Congratulations to our 2010 Grantees!
The Grant Committee of the Black Rock Arts Foundation is thrilled to announce the winners of our 2010 Grant Cycle. We received a record number of applications this year (over 300!) and awarded more grants than ever before, giving away a total of $50,500 to 12 projects.
Our 2010 Grantees represent diversity, both in their chosen media and strategies of bringing art into their communities. Each project responds to a community’s interests, needs and environment in an innovative and unique way. From a traveling, DIY shadow puppet theater in Chicago, to a derelict 18th century house in New Orleans, transformed into a completely interactive musical environment; from an opera inspired by and performed on public transportation in Santa Fe, to a hands-on expo of circuit bending and sound art in Brooklyn, these projects run the gamut of possibilities of collaboration, civic engagement and integration of art and everyday life.
Read on for inspiring descriptions of these works in progress…
ANIMUS Arts Collective (Annie Vainchenker, Preston Dane, David Ort)
1000 Pieces was a fully interactive and evolving beautiful public sculpture on New York City’s Governors Island in the seasonal sculpture garden, and in conjunction with FIGMENT, an annual free, participatory arts festival.
The sculpture’s initial state was a simple, rectangular, gazebo-like wooden structure, eleven feet in height and six feet in width, with seating around the outside perimeter and a roof atop four posts. Running up the height of the vertical posts were “L” shaped pieces of plywood. Every eight inches, each of these plywood panels had one-inch notches. Inside the gazebo, on mounted shelves, were stacks of six-by-six inch square plywood pieces, each also having one-inch notches on each of its four sides (“notched squares”). The artwork evolved throughout the summer of 2010 as passers-by became participants, taking a few pieces off the shelves and connecting them to the structure. The product of this process was a simple wooden gazebo that appeared to be blossoming into color during the summer months.
ANIMUS held workshops in two NYC public schools, led by our members (Samuel Tilden High School and PS 163’s Learning Through an Expanded Arts Program [LEAP]). Students were presented with different levels of creative control, collaborative and individual, as they made the centerpieces for the gazebo. Individually they were given markers to decorate and put their names on the notched squares. Collaboratively, they worked together to assemble a single sculpture from those same notched squares. The sculptures created by the students were ultimately fastened on top of the structure to serve as the “crown” and “chandelier” of the gazebo. The centerpieces were wooden sculptures bejeweled with vibrant colors and the names of the people who put them together.
On Governors Island, 1000 Pieces created an environment that instigated a dynamic relationship between the participant and the object, and between the participants themselves. Participants worked together to create compositions through shape and color-combinations, as well as approach the piece on their own. At the entrance of the work was an engraved plaque asking questions such as “How might one affect the entirety by making seemingly small changes?” This element further inspired discourse surrounding the concepts and themes explored in the work: community and collaboration, decision and action.
Bent Festival Interactive Art Installations
Bent Festival and The Tank
New York, NY
The Bent Festival was an annual New York City art and music festival celebrating DIY electronics, hardware hacking, and circuit bending. Each year the Bent Festival invited artists from across the country and around the globe to perform music with their home-made or circuit bent instruments, teach workshops to adults and children alike, create interactive art installations and to generally come together, face to face, and showcase the state of the art in DIY electronics and circuit bending culture. Bent Festival was made possible in part by support from Two Trees Realty and the New York State Council for the Arts.
BLOOM TOWN simultaneously remembered the once thriving American City of Detroit, and celebrated its re-birth by promoting the city’s potential for creative, social, political and environmental change.
Six residential city parcels in a single Detroit neighborhood were transformed into monochromatic gardens, each within the footprints (foundation walls) of razed houses, marking the ground with reference to the history of each site. The gardens were planned and planted to register the passing of time throughout the city, simultaneously changing tone from season to season, from vibrant purples in spring, to deep reds in summer, to warm oranges in autumn. The gardens mapped temporal shifts, as well as built local anticipation and awareness on multiple levels. They were open for occupation by the local community and by physical and virtual visitors. The gardens registered as aberrant pixels of color in satellite images of the city.
In addition to their visual presence, the gardens acted as a new type of way-finding device, increasing the flow of movement through and around the local neighborhood. The gardens were conceived as places of calm, community and activation. In spirit, they were akin to the community gardens established in the 1970s in New York; these gardens became thriving centers for activity, life and art in then-impoverished neighborhoods.
BLOOM TOWN hoped to inspire change through the interaction that took place during the creative act of construction between local residents and project volunteers. It was a community based project that sought to engage participants in a range of capacities from project implementation to eventual use and enjoyment. The work heightened awareness of one’s surroundings visually, cognitively, spatially and haptically. BLOOM TOWN continually evolved and changed, indexing the passage of time, and engaging multiple communities through time.
