Public Art

arthouse celebrates new art installation with WE ARE HERE Patio Festival by Sheila Freeman

On Thursday, May 3, 2018, we unveiled our latest art installation, ArtHouse Patio. We celebrated this new outdoor addition with a day full of events, live performances, and activities!

Thank you to our sponsors Bloomberg Philanthropies and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Special thanks to our artistic director Theaster Gates and his amazing Place Lab team, our project director Sheila Freeman, executive chef Lamar Moore, City of Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Project Onward and their talented artists, the amazing performers from the day and the entire NWI and Gary community!

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BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES PRODUCES SHORT DOCUMENTARIES HIGHLIGHTING PUBLIC ART CHALLENGE PROJECTS IN GARY, IN; LOS ANGELES, CA; SPARTANBURG, SC AND NEW YORK CAPITAL REGION by ArtHouse Gary

NEW YORK – September 15, 2016 – A short documentary series created by Bloomberg Philanthropies provide a behind- the-scenes look at how four cities are using temporary public art projects to bring together local government and artists to increase access to the arts, elevate critical issues, foster community engagement and highlight creativity across local industries through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Each of the three-minute shorts, which feature interviews with mayors, artists and cultural leaders working together to develop risk-taking public art projects, showcases the unprecedented levels of contact and cooperation between the arts and civic leaders.

Created to show the challenges and ambitions behind the cities selected to participate in the foundation’s Public Art Challenge, the video series can be viewed on YouTube via the hyperlinked titles below. Additionally, these and other videos are available on bloomberg.org.

ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen   In this video, Gary, Indiana Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson discusses the economic, political and social challenges that have affected the city and introduces a culinary and visual arts center conceived by artist Theaster Gates with an innovative approach to addressing the complex challenges facing Gary.

ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen

In this video, Gary, Indiana Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson discusses the economic, political and social challenges that have affected the city and introduces a culinary and visual arts center conceived by artist Theaster Gates with an innovative approach to addressing the complex challenges facing Gary.

Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light   Spartanburg, South Carolina’s project uses public art to promote crime prevention and as a catalyst for building police-community relations. As interviews with police officers show in this documentary, the light-based project, designed by artist Erwin Redl, is already bringing together residents and law enforcement officials.

Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light

Spartanburg, South Carolina’s project uses public art to promote crime prevention and as a catalyst for building police-community relations. As interviews with police officers show in this documentary, the light-based project, designed by artist Erwin Redl, is already bringing together residents and law enforcement officials.

Breathing Lights   Interviews with artist Adam Frelin and architect Barbara Nelson describe a multi-city light project that will engage residents, community organizations, local government, and private sector partners to address issues of divestment and building vacancy throughout Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York.

Breathing Lights

Interviews with artist Adam Frelin and architect Barbara Nelson describe a multi-city light project that will engage residents, community organizations, local government, and private sector partners to address issues of divestment and building vacancy throughout Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York.

CURRENT: LA Water   Los Angeles’ first-ever public art biennial included 13 artists presenting challenging ideas around the topic of water. In this video, Danielle Brazell, manager of Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs, and participating artists explain how the arts and creativity can be deployed to change perceptions and behavior around one of the city’s most pressing issues.

CURRENT: LA Water

Los Angeles’ first-ever public art biennial included 13 artists presenting challenging ideas around the topic of water. In this video, Danielle Brazell, manager of Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs, and participating artists explain how the arts and creativity can be deployed to change perceptions and behavior around one of the city’s most pressing issues.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported innovative public art projects in cities around the world. On October 13, 2014 Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the launch of the Public Art Challenge, a new program to fund temporary public art projects in cities across the U.S.  The foundation invited mayors in cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for innovative temporary public art projects that have the potential to catalyze urban growth, promote creativity, drive local economy, and add to the vibrancy of cities.  Submissions for visual and performing arts, including multimedia installations, were considered.

Out of 237 city applications, the cities of Gary, IN; Los Angeles, CA; Spartanburg, SC; and a partnership between Albany, Troy and Schenectady, NY were awarded $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge to execute their projects. The Los Angeles’ project CURRENT: LA Water ran from July 16 – August 14, while the other cities will open in the fall. 

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Government Innovation, Environment, Education, and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving.

