A drab water tower in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, is overrun with a 70-foot-tall garden of technicolor flowers and vines thanks to artists Darren and Emmelene Mate, aka DabsMyla. The Australian wife and husband are known for their hand-painted psychedelic dreamscapes, which envelop the otherwise utilitarian tank with oversized flora. Titled “Magical Unity,” the circular mural features plants native to the region, along with a fuzzy bumblebee mid-pollination, all rendered in the duo’s playful style.
DabsMyla completed the public project in just one week, which they describe:
Color plays a big role in our work and how we create. For this piece, we wanted to produce an uplifting feeling through flowers and running a rainbow of hues from the bottom to the top. This is a really large work, and we hope that it will positively impact the community and bring happiness to everyone who passes by it.
The transformative artwork is the latest commissioned by the women-led curators of Justkids (previously) and OZ Art, which have been collaborating to revitalize areas around Arkansas in recent years. Shop pins and stickers of DabsMyla’s quirky characters in their shop, and check out more of the couple’s work on Instagram.
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Tucked into the verdant landscape of Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, are two dramatically altered basketball courts primed for play. Commissioned by the women-led curators of Justkids (previously) and OZ Art, the public project was conceived by London-based artist Lakwena, who transformed the outdoor spot into a lively area with her trademark typographic murals.
Basketball jargon covers the patterned court with an arched “Make it rain” demarcating the three-point lines. Creating under a larger theme of unity, Lakwena also referenced iconic poet Maya Angelou, who lived in the state throughout her life. “Bury me down / still I rise” lines the perimeter of the court, with Lakwena’s title of the work, “I’ll bring you flowers,” spelled out on multi-color petals at the center circle.
This community-centered project is the artist’s second in Arkansas and follows a 2017 work at Sebastian County’s Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Smith. Lakwena writes that “I’ll bring you flowers” is an extension of that piece as it looks “at growth and blessing in spite of adversity.” She expands on the idea:
I was really excited to work in a place with a largely Black demographic. It was nice to make an artwork for people that I have a connection to in that respect, especially at what feels like a very significant time for the Black community. The piece is called “I’ll bring you flowers.” Flowers are often used as a way of greeting, paying respect and honor people, and I wanted to honor the community in Pine Bluff.
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Pejac (previously) recently spent some time inside one of the oldest continuously running prisons in Spain. The prison, El Dueso, is a hulking structure built on the ruins of Napoleon’s fortress. True to his efforts to create and place his work in unusual settings and initiate conversations about unpopular subjects, the Gold Mine project resulted in three interventions that the artist realized in collaboration with inmates. “A prison itself is a place wrapped in harsh reality,” Pejac explained. The artist continues, “At the same time, I feel that it has a great surrealist charge. It is as if you only need to scratch a little on its walls to discover the poetry hidden inside.”
Making a connection between the sterile isolation inside and the lush nature surrounding the facility, the biggest and arguably most striking piece is an immense tree, a metaphor of ultimate, unspoiled freedom. The Shape of Days serves as a monument to the most cherished virtue: perseverance. It is entirely built from countless hash marks that reference an age-old method of keeping track of time away from the real world. Making an analogy between the tree leaves as the symbol of growth and marks as the symbol of extreme restraint, the majestic image captures the passage of time while providing hope.
Placed in a sterile, newly built corridor that connects the cells and outdoor areas, Hollow Walls is a poetic illusion of sliding doors made from the blank concrete walls. Through minimal artistic intervention, the artist added a sense of depth and perspective, creating a distraction for those walking along these walls daily. Once again using one of his most recurring images, a soaring bird, Pejac created an atmosphere of reachable yet fictional freedom.
The final piece, Hidden Value, also uses an element that artist has introduced in his previous work: a peeled off corner of an existing object suggesting an alternative reality. Working with people whose everyday life is stripped of life’s basic pleasures, Pejac wanted to provide some sense of luxury to the basic and highly restricted routine of the inmates. Using real 22-carat gold leaf and a trompe l’oeil technique he’s used before, he created an illusion of the basketball board revealing a large gold plate under its familiar surface. Challenged by taking everyday items and creating an alternative reality around them, the artist explored the previously mentioned idea of scratching under the surface and discovering that “sometimes, it is gold that does not shine.”
Explore more of Pejac’s thought-provoking work, ranging from site-specific installations to gallery pieces, on Instagram.
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Fjordenhus is a recently completed structure built on the Vejle Fjord in Denmark only accessible by footbridge. It is the first structure fully designed by the studio of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (previously), and was inspired by the harbor’s architecture. The 970,000-brick building is built several yards into the water from the shore, with the surrounding body of water acting as its moat.
The complexly curved form contains four intersecting cylinders which are carved to present a pattern of concave and convex walls, and is dotted with several arched windows and openings to the sea. “The outer walls, which are normally seen as a membrane between inside and outside, are spaces in Fjordenhus,” explains the studio. “You are offered the opportunity to be both inside and outside.”
The structure will hold the offices for investment company KIRK KAPITAL, yet will contain a ground floor open to the public with site-specific art installations designed by Eliasson. Fjordenhus took nearly a decade of planning to implement and build, and is considered both an architectural structure and a work of art. You can learn about more projects designed by Eliasson’s studio on their website. (via Dezeen)
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In 2011, Brazilian artist Tatiana Blass pierced the walls of a Sao Paulo chapel with large masses of red yarn, letting the bright material trail into the surrounding grasses, landscape, and trees. The installation, titled Penelope, was named after Odysseus’s wife in Homer’s Odyssey, a character who kept herself away from suitors while he was at war by weaving a burial shroud by day, and secretly taking pieces of it apart at night.
Inside the chapel the work continued with a 45-foot-long carpet leading to a loom into which it was stuck. Immaculate on one side of the loom and in pieces on the other, strings of the dismantled rug traveled outside of the chapel through preexisting holes that made their way into the yard. The piece, just like the epic poem, leaves us to wonder whether the work is in a state of construction or unraveling, if the carpet is being built, or slowly torn apart. (via Design Milk)
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Back in 2006, Warsaw’s National Gallery of Art, Zachęta, held a group exhibition titled “Polish Painting of the 21st Century.” Painter Leon Tarasewicz contributed a site-specific work to the 60-artist exhibition, redoing the museum’s Great Hall in a bath of red, yellow, blue, and green splatter paint. The work splattered the stairs and crept up the surrounding walls, creating a dramatic entrance for anyone entering the exhibition. (via ArchAtlas which was inexplicably deleted by Tumblr last week?)
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