Designing Pasadena's Gateway: Finalist Artists Unveil Visions for Glenarm Power Plant Public Art Project

Published : Wednesday, June 7, 2017 | 5:27 AM

Four artist teams, whose works ranged from the subtle to the grand, and from the whimsical to the magnificent, showed off their catalogues Tuesday evening at the Pasadena Central Library. The four – Alice Aycock, Ned Kahn, Peter Tolkin and Yungee Min; and Laura Haddad and Tud Drugan — were named as finalists for the Glenarm Power Plant Public Art Project, “Gateway to Pasadena.”

The City’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Division had been searching for artists to create a large-scale art project for the large and imposing 19-acre power plant facility which sits at the northern terminus of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, the southern entrance to the City.

The four artists/teams recently visited the site itself and are expected to submit their designs to the Arts & Culture Commission, which will make a final decision as to the winning design in October of this year.

As noted in the City’s staff report, the final project “should be experiential, dynamic, and inspiring, making a strong visual statement about the City’s role as a leader in art, science, and technology. It will be seen day and night, and may explore themes of energy, water, and sustainability.”

New York artist and finalist Alice Aycock, who has exhibited around the world and in such prestigious museums as the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, addressed the audience by phone, and discussed her love and fascination with roller coaster and “super dooper looper” ride forms, as well as the power and mystery of wind. Her public sculptures have ranged from a towering 27-foot brushed aluminum tornado on the banks of an upstate New York river, as part of her “Park Avenue Paper Chase” installation on Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. She also built roller coaster frames and shapes as part of an installation alongside East River in New York City. She has built installations and exhibits in municipal buildings and airports around the nation.

The team of Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan showed off a fascination with the play of lights on structures, as their installations featured art pieces which interacted with not only natural light, but electric lights placed among art pieces in several cities around the world. The pair also designed and installed a tribute to the Cumberland River in Downtown Nashville, using the play of natural light on the river as a jumping off point, according to Drugan.

Artist Ned Kahn, the recipient of a 2003 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, displayed a series of large-scale works, built, as he told the audience, “of very simple ideas and technology.” Said Kahn, “My grandmother’s home in upstate New York, where she still lives, is filled with simple technology like hinges. I’ve used thousands and thousands of hinges in my work.” Kahn showed impressive works done in Singapore with cooling towers, as well as his whimsical “Cloud Arbor” water system, which creates “clouds” every few minutes in a public square in Minnesota.

“In the winter, it makes steam,” he told the audience.

Local residents Peter Tolkin, an architect, and visual artist Yunhee Min, have both created large-scale public installations nation-wide. Tolkin created the
Claremont Village Square Fountain in concrete, brass, plants, water, a climbable public art project complete with whimsical dinosaur-like figures in and around the structure. Min has also created large scale works in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center as well as “For Instance,” a 94-foot high installation of velour curtains and curtain tracks at the Hammer Museum in Westwood.

A contract is expected to be awarded to the winning artist or artists in November and the work is expected to be completed in October 2018, according to Rochelle Branch, Cultural Affairs manager of the Planning and Community Development Department.



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