Catalyze + Celebrate: Commissions + Conversations 2014
Site projects celebrates 10 years!
Our ten-year anniversary event series, Catalyze + Celebrate: Commissions + Conversations, was an exploration and celebration of the role of art in the public realm. Since its inception, Site Projects has commissioned public art and art events in New Haven that have been recognized and admired locally, nationally, and internationally. In the fall of 2014 we hosted a series of major events exploring the relationship of public art on place.
These events— held throughout New Haven— were comprised of a series of commissions and panel discussions asking the questions: Who creates culture? Who is the audience? Who participates? What voices are supported, recognized, or even persecuted? How does art instigate questions on civic practice and how does art catalyze changes in our society—not only in municipal beautification projects or for personal edification—but how does art inform the very content of the conversations, patronage, and culture as a whole?
Site Projects' Catalyze + Celebrate: Commissions + Conversations examined the function and future of art in the public sphere—capturing a critical moment in New Haven's civic culture and its relationship to international events and history. For this landmark event series, we brought artists, writers, scholars, and curators—from near and far—together in constructive dialogue and celebration about the practice of culture in the public realm.
1184 Chapel Street between Park and Howe
Celebrated street artist Swoon returned to her home state for a special commission of three of her evocative, intricately‐cut prints. Having just closed a massive installation at the Brooklyn Museum, Swoon’s work explores social and environmental issues through layered, figurative imagery. We are thrilled to welcome one of her spectacular pieces along New Haven’s bustling central corridor.
Art in the Park
Coogan Pavilion & Skatepark, Edgewood Park at the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Fitch Street
Our kick‐off event in New Haven's Westville neighborhood transformed a 16‐year old skate park adjoining the newly restored Coogan Pavilion into a massive collaborative mural and dynamic community center. Local businessman and artist Lou Cox curated an incredible line‐up led by the pioneering hip‐hop artist and founding graphic designer at Def Jam Recordings Cey Adams.
Throughout the weekend, internationally renowned artists and local talent convened to create a stunning collaborative mural. Panel discussions explored changes in street arts' history, influence, legacy and reception, including the future of street art and its influence on popular culture. Janette Beckman—award‐winning photographer of punk and hip‐hop circles throughout the United States and Europe—documented this extraordinary gathering. This programming would not have been possible with out our long‐standing and committed partnership with New Haven's Parks Department.
Annual Party + Fundraiser
Where? West Rock Studios, 425 West Rock Avenue, 4‐7pm
Sunday closed with our annual fundraising party with a performance by the spoken‐word artist and singer Akua Naru—a New Haven native who now works from Cologne, Germany. Making a rare Connecticut appearance, Naru is known for her haunting voice, searing lyrics, and syncopated, jazz‐influenced rhythms.
The Practice of Culture
Where? Site Projects Office, 33 Whitney Avenue Top Floor, 5:30‐7pm
A round-table discussion among twenty‐five practitioners and scholars on the practice of culture, guests