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Artist to color part of the Loop


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Updated: March 18, 2012 8:17AM

Internationally renowned artist Jessica Stockholder, faculty chairperson of the University of Chicago’s Department of Visual Arts, will “wrap” with her painting, sculpture and perhaps even fabric, a la fabric artist Christo, four buildings at a yet-to-be-announced intersection on State Street in June, the Chicago Loop Alliance said Thursday.

“Christo (known for wrapping in fabric “The Gates” in New York’s Central Park and the Reichstag in Berlin) is a fair comparison since the buildings could be wrapped in fabric or have a decal or vinyl placed on them,” said Chicago Loop Alliance Executive Director Ty Tabing. “It depends on the intersection and the type of material of each building at that intersection.”

The artistic work, titled “Color Jam” and named this summer’s Art Loop attraction, is reminiscent of street art that civic leaders painted on State Street in the 1940s and 1950s, Tabing said.

The artwork, unveiled at the Chicago Loop Alliance’s annual meeting Thursday evening, is aimed at giving passersby the feeling of walking through an animated film.

Stockholder previously served 12 years as director of the sculpture department at the Yale School of Art and has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Dia Center for the Arts and the Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery, all in New York, and at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Power Plant in Toronto, and other international venues.

Her work will serve as a centerpiece of programs such as “Play Jams,” in which improvisational troupes will stage “happenings” that invite public participation, and “Connect Jams,” in which social media users upload and share photos of the art and feed real-time views of the intersection to friends online.

Art Loop launched two years ago with a 30-foot-tall eyeball sculpture at State and Van Buren. It includes Pop-Up Art Loop in which landlords of vacant buildings let local artists turn their properties into temporary galleries and work spaces, brightening what would otherwise be papered-over street-level windows.

State Street visitors also will be seeing and hearing more of the “Lightscape” light sculptures that dot State Street. The sculptures are surrounded by sound speakers that play recorded music and change colors with the tunes.

The year-round sculptures replace Christmas lights that the Chicago Loop Alliance previously spent $150,000 a year installing and then threw away, Tabing said.

“We are using the money more effectively for year-round programming,” he said, since the light sculptures can be programmed to play a variety of holiday-themed songs and serve as centerpieces of activities.

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