Category: public art

The Cuddly – A Large Teddy Bear Out in Public

The Cuddly – A Large Teddy Bear Out in Public

In Warsaw Poland, there is a large number of historic public monuments that recognize past events of the last century.  Some of the monuments recognize wartime experiences, while others bring up social and political issues.

Artist Iza Rtukowska of the Forms and Shapes Foundation decided to create a sculpture that could be placed near Polish monuments, in order to “denunk them” and encourage interaction and dialogue.  Her work The Cuddly is a giant teddy bear that has been placed near monuments and other public places, and invites others to interact and play in its presence.

The huge teddy bear is made of fabric and foam, and has been placed in various locations in Poland, and is scheduled to be placed in other locations.  You can see Video of the making of the piece, and read more about the project on The The Forms and Shapes Foundation Website.


The Forms and Shapes Foundation

Video of the making of The Cuddly


Park(ing) Day  – Use a Parking Space as a Public Space

Park(ing) Day – Use a Parking Space as a Public Space

Park(ing) Day is a urban intervention project that occurs each September, where people put money in a parking meter and instead of parking, use the space to create their own public park.  People will use the space to lay down grass sod, park a boat, or to gather and enjoy a picnic lunch.

The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global event, with groups and individuals creating new forms of temporary public space in urban places around the world.

In recent years, parking spaces have been used to create free health clinics, temporary urban farms, sites to show ecology demonstrations, art installations, free bike repair shops and as a location for a wedding ceremony.

The Parking Day website reports that in 2011 there were 975 parks created in 162 cities in 35 countries.  If you are interested in planning a Park(ing) Day event for next year, you can download the Park(ing)Day Manual to get ready and rally for next year’s event.  What would you do in your own public space?



The Park(ing)Day Manual 





Outdoor Mural of a Tree Appears When Splashed with Water

Outdoor Mural of a Tree Appears When Splashed with Water

I live near Chapel Hill, NC a city that has over 30 outdoor public painted murals on buildings and walls. Some of the murals that I regularly see include a wall with giant prehistoric turtles and a long wall with a giant pencil painted on it.

Most murals are made with paint that you can see day and night, but artist Adam Niklewicz created a new approach to murals for a public art project in Hartford Connecticut.  Using water repelling Rust-Oleum paint, he created a large image of an oak tree called The Charter Oak that is only seen when it is wet.

On many days, the mural can not be seen, but when the wall is covered with water the large image of a oak tree is visible.  For The Charter Oak mural to be seen, water must hit the wall directly rather than be sprinkled from above, so 5 sprinklers were set up to spray water on the mural once a day.

The tree image is inspired by a painting from 1957 by Charles De Wolf called the Charter Oak.  The tree is said to be a tree that grew for thousands of years on a hill in Connecticut and contains the Charter of 1662 hidden in its hollowed-out trunk.

The mural when it appears looks like a large ghost-like tree that stays visible for a few hours, and disappears as it dries.


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Ballroom Luminoso:  Chandeliers made of Recycled Bike Parts and LEDs

Ballroom Luminoso: Chandeliers made of Recycled Bike Parts and LEDs

In Cleveland, where I last lived, there were several bridge underpasses that were dark and uninviting, that I always tried to avoid at night, since they were dark and seemed unsafe.  They also tended to be dirty, and had puddles and mud underneath.  I recently read about a public art project that was not this year in San Antonio, Texas that transformed an underpass area with unique color changing chandeliers.

Ballroom Luminoso is a series of six globes, each of which is 48” in diameter, that are made of a custom-designed LED light fixture, upcycled bike parts, and steel.  The piece uses shadows and colored light to transform the underpass space into a dramatic shadow space.  The images cast iclude repeating circles and sprockets and gears, and the chandeliers transform an ordinary underpass into a unique colorful space filled with light and shape.

The project references the area’s past, present, and future and imagery that includes the community’s agricultural history, strong Hispanic heritage, and growing environmental movement are included in each piece.   The medallions are a play on the iconography of La Loteria (a board game with cards), which has become a icon of Hispanic culture. Utilizing traditional symbols like La Escalera (the Ladder), La Rosa (the Rose), and La Sandía (the Watermelon) in the work, the piece alludes to the neighborhood’s farming roots and horticultural achievements. Each character playfully rides a bike acting as a metaphor for the neighborhood’s environmental progress, its concurrent eco-restoration projects, and its developing cycling culture.

I was looking at some websites with my niece, and her and I were both drawn to this piece, which can be seen at the intersection of Theo and Malone with I-35 in San Antonio.  The artists behind the work Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock have done other interesting public art pieces, and you can check out Ballroom Luminosos and their other works on their site.


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Evol:  Miniature Apartment Building Street Art

Evol: Miniature Apartment Building Street Art

Ever walk down the street and see a small apartment building on the street? German artist Evol makes “apartment art “ which is made by by building structures out of lockboxes or cardboard, or working directly on a wall.  He then uses paint and stencils to make structures that look exactly like prefab apartment buildings.   He will draw in details such as balconies and satellite dishes which make it look realistic.

The artist, who lives and works in Berlin, grew up in a German suburb, and sees the pieces as being portraits of the area that he grew up in.  Many of the buildings were not renovated, and were places that showed a visible history of the residents, and the artist says that they “told stories of the people who lived there.”

Most street art is 2d, so these 3d structures stand out in terms of being public art.  You can see more images of his work on his website at

It is hard to see in pictures what the pieces are – since they look so realistic.

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