ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen is one of four winning projects of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a grant program that supports projects in which local governments work with artists to create public art that celebrates creativity, enhances urban identity, and inspires economic growth. The ArtHouse project will transform a 15,000 square foot facility in downtown Gary into a cultural hub showcasing culinary and visual arts. The City of Gary will use this public space to help spur artistic and economic activity and to promote ethical redevelopment of the downtown district.

In December 2015, ArtHouse issued a request for qualifications for two public art commissions: Illumination, a light-based sculptural work, and Surface, a work to enhance the façade of the ArtHouse building. These two works will transform the exterior of ArtHouse and help establish the re-imagined space. 

Over forty talented applicants from around the world submitted qualifications from which eighteen were chosen for presentation to an Internal Review Committee (IRC) composed of artists, business owners, and arts administrators. Ultimately, six individual artists and teams were selected to submit full proposals for these temporary, original, site-responsive public artworks. Read the official press release.


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.

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.
Learn more about PIKE Projects.     Learn more about RAW Gallery.

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.”
Learn more about Ripple Architecture Studio.       Learn more about Barbara Brown Wilson.


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. Learn more about Flex Maldonado Jr.

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. Learn more about Chris Silva.

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”. Learn more about Riccardo Mariano.

current site images

These images show the current state of the building that will be reimagined by the public art commissions Illumination and Surface. Winners of the public art commissions will be announced in May. The final works will be unveiled in October 2016. Alongside these two external works, ArtHouse will also reveal the winning work of a privately commissioned designed object for the building’s interior.


Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for innovative temporary public art projects that address a civic issue. More than 230 cities submitted proposals that showcased ways in which local governments could work with artists to create public art that inspires economic growth in struggling areas. In June of 2015, Gary was selected as one of four cities nationwide from more than 230 cities that submitted proposals for the Public Art Challenge. Gary’s winning project is ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is optimistic about creative civic interventions for Gary, sharing that, "We are excited about the idea of public art being the catalyst to spark revitalization in the hub of the Gary community. As we work to rebuild our city, we look for investment opportunities and for meaningful projects and collaborations that will fulfill our need to bring about transformative results. I believe these components and public art partnered with design and community engagement will yield those results."