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A Chromatic Confluence
NEW TEMPORARY PUBLIC ART INSTALLATION ERECTED IN GRAND CENTER MAY 2 – 9, ON VIEW THROUGH JUNE
Installation timeline set for “A Chromatic Confluence,” slated for the northeast corner of Grand Boulevard and Samuel Shepard Drive
(ST. LOUIS / April 2012) Work begins May 2 on the temporary public art installation “A Chromatic Confluence” in Grand Center and is expected to continue through May 9. The piece will remain on view through June at the corner of Grand Boulevard and Samuel Shepard Drive. Principals Lucy Begg and Robert Gay with the Austin-based creative enterprise Thoughtbarn will be in St. Louis at that time to manage the installation.
The installation is a required test run and final step in establishing a district policy regarding temporary public art, an initiative made possible through a special grant bestowed to Grand Center, Inc. by the National Endowment for the Arts. The policy establishes an operating framework that will help encourage future installations and allows for opportunities for artists and discovery by visitors.
Because of the scale of the piece and volume of materials – nearly 20,000 feet of multi-colored string – Thoughtbarn and Grand Center, Inc. have enlisted the help of student and professional volunteers with Grand Center Arts Academy and Craft Alliance.
The piece will be a maze-like installation filling a 25-by-65 square-foot space. With multiple paths in and out, the piece is designed to entice visitors to hesitate, detour, linger and/or meander through the art. As they walk through, visitors may experience a mesmerizing, constantly shifting pattern of colors and texture. Pockets and eddies formed by the string create moments of pause and opportunities for conversation. The piece also will be lit at night, adding to the colorful landscape of neon signs in the district.
Highlighting the interactive, exploratory nature of the piece, mini-performances are being arranged through Orchestrating Diversity. The first performance will take place during the Art Walk in Grand Center on May 11, where members of Orchestrating Diversity’s youth orchestra group will perform within the various “rooms” of the sculpture.
The formation of the temporary public art policy and artist-selection process has been a year in the making. Grand Center Inc. formed an advisory committee to draft the policy and to conduct a national call to artists. Grand Center Inc. engaged St. Louis-based Via Partnership, national consultants in public art, to lead the advisory committee. The ability to demonstrate several criteria was crucial in selecting the artist. The criteria included scale, day/night visibility, interaction, appeal to both pedestrian and car traffic, and of course, the overall scope of the piece.
Led by Meridith McKinley of Via Partnership, the advisory committee includes art authorities from within the Grand Center district and the St. Louis art community at large: (alphabetical order by institution)
- Dominic Molon, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
- Boo McLoughlin, Craft Alliance
- Meredith Malone, Kemper Art Museum
- Marilu Knode, Laumeier Sculpture Park
- Francesca Consagra, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
- Roseann Weiss, Regional Arts Commission
- Tricia Paik, Saint Louis Art Museum
- Olivia Lahs Gonzales, Sheldon Art Galleries
Thoughtbarn, headed by principals Lucy Begg and Robert Gay, was selected based on its presentation of previous large-scale public art installations that met the criteria for this project. Thoughtbarn is comprised of a collaborative team with backgrounds in architecture, furniture design and art that brings a unique skill set to projects of this nature.
The site at Grand and Samuel Shepard currently hosts “E-scaping the Grid,” an art installation completed in 2005 by Michael Oliveri. With the new policy in place, Grand Center hopes to reignite the original intention for the site to host rotating public art exhibits on a regular basis.
“The development of this policy and this initial installation creates a framework that we hope will encourage a new era of temporary public art in Grand Center,” McKinley said. “With the Grand Center district planning process in development, the timing of the NEA grant to develop a temporary public art policy couldn’t be better. Over time, visitors to Grand Center can expect to see a changing visual landscape that will engage them in different and interesting ways.”
Grand Center is the major arts and entertainment district in the St. Louis region and is home to more than 30 arts organizations that demonstrate the depth and diversity of the city’s cultural life. The district hosts more than 1,500 cultural events each year and welcomes over 1.5 million visitors annually. Grand Center’s artistic renaissance began with the restoration of Powell Hall and the Fabulous Fox Theatre and continues today with the growing vitality of restaurants, retail, commercial and residential development. For more information about Grand Center and Grand Center Inc. visit grandcenter.org.