In 2015 Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

 

Press Contact:

Rebecca Carriero, +1-212-205-0182, Rebeccac@bloomberg.org

ArtHouse to help grow businesses in downtown Gary by ArtHouse Gary

Once a bustling city, Gary has experienced a decrease of over 100,000 residents in the past several decades. The decline in population has had grave impact on previously successful small businesses, including restaurants and grocery stores. However, the remaining residents of Gary are resilient and resourceful, prompting the early seed of development for ArtHouse.

ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen is a collaborative project, spearheaded by the City of Gary, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s office and Theaster Gates with the University of Chicago’s Place Lab and Harris School of Public Policy. The project will turn the building, partially occupied by Mama Pearl’s, at 411 East 5th Avenue in downtown Gary into a platform for economic and artistic activity.

When ArtHouse was in the planning stages, Mayor Freeman-Wilson identified a need for more restaurant and food options in the city. University of Chicago confirmed Mayor Freeman-Wilson’s sentiment when student researchers discovered that Gary residents spend approximately $57 million at restaurants and $46 million at grocery stores outside of the city.

ArtHouse will serve as a public art gallery, a culinary business incubator and a food service training provider. The goal is to tap into local talent to create new food-based businesses in the area, work toward decreasing the city’s unemployment numbers and provide Gary residents with more options for dining out.

ArtHouse is being viewed by many as a step towards the revitalization of the downtown Gary area. Mayor Freeman-Wilson and others hope that, within a few years, the business incubator at ArtHouse will have helped to populate the area with new restaurants for the people of Gary and surrounding communities to enjoy.

For more information on ArtHouse, visit www.arthousegary.com.

Ripple + Wilson form perfect partnership for ArtHouse Gary public art commission by ArtHouse Gary

Over forty applicants from an international pool of artists competed for the new public art commission to be installed at ArtHouse on 5th Avenue in Gary, Indiana. Artists submitted their concepts for ILLUMINATION, brightening up the corner on which the building sits, and SURFACE, beautifying the exterior façade of the building itself. 

The artists were urged to honor Gary’s manufacturing heritage while also provoking dialogue and instigate active cultural life in downtown Gary. With all of these requests considered, it is no surprise that the design by the team of Jeana Ripple and Barbara Brown Wilson was chosen.

Although both artists practice in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, their styles, materials and design sensibilities are distinctively reminiscent of life in the Midwest, particularly in Northwest Indiana. They come from backgrounds of award-winning architecture and community engaged design which are perfectly demonstrated for their concept for the Gary building.

Ripple is the founder of the Ripple Architecture Studio where she uses manufacturing processes as inspiration for her designs. Wilson is an urban planner, leader in the practice of community engaged design and has experience partnering with nonprofits on design projects. Both also serve as educators at the University of Virginia. 

In partnership, these artists have developed a concept that utilizes both of their experiences and specialties to reimagine a building into something that will benefit the community whilst showcasing a design that honors the manufacturing history of the city of Gary. To learn more about Ripple + Wilson or their design, visit www.arthousegary.com.

Photo taken from ripplearchitecture.com.

Photo taken from ripplearchitecture.com.

Conversations with the Artists: Jeana Ripple, Ripple Architecture Studio; Barbara Brown Wilson, University of Virginia by Place Lab

Jeana Ripple + Barbara Brown Wilson are a two-person team that will submit a proposal for the ArtHouse public art commission Illumination. The artists selected for ArtHouse's public art commissions will be announced in late May 2016.


What motivated you to apply for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse? If you have a connection to Gary, what is it?
We are inspired by the vision for ArtHouse: a place that uses art and food to create both community and opportunity.

Jeana: I’m from the Midwest (Cleveland) and have lived in cities across Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. This led me to develop an architectural practice focused on collaboration with manufacturers as a way to promote the local economy. I’ve seen manufacturing form the heart of these cities and at times also struggle to re-invent itself.

Barbara: My work focuses on community engaged design and education programs. So the history of Gary’s education innovation is particularly compelling to me. Gary started a national movement in education, where students at community schools learned through a work/study/play model focused on learning by the tactile experiences of making.

Our combined interest in promoting local community and manufacturing made ArtHouse a particularly inspiring project. 

Inside  Woods of Net  pavilion, designed by Tezuka Architects. Photo by Abel Erazo.

