Active Public Art Project Portfolio
… over 20 active public art projects across over 40 sites has demonstrated the value of having art activate different parts of our city and invite participation in public life …
In 2008 Art Alliance Austin expanded our programming from an arts festival to include a series of engaging temporary public art projects that focused on showcasing artists’ role in advancing the city. Over the past 8 years these projects have become many of our most exciting and memorable, earning awards and invitations to international exhibitions. They’ve also impacted and grown into the festival, making it more dynamic and innovative. Art Alliance Austin has focused on active temporary public art instead of permanent installations because we are interested in engaging the public in unexpected and exciting ways. Being of a temporary nature forces the ideas to remain contemporary and requires immediate participation from the community.
Art Alliance Austin’s Public Projects, 2008 to present:
/// /// 2016 /// ///
Art Alliance Austin worked with Seaholm Development, the City of Austin, Josef Kristofoletti, and Sten n Lex to install a massive mural along a 300’+ undulating retaining wall along Walter Seaholm Dr in between 2nd and 3rd street. Check it out!
Art Alliance Austin worked with Austin Independent School District’s Blackshear Elementary School and Page Sutherland Page to generate interest and organize a mural competition. That mural has been awarded and completed by Austin artists: Jason Archer, Briar Bonifacio, Josh Row and Michael Sieben. Check it out!
/// /// 2015 /// ///
Hello Lamp Post is an interactive system that gives everyone in Austin a new tool to talk with each other, through prompts and questions – all facilitated by the city’s physical infrastructure. By referencing the thousands of pre-existing identifier codes that label items of street furniture across the whole city, players can send text messages to particular objects, including (but not limited to) lamp posts, mail boxes, utility boxes, manholes, or telephone poles.
Brand new to Art City Austin in 2015, the Austin Art Pavilion presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka expanded Art City to include more Austin galleries and artists into the biggest and best art marketplace in central Texas. Four galleries were represented and over 30 artists.
/// /// 2014 /// ///
Ink Tank Vending Machine
As a response to Austin’s rapidly changing landscape, the artist collective Ink Tank has repurposed a soda pop vending machine and rigged it to play recorded audio clips which provide the listener with a complimentary guided meditation. Each press of the button brings deeper relaxation: breath — hold — release — control — emerge — affirm — harness — and finally reaching “ok.” Ink Tank member Emily Cayton explains, “Each instruction is unique, and offers a different style of relaxation, ranging from concrete exercises to abstract journeys.”
GloWave is an undulating form that references the water that flows in Blunn Creek. The piece is illuminated in the dark with blue light. The GloWave is part of the TEMPO projects commissioned by the City of Austin Art in Public Places. Art Alliance held a celebratory reception to showcase this successful TEMPO project because it plays an important role in attracting new and emerging artists to the City’s public art program, enriches the civic dialogue, and engages public space in a unique way.
/// /// 2013 /// ///
A case study in transforming a downtown alley into a vibrant public open space—the activation includes a mix of installations and multi-generational happenings connecting us with the dynamic past, present and future roles of Austin’s urban alley system. 20ft Wide derives its name from the 20 feet that serve as the standard width for Austin’s downtown alleys as noted on the 1839 city map by Edwin Waller.
2013 Austin Critics Table nomination under the category Work of Art: Independent or Public Project
A temporary hub that investigates the role of contemporary culture in advancing the vision of a vibrant, people oriented Congress Avenue. A retail space in transition, the site was activated with a diversity of artist-led uses to understand the potential and responsibilities of improving quality of place. 912 was programmed as a repository of the activity taking place in the neighboring alleyway that was home to 20ft WIDE as well as a platform for programming partner the Fusebox Festival.
/// /// 2012 /// ///
Bubbleware: Social Furniture
Bubbleware is a modular, inflatable public furniture system that invites visitors to develop new arrangements for informal social interaction, creativity and collaboration within the relatively rigid structures that make up the city. Bubbleware provides visual and tactile contrast to standard urban hardscape. The soft, colorful and inviting pieces summon possibilities that are seldom associated with public space: lounging and relaxing. Work created by Rebar, a San Francisco based studio.
Files, Desks, and Chairs
Files, Desks, and Chairs was an exhibition that took TOPS, a former office supply warehouse, as its organizing principle. Artists in the exhibition included: Patrick Arnold (NY); Megan Carney (TX); Mark Flood (TX); Rachel Hecker (TX); Christian Heidsieck (TX); Dani Leventhal (NY); Justin Lieberman (NY); Ian Pedigo (NY); Michael Bell Smith (NY). Work Related presented a night of music performance on Saturday, April 21st, curated by Travis Kent. Artists included: Hubble (NY); Paradise (TX); White Dog (TX, NY, LA).
Yard Sale in the Sky
Kristin Lucas’ Yard Sale in the Sky stages a virtual garage sale. The installation / performance took place on South Congress. Rather than selling actual objects, the artist sold digitally rendered products of Augmented Reality (AG) that were created by various Austin digital artists, game designers, and 3-D model makers. The items for sale are only ever visible through the use of our phones. The public could participate by buying these virtual objects and having them “relocated” to a buyer’s home using geo-location technology. Once moved, items inhabit the space, and, like invited ghosts, are both there and not there in perpetuity.
Red Swing Project
The Red Swing Project was founded to positively impact under-utilized public spaces in the city. The idea is simple: a basic red swing has the power to transform a vacant lot or highway underpass into an unexpected playground. With each swing, special attention is paid to the public’s response to this familiar object set in an unfamiliar place. The project equips others to take control of their own public environments by offering an open-source project that is easily replicable. The Red Swing Project was invited to participate in 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.
