Theaster Gates Among Winners of Bloomberg’s Public Art Challenge

Public Art Challenge winner Current: LA River, in Los Angeles (rendering). Photo: courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Public Art Challenge winner Current: LA River, in Los Angeles (rendering). Photo: courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the winners of Public Art Challenge, which debuted last fall. The organization offers cities across the US $1 million each to create public art that will support creativity and cultural growth.

Two hundred thirty seven applications were submitted, but grant winners from just four cities were selected: Los Angeles; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Gary, Indiana; and a shared proposal from Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York.

“Great public art strengthens cities by making them more exciting and attractive places to live, work, and visit,” said Michael Bloomberg in a press release. “Public art can also help us to see urban challenges in a new light—and imagine new solutions.”

Public Art Challenge winner Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light, from Erwin Redl, in Spartanburg, South Carolina (rendering). Photo: courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Public Art Challenge winner Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light, from Erwin Redl, in Spartanburg, South Carolina (rendering).
Image: courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.

To that end, Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light, from Austrian light artist Erwin Redl, will include a number of LED light installations aimed at making the South Carolina city a safer and more culturally vibrant place.

In Gary, Indiana, Theaster Gates will create a new cultural center on the site of an abandoned building for Art House: A Social Kitchen, in the same vein as his award–winning work in his hometown of Chicago.

Public Art Challenge winner Art House: A Social Kitchen by Theaster Gates in Gary, Indiana (rendering). Photo: courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Public Art Challenge winner Art House: A Social Kitchen by Theaster Gates in Gary, Indiana (rendering).
Image: courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.

In Los Angeles, Current: LA River will address environmental concerns; Marc Pally, artistic director of Glow in Santa Monica, will curate the project, commissioning artwork and public programs for the city’s first Public Art Biennial.

And Breathing Lights will illuminate 300 vacant homes in the Albany area, drawing attention to urban decay and housing issues. The project is the brainchild of artist Adam Frelin and architect Barbara Nelson, who had each submitted individual proposals, before Bloomberg suggested they combine forces.

All four projects need to be completed within two years, and the cities must supplement the grant money with independently-raised funds.

Public Art Challenge winner Breathing Lights, Adam Frelin and architect Barbara Nelson, in Albandy, Troy and Schenectady, New York (rendering). Photo: courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Public Art Challenge winner Breathing Lights, Adam Frelin and architect Barbara Nelson, in Albany, Troy and Schenectady, New York (rendering).
Image: courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.


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