Tag Archive | Public Art

Cats Mural: Broken English Taco Pub, Chicago

Broken English Taco Pub Mural
Photos By Gail

“Paying Attention All the Time is an Interesting Way to Go Through the Day.” That is my favorite quote from photographer Stephen Shore, and while it applies to most days of my life, it was especially true during the week I spent vacationing in Chicago. Man, excluding decent weather, that city has just about everything, including lots of fun public art. This site-specific mural of cartoonish fat cats is painted on the exterior of Broken English Taco Pub, which according to its website serves “A unique take on Mexican street style tacos.”  Sound yummy!

Broken English Taco Pub Mural Detail

We were running around so much that we didn’t have an opportunity to eat there (next time!) and I only got one good snap of the entire mural, but here is a cropped view of the cats, which look like ‘cat balloons,’ almost. The Luchador Mask-wearing Cat below is on the back side of the building on Wells Street as you walk toward the entrance.

Broken English Taco Pub Mural Detail

There are three Broken English Taco Pub locations in Chicago, but this one is located at 1440 N. Wells (at the corner Schiller Street) in the Old Town neighborhood.

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The Spitting Fountains of Chicago

Millennium Park,
All Photos By Gail

Add this to the long list of Very Cool Things I saw on my recent Chicago vacation: Spitting Fountains. Well, the proper name for this distinctive piece of public art is Crown Fountain, located in Millennium Park, but if you were a tourist and you asked a Chicago local to point you in the direction of “The Spitting Fountains,” I bet they would know what you meant.

Opened in July 2004, Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects.  The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers.

Crown Fountain Smiling 2

The towers are 50 feet tall and use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces. While some of the videos displayed are of scenery, most attention has focused on its video clips of the faces of local residents. Here’s where the spitting part comes in: a powerful stream of water intermittently cascades down the two towers, spouting through a nozzle on each tower’s front face. Not coincidentally, the nozzle will line up with the mouth of whatever face is being displayed. Clever.

Crown Fountain Spitting

Here’s how you can best plan your photos to get a shot of the spitting. Each face appears on the sculpture for a total of 5 minutes using various parts of individual 80-second videos.  A 40-second section is played at one-third speed forward and backward, running for a total of 4 minutes.  Then, there is a subsequent segment, where the mouth is puckering, that is stretched to 15 seconds. This is followed by a section, in which the water appears to spout from the open mouth, that is stretched to last for 30 seconds.

Crown Fountain Smiling

Finally, there is a smile after the completion of the water spouting from the mouth, that is slowed to extend for 15 seconds. The water operates only from May to October.

Crown Fountain 2

Crown Fountain highlights Plensa’s themes of dualism, light, and water, extending the use of video technology from his prior works. Its use of water is unique among Chicago’s many fountains, in that it promotes physical interaction between with the public, and children especially appear to enjoy frolicing in the fountain’s water.

Crown Fountain Spitting

In fact, if you are on the street passing by and can’t even see the fountain, you can tell when it is spitting because you can hear the loud and delighted squealing of children.

Crown Fountain Smiling 3

Crown Fountain is adjacent to another famous Chicago landmark, Anish Kapoor’s Cloudgate (aka The Bean), so you can see them both next time you visit this beautiful city!

TATS CRU Presents The Mural Kings at the Houston Bowery Wall

Tats Cru Mural Full
All Photos By Gail

Well, if you haven’t had a chance too see the above iteration of the Houston Bowery Mural Wall, it’s officially too late, because the colorful piece, by Bronx-based graffiti consortium, Tats Cru, was painted over during the Memorial Day Weekend. And that’s why I’m here: to tell and show you what you missed. You’re welcome.

Tats Cru Mural Detail
Keith Haring

The Mural Kings went up in late January of 2019 as an homage to NYC and the Lower East Side, including a shout out to the late Keith Haring (who, back in 1982, was the first artist to create a site-specific mural for the now legendary street canvas). Tats Cru is the first full graffiti crew to paint a mural here.

Liz Christy Sign

The mural also honors green activist and advocate Liz Christy (19501985), who created NYC’s first community garden, which still thrives just across the street from the mural.

Tats Cru Mural Detail

Tats Cru has spearheaded the battle to change the public’s perspective of graffiti as an art form through their respected work.Their murals adorn the walls of major corporations, museums, schools and iconic New York City Institutions

Tats Cru Mural Detail

Tats Cru Mural Full

Derek Fordjourm, Half Mast

Half Mast Derek Fordjour
Photos By Gail

With Half Mast, Derek Fordjour debuts a new work that reflects on the current national reckoning with mass shootings, and the relentless threat of violence against Black and Brown bodies. A portrait of this divided moment in U.S. history, Half Mast presents law officers, students, and ordinary civilians in one compressed, shared space. Alongside teddy bears and balloons reminiscent of street-side memorials, some figures appear marked with targets while others have been reduced to silhouettes.