Inside Woods of Net pavilion, designed by Tezuka Architects. Photo by Abel Erazo.

Are there examples of public art works that have had an impact on you?
The Good Neighbor mural in Cleveland’s Little Italy had an impact on me as a kid because it was a source of pride and marking of place. Today, project’s like the Woods of Net Pavilion at the Hakone Open Air Museum by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam are an inspiration because they prompt curiosity and play in children. We’re after all of these effects with this project—promoting pride, place, play.

Does your approach to a public commission differ from the approach you take to other work, such as for private clients, exhibitions, galleries, or targeted audiences? If so, how? If not, why not
Some goals—like the translation of local material and manufacturing technology—are shared across projects. But a public commission in particular needs to be interactive, inspiring, and a place in which residents feel a sense of authorship. 

Why do you feel that public art is important to communities?
Public art plays so many roles in communities. Its been shown to cultivate community cohesion, to drive economic revitalization, to serve as a vehicle for education, to build a collective sense of identity in a place and also pride for that place, and to encourage residents to stop and utilize their senses—which is fundamental to improving quality of life and human health. Our project is designed to provide educational opportunities, celebration space, inspiring and playful experiences… all of which contribute to the joy people feel in their immediate environment. In this project, the art is also designed to provide social amenities like internet access and bike repair stations, attracting people to participate in the entrepreneurial initiatives at ArtHouse.

Ripple Architecture Studio project,   Evaporative Skin  , featured in the TEX-FAB SKIN Digital Assemblies Exhibition.

Ripple Architecture Studio project, Evaporative Skin, featured in the TEX-FAB SKIN Digital Assemblies Exhibition.

Should your proposal be chosen as the winning artwork, how do you envision the Gary community would be involved in bringing the work to fruition?
The design facilitates opportunities for involvement that range from design/build workshops to the creation of a documentary to a social making party at the ArtHouse opening. We are planning to provide equipment and further training in film-making for a local youth video club to document the manufacturing and assembly process involved in the commission. We’re hoping to work with local partners to create opportunities for youth to be involved in construction and have created several “learning-by-doing” scenarios.

Finally, we envision a launch party that brings the greater Gary community to the makers table during the opening celebration. The launch event at the end of the installation process could double as a Social Making event where community members can learn how to build their own lanterns like those in our design. This event could also serve as the film premiere for the youth-made documentary on the installation process. The hope is that this installation is one articulated by joyful collaborative making and community building experiences, and that the final product is something to which many Gary residents feel they contributed and want to return to and enjoy frequently.

What do you want to convey about cities in your commissioned work of art (or in the process that leads up to its installation)?
Cities each have their own material and innovation culture that can be celebrated through its art. Cities can spark curiosity, inspire new thinking, and reinvigorate your senses, while also honoring and embodying within them the history of that place.

Anything else you’d like to add, or tell ArtHouse fans?
ArtHouse is the people who are dedicated to this effort: Gary residents and their Mayor Freeman-Wilson, Mama Pearl’s, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Knight Foundation, and especially PlaceLab. We’re excited to contribute a design that will continue to build on the power of community, and on the energy of this creative infrastructure.


Jeana Ripple and Barbara Brown Wilson of Ripple Architecture Studio and the University of Virginia have combined backgrounds in award-winning architecture and community engaged design that creates a dynamic team to contribute art honoring Gary’s manufacturing expertise, community pride, and future potential. Jeana Ripple is the founding principal of Ripple Architecture Studio. Her work uses manufacturing processes as a driver for design innovation. Ripple Architecture Studio has won multiple AIA awards and has been internationally exhibited and published. Dr. Barbara Brown Wilson is an urban planner, leader in the practice of community engaged design, and known for her ability to partner with local nonprofits to craft youth-led design initiatives. Her community-based work as a practitioner and an educator has produced projects and programs that are beloved by community and recognized for excellence in the profession. Wilson has won numerous local and national awards for her community engaged design efforts and is recognized as one of the “top 100 leaders in Public Interest Design.”

 

Conversations with the Artists: Riccardo Mariano by Place Lab

Riccardo Mariano is a Berlin-based environmental artist, architect, and designer who will be submitting a proposal for ArtHouse public art commission Surface. The artists selected for ArtHouse's public art commissions will be announced in late May 2016.


