. But as architects and developers begin to put pencil to paper, the best public art projects draw on the spiritual side of that renewal.
Flint, Michigan’s inaugural Free City Festival, held May 3-5, did just that when it revived a mile-long stretch of now-razed Chevrolet plants with public art, transformational lighting displays and a reverberating gospel choir.
Starting Memorial Day, Chicago’s Millennium Park will host the U.S. debut of a bright array of public design projects, many of which appeared at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good will feature 84 works, including more than a dozen for Chicago and several that also appeared in Venice.