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Public Art Installations To Be Unveiled In Partnership With the National Cherry Blossom Festival

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) have partnered with the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Centennial Celebration from March 20–April 27, 2012, to increase the visibility of Washington, DC’s art landscape as a world-class cultural destination. The project, entitled 5×5, will exhibit 25 ground-breaking public art installations commissioned by artists from around the world. 5×5 is to be installed concurrently throughout the District of Columbia to activate and enliven publicly accessible spaces and add a layer of creativity and artistic expression. Projects will span all eight wards in the District for the one million plus people expected to take part in the nation’s greatest springtime celebration.

March 2012 marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. The cherry blossoms are a symbol in Japanese culture that indicates rebirth. The Festival commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC. Several 5×5 art projects involved in the celebration highlight the cherry blossoms including:

  • The Cherry Blossom Cloud by Charles Juhasz-Alvarado, a large-scale temporary public sound sculpture fashioned in the shape of a xylophone from cherry wood that will be situated outside the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Drumsticks will be available nearby for passers-by to activate the work by playing a melody or creating their own musical work.
  • 1×1 is a relational art piece and an emotional catalyst connecting the visitors for the Cherry Blossom Festival with tsunami victims by Office Of Experiments. In phase one of the two-phase performance art piece, Office of Experiments will be handing out prints that are symbolic of the tsunami at media and embassy sites to remember the victims affected. In phase two, students from the Corcoran College of Art and Design will pour 1,000 vials symbolic of Japanese tears on cherry blossom trees throughout the city. Each vial will have a number that can be tracked online.
  • Cath Campbell’s Marathon is a working scale-model of the original cable car from Mt Hiei, Japan—source of the 3000 cherry trees donated to Washington, DC in 1912. Threading through the concrete pillars of the Yards Park Lumbershed, Marathon draws attention to the scale and empty volume of a building that is emblematic of wider social shifts away from manufacturing towards a leisure and recreation-led regeneration.

Five national and international curators were selected to work with five artists each to create a public artwork ultimately producing twenty-five temporary installations. These five curators lead the 5×5 implementation process and oversee each artist’s conceptual intent. The installations are of varying durations, but they will not exceed four months.

  • Curator Amy Lipton’s (New York, NY) 5×5 project titled “BiodiverCITY.”
  • Curator Justine Topfer’s (San Francisco, CA) 5×5 project is titled “Betwixt & Between.”
  • Curator Richard Hollinshead’s (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK) 5×5 project is titled “Magnificent Distance.”
  • Curator Laura Roulet’s (Washington, DC) 5×5 project is titled “Activate => Participate.”
  • Curator Steve Rowell’s (Los Angeles, CA) 5×5 project is titled “Suspension of Disbelief.”

For a schedule of 5×5 events, and information about participating artists and organizations, please visit www.the5x5project.com.

About the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities provides grants, professional opportunities, education enrichment, and other programs and services to individuals and nonprofit organizations in all communities within the District of Columbia. The Arts Commission is supported primarily by District government funds and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ DC Creates! Public Art Program purchases, commissions, and installs artworks for public sites throughout the District of Columbia. The DC Creates! Public Art mission is to maintain a quality public collection of diverse media and to create a dynamic, vibrant, nurturing community through art and design.

About the National Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is the nation’s greatest springtime celebration. The 2012 Festival, March 20—April 27, includes five spectacular weeks of events featuring diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit. The 2012 Festival commemorates the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.

Complete List of Artists and Exhibits

Curator Amy Lipton (New York, NY) is co-director of ecoartspace, a bi-coastal non-profit organization that creates opportunities for addressing environmental issues through the arts since 1999. Amy’s 5×5 project titled BiodiverCITY includes:

  • Dates: March 25th–July 25th - Butterfly Bridge by artist Natalie Jeremijenko will provide butterflies an intervention to help navigate obstacles and barriers in urban settings. The bridge will demonstrate possibilities of re-imagining our urban infrastructure to account for the diverse species that we share space and resources.
  • Dates: March 20th–July 20th - p:ARK by Tattfoo Tan is a large walkable labyrinth in an open grass field that has been left un-mowed to grow wild with weeds, grasses and other volunteer plants.
  • Dates: March 24th–June 10th - Love Motel For Insects is a captivating outdoor light installation by Brandon Ballengée that forms giant dragonfly wings at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. The work uses ultraviolet lights on large blank fabric to attract insects and creates an opportunity for public interactions with nocturnal arthropods, which are not often seen.
  • Dates: March 20th–July 20th - Natural Wishing by Chrysanne Stathacos enables participants to connect with “wishing actions” from around the world. The public will be able to tie a wish to a tree at the Textile Museum, Hill Center and Sasha Bruce, a non-profit that provides homes for homeless children. People will also be able to call a number advertised on dozens of buses touring DC to leave or hear wishes.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - Habitat For Artists has built small, temporary, 6 by 6 foot art studios made from recycled and reclaimed materials to engage local artists and youth groups to take an active role in participating both inside and outside of the habitat.  The Habitats will be installed at TheArc.