What motivated you to apply for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse? If you have a connection to Gary, what is it?
I believe my architecture background and [design partner] Polina Chebotareva's psychological background and our specific experience in public art are especially relevant for a project for which understanding the potential of the existing building and its surroundings is key to the development of a proposal capable of engaging the community with its enhanced aesthetic.

ArtHouse is an inspiring opportunity to design an exemplary project for the city of Gary that demonstrates how existing architecture, public art and community engagement can create places of identity and conviviality. The Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse gives the possibility of working with a whole community and giving its rich history a new life. As a design team rooted in European culture we bring an approach to the project which looks at Gary with fresh eyes.

Are there examples of public art works that have had an impact on you?
The Jewish memorial in Berlin by Peter Eisenman, is an inspiring example of a public artwork with great cultural significance becoming part of the city and its citizens' everyday life. It is a work of art that allows both for interaction and reflection, being adaptable to the activities of visitors, while at the same time being strongly rooted in history.

South Bronx (S) Heroes  , part of the JR Inside Out Project.

South Bronx (S) Heroes, part of the JR Inside Out Project.

Another artwork that comes to mind is by street artist JR and his Inside Out Project. where posters with portraits of the people living and working inside of a building were posted on its exterior, opening up the interior and making the inhabitants part of the street and public life.

Does your approach to a public commission differ from the approach you take to other work, such as for private clients, exhibitions, galleries, or targeted audiences? If so, how? If not, why not?
Working on public commissions means first and foremost working with the everyday life of communities. Such work creates an active dialogue between the artwork and public life, and allows reflection on how and why public space can be used. Working on public commissions also allows— to a greater extent— meaningful collaborations with other professionals who can help understand the social context and help set the artwork into a meaningful dialogue with the community. Likewise, it allows having collaborations with local activists and citizens, making it a more inclusive process. It is in public commissions that the catalytic power of art for social change emerges. Public art has the potential of making a more significant impact as it also addresses audiences that do not visit exhibitions or galleries.

Why do you feel that public art is important to communities?
Public art has the potential to start a dialogue, to initiate shared activity and to inspire. It addresses social issues where they are, rather than from a detached stance in an art context. This makes it accessible and inclusive, widening its reach and activating its social potential. It also allows the renegotiation of public space. Public artworks can facilitate new actions in a social context that one already knows and uses by habit.

This invites the community to reflect upon how they share and use space. Thus, public artworks initiate the exploration of possibilities of shared space and trigger new dialogues and encounters.

Should your proposal be chosen as the winning artwork, how do you envision the Gary community would be involved in bringing the work to fruition?
Public engagement is at the core of the proposal. [The proposal] invites the public to have a seat and share a moment together. Forming the group Gary's vision, who will use [the proposal] to facilitate meaningful events and dialogue, will further stimulate public engagement.

Steel has been chosen as the main material for the installation because it bears a special role and meaning in the history of Gary. The design team will aim at engaging local steel workers as consultants for the production of the sculptural façade enhancement.

This engagement will facilitate a practical and emotional connection between Gary's local knowledge as a proud steel city and Gary's future resource as a thriving cultural and innovative community. Furthermore, this involvement will foster an inclusion of different audiences for Arthouse Gary.

Interior rendering of   Istanbul Disaster Prevention and Education Centre  , a conceptual design by Riccardo Mariano.

Interior rendering of Istanbul Disaster Prevention and Education Centre, a conceptual design by Riccardo Mariano.

What do you want to convey about cities in your commissioned work of art (or in the process that leads up to its installation)?
At the core of urban city life is sharing space and experiences. Public space should support this conviviality, and be generous by creating places for people to sit, relax, meet, be inspired and exchange ideas. [The proposal], being an interactive facade with a shared bench and public library, attempts to convey this. Opening up the inside of ArtHouse to its surroundings, [the proposal] draws and gives meaning to its wider context by becoming a gathering place and new destination within the city. The artwork combines the memory of the city with its future dreams and ambitions through its materiality, identity and social significance.