Community Art Makers
David Umlas, Marrilee Ratcliffe
‘Community Art Makers’ are Austin, Texas based community leaders offering work and meeting space, as well as guidance and assistance to artists wishing to engage their community. Former notable projects include showcasing the 32 foot tall fire tornado from the BRC Fire of Fires Temple for a public audience of thousands, and the fist public burn night on NYE 2009 of the Resolution Clock in the center of Austin for an audience of 100,000 people.
BRAF’s infrastructure investment allowed the Community Art Makers to build upon current resources and offer more structured resources and work space for artists. Their projects were focused on artist empowerment and community building. Some of these projects for 2010 included partnerships with the City of Austin Library, Parks and Art in Public Places Departments, and the ‘Art Outside’ and ‘First Night’ pieces. These projects showcased interactivity to a public audience and hands on classes and training for trained and aspiring artists.
FIGMENT is a forum for the creation and display of participatory and interactive art by emerging artists across disciplines. FIGMENT began in July 2007 as a free, one-day participatory arts event on Governors Island in New York Harbor with over 2,600 participants. Since then, FIGMENT has grown significantly each year—in number of projects, duration, participants, volunteers, fundraising capability, exhibitions, locations, overall level of commitment and participation, and public support.
BRAF’s grant helped FIGMENT to expand to the Boston area in 2010; its first event outside of New York! In Boston, FIGMENT was first produced through a partnership with the Cambridge Arts Council on June 5, 2010, co-located with the Cambridge Arts Council’s long-running Cambridge River Festival. FIGMENT still continues to be an event in Boston.
Hawthorne Lift 100
Tucker Teutsch and the PDX Bridge Festival
To celebrate the centennial of the nation’s oldest working vertical lift bridge, this project turned the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, OR into a kinetic art installation. A solar-powered lighting display, installed for the duration of the festival, made use of interactive elements to transform the bridge’s traffic into a catalyst for moving light. For one hour on the night of Saturday, July 31, the Hawthorne Bridge was raised to reveal a projection screen stretched across the displaced area of the lift span. The screen provided a framework to give a visual tour of Portland and its community—who they are, where they came from, and where they’re going—using gathered media from the last 100 years, text-based interactions from their audience, and captured images from the event. This display, produced in conjunction with a free concert on the Morrison Bridge, was visible from neighboring bridges, both banks of the river, and downtown buildings. The Hawthorne Bridge Centennial Project was a spectacle to remember! Estimated audience: 40,000+
“Hit the lights!”
Where: Hawthorne Bridge
When: July 24 – August 7, 2010
What: “Hit the Lights” on July 24th at 10:00 p.m. was the opening for the lighting and fabric installation on the Hawthorne Bridge, possibly the largest art installation in Portland history. The lights made use of programmable and environmentally-aware lighting technology to interact with the nightly vehicle and bike traffic on the bridge. The lights accentuated 60 panels of fabric installed in the bridge trusses and lift towers, turning the structure into a wash of color and moving light, marking the rhythm of commuter traffic as it moved across the bridge. The installation was visible for the 15 days of the festival, but there was a ceremonial opening night event when they “hit the lights!”
David Graves, Alan So
San Francisco, CA
The Illuminated Forest was an immersive multi-media interactive exhibit and performance installation. ME’DI.ATE Art Group created an imaginary natural world inside the gallery walls of San Francisco’s preeminent experimental art space, The Lab. Not all was as it seems, as this surrealistic environment was actually manufactured by projections, sensors, MAX/MSP, sound, sculptural shapes and light/shadow. Visitors of the forest became its inhabitants and part of its ecosystem, and their presence activated both visual and auditory sensations, as well as left an imprint on the environment long after they were gone.
The Illuminated Forest demonstrated our own connection to the environment and how we are all interconnected. This experiential piece actively reminded people that what we do has impact: on our own lives, on others, and the world around us, both in the present and the future. It was also a human reminder of the life existing outside our urban borders, its importance, and the power it can play in our lives while raising questions about a natural world lost. What is the effect to our world if we destroy instead of nurture it? What will happen if we think only of ourselves, and not of our communities and the world around us?
The Forest also hosted experiential performances by some of the most compelling local, national and international artists and musicians. Invited artists explored themes of reinvention and recycling, real and imagined natural environments and creatures, endangered species, water, environmental awareness and responsibility, plantlife/animal life, and other artist imaginations.
Illuminated Forest was part of the month-long exhibition for ME’DI.ATE’s innovative biennial art festival, Soundwave, that brings together inspired sound purveyors from across the sonic spectrum to produce experiential performances that challenge the way audiences see and hear sound and music. The event took place in 2010 on June 6-August 13, it’s fourth season’s theme, GREEN SOUND, had artists and performers create works that explored the natural world, environmental issues, and sustainability. The next Soundwave Festival with its season’s sixth theme of WATER will occur in 2014.
