As we close out 2017 I’m thank for the numerous neighbors, leaders, artists, and organizations I have had the honor of working with to Make Place Happen in Baltimore and beyond. From championing pedestrian accessibility around Druid Hill Park, to exploring the robust and emerging civic spaces and public art projects of Arlington County, to colorfully reconfiguring concrete paving for playful action, place is truly what we made of it. Public space is not just constructed out of tactile materials like pavement, landscaping, and benches, but also the intangible – knowledge, organizing, and programming. Through New Public Sites walking tours we poetically re-experienced everyday public spaces while learning from community leaders and civil servants how to affect change at the block level. Artscape showed that streets and bridges don’t have to be just for cars, but can also be spaces for ecstatic pedestrian interactions. Workshops like the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Visioning Home created spaces for inclusively mapping out creative futures for the city. I am inspired by my collaborators who believe that we can expand such temporary zones of autonomy into lasting places of accessibility, well-being, joy, and freedom.
FGLA’s Interactive Periscope Public Art for Central Avenue approved by Baltimore City
The Baltimore City Public Art Commission approved FGLA’s public art concept for an interactive Periscope tower and plaza at the intersection of Central Avenue and Pratt Street. This work is the percent-for-art commission part of the Central Avenue streetscape project. The Periscope’s angled mirrors will make it possible for people walking by to see elevated views of the neighborhood. Its color, form, and integrated plaza are inspired by local waterways, including City Springs, Harford Run, and the Patapsco River. The 25’ tall Periscope will be constructed of cast-in-place concrete, colored plexiglass supported by a welded frame, and surrounded by a plaza of integral color concrete. Inscribed on the obelisk pedestal will be the names of the three local water bodies that makeup the watershed where the Periscope stands.
The triangle crossing at Pratt Street offers a unique opportunity for a truly public, plaza-like place along Central Avenue. The angled intersection provides panoramic views of Baltimore’s diverse pasts and futures. From this vantage one can see historical rowhomes, public housing in transition, public art, and ongoing development up and down Central Avenue. The view facing east frames City Springs school, which takes its name from a spring that once existed where its athletic field now lays. Synthesizing these views, Periscope will stand as an obelisk-like monument to water in place and pedestrian oversight. Inverting the hierarchy of Baltimore’s omnipresent blue surveillance lights, the tower will empower pedestrians with elevated views of their surroundings while colorfully evoking the water cycle of precipitation, collection, and flow.
Periscope will be fabricated and installed in 2019.
Periscope nighttime view facing southeast.
Periscope street view perspective featuring periscopic mirrors reflecting a nearby building.
Periscope plan feature blue integral color concrete plaza.
Come down to the Artscape Charles Street Trail this weekend, July 21-23, to explore Dancing Forest, a kinetic environment of inflatable trees emblazoned with trail markers identifying Baltimore’s many classic places, features, and customs. Participants are encouraged to walk among and explore the the animated trees as they undulate in the sky. Up close, one will find an array of urban trail symbols, such as benches, snowballs, bikers, and buildings. Internal LED illumination of the sculptures allows nighttime exploration. Combining spectacular movement with urban wayfinding symbols, Dancing Forest creates an exciting, playful environment meant to inspire participants continue exploring Baltimore’s many intriguing places.
The Charles Street Trail is located on Charles Street between Penn Station and Lanvale Street.
Click here to learn more about Dancing Forest and its trail markers. Post your pictures to social media using the hashtag #DancingForest @grahamprojects for likes and retweets!
Since going full-time for Graham Projects I’ve had the honor of investigating, activating, and improving numerous public places in Baltimore and beyond. 2016 was a great year for making place happen with inspiring people. I am thankful.
- At the invitation of the Waterfront Partnership, Melvin Thomas and I made a 103’ long Harbor Hopscotch.
- My New Public Sites – Five Points Denver walking tours and immersive map installation went gangbusters at RedLine’s 48 Hours of Socially Engaged Art Summit. Along the way, I was honored to share the megaphone and learn from half a dozen local speakers.
- With support from BikeMore and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, my home street Auchentoroly Terrace got a temporary Footprints Crosswalk to help pedestrians better connect with the Druid Hill Park Farmers Market.
- Working with an inspiring network of cultural organizers across Baltimore, I helped lead Citizen Artist Baltimore get-out-the-vote vote efforts. Bigly surprises aside, we informed local candidates of the values of our city’s diverse arts and cultural communities and educated voters on the importance of local races and ballot initiatives.
- I was honored to be invited by Baltimore Heritage to join their board of historic and cultural preservation advocates. I’m excited to be working with them on saving Baltimore’s most meaningful places.
- I had a fun time making water loop while redesigning Dance & Bmore’s website. May I do the same for you?
- The Public Art for Central Avenue Streetscape project continues. Falon Mihalic and I are busy closing in on our final design for a 25’ tall, pedestrian-empowering Periscope. Stay tuned for the full announcement and renderings…
Welcome to the expanded practice of Graham Projects. After ten years of public art and organizing with numerous people and organizations I hold dear, I’ve decided to take Graham Projects to the next level: a full-time livelihood of working with people to enliven and strengthen places. The newly expanded mission of Graham Projects recognizes that improving cities through public art inherently entails concrete forms of civic engagement, design, and communications. From leading New Public Sites radical walking tours and enacting playful pedestrian paths to designing graphic identities for community groups and collaborating with stakeholders on leveraging shared visions, I’ve been mixing creative engagement strategies for years. In recognition of all that I do, the Graham Projects creative services are now placed front and center and everyone is invited to participate. Shoot me a line if you like what you seen and want to work together. I’m always up for new ideas, questions, and visits. – Graham