Anything else you’d like to add, or tell ArtHouse fans?
[The proposal] not only facilitates sharing knowledge to its future visitors in Gary, but is also conceptualized by working interdisciplinary and learning from each other. Being a team of an architect and a psychologist allows us to look at public space and understand the potential of a public artwork from multiple angles, and this is truly enriching both for the work process and for the design concept. Hopefully many more interdisciplinary meetings will be made while sitting at ArtHouse and sharing perspectives with each other.


Riccardo Mariano is an artist, architect and designer based in Berlin, Germany. Trained as an architect, he earned a Master of Science in Architecture with honours from Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio Switzerland. Following his graduation, Riccardo joined BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group in Copenhagen (DK) where he advanced his architectural practice working on a diverse range of projects worldwide. Since 2012, Riccardo has been part of the design and development team at Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin. Collaborating with the Studio, he has been working on the design and development of architectural experimentations, large-scale installations and sculptures. While working closely with Olafur Eliasson, Riccardo has been independently undertaking public art projects. In 2014, he led an interdisciplinary team for the design Herning Energy Promenade, awarded with the LAGI Green Cities Special Jury Prize. In 2015, he was awarded for Wonderland: East lake Tai international public art competition with the entries Flying Bi and Tao Pavilion.

Conversations with the Artists: Chris Silva by Place Lab

Chris Siva is one of the six finalists who will submit a full proposal for ArtHouse's public art commissions. Silva will propose a work for the commission Surface. The artists selected for ArtHouse's public art commissions will be announced in late May 2016. 


What motivated you to apply for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse? If you have a connection to Gary, what is it?
I won't pretend that a major motivation for applying isn't trying to keep my bills paid, but I've chosen the work that I do because I truly love it. I make a variety of art, but the public work which I create with the help of others is definitely some of the most satisfying. I try very hard to keep my work rooted in a spirit of generosity and service to my fellow humans, so the mission of ArtHouse feels right in line with my own.

The Green Citadel , in  Magdeburg, Germany, designed by Hundertwasser.  Photo by Basileia Gorgo.

The Green Citadel, in Magdeburg, Germany, designed by Hundertwasser. Photo by Basileia Gorgo.

Are there examples of public art works that have had an impact on you?
The first pieces of public art which really grabbed me by the collar were the graffiti pieces along the rooftops in Chicago, and on the subway cars in NYC. Another thing which I remember being incredibly inspired by was the architectural work of the Austrian artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. There's so much great public art work being created all the time, so it's hard for me to even keep track of what my latest public art inspirations are. It feels like the bar keeps being raised every month.

Does your approach to a public commission differ from the approach you take to other work, such as for private clients, exhibitions, galleries, or targeted audiences? If so, how? If not, why not?
Yes, absolutely. I avoid promoting despair in all my work, but my installation pieces often meditate on many of the unhealthy ways we treat our world. Because of that they can feel a little heavy, and I often think of them as visual blues songs. Some of my small personal work can also lean that way at times, but when it comes to large permanent public art, I focus on creating more clearly uplifting and joyful work. When I know things are going to be there for long term I feel that I should fully engage my idealism and try to represent the change I want to see in the world.

With All of Our Might  , mural designed by Chris Silva and created with 9 youth apprentices/collaborators for Yollocalli Arts Reach. 

With All of Our Might, mural designed by Chris Silva and created with 9 youth apprentices/collaborators for Yollocalli Arts Reach. 

Why do you feel that public art is important to communities?
Public art represents an investment in an area. It shows that someone cared enough to try to create beauty there, and that effort can help to inspire others to try and do the same. Colors, shapes, and sounds have a strong psychological effect on people, and I believe that when they are used to successfully create something of beauty there are usually positive side effects.

Should your proposal be chosen as the winning artwork, how do you envision the Gary community would be involved in bringing the work to fruition?
My proposal is very open ended. I've created a design solution which leaves room for original content to be added by local participants. In addition to that, the final fabrication method of the piece has been left intentionally unresolved so that I can continue to seek out creative ways to involve locals in the fabrication process. My proposal depends heavily on Gary locals getting involved for it to really resonate they way I would like it to. If my proposal gets green lighted want this to be something the local participants were proud to have been a part of.