ME’DI.ATE Art Group: www.me-di-ate.net
Soundwave Festival website: www.projectsoundwave.com
The Music Box
The New Orleans Airlift, featuring Swoon
New Orleans, LA
The Music Box was an interactive environment built from the remains of an 18th century derelict cottage in New Orleans. This imaginatively reconstructed, and ultimately livable “house”, became a musical instrument to be played by visitors. Instrumentation ranged from the rudimentary banging of wooden boards to more elaborate sounds mechanically triggered by opening doors or pulling levers. In addition to visitors, a range of local and national musicians, including a regional high school marching band, were invited to play the house for the project’s Block Party series, which was free and open to all.
The installation visually resembled the aquatic works of street artist Swoon—a series of intricate handmade boats that floated the Mississippi, the Hudson river, as well as the Adriatic Sea and canals of Venice, Italy during the 2009 Biennale. As with these floating crafts, the focus for The Music Box was on found materials, artistic and community collaboration, functional environments and interaction that involves sound and performance.
The New Orleans Airlift is a multi-disciplinary arts organization that produces and facilitates innovative artistic opportunities for New Orleans-based artists locally and around the globe. Bringing influential artists like Swoon from abroad to participate in cutting edge collaborations with local artists at home in the community increases exposure, amplifies resources and aids the creative development of the city’s unique and irreplaceable creative community that still struggles for sustainability in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The Music Box was the first incarnation of what became a permanent performance, exhibition and residency space for the New Orleans Airlift.
Reclaimed Art: Community Art from Recycled Materials
The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, working with students from the University of Mississippi Student Art Association and volunteers from the community, hosted a series of community art days. The purpose of the community art days was to reclaim materials from a 1928 building, transforming them into works of art, and utilizing the works of art to focus on the building from which the materials were removed. The building was then renovated into a community arts center known as the Powerhouse.
“We are excited that we have been able to reach several community goals with this project”, shared Wayne Andrews, Director of the Arts Council. “The project provided a demonstration of how art can impact a community both by providing beauty and economic development. The art, artists and volunteers transformed an industrial building into a community center with the “undesirable & unwanted” elements repurposed into a piece of community art.”
RUTA: A Sante Fe Bus Opera
Acushla Bastible, Ligia Bouton, Chris Jonas, Valerie Martinez, Molly Sturges
Santa Fe, NM
RUTA was an interactive, intermedia new opera performed on city buses in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Created in collaboration with the Santa Fe residents who lived along and used public transportation, the opera employed live vocalists, choruses/musicians, recorded instrumental audio played over the radio, text/poetry (delivered as casual conversation pieces with audience riders), sculptural costuming and sets, live and pre-recorded video, and choreographed movement. Interactive transfer stations encouraged unexpected and magical episodes that complemented the more scripted, scored or choreographed passages of the performance. RUTA was designed to promote the integration of art and daily life, foster and restore connections within and across communities, create meaningful dialogue, and manifest real collaboration between artists and community residents.
Storyline Transports: Shadow and Light Festival
Jung Woo, David Prince, Ye Seung Lee
Storyline Transport: Shadow and Light Festival was a mobile, collaborative public art initiative created by Jung A Woo, Ye Seung Lee, and David Prince with organizational help from Architreasures. The Festival took place in August, 2010 throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Using converted automobiles (pick-up trucks, vans, etc.) as physical and symbolic vehicles, a Shadow and Light Caravan delivered a community festival to Chicago neighborhoods over the course of three days. The project engaged arts oriented audiences as well communities for whom access to the arts is limited. The festival consisted of a shadow and light themed video screening, three artist-run workshops, and a public-collaborative mobile installation. The workshops included a shadow puppet making workshop, a paper lantern making workshop, and a shadow theater. Through this festival, Storyline Transport aimed to connect the diverse communities of Chicago through the arts, by giving voice to its residents’ stories, and by creating a unique opportunity for residents to gather in a spirit of creativity and community.
Jung A Woo: www.movablepublicspace.blogspot.com
David Prince: www.davidprince.org
Virtual Street Corners
Real-Time, 24/7 Interaction. Virtual Street Corners was a digital media public art project by John Ewing, in collaboration with Carmen Montoya, Kevin Patton, Christopher Robbins and Minotte Romulus.
Though only 2.4 miles apart and connected by the Route 66 bus, people living in Brookline and Roxbury rarely visit the other. Beginning in June 2010, a storefront in Coolidge Corner, Brookline and in Dudley Square, Roxbury were transformed into large video screens, providing pedestrians of each neighborhood with a portal into one another’s worlds. Running 24/7, life-size screen images and AV technology enabled real-time communication between residents of the two neighborhoods.
The neighborhoods chosen to connect are transportation and cultural hubs with rich and intertwined histories. Using technology developed to bridge geographical distances, Virtual Street Corners instead traversed the social boundaries that separated two important neighborhood centers with significant historical connections.