With construction looming on the city hall/library/senior center project at 180 Market St., the Public Art Selection Committee is in the process of choosing an artist to create a large-scale art installation. The committee received 31 qualifications and, based on the selection criteria in their call to artists, they have selected four finalists to submit proposals.
The proposals vary greatly from each other, offering four different concepts: “Light,” “Momentous Clock,” “Check it out!” and “Bloom.”
“The committee will consider public input, the merits of each proposal and a technical review (exclusive of aesthetics) by the project team and also Public Works, in making their recommendation,” said Project Director Ilona Blanchard.
Proposal 1: “Light”
This reflective art piece would include both a hanging structure descending from the skylight, as well as pieces incorporated into the stair railings and balustrade. The latter portions would be replacing the glass panels currently planned for the stairs. The pieces would change colors depending on the light being reflected — daylight, sun or artificial light. The focal point — the piece extending down from the skylight — would create a spectrum of colors.
“The metaphor is that knowledge comes to us in a radiant light,” the artist Suikang Zhao explained.
The panels also feature text, which would be chosen based on community feedback.
“It is part of my philosophy that public art needs to have a connection to the public that utilize the facility,” Zhao said. “It is important to have people involved and aware that they are a part of the creative process.”
Zhao was born in Shanghai, China, in 1956. He came to the States in 1986 as a graduate student at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. He ended up transferring to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, where he earned his MFA.
Learn more about the artist: http://zhaosuikang.com/.
Proposal: “Momentous Clock”
The only Vermonter to make the final four is Phil Godenschwager of Randolph. His concept, aptly titled “Momentous Clock,” would focus on one central piece that greets library patrons as they walk through the entrance.
“A town clock has historically been a centerpiece of village life,” Godenschwager said.
The front of the clock has a spiral maple leaf pattern to give the face a traditional round shape, while the rest of the sides would be square. The leaves will be made of stained glass, with colors going from springtime yellows and greens to autumn reds and oranges. As the hands near 9 p.m., the leaves become rusty, brown shades, before turning into white leaves to symbolize the long Vermont winter.
One of the other sides of the clock features a night sky scene, while the other two show scenes from everyday life. With help from the committee and the community, Godenschwager hopes to gather photographs that he can recreate as “high contrast silhouette style illustrations.” These, too, would be painted on glass and mounted at varying levels.
“The effect would be like looking at a photo album,” Godenschwager explained.
One last detail they are considering is adding an ivy vine that extends from the top of the clock up toward the skylight.
Learn more about the artist: http://www.philgodenschwager.com/
Proposal: “Check it out!”
Unlike the other options, Madeline Wiener’s sculpture would be placed outside the library in the planned nook near the entrance. “Check it out!” would feature a functional bench carved to look like a woman, as well as a couple of books stacked up to provide another seating option. The figure of the woman would be placed in front of the small garden in the nook, opposite the book return.
“Her friendly gesture and her stature will be visible from afar,” Wiener says. “She will offer a seat to anyone who is passing by or waiting for a ride, or perhaps someone who has just checked out a book or who is returning a book.”
Wiener also hopes the community will get involved in the process, specifically via workshops where she discusses her piece and asks people to help her finish the project.
“I invite everyone to participate by going over the sculptures with a fine cloth, used to help buff out any residue that might have lingered from their journey to the setting at 180 Market Street,” Wiener says. “This gives the people the experience of finishing a sculpture. At that time, I will explain how the sculptures were created and hand out chips from the stone.”
Also an alumni of the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Wiener now resides in Colorado where she is the founder and director of the Marble Institute of Colorado.
Learn more about the artist: https://madelinewiener.com
In Plain Sight Art Studio, located in Minneapolis and made up of collaborating artists Amy Baur and Brian Boldon, brings a vibrant installation that would be seen throughout the stairwell, including the second floor railings. The pieces, which are 3D printed porcelain forms laminated with kilnformed glass, look like flower petals. Some of these petals will feature text. The proposal estimates 100-120 blooms. LED track lighting would result in a creation of color, text and image projections on to the walls below each petal.
Although the pieces will be easily viewed from both the landing and through the banister on the second floor, they will be out of reach from patrons using the stairs.
The artists call the piece “celebratory, full of promise and adds to the identity of your new downtown hub.”
“‘Bloom’s conceptual underpinnings relate to the new growth and future prosperity of South Burlington. The act of blooming marks seasonal passing of time and also generational milestones,” they explain. “The artwork is uplifting and marks well the moment when South Burlington reinvigorates and regenerates its community identity.”
Learn more about the artists: https://www.inplainsightart.com
The committee will meet at 6 p.m. on May 16 at City Hall on Dorset Street to conduct artist interviews, discuss and consider action with a recommendation. The public is welcome to attend.