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VOL. 5, NO. 2 -- SPRING 2003
Use Your Feet: The Art of Walking
downtown Milwaukee, Wis., bronze medallions embedded in the sidewalks
provide markers and an urban pathway for walkers along the riverfront.
Completed with a percent for art program in the mid-1990s and administered
through the riverfront redevelopment agency and public art board, the
medallions feature children's drawings cast in bronze. Students at a local
school completed drawings that reflect the children's interpretations
of the river in their city. A local artist cast the drawings into the
bronze medallions that were then installed into the sidewalk pavement.
The medallions, which can be followed along the majority of the riverfront,
are a simple and fun way to increase the audience for art. In the case
of Milwaukee, the success of the medallions and the success of the riverfront
revitalization have led to additional, larger-scale public art projects
including gateway pieces and temporary art exhibitions held during the
Sometimes walking involves waiting -- waiting at a
stoplight, waiting for the bus or trolley, or waiting at the transit stop
for the train home. In Portland, Ore., along the length of the Westside
Light Rail Project, several public art projects take advantage of the
captive audience of a passenger waiting for a train. Commissioned through
a percent for art program managed by the Westside MAX Art Advisory Committee,
many of the integrated public art projects are in, over or under the transit
station's platform. Planners and designers like to use site-specific projects
to reinforce identify of a place and contribute to the neighborhood's
connection to transit. When many of the template-designed elements are
repeated throughout a project, artist-designed enhancements create unique
remembrances. At the Willow Creek/SW 185th Transit Center, the design
team created word puzzles that act as rugs or carpets under the light
Wachovia's new pocket park project, "The Green," features game boards embedded along the brick-paved pathway through the park. Located in downtown Charlotte, N.C., headquarters for the newly merged First Union and Wachovia Banks, the urban park is constructed over a parking garage and integrates ground-floor retail, office and residential development. The public art projects incorporate whimsical and fun interactive games centered on the themes of reading and literature as a complement to Wachovia's corporate commitment to public education and early childhood literacy. Nationally known public artist Carolyn Braaksma designed a hopscotch board with words that change with the addition or deletion of one letter. The games, sometimes riddles or word transformations, challenge the occasional visitor, spark the imagination of children and engage many a walker in the park.