Homeshop: A Public/Private Project


Homeshop is a collective, a public/private space, an intersection of new art audiences and traditional art markets, a collaborative social practice, and could be an incredible model for thinking about the many vacant storefronts in Windsor. Homeshop is an apartment, an open studio, and a gallery.

I read about Homeshop in an article in the newest issue of the e-flux journal #5 (which I can absolutely recommend going through in its entirity), and the excitement around the potential of this type of organization and use of space was impossible to ignore.

So why continue to think about the impossibility of affording spaces for individual artists in the city, or the seemingly dwindling support for arts in the city, or any traditional route for production / exhibition? This is not to negate the existing infrastructures we have (and cherish), but just to suggest that there are new models for collective and collaborative space and production that could help Windsor is infinite ways.

What if you could rent a storefront downtown, have a small apartment space in the back, and a studio / gallery up front for the same rent you pay now?

One Day Sculpture

Journée des barricades in New Zealand by Heather and Ivan Morison

Journée des barricades by  Heather and Ivan Morison was installed as part of the ongoing One Day Sculpture exhibition in New Zealand. The barricade, consisting of car wrecks, discarded furniture, and other urban detritus, was installed for 24 hours back in December on a central street in Wellington.

The work is part of the Morison’s ongoing investigation of future catastrophies (and their social implications).

The One Day Sculpture project looks like it’s going to be a really interesting project, featuring 20 newly commissioned projects by its close. I’m just wondering if these sculptures / performances  lasting for one day is just a function of the logistical nature of having public work in a major city centre or is an actual solid conceptual base for the entire exhibition.

6th Annual Fahrenheit Fest

Artcite's Fahrenheit Festival 2008 in LaSalle

Last night was the 6th Annual Fahrenheit Festival, presented by Artcite Inc. and the town of Lasalle. It was incredible to see such a huge crowd, likely around 1200 people or more, out to see fire sculpture. The location was amazing, with 12 sculptures sitting on a little patch of land cutting through the middle of a very large pond, and a nice slope for the audience to sit with a great view of the entire show.

Along with the big burn itself were a series of talks and workshops on fire art, which really rounded out the festival, and for those that were able to make it, helped to give context to the wider ideas of fire art. The scale of an event like this is somewhat staggering, given that Artcite has just two extremely dedicated employees (but thankfully an amazing bunch of volunteers), though what impressed me most is that there is in fact a sizable audience for public creative activity in this area.

Note that this event happened in Lasalle and that Lasalle along with Artcite were successful in writing a Trillium grant to make this happen. I’m not sure of the history of the event, if it was ever attempted in the city of Windsor or not, but it’s inspiring to know that there are places in this region that view the arts as n opportunity for partnership.

Toronto Pedestrian Scramble

Toronto Pedestrian Scramble

On a pretty regular basis, I have to cross our infamous Huron Church Road intersection at College Avenue in order to get to LeBel. If I’m lucky, I’m coming from the West, and only have to cross College. However, there are many times that I have to cross Huron Church itself, fighting the timer (what is it, about 15 seconds?) and drivers making left-hand turns.

In Toronto, they unveiled a new set of pedestrian crossing signals, setup to create a crossing time of 57 seconds and an opportunity to cross in any direction (including diagonally). This change is happening at Yonge and Dundas and is being billed as one of Toronto’s initiatives to make the city more pedestrian-focused. While there are likely problems with this (traffic rerouting itself, many idling cars), I would welcome a change like this in Windsor.

That our city is clearly built around cars is one huge example of just how broken it is. Public transit here is rough (1/2 hour waits for buses after 6pm?), and I give anyone who bicycles on any major street a lot of credit, but how do we begin to look at a problem like the layout of a city on our terms and at our scale?

Image and details [via].

What To Do With Malls When They Die?

Devonshire Mall, Windsor, Ontario from Google Maps

WorldChanging recently wrote about some malls in the US that died (or are in the process of dying) and what was being done with the space afterwards. It seems that some malls are being redesigned as mixed-use developments, with arts/community centres and housing. Reusing existing spaces for this type of redevelopment and activity is surely positive, but it seems that some of these projects are being billed as new downtowns. As most malls are built away from other other development, and many are designed around (or rather within) fields of parking lots, should these spaces really be considered a new “downtown”?

If this happened in Windsor, what might be the results? Devonshire Mall is over 1,000,000 square feet. That’s a lot of space for apartments, studios, galleries, shopping, markets, even a school. However, would this type of development just take the focus away from fixing our downtown (or is it already a lost cause?) Also, more questions would certainly be raised about a private space functioning as public space, as even the sidewalks of a “street” would suddenly be under private ownership. Other spaces in the city like old factories, the Home Depot right beside the mall, and even shutdown churches all seem like they could foster a good type of growth by converting those spaces into (hopefully) accessible places for artists, community groups, and housing. How do we start?


Jennifer Marsh's Gas Station Cozy

Jennifer Marsh's Gas Station Cozy

Jennifer Marsh’s International Fiber Collaborative gathered 3,000 fiber panels to cover an abandoned Citgo gas station in central New York state. The panels were collected from students and artists spread across 15 countries. Very exciting potential for a collaborative public art project. On top of organizing the project, Marsh also gave workshops on how to crochet and make the panels to a number of students in New York and Virginia.


Nuage Vert

Nuage Vert - an environmental visualization project

Nuage Vert was a multi-year project that was first conceived in 2003 and eventually realized on Friday 29th February, 2008, between 7-8pm in Helsinki, Finland by the artist duo,HeHe (Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen). During this time 4,000 local residents reduced their energy consumption by 800 kVA, the equivalent of the power generated by one windmill running for one hour. Using a laser animation, data describing the power consumption of the coal power plant, was projected as an outline of the cloud onto the exhaust from the coal power plant, which grew as power consumption went down. The project was massive in scale, not only physical logistics, but also in creating partnerships between the artists, government, and business.

From HeHe’s website:

“Nuage Vert is based on the idea that public forms can embody an ecological project, materialising environmental issues so that they become a subject within our collective daily lives … Nuage Vert is ambiguous, as it doesn’t offer a simple moralistic message, but rather tries to confront the city dweller with an evocative and aesthetic spectacle, which is open to interpretation and challenges ordinary perception .. [it] alerts the public, generates discussion and can persuade people to change patterns of consumption. ”

The scope of the project is incredible in that they were able to secure the permission necessary to do the projection, as well as having access to the data of energy consumption, and the chance to make this a public event. Not that any of those things should be incredible to achieve… 

Another project that visualizes energy use: Aerophile’s Air Pollution Helium Balloon.