Downtown seen from a different vantage

First public art project to be introduced next Friday
Feb. 28, 2013 @ 12:28 PM

Beginning in March, visitors and residents who stroll in downtown Chapel Hill can register their belongings at Stacey Kirby’s “The Declaration Project,” use their smart phones to scan and explore Parasol B’s “Depiction” installation and ponder illustrator Franco’s “Everyday People” exhibit.

Mary Carter Taub’s “Mobile Mural,” a painting that will be wrapped around a working Chapel Hill Transit bus, will be on view throughout town as the bus makes regular rounds.

All four exhibits are part of Chapel Hill’s first downtown public art project, titled “Windows on Chapel Hill” and “Mobile Mural.” An opening reception for the artists and their works will be held Friday at Vimala’s Curryblossom Café on West Franklin Street.

A committee chose the works for the project, which is a partnership of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and the town’s Public and Cultural Arts Office. Organizers want the installations to draw people downtown and encourage them to see downtown in a new light, said Steve Wright, public art coordinator for the town of Chapel Hill.

Rather than choose to create a sculpture or other permanent piece, the committee picked works they thought would involve viewers, Wright said. While sculpture and other permanent art can engage viewers, “the idea that public art can be temporary and does not have to last for centuries is a catalyst for artists to be risky and it keeps things new and fresh,” he said.

Kirby’s “Declaration Project,” which she also installed at a previous Durham Art Walk, is one example of this engagement. Kirby will set up an old-fashioned office in the Yates Motor Company Building, 419 W. Franklin St. Participants are asked to fill out a form and declare the belongings they are carrying. These declarations are filed on index cards. Visitors can look through the cards left by previous participants. The exhibit is meant to inspire dialogue among participants about the meaning of belongings, obsolete machines and objects, and the purpose of art, according to Kirby’s website.

Artist Parasol B’s “Depiction” invites interaction from smart phone users. Parasol uses paint, photography and other media. Phone users may scan a barcode on the paintings, then follow a set of instructions for staging or composing a photo and submitting it for a community-created photo collection.

The main location for “Depiction” is Vimala’s Curryblossom Café, 431 W. Franklin St., but in an email Parasol stated that visitors also may find barcodes at Kirby’s installation on the side of the Yates Motor building and near Franco’s exhibit at 108 E. Franklin St. To find the barcode near Franco’s exhibit, visitors may walk northwest on Franklin Street from Walgreen's to the next alley where there is a large black and white mural next to the Carolina Coffee Shop.

Franco, according to his website, “synthesizes art and activism to form a genre all his own - visual activism.” His exhibit “Everyday People” contains faces of people of different complexions and genders, all with happy expressions, which are intended to “convey a sense of pride and a state of harmony.”

At Friday’s opening reception, visitors will get a first look at Taub’s “Mobile Mural.” Taub took images from town maps and placed them on a medium that is wrapped around a transit bus. The exhibit, according to a press release, combines form and function by “blurring the boundary between art and everyday life.”

Go and Do

WHAT: Opening reception for “Windows on Chapel Hill”

WHEN: Friday, March 8, 6 to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Vimala’s Curryblossom Café, 431 W. Franklin St.

ADMISSION: Free

ALSO: The “Mobile Mural” will be parked at 421 W. Franklin St. during the reception