Our project for the 2011 Windsor Biennial, Alive & Well, was created with the hope that it would be captured on Google Maps to make a monument or announcement of sorts to the rest of the world about Windsor as we near the end of the year and ahead of being torn up for the new Aquatic Centre. We did the project with full expectations that the timing might not be right to ever have it appear on Google Maps, but this morning on a random search, I found out that there was a little update — Alive & Well is now on Google Maps, when you zoom into Windsor’s downtown core.
We created the work with this in mind:
The city appears to have survived the lowest lows of the economic crisis and our social, cultural, and political realities seem to hold some sense of hope and possibility. Even while the auto industry continues to hold precarious sway over the future of the city, the opportunity to own our history and commemorate it should, appropriately enough, be explored in a vast parking lot. In celebration of our community’s continued survival, we propose to demarcate the launch of a cultural future for the city, as demonstrated by the starting date of the 2011 Windsor Biennial along with IAIN BAXTER&’s curatorial role, and the very fact that the city has, despite any hardships, not yet imploded, with the following text, “AS OF 2011.09.21, WE ARE ALIVE & WELL.”
Huge thanks to the Art Gallery of Windsor, MacDonald & White Paint, and Google for making this possible.
We spent the weekend in London, Ontario. We were installing for our upcoming exhibition at Forest City Gallery, while also briefly wondering about what it would be like to not do site specific work. Anyways, you should plan to come to the opening on September 9th!
We’re working on an installation using our “…and then the city” framework for exploring and unfolding the layers of narrative that go into shaping a place. We’ve pulled together some historical overviews of London, but have really enjoyed using an online questionnaire to hear about some of the narratives on the ground here. Huge thanks to Forest City Gallery and London Fuse for helping to spread the word. All of the answers have fed into the installation in some way, so it’s been a really effective way to get to some of the overarching stories about this city.
The show will run until October 21, 2011, and, in the meantime, what’s more fun than a peak of the install process?
For Day 4, we had to condense our planned events into an single afternoon, collecting answers to a series of fill-in-the-blank statements and eventually creating a CAMPER-wide chalkboard to collect a timeline of Calgary.
Working to understand Calgary through these gestures provides insights to a city in between many things — a military fort and a sprawling urban centre, a longtime home and a temporary situation,the site of the first roadhouse and the place that Tim Hortons amalgamated with a small coffee shop, a celebrated Olympic site and the place of someone’s first concert. All of these experiences, memories, and invented histories create a space for dialogue around the narratives that create the social shape of the city and not only how we interact with it, but how we interact with one another.
In collaboration with a local sign painter named Bird, who has been leaving his mark along Detroit’s streets for decades, an artist and our friend, Charlie Michaels turned an old vacant Detroit billboard into a big painting of the night sky – for star gazing in the city.
Above the intersection of Mack Ave. and Mt. Elliott St. on the east side of Detroit, a billboard that’s been sitting empty for decades displays an image of the night sky. Allowing those who pass underneath to see the stars more clearly than they are visible in the city, it offers a quiet reminder to notice what is always present but cannot always be seen.
Charlie says, “The collaboration with bird came out of a desire to integrate the project into the neighborhood somehow instead of simply using it as the destination. Streets on the east side of Detroit are covered with hand painted ads and murals – seeing this project as an addition to this gallery already in the street and wanting to acknowledge those artists whose work is already so present, I decided to seek out a collaborator. Bird was amazing to work with because his work is really everywhere, an entire lifetime of painting on view all over the east side.”
The video provides a very cool behind-the-scenes look at the installation and creation of the work. I heart billboards and this project.
We are already nearing the end of our priming process for our letters after only beginning last week! While we got to painting the rest of the letters on Friday, I prepared a few things earlier in the week for our next step, painting the letters in a fabulous bright red.
We’re on to priming the letters now, in anticipation of the bright red coat we’ll be giving them in the coming weeks. Things are moving ahead at a good pace, and hopefully will continue to, as we’d love to not be working with these finished letters in snow.
While we do get together every week, it’s usually only for a couple hours. As I’ve noted before, trying to find a common time between so many schedules is hard, when what we’re doing collectively is really above and beyond the responsibilities everyone has, so we’re thrilled with the progress… but a Saturday afternoon painting party might be in order.
COLAB and Syracuse University brought Steven Powers to Syracuse to work on a project similar to his efforts in Philadelphia, A Love Letter For You, aimed at transforming some railway overpasses that literally divide the community.
After having a number of discussions with the community, Powers selected from a series of things that residents loved and hated about their city to paint some phrases that span six lanes of traffic. The work was created on an overpass that doesn’t look all that different from overpasses that we have, particularly on Dougall, north of EC Row, and in Syrcause, which is a rustbelt city in its own right.
We’re written about Powers in the past, and his work continues to be a huge point of inspiration. Trained as a sign painter, I’m continually amazed at the ways in which Powers’ work can uplift an entire community and yet be such a personal message.
The video is directed by Samuel J Macon and Faythe Levine and was shot in collaboration with the University of Syracuse, Steven Powers and his crew. Parts of this short film will make its way to a larger documentary they’re working on called, “SIGN PAINTERS. STORIES FROM AN AMERICAN CRAFT.”