What do you want to convey about cities in your commissioned work of art (or in the process that leads up to its installation)?
I am promoting love, and that message is more universal in scope, but my artwork has been impacted heavily by my experiences in the city, so abstract as it may be, I feel like I am in speaking in a dialect of city life. The process I've proposed involves people working well together for the successful outcome of the project, and that strikes me as something which holds true for cities as well. Love yourself, love your neighbor, love your city.

Anything else you’d like to add, or tell ArtHouse fans?
I'm just honored to have been selected as a semi-finalist, and whether I am awarded the commission or not, I'm excited to see this kind of investment in Gary happening and hope to see it continue.


Though born in Puerto Rico, Chris Silva’s creative pursuits are firmly rooted in Chicago's urban culture. Since the late 80s he has been a prominent figure in Chicago’s graffiti and skateboarding scenes, and building on this foundation proceeded to play a significant role in the development of what is now commonly referred to as "street art". Chris splits his time between working on large-scale commissions, producing gallery-oriented work, and leading youth-involved public art projects. A self-taught sound artist with roots in DJ culture, Chris anchors a collaborative recording project known as This Mother Falcon, and integrates these audio compositions into his installation work. Chris was the recipient of an Artist Fellowship Award from The Illinois Arts Council (2007), a 3Arts Award (2015), and is represented by Linda Warren Projects.

Conversations with the Artists: Nadi Design by Place Lab

Nadi Design is one of the six finalists in ArtHouse's public art commissions. This team will submit a proposal for the ArtHouse commission Illumination. The artists selected for ArtHouse's public art commissions will be announced in late May 2016.


What motivated you to apply for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse? If you have a connection to Gary, what is it?
At Nadi Design we are committed to creating memorable destinations, places and spaces in the public realm that make a difference in the lives of the people they serve— whether the space just brightens their day or has an impact on how they see the world around them. In reading about the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse, we felt the competition spoke to our firm’s philosophy. We were instantly on board. Gary’s rising community energy, represented in part by individuals such as the unbelievably spirited and enthusiastic Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, and Theaster Gates, Jr., who is directly involved in ArtHouse itself, became another motivation for applying for the Art Challenge.

As far as a connection to Gary, Indiana, we have an office located in Chicago, Illinois so our connection to Gary is being neighbors to the community.

Andrea Polli,   Particle Falls  , 2014. Interactive projection, Detroit, Michicgan. Photo by Jared Rendon-Trompak

Andrea Polli, Particle Falls, 2014. Interactive projection, Detroit, Michicgan. Photo by Jared Rendon-Trompak

Are there examples of public art works that have had an impact on you?
Andrea Polli’s Particle Falls, is a temporary, traveling, public art piece that communicates with the public about the air quality in their community. The piece is an animated light projection of blue falling lines representing clean air and yellow lights representing particles. The piece changes with the atmosphere around it. The surrounding air is continuously analyzed and the imagery projected alters with the findings of the analysis. The piece reflects the amount of air pollution in the community and in a beautiful way it raises awareness of the concerns regarding air pollution close to home.

Does your approach to a public commission differ from the approach you take to other work, such as for private clients, exhibitions, galleries, or targeted audiences? If so, how? If not, why not?
Our approach to designing for a public commission does not differ from how we design for other clients. In every instance we aim to produce work that connects with the genius loci of a place. There is always the need to learn and understand the context. Our design approach and methods work with a thorough, collaborative understanding of the aims and needs of our client, regardless of if that client is an individual, a corporation, or a community.

Water feature  in Water Bend Park, Manitoba. Designed by Nadi Design.

Water feature in Water Bend Park, Manitoba. Designed by Nadi Design.

Why do you feel that public art is important to communities?
We feel public art is important to communities because art is essential in creating communities. Public art activates dialogue within the community; it gives character to the spaces inhabited by the community and form landmarks/destinations in the fabric of a community. Public art aids in making places and spaces for communities to identify with, question and build memories around.

Should your proposal be chosen as the winning artwork, how do you envision the Gary community would be involved in bringing the work to fruition?
We envision generations of Gary’s citizens being involved in the process of bringing the design vision to reality. We would engage the youth of Gary for their input and thoughts on the conceptual design. We would also inspire the youth to be the “on the ground” promoters of the project. We hope the youth will spearhead the social media campaign publicizing the concept of the installation and their home, Gary, Indiana. With the energy of the youth behind the social media campaign we see the larger community being inspired and joining in. Local manufactures would also be approached to participate in the fabrication of the components of the installation. We hope to enable opportunities to have youth alongside the skilled trades of Gary learning and helping out in the fabrication of the installation as is appropriate.