Curator Justine Topfer (San Francisco, CA) of Out Of The Box Projects is an Australian-born curator who works internationally. Justine’s project name for 5×5 is Betwixt & Between, referring to the artists breathing new life into the ordinary, reinvigorating the fabric of the urban environment.

  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - Using recycled material, Home Mender by Monica Canilao creates a cacophony of color, texture and movement. She will breathe new life into Anacostia, imbuing it with her warm handmade aesthetic. Canliao and crew will gather discarded refuse and create a surreal installation, infused with Native American references, which transport the viewer to a dreamlike world.
  • Dates: March 22nd at 7 pm - Ben-Hur by Jefferson Pinder continues his investigation of dynamic movement at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.  Accompanied by DJ Tony Tech, six performers will exert their masculine virility and physical prowess. While referencing the historical, social and political issues, which underscore ‘blackness,’ Ben-Hur speaks to a broader narrative and conveys through evocative kinesthesia our collective experience of human predicament and struggle.
  • Dates: First workshop: March 30th–April 1st - Rebar will develop an artist-led community engagement project which responds to the Central 14th Neighborhood revitalization strategy. 5×5 will kick off this series by initiating a public forum on utilizing city streets for purposes other then transportation. This process will end by building urban street furniture for the Colorado Art Plaza.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - REMEMBER ME by Reko Rennie, a highly acclaimed Australian street artist will create a text-based neon wall painting. Reko will utilize his diamond iconography in a contemporary context, drawing inspiration from his Aboriginal heritage. Through this universal statement – REMEMBER ME, Reko references the original inhabitants of the land.
  • Dates: March 20th–May 20th - Using vivid geometric shapes and patterns reminiscent of American folk art and quilt work, artist Clare Rojas creates narrative paintings focused on the relationships between men, women, society, and nature. Melding craft and fine art with unparalleled verve, the exterior of the National Museum for the Women in the Arts will be transformed.

Curator Laura Roulet (Washington, DC) is an independent curator and writer, specializing in contemporary and Latin American art. Laura’s 5×5 exhibition is titled Activate => Participate for which she has chosen to work almost entirely with local artists to create communal, multi-sensory experiences for diverse audiences.

  • Dates: Workshops at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW), April 2, 4, 6; and April 14. On-going action at Garfield Park - With Finding a Line, Ben Ashworth will work with local youths to teach them stewardship of their own environment, how to transform that environment, and creative skills like building and video filming/editing. This work will employ Ben’s method of forming a skate community in DC; building skateboards and transforming a public space into a skate park in Garfield Park.
  • Dates: Corcoran Gallery of Art March 17th from 10 am–5 pm and The Pepco Edison Place Gallery March 25th from 12 pm–7 pm – The “ReMuseum” by The Floating Lab Collective is a participatory, mobile experiment that investigates museum processes such as collecting, valuing and displaying objects. Through discussions with DC communities, such as Deanwood, Brentwood, Petworth and Anacostia, the Floating Lab Collective selected and replicated personal objects of value. These objects, along with unique stories delivered by their owners, will be displayed in a retrofitted taco truck.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - For Charles Juhasz-Alvarado’s Cherry Blossom Cloud, please see description under page 1 of press release.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - Patrick McDonough is a multimedia artist, whose “Painted Rock Hunt Game,” a geocaching game, will spread all eight wards. Using the Internet and GPS technology as a platform for public art, McDonough will leave clues on a website revealing the location of eight “caches” of his artwork. This scavenger hunt/art itinerary will lead seekers to piles of encoded stones hidden in various sites ranging from parks, libraries, museums and private galleries. As they log in their finds, participants are encouraged to continue seeking the other sites. McDonough will reward those who visit every site with a certificate of achievement. Website address: www.prhg.net
  • Dates: April 5th at University of the District of Columbia and April 13th at Old Post Office Pavilion - Though still a student at Howard University, Wilmer Wilson IV has already staged successful performances at Hillyer Art Space and the (e) merge art fair in the district. Wilson will create a suite of performances based on the historic 19th century figure Henry “Box” Brown, a slave from Richmond, Virginia (the artist’s hometown), who mailed himself to freedom in the North by paying to be shipped in a crate. Wilson will cover himself with three grades of postage stamps and walk into post offices, asking to be mailed.

