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In Southern California, one of the surest ways to get people to notice public art is to put it near a freeway.
This week, officials are scheduled to unveil a new bridge in Arcadia for the Metro Gold Line extension. The bridge, designed by Minnesota artist Andrew Leicester, straddles the I-210 freeway in Arcadia.
The structure will be a fully functioning light-rail bridge that doubles as a public sculpture. Leicester’s design was chosen from 17 others in a competitive process. Leicester worked with L.A. design consultant AECOM as well as and the bridge’s builder, Skanska USA, on the final design and construction.
Los Angeles Times
Art preservation is tricky even under ideal circumstances, which generally involve close controls for light, temperature, humidity and other hazards. Eliminate those and you have some idea of the challenge that street-mural preservation faces. The only surviving exterior work in the U.S. by the renowned Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, Los Angeles’s “América Tropical” (1932), is only now receiving a roof. Ironically, its longevity is due to a paint-over that preserved it from the ravages of nature. Most murals, in a world of unfriendly ordinances and inevitable shifts in the urban landscape, are not so fortunate. Happily, a number of national and local organizations have recently mobilized to ensure that the preservation of murals need not be any more difficult than rain, snow and sun already render it.
The organization Heritage Preservation launched a “Rescue Public Murals” initiative in December 2006, using funding from the Getty Conservation Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. It first conducted a national assessment, paying particular attention, according to project director Kristen Laise, to “cities which had a long history of mural creation or of issues with preservation.” Then it selected for examination 16 murals in locations ranging from a commuter rail underpass to an abandoned church, and depicting topics from the end of the Marcos dictatorship to the laborers of San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Wall Street Journal
Some of the greatest art in the world is public art, including Michelangelo’s David, the fountains of Bernini and Rodin’s Burghers of Calais. Those are lofty masterpieces. A few notches down in sublimity but beloved of locals and tourists alike are such icons as Eros at Piccadilly Circus, or the mermaid in Copenhagen harbour, or the Statue of Liberty.
It is important to remember such triumphs as the debate over public art in Britain deepens. A few years ago, expensive public commissions seemed almost beyond criticism. Today they seem a sitting target for denunciation. It surely reflects a depressed economy: a depressed nation? Yet with the typical messy and inaccurate nature of artistic debate in Britain, where people sometimes seem to look with their mouths rather than their eyes, the sculpture that is taking the flak for years of excess in British public art is actually a fine example of the genre. Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s Orbit is a daring, imaginative and exhilarating work of art. It does not deserve to be pilloried – on the contrary, if all British public art were like this, it would be an age of glory.
Marina Abramovic, the reigning champion of high-endurance performance art, announced last week that she would be gutting a former cinema-turned-tennis club in Hudson, New York, and converting it into her very own performance palace. With the help of Rem Koolhaas’s Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Abramovic’s planned Center for the Preservation of Performance Art could well act as that catalyst that truly transforms the upstate New York town into a first-rank art destination.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, because it really matters: the Artist Rooms collection, founded in 2008 through the generous vision of the art dealer Anthony d’Offay, is a startling national asset. As it begins a fourth successive tour of galleries throughout Britain, this public collection of contemporary art is changing the very fabric of our visual culture.
There is only one contrast, one conflict that matters when it comes to art. Modern versus traditional? Don’t be daft. Painting versus installation? Yawn. The only struggle that matters is the timeless war between good and bad art. In Britain, because of prejudices rooted deep in our history, museums have long possessed plenty of examples of great Renaissance or Romantic art, but few masterpieces of modernity. This distorts our entire experience of art: it makes arguments about artistic value oddly thin and ideological, because people are unfamiliar with first-rate examples of the art of the past 50 years.
Artist Rooms is changing all that. This collection could easily fill a museum of its own, and would be a major national attraction if it did. But it is being used in a far more radical and liberating way. With the support of the Art Fund, its outstanding examples of works by the best artists of recent times are shown in rotation in public galleries around Britain. Museums get a boost, and audiences everywhere are introduced to top-quality modern art. In the latest round of exhibitions, there is even a game to make it still more accessible to a young public.