Fordjour’s image holds no one person or group responsible for the violence, even as it speaks to loss and abuse of power. Painted brightly in his signature graphic style, the work points to possibilities of a future civic movement or celebration. Derek Fordjour first made Half Mast as a painting; here, in his first solo museum exhibition, it is presented as a public art installation in the form of a large vinyl print, located outdoors at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington Streets, across the street ands down one block from the Whitney Museum, and directly across from the end of the High Line.

Half Mast Derek Fordjour

Mark Manders Tilted Head at Doris C. Freedman Plaza

Tilted Head Front View
All Photos By Gail

Mark Manders’ Tilted Head is a work of fiction. It has the appearance of unfired clay combined with everyday objects but in fact is made entirely of cast bronze. The cracks and fissures that cover its surface imply an organic process of drying and decay, yet its metal form is fixed.

Tilted Head 1

It might suggest an incomplete model, abandoned in the artist’s studio, if not for the fact that its colossal size and civic location lend it the air of a grand monument. Eyes shut, the androgynous figure’s mask-like features are at rest, undisturbed by an abrupt slice through a third of its face. The unfinished side of the head is held as if in a splint by wooden planks, one tied with rope.

Tilted Head Rear View

At the back, chairs and a suitcase, all slightly reduced in size, protrude from a mass of formless material. These shifts in scale, unexplained objects, and trompe l’oeil bronze effects alter our perception and spark the imagination.

Tilted Head Back Detail
Back of Sculpture, Detail

Mark Manders (b. 1968, The Netherlands) has been interested in the human figure throughout his career, and is particularly fascinated with the head, which he sometimes depicts detached from the body and juxtaposed with different elements. These heads are always stylized representations rather than individualized portraits.

Tilted Head Side View

His approach creates a paradoxical sense of both immediacy and timelessness, of something newly made with fresh clay yet belonging to the traditions of classical statuary. With Tilted Head, Manders has rendered a compelling fiction of human form that inhabits a poetic space between representation and abstraction, serenity and rupture, life and mortality.

Tilted Head Right Side View

Mark Manders’ Tilted Head is Curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. It Will be on Display at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Fifth Avenue and 60th Street, Adjacent to Central Park, Through September 1st, 2019.

Update: I was near the Park over the Memorial Day weekend and got this new shot of the sculpture with Summer’s lush greenery in the background!

Tilted Head in Summer

 

Push Pin Pumps By Laura Escamilla!

Push Pin Pumps
All Photos By Gail

Beautiful shoes can certainly be considered works of art, and in the case of these Hot Pink beauties created from ordinary push pins, that is exactly the case.

Push Pin Pumps

These striking Push Pin Shoes (1981), designed by Laura Escamilla, were part of a Public Art Installation called Obsessorize: Common Objects Uncommon Accessories, a joint venture between Madison Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and students at the SVA 3D Design department.

Push Pin Pumps

These shoes were spotted somewhere along Madison Avenue in the upper 70s. The exhibit was co-sponsored by Marie Claire magazine.

Push Pin Pumps

Dorothy Iannone’s I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door On The High Line

I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door
All Photos By Gail

Dorothy Iannone is a Berlin-based artist whose works focus on eroticism and the female sexual experience. Inspired by Egyptian frescoes, Byzantine mosaics, and ancient fertility statues, Iannone depicts the act of lovemaking not as an act of taboo, but rather as an act of spiritual union and transcendence. While now commonly lauded as transgressive and radical, her work, which often portrays her love affair with the late artist Dieter Roth, has been subject to frequent censorship since the 1960s. Iannone and Roth began creating work side-by-side after Iannone moved to Europe in 1967, and the two artists influenced each other’s works greatly for almost a decade. Overlooked for much of her career, Iannone’s magnetic and highly influential work finally began to receive widespread recognition in the late 2000s.

For the High Line, Iannone created a new, large-scale mural installation featuring three colorful Statues of Liberty. Between them runs the words, “I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door,” which is the final line from Emma Lazarus’s poem The New Colossus, the ode to the freedom promised by immigration to America engraved on a bronze plaque mounted inside the statue at Liberty Island. Iannone’s piece was conceived before the recent months of upheaval in the United States around immigration, an already contested topic; these recent debates have raised the Statue of Liberty anew as a symbol of the openness of New York City and the United States to those seeking asylum, freedom, or simply a better life. Iannone’s vibrant Liberties bring a bit of joy to an often exhausting and demoralizing political debate.

Dorothy Iannone’s I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door Will Be On Display on the High Line at 22nd Street Through March 2019.

I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door Detail