Vol 4, Issue 2

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Cloud Coordinate: Felicia Batzloff and Elisa Yon
a chART: Public Art Marpole project
August – December, 2012

How to build a cloud – Start with a decommissioned glass and steel bus shelter, such as the one at Granville Street and 71st in the Marpole neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Two years ago the bus shelter was slated for removal and taken off the maintenance schedule; however, removal was delayed and over time the appearance of the shelter began to deteriorate—vinyl peeling, glass scratched, accumulating graffiti. It was, according to community members, an eyesore. That is until chART: Public Art Marpole and Emily Carr University of Art + Design artists Felicia Batzloff and Elisa Yon teamed up with the Marpole Business Improvement Agency and Translink to turn the existing structure into a temporary, community focused, public art piece.

Cloud Coordinate began with postcards. On one side were photographs taken by Batzloff and Yon of the sky in Marpole: fluffy clouds floating in blue and crosshatched by the electric bus wires that run the length of Granville St. On the other side is the question: If you wanted to be anywhere in the whole wide world, where would it be? Batzloff and Yon occupied the bus shelter during Marpole’s Summerfest on July 16th and asked passersby to write their answers to this question on the back of the postcards. This participatory portion of the project considered the sense of place of Marpole’s various community members: a unique blend of new immigrants and long-time residents.

Four weeks later the postcards transformed into a vinyl wrap for the bus shelter: the community’s answers displayed on the metal skeleton, the images of clouds superimposed on translucent vinyl on the eight glass panels. Standing inside the bus shelter now feels like standing in a cloud with light filtering through, and commuters waiting for the bus can consider their own sense of place in relation to the new space and the text. The original postcards live on in the Marpole branch of the Vancouver Public Library, where they will be incorporated into the stacks and made available to library users.

Cloud Coordinate is one of several temporary projects being produced under the umbrella of chART: Public Art Marpole; part of a long-term research project by Dr. Cameron Cartiere, Dean of Graduate Studies at Emily Carr University. chART seeks to develop new interdisciplinary partnerships and collaborations that utilize a broad range of methodologies to address the complex nature of public art and community engagement. Cloud Coordinate and the other summer 2012 projects were explorations into Marpole and the potential relationship between community and public art as an agent of change.

chART’s aim is to understand how communities might benefit from public art. Early projects will lay the groundwork and establish the initial partnerships and innovative working methods for a longer term and larger research aim: to gather substantial new quantitative and qualitative data on the effects of public art on community, industry, environment, and economy.

For more information email: [email protected]

This research is made possible with support from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Marpole Business Association, and the Public Art Department of the City of Vancouver. Additional support for Cloud Coordinate came from Translink and UNO DIGITAL.

The Blue Trees

This coming October, trees will be blue on the University of Florida campus. As part of the Arts and Humanities month initiative, the University of Florida will host "The Blue Trees," an exhibit by Konstantin Dimopoulos that features natural trees painted with a blue colorant.

Dimopoulos' vision for "The Blue Trees," which debuted at the Vancouver Biennale in March 2011, is to draw attention to a landmark of nature which people normally take for granted, and ultimately to inspire awareness and raise discussions about the threat of deforestation. Removing 800,000 square miles of trees worldwide every year, deforestation threatens the planet's environment and contributes to the warming of the earth. Because color can define place and time and is a perception-shifting element, color emphasizes the presence of the trees—a process vital to raising awareness about the threat of deforestation. Furthermore, the color blue defines the trees with a sacredness arising from the color's tendency to attract but also to signal defense.

The colorant, classified as non-hazardous, consists of calcium carbonate and ultramarine blue and is harmless to trees. The blue color, which could be removed with a hose of mild pressure, will wash off naturally with rain.

As a painter, Dimopoulos began to pursue sculpture in 1998. He was born in Egypt and currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. "The Blue Trees" exhibit is an example of his artwork geared toward social commentary. To learn more about Dimopoulos and his work, visit http://www.kondimopoulos.com/blue-trees/

Public Art at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

The DeCordova has a fantastic Fall docket including:

Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974

Although the exhibition has come to a close at MOCA, check out this interactive feature map:

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