/// /// 2011 /// ///
Play Me I’m Yours
Questioning the ownership and rules of public space Play Me, I’m Yours is a provocation, inviting the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. The project involved the installation of 14 upright pianos placed at strategic locations throughout the city. For 4 weeks in April the pianos featured formal and impromptu concerts by students, techies, musicians, tourists, children, lawyers, doctors, and artists. Awarded best public art piece of 2011 in the Austin Chronicle Readers Poll. 2011 Austin Critics’ Table nominee under the category Work of Art: Independent or Public Project.
Fusebox Festival Hub @ Seaholm Power Plant
Seaholm, the now de-installed power plant for the city of Austin, was chosen to serve as the hot spot for after-hours small-scale performances, installations and music as part of the annual Fusebox contemporary art and performance. The opening performance for this temporary, one-weeklong, ever-changing space featured local band Mother Falcon playing along with 100-String Orchestra. The space also featured a number of performing arts pieces, a collaborative projection happening and artwork on display that was changed every night.
Hybrid Arts Summit
The Hybrid Arts Summit was created in partnership with the Austin Museum of Art, Big Medium, Fusebox Festival and independent curators. It features guests focused on issues relevant to Austin and work in contemporary art. Its mission was to explore cross-disciplinary creative practices and their relevance to contemporary culture with captivating speakers, round-table discussions and an open call for action. Three major topics were explored: Community building through collaboration, Art in Technology and Art Criticism.
/// /// 2010 /// ///
One Swallow Doesn’t Make a Summer
Through a partnership with the 2ND Street District, the Downtown Austin Alliance and the curatorial team Cook & Ruud and Art Alliance Austin developed an innovative pilot program to utilize available retail space as contemporary art spaces. One Swallow Doesn’t Make a Summer was the first exhibition of the pilot program and opened during Art Week Austin 2010. The 5-week exhibition asked a dozen artists to inhabit four spaces and Republic Square Park. 2010 Austin Critic’s Table Nomination for the 2nd Street District Window Project by Carlos Rosales-Silva under the category Work of Art: One of A Kind & for Dust Storm (Night), Jeff Williams as well as (Re)Kirk by Leslie Mutchler, Barry Stone, Michelle Marchessault, and Virginia Yount, both works appeared under the category Work of Art: Installation. Click here for project details.
Magda Sayeg: Knitta Please
Magda Sayeg is the founder of the original knit graffiti crew Knitta Please. During April 2010, Sayeg covered elements of downtown with brilliant swaths of knitted, repurposed material. By inserting handmade art into landscapes dominated by concrete and steel, she adds warmth to urban fixtures and encourages viewers to reengage with their environment, making the streets much more aesthetically pleasing in the process. Voted the Best Public Art of 2010 by the Austin Chronicle’s Best of Austin annual issue.
Using discarded cardboard boxes, Daniel Morrison made roughly 15,000 unique pieces of what he refers to as “a very large puzzle.” However, the assembly of this puzzle required hundreds of volunteers. The exact nature of the photo-mosaic remained a mystery for the volunteers until the installation was complete, and Morrison documented his creative process in a regularly updated blog about Cardboard Sky on his website www.danielmorrison.us
/// /// 2009 /// ///
pink unplugged is both a real-life courier service and an interactive, site-specific art installation where an invisible web of interconnectivity is created between senders and receivers. Visitors were invited to a temporary love factory set up in the City Hall amphitheater, where they typed a message of affection to someone they love. Notes were bottled by pink’s love factory workers and delivered by bicycle and foot by pink’s love couriers anywhere in the city and on site during Art City Austin. 2009 Austin Critics Table Award nominee under the category None of the Above.
FOIL This installation used two very inexpensive and readily available materials – scaffolding and radiant heat barrier foil – to create eye-catching entrances to a downtown arts festival. The thousands of foil ‘leaves’ glittered and glistened in the sun and wind and shifted color throughout the day with the changing light. The lightweight materials and simple scaffold structure meant the whole thing was erected and taken down in a matter of hours before and after the event Work created by Robert Gay and Lucy Begg of THOUGHTBARN.
/// /// 2008 /// ///
Temporary Outdoor Gallery Space (TOGS)
The TOGS competition was launched in partnership with the American Institute of Architects and the Austin Foundation for Architecture. The TOGS ultimately stretch the boundaries of work shown outdoors and enhance the outdoor art fair experience by showcasing the synergy between art and architecture. The competition yielded 269 registrations from over 20 countries. The award winner, A Little Room by Amy Wynne and Mark Leveno was constructed, previewed at AIA Austin’s Design Awards and displayed at Art City Austin 2009 & 2013. Recipient of the American Institute of Architects 2009 Design Award.
I am ______ .
Jackie Young & Cybil Gustafson presented an interactive photography exhibition and collaborative installation. “I am interactive. I am a large-scale installation. I am a representation of individuals. I am the story of a community. I am. We are.” 2008 Austin Critics Table nominee and winner under the category Independent Project.
Celebrity Topiary Denise Prince’s work Celebrity Topiary was installed on the First Street Bridge during Art City ’08. As viewers advanced toward the main element of the installation, they past a series of unusual topiaries that conveyed an entertaining message about who we are as Americans. New York Art Critic Edward Rubin wrote, “The thing I enjoyed most… is the topiary. I think it’s the most original thing.”
Art Bus Project The Art Bus Project by Ian Cion was a community collaboration celebrating art made by patients at the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas Oncology Program that was installed on public transportation. Project collaborators include Ian Cion Studios, Dell Children’s, Capital Metro, 3M and Art Alliance Austin.