ON THE RISE
ART CAN REVITALIZE URBAN LANDMARKS
that might otherwise get erased. Two evocative installations — a temporary site-specific work in a historic industrial pavilion in Portland, Oregon,
and an adaptive reuse of a former church in San Francisco — vividly
illustrate the growing potential.
IN PORTLAND LAST FALL during Converge 45/Art on the 45th Parallel,
the city’s annual visual arts gathering now in its fourth cycle, the defunct
Centennial Mills flour factory with its iconic water tower came alive
with an infusion of art. The tower had languished for decades because
Portlanders can’t agree on what should happen to its 7-acre site on the
northwest banks of the Willamette River.
The site-specific installation called habitus , originally created in 2016 by
Ohio conceptual artist Ann Hamilton for Philadelphia’s waterfront and the
Fabric Workshop and Museum, consisted of 12 giant cylindrical white curtains that can be spun at will by pulling on bell ropes connected to pulleys.
Reconfigured to fit Centennial Mills’ outdoor steel-frame pavilion that
until recently served as a paddock for mounted-police horses, habitus,
swirling around a hand-built scale model of Portland that city planners
used in the 1970s to assess possible new structures against existing ones,
here became a metaphor for clouds of controversy. Printouts of images
and writings/thoughts related to “habitus,” or dispositions on shelter,
sanctuary and dwelling, were gathered online by volunteers and stacked
daily during the monthlong presentation on tables for attendees to read or
take and perhaps ponder what the Centennial Mills site should become.
Hamilton’s often-interactive work has
the power to move people to action; among
her other projects is a 2007 cast-concrete
cylindrical tower with a double-helix staircase serving as both performance stage and
audience seating at the Oliver Ranch near
Geyserville, California. Invited by Converge
founder and Portland gallerist Elizabeth
Leach and guest artistic director Kristy
Edmunds, who heads the Center for the Art
of Performance at UCLA, Hamilton explains
that she worked with fabric here because
cloth is a primal material for architecture.
Habitus, she adds, is a “conversation” that
makes room for questions, and any collaborative conversation “is like pushing a threaded
needle through cloth. There is a space you
cannot see for a moment until you pull up
the thread to make a form. The seen and
unseen, the known and unknown together
form the work.” converge45.org
Left: During Converge 45, artist Ann Hamilton’s
2018 Habitus installation at the Centennial
Mills flour factory’s steel-frame pavilion in
Portland, Oregon, included swirling white
fabric curtains as well as takeway printouts of
literary excerpts and images related to “
habitus” or dispositions on shelter, sanctuary and
dwelling. Top: Visitors were also encourgaed
to interact with the installation. Above: A child
looks closely at a 1970s model of the city.
MORE ECCLESIASTICAL in tenor, interior
designer Ken Fulk’s Saint Joseph’s Arts Society
had a giddy, theatrical opening last October
in San Francisco’s Saint Joseph’s Church.
Filled with costume, song and dance, the
event marked a shining new chapter for the
1913 historic steel-frame landmark designed
by architect John J. Foley.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEREM Y BIT TERMAN COURTES Y OF CONVERGE 45 (THIS PAGE AND PREVIOUS SPREAD)
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