The ink is nearly dry on a $150,000 deal for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) to oversee the restoration and preservation of the city’s Watts Towers. Funding for the year-long project will come from Los Angeles’s department of cultural affairs. During that time the museum will draw up costs for the long-term conservation of the Simon Rodia-built towers, suggest potential funders and enlist the help of other local institutions, including the Getty Museum and the California African American Museum.
Director of Lacma’s conservation department, Mark Gilberg, aims to take a more holistic approach to conservation efforts, which up until now have been short-term. “We are rethinking procedures and adopting ones that will be more proactive than reactive,” says Gilberg. Initial delays regarding insurance concerns have been resolved with the promise that Lacma will not be financially responsible for any gross negligence while working on the towers.
Marisa Mazria Katz
The Art Newspaper
When the High Line opens its second segment, known simply as Section 2, in the Spring next year, it will double the length of the public art park. This will “greatly increase the possibilities for artists to work site-specifically,” says Lauren Ross, the curator and director of art programmes for Friends of the High Line.
To coincide with the opening of Section 2 in the Spring (a more definite date could not be confirmed), the High Line Art is installing a warmly welcoming sound piece by artist Julianne Swartz titled Digital Empathy (Feel Safe in the Knowledge that Life Loves You). At 11 different stations located throughout the park, visitors will hear computer-generated voices, “delivering messages of empathy, support, and love” according to the press materials.
But before this, the organisation kicks off its spring season with a new three-piece sculptural installation by Kim Beck called Space Available which mimics the skeletal framework that supports billboard advertisements, but are actually flat cut-outs of perspective drawings.
The Art Newspaper
The Hammer Museum, in partnership with Ari Bhöd — the American Foundation for Tibetan Cultural Preservation — is pleased to present The Mandala Project. This two-week program will feature the construction of a Tibetan sand mandala by a team of traditionally trained Lamas visiting Los Angeles from the Thubten Choeling Monastery in Pharping, Nepal. The mandala they create will be a sacred painting, following precise and ancient instructions passed down over thousands of years. Millions of grains of colored sand will be sprinkled carefully on a flat surface over an elaborate 10-day ceremony.
“Half Houses” by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, of the firm Elemental. It is one of eleven building projects that transform poor communities in “Small Scale, Big Change,” an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Photographer: Cristobal Palma/Museum of Modern Art via Bloomberg
In one of Africa’s most remote places, a three-room school rises from a hot, dry plain. The metal roof arches over spidery steel rods and mud-brick walls. It’s stark, gorgeous, simple.
We are looking at hope in the tiny village of Gando, Burkina Faso, West Africa, one of the exhibits in “Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement” at Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art.
After making good as an architect, the designer returned to build the school his poor village so desperately needed.
At another school in Rudrapur, Bangladesh, fabrics in vibrant blue, red and lavender flutter from the doorways and cover the ceiling. Inspired by local adobe traditions, Bavarian architect Anna Heringer used thick walls to deflect the searing sun. Local residents framed an upper level in lightweight bamboo poles lashed together.
The result is an environment in which any kid would be happy to learn.
James S. Russell
On an August afternoon, a shiny sports-utility vehicle pulled into a parking lot of pick-up trucks outside the only school in Cotopaxi. The artist Christo Javacheff took a deep breath and walked into the school’s gymnasium. Someone had set up a microphone under the basketball hoop, and two armed sheriff’s officers stood watch nearby. All the folding chairs planted on the rubbery court were filled, some with people wearing T-shirts that read, “Say No To Christo.”
The artist had fretted about this moment for months. “It’s our lion’s den,” he told his staff.
Known professionally by his first name, Christo is famous for draping entire buildings, valleys and New York’s Central Park in colorful fabric. Now, at age 75, he’s trying to convince a swath of southern Colorado to let him temporarily suspend flat sections of silvery fabric over a 42-mile-long stretch of the area’s Arkansas River. For two weeks, people will be able to drive alongside this mirror-like ribbon or raft underneath it, he says. He has spent $7 million and 18 years working out the logistics of the project, “Over The River,” and he is campaigning hard for the permits to pull it off.
Wall Street Journal