ArtPrize introduces Project 1

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Crown Ether by Olalekan Jeyifous. Photo by Andrew Jorgenson
"Crown Ether" by Olalekan Jeyifous. Photo by Andrew Jorgenson

After 10 years of presenting its annual art competition, which included over 1,400 artists last year, ArtPrize, as we know it, has switched to a biennial competition. In alternate years, it will continue bringing art to the masses with its new “Project” series, featuring citywide art commissions from a carefully selected handful of artists.

Project 1 still is filled with incredible (and yes, very big) art, events and educational opportunities — all still free. This new multisite exhibition continues the local legacy of championing public art, a legacy that started when Alexander Calder’s now-iconic bright red “La Grande Vitesse” arrived 50 years ago.

Amanda Browder
Amanda Browder.
"Spectral Locus" by Amanda Browder. Photo by Tom Loonan
“Spectral Locus” by Amanda Browder. Photo by Tom Loonan

This year, ArtPrize is bringing five accomplished public art leaders to the local stage. Many of the works invite audience participation and all tackle the theme of “Crossed Lines,” which ArtPrize described as “exploring the lines that unite and divide a city and what it means to belong.”

Commissioned artists include Amanda Browder, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Olalekan Jeyifous, Heather Hart, and some of the local powerhouses behind SiTE:LAB: Paul Amenta and Ted Lott, partnering with DisArt, a local disability arts nonprofit.

Olalekan Jeyifous
Olalekan Jeyifous.

Hart’s works include what look to be submerged houses with only the rooftop and attic not swallowed up. This is Hart’s first time including two rooftops: one placed in Rosa Parks Circle and the other, its twin, at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on the city’s southeast side.

Hart is excited about the conversations that can happen between the two neighborhoods with this pair of rooftops, titled “Oracle of the Soulmates.”

Paul Amenta
Paul Amenta.
Ted Lott
Ted Lott.
The Elevate Fashion Show at Hybrid Structures by Paul Amenta and Ted Lott, in collaboration with DisArt. Photo by Nate Umstead
The Elevate Fashion Show at Hybrid Structures by Paul Amenta and Ted Lott, in collaboration with DisArt. Photo by Nate Umstead

“They’re asking the visitors to consider their perspective,” she said. “What happens when the context shifts? … My interest lies in how different audiences interact and how the same audiences interacted with these different spaces. I’m excited to see how people will utilize it.”

And by “utilize,” Hart means everything from planned performances by musicians, actors and dancers to spontaneous meetings and performances that anyone wants to bring to her “threshold spaces.” She calls them “oracles,” which she explained are “anything that you use as a guide for clarity and to ask questions.” Visitors are encouraged to engage with both the rooftop and the “attic” space below it.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.
"Pulse Park" by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Photo by James Ewig
“Pulse Park” by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Photo by James Ewig

Like many of the Project 1 artists, Hart is engaging the audience in those questions of context, belonging and who has power in a space — and creating both literal and metaphorical platforms for that conversation.

“My ultimate goal would be to watch it transform from one thing to the next and back (with the performances and engagements),” Hart said. “I want them to use it as a space to guide themselves, where they are in the world.”

Heather Hart
Heather Hart.
"Oracle of Lacuna" by Heather Hart
“Oracle of Lacuna” by Heather Hart.

Along with Hart’s work downtown and at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE, you’ll find large-scale public artworks scattered around downtown (including along the skywalks and at Rosa Parks Circle), and at the historically art-filled Tanglefoot building, 314 Straight Ave. SW.

Running for longer than the typical three-week explosion of ArtPrize, Project 1 is happening in all three locations from Sept. 7 through Oct. 27. Keep an eye out at artprize.org for events, educational opportunities and more fun to be had — or just go out and explore these fun, thought-provoking, viewer-engaging works and see what you discover. GR

Project 1 events

Sept. 7:

Opening Day Celebration at Rosa Parks Circle

Community Kickoff at Martin Luther King Jr. Park

Drag Syndrome at Wealthy Theatre

Sept. 7 & 8:

Artist Discussions

Sept. 14:

WestSide StreetFair on Broadway

Blue Bridge Music Experience

Pedal Project 1 at Rosa Parks Circle

Sept 28:

Voices at Tanglefoot

All events are free and open to the public. Visit project.artprize.org for details and the full list of events.

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