What do you want to convey about cities in your commissioned work of art (or in the process that leads up to its installation)?
With the installation and the process leading up to the installation we are aiming to convey to the community and surrounding areas that Gary, Indiana is not a vacant, declining community but a community of opportunity, full of potential and strong spirit. We hope to convey that Gary, Indiana is a community poised for growth and showcase ArtHouse as being a catalyst for this growth.

Anything else you’d like to add, or tell ArtHouse fans?
The team here at Nadi Design is abuzz about the competition, we all thrive on design and delight in opportunities involving community based design. We are honored and excited about being short-listed for the ArtHouse: Illumination competition and are looking forward to meeting the ArtHouse Team and jury members on Monday. We also hope to stop in at Mama Pearl’s for a bite to eat. At Nadi Design we have made it part of our studio culture to enjoy food together, every two weeks we have afternoon appetizers and drinks together and every Monday morning we meet over a homemade breakfast provided by a different co-worker each week. We like to think of ourselves as not only design connoisseurs but also amateur food connoisseurs or you could say we just enjoy our food.


Nadi Design is a boutique design practice providing meaningful service to its clients, environments, and communities. With a desire to leave a positive, sustainable, and memorable legacy in every environment it touches, Nadi Design strives to build a practice based on integrity, collaboration and trust, and believes that people and their daily interactions form the core of great public spaces. Specializing in interior design, urban design, planning, landscape architecture, and land art, Nadi Design seeks to enrich communities through innovative, thoughtful designs that generate civic pride. Learn more about Nadi Design.

Conversations with the Artists: Felix "Flex" Maldonado Jr. by Place Lab

Felix "Flex" Maldonado Jr. is one of six finalists chosen to make a full proposal for ArtHouse's public art commissions. Maldonado will propose a work for the commission Surface. The artists selected for ArtHouse's public art commissions will be announced in late May 2016.


What motivated you to apply for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse? If you have a connection to Gary, what is it?
What motivated me to apply was the fact that I wanted to take on the challenge of such a great project. I have direct connections to Gary in the sense that I grew up working with my dad at U.S. Steel, and having family and friends from there, I felt it was my duty to represent the region.

The Chicago Picasso, an untitled monumental sculpture by Pablo Picasso sited at Daley Plaza in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by J. Crocker.

The Chicago Picasso, an untitled monumental sculpture by Pablo Picasso sited at Daley Plaza in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by J. Crocker.

Are there examples of public art works that have had an impact on you?
Although I feel any successful public work should portray some sense of inspiration, I first felt the impact of such success when I first started art school and saw Picasso’s Chicago sculpture at the Daley Plaza.

Does your approach to a public commission differ from the approach you take to other work, such as for private clients, exhibitions, galleries, or targeted audiences? If so, how? If not, why not?
My approach to any public commission does not really differ too much from my clients or private work because I take every project, commission or body of work with the same quality, pride and work ethic— anything less is unacceptable.

Why do you feel that public art is important to communities?
Having done numerous public art projects, I find it a very important vitality to any community. Aside from the visual inspiration (or just seeing something more beautiful than what was previously there) It creates a platform for dialog within the community.

Portrait  by Flex Maldonado. Image courtesy of the artist.

Portrait by Flex Maldonado. Image courtesy of the artist.

Should your proposal be chosen as the winning artwork, how do you envision the Gary community would be involved in bringing the work to fruition?
If my proposal is chosen, God willing, I plan to incorporate the community into the mural; literally. I would like to keep my vision as genuine as possible by holding a “call-for-models” photoshoot and invite the people of Gary to model for the subjects that I have lain out in the mural.

What do you want to convey about cities in your commissioned work of art (or in the process that leads up to its installation)?
I want to convey the fact that Gary has not been forgotten but is rather very alive and actually progressing. I believe in the people of this region, they are very resilient by nature and have no plans on giving up. but I also want to convey that change is good and that it starts with one’s self.