Curator Richard Hollinshead (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK,) Director of Grit & Pearl is an artist, designer and curator, and holds a BA, MA and PhD by Practice with a specialism in contemporary projects for heritage landscapes. Richard’s 5×5 project is titled Magnificent Distance.

  • Dates: March 20th–April 1st - For Cath Campbell’s Marathon please see description under page 1 of press release.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - Spore by Ben Jeans Houghton is both an enigmatic object overlooking the National Building Museum’s Great Hall, and a viewing device through which something unseen yet fundamental is revealed within that space. In biology, once a single spore is released it has the potential to develop into a new organism, and similarly, the Spore artwork promotes a shift in the way we perceive our everyday environments.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - Jo Ray’s Spoken For employs text fragments selected from across DC for their capacity to suggest a meaning other than the author’s original intention. A fish market stall proudly boasts that ‘Our Crabs Have No Sand’ and a derelict shop bears the peeling legend ‘Rescue Workers’, but divorced from their context and placed into the shadow of the Washington Monument these disposable snippets of text assume new meanings more reminiscent of protest and political activism.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. Library of Congress screening on April 24th and 26th - Hawk and Dove by Isabella Streffen refers in part to the residency of a Cooper’s Hawk in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress in 2010, and archive images of the Graf Zeppelin near the Capitol in 1928. Isabella Streffen’s Hawk and Dove is a film using footage shot from two 7ft remote-controlled zeppelins—the Hawk and the Dove—engaged in a balletic ‘dogfight’ at the Library of Congress and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. Hawk and Dove explores the corridors of power and the role of knowledge in the shaping of political debate.
  • Dates: March 20th– April 27th - Res Publica by Wolfgang Weileder is a socially engaged project that uses the Supreme Court of the United States as the symbol for concepts of social justice—literally the ‘shelter’ under which citizens are protected. Students at the Corcoran College of Art & Design will construct a number of human-scale cardboard models of the Supreme Court of the United States for installation at various locations throughout DC, a free construction manual for making the models available via a unique version of newspaper vending boxes, and a limited-edition artwork will raise funds for DC’s homeless community.

Curator Steve Rowell (Los Angeles, CA) is an artist, curator, and researcher working in and between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Rowell’s project, Suspension of Disbelief,  investigates the fringes of the monumental core: airspaces, zones of exclusion, perimeters, liminal landscapes, waterways, shorelines, perceived non-places, and lesser-known or overlooked (sometimes even conspicuously absent) memorials, around the National Mall and along the federal periphery.

  • Dates: March 20th–April 25th - Deborah Stratman & Steven Badgett’s Polygonal Address (PA) System is a monumental floating platform, anchored at the Gangplank Marina and the waters behind the Titanic Memorial. This solar-powered sound system will feature a wide range of historic sound recordings, such as public addresses given during the 1932 Bonus Army protests on the National Mall. It will also provide a platform for guest sound programming by local, DC-based musicians, speakers, and artists.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - Sight Lines by Lize Mogel, whose practice is concentrated on cartographic representations and public actions/interventions/tours, will develop tours which traverse places that are practically invisible, unnoticed, underground, or hidden in plain sight. Some routes visit familiar historic sights or seemingly mundane parts of everyday life; presenting them in new contexts. A custom-designed map, which can be easily transformed into a viewing scope, will be available free to the public at key distributions points at all DC Public Libraries.
  • Dates: March 24th, 2012 - Berlin-based artist collective, KUNSTrePUBLIK will create Fountains of DC a group of wooden mobile replicas of the Temperance Foundation located in Penn Quarter. KUNSTrePUBLIK’s work is inspired by the relationships of two significant periods in DC’s history – the Temperance Movement and the Straight Edge punk rock music scene. Both periods share similar values of social reform, activism and counter culture—all influential elements of the project, which will be used as focal points for inspirational public gatherings, musical events and community dialogues.
  • Dates: March 20th–April 27th - For 1×1 by the Office Of Experiments please see description under page 1 of press release.
  • Dates: TBD - Charles Stankievech will be presenting Over and Out, a shortwave radio repeater station installed within the District. The public will be invited to listen to the stream of real-time shortwave radio signals captured with a customized array of equipment, installed in a building that was used as an art gallery and, allegedly, an FBI listening post from the early 1970s to the early 90s.