Bloomington, Ind. – The City of Bloomington’s longstanding commitment to the arts will produce four major public artworks in 2021, as the city recovers from the pandemic and its distressing effects on the economy and the arts. Projects at the Trades District, Switchyard Park, the Trades District Garage and the Fourth Street Garage, funded through the One Percent for the Arts Ordinance mechanism, will be installed this year. An expanded search process and creative funding arrangements have resulted in a selection of works by a diverse range of artists.
Adopted in 1994, the One Percent for the Arts Ordinance (Bloomington Municipal Code section 2.12. 021) stipulates that at least one percent of the cost of construction for selected capital projects be used for public art at those projects or elsewhere. Bloomington was the first city in the State of Indiana to adopt an ordinance of this nature. Just since 2016, the City has invested at least $635,000 in public art through the ordinance.
Annual arts grants funded through the Bloomington Arts Commission (BAC) and the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association (BUEA) and additional opportunities created for the hard-hit arts sector through Mayor John Hamilton’s Recover Forward initiative, combine with the One Percent for the Arts Ordinance to help sustain the arts economy and add ambitious and innovative public artworks in Bloomington.
“Bloomington is a world-renowned cultural destination and we are committed to sustaining and nurturing the visual and performing arts here,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “That means investing in art and artists, from a broad range of backgrounds. I am grateful to the continued support of City Council and our residents, to partners like CDFI Friendly Bloomington and the BUEA for creating additional opportunities. I thank the arts commission for their leadership. These great additions to our public art landscape will enrich our daily lives and reinforce our identity as an arts capital.”
The BAC’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process offers artists with little or no previous experience creating large-scale public works of art the opportunity to connect with Indiana-based fabrication services and funding through a partnership with CDFI Friendly Bloomington to realize their proposals for consideration. The process has helped new and emerging artists of all backgrounds participate in the public art landscape and provided an opportunity for their professional growth.
“The projects stemming from the One Percent for the Arts Ordinance in the upcoming months are the culmination of a revamped RFQ process that seeks to identify and support artists that will strengthen our communal voice as a beautiful and creative city,” said BAC Chair Bryony Gomez-Palacio. “As we slowly emerge from this trying year we look forward to the work developed by each artist, produced by Indiana-based fabricators, to be unveiled alongside local talent.”
At the ribbon-cutting for the Trades District Garage on April 17 at 10 a.m., those attending will have the opportunity to collaborate in the process of creating the artwork commissioned for that facility: Aurora Almanac, by Esteban Garcia Bravo in partnership with Weber, Inc. Designed for installation in the garage’s stairwells, the piece comprises murals of three-dimensional tile work of geometric designs lit in shifting colors. At the April 17 event and additional workshops, participants can design their own tiles to be included in the piece; updates are posted at www.snebtor.org/auroraalmanac. The budget for this project, scheduled for completion in fall 2021, is $75,000.
I am super excited to have my first permanent public sculpture in the City of Bloomington,” said Garcia Bravo, originally from Colombia, who now lives and works in Lafayette and teaches at Purdue University. “It has been the best school for learning a lot about the creation of a project of this scale. Through the information provided in the RFQ, I was able to meet Weber Group Inc., an amazing fabrication company in Sellersburg, Indiana, that is very passionate about my project. Additionally, the City of Bloomington has provided me with all the resources to make this project possible, including connecting me with CDFI Friendly Bloomington to get a financial loan to get the project started.
Scheduled for completion in May 2021, an interactive artwork installation on the western side of the Switchyard Park spray pad building will be an abstract representation of the historical switchyard and Bloomington’s history as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Created by TIII Environments with lead artist Rachel Kavathe, North Star and Hoosier Line will feature powder-coated steel markers with starburst patterns marking the Big Dipper constellation and the North Star, used for navigation for those who traveled the Underground Railroad. An information panel will provide a QR code and weblink for more information on the history of this era. The budget for this project is $60,000.
Integral to the architectural design of the replacement Fourth Street Garage is custom artwork across the facade of the structure comprising almost 9,000 aluminum panels. Urban Fabric, a work by Project One Studio with fabrication by Ignition Arts draws inspiration from the traditional art of quilting, representing the diversity and inclusiveness of the city through form, color, and pattern. This budget-conscious art element minimizes material waste through its fabrication process. The garage and the artwork are scheduled for completion in late summer 2021. The budget for this art project is $385,000.
Stefan Reiss’ O.T. 987 will mark the Trades District Gateway Plaza, in Bloomington’s newest employment hub and cultural destination. This modern sculpture by the internationally exhibiting, Berlin-based Reiss activates its surroundings through the use of light. Fabricated by Ignition Arts, this piece features square tubes arranged in intersecting triangular forms which vary in height, into which LEDs are installed. The lights are programmed in sequences that vary over time and provide interest at night as well as during the day. The budget for this project, scheduled for completion by winter 2021, is $115,000 with additional support from the BUEA.