Anything else you’d like to add, or tell ArtHouse fans?
I just want to thank everyone at ArtHouse for the tremendous opportunity to represent my region and if chosen I promise to not let the people of Gary down.

Peace!


Felix “Flex” Maldonado Jr. is a native of East Chicago, IN, Maldonado is a self-taught artist with more than twenty-five years of experience in painting, drawing, and graffiti art. He received his BFA in Advertising with a minor in Graphic Design from the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He has worked with several ad agencies in Chicago, and has directed and produced commercials for companies like Culligan Water, Peoples Energy, Roto-Rooter, Head Tennis and ATA Airlines. In 2003, Felix helped form CISA Studio, LLC., a creative services company producing local and national work in various disciplines, including murals, custom paint and airbrushing, advertising, design, and multimedia. Maldonado’s history of solo and group art exhibitions include exhibitions at the South Shore Arts Center (Munster), CISA Gallery (Hammond), The Mexican Fine Arts Museum (Chicago), Art Expo (Chicago), Swope Museum (Terre Haute), SOMArts Museum (San Francisco), Armory's Fountain Art Fair (New York City), and the “Paint, Paste, Sticker”/ Street Art show at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Conversations with the Artists: PIKE Projects / RAW Gallery Collaboration by Place Lab

PIKE Projects / RAW Gallery Collaboration is a two-person team based in Canada. This team will submit a proposal for the ArtHouse commission Illumination. The artists selected for ArtHouse's public art commissions will be announced in late May 2016.


What motivated you to apply for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at ArtHouse? If you have a connection to Gary, what is it?
We were attracted to ArtHouse’s objectives— a very earnest effort to affect positive change and address community challenges through art.

Cloud Gate   (nicknamed 'The Bean') in Chicago, IL, by    Anish Kapoor   .

Cloud Gate (nicknamed 'The Bean') in Chicago, IL, by Anish Kapoor.

Are there examples of public art works that have had an impact on you?
We never tire of Cloud Gate, not only the sculpture but watching all types of people interact with it. Another would be the Warming Hut program – an international competition in Winnipeg to design small huts that shelter and/or amuse ice skaters as they glide along ice trails carved into the rivers that run through the city. Thirdly, Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin is quite moving.

Does your approach to a public commission differ from the approach you take to other work, such as for private clients, exhibitions, galleries, or targeted audiences? If so, how? If not, why not?
The approach is the same as we deal with the specifics of each project no matter the owner or audience. We are very process driven and while the process starts in the same way every time, with gathering, studying and testing, it always ends up in a different, specific place. We allow what we learn to steer our process.

The award-winning Hygge House, a warming hut designed  PIKE Projects in partnership with Plain Projects and Urbanink. Photo by Colin Grover.

The award-winning Hygge House, a warming hut designed PIKE Projects in partnership with Plain Projects and Urbanink. Photo by Colin Grover.

Why do you feel that public art is important to communities?
Public art gives a community a voice and provokes conversation about identity and values— a cultural reference point.

Should your proposal be chosen as the winning artwork, how do you envision the Gary community would be involved in bringing the work to fruition?
From a physical standpoint, we hope members of the general population of Gary and the local steel industry can come together to assemble the work’s components on site as a team. Ultimately, the piece is incomplete unless occupied and, because it can be programmed in a very flexible manner, we look forward to seeing how the community will utilize it in ways beyond what we have imagined.

What do you want to convey about cities in your commissioned work of art (or in the process that leads up to its installation)?
We want to convey that change in cities can only come from their respective citizens and that art can be a catalyst for that process.

Anything else you’d like to add, or tell ArtHouse fans?
We don't have BBQ like Mama Pearl's up in Canada!


PIKE Projects / RAW Gallery Collaboration is a Winnipeg, Canada based team passionate about design for public benefit. With master's degrees from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba, Joe Kalturnyk of RAW and Colin Grover of PIKE are builders, artists and designers that have cut their teeth at many an architect's office, founded an architecture office, founded and operated an art gallery, won public art competitions, rebuilt a heritage hotel to house the homeless, are director and partner in a construction firm and run an annual pop-up restaurant on a frozen river. Published internationally, yet obsessed with the local and specific, we dig deep to find the critical elements of each situation and selectively amplify, contort and edit in search of the story - the shared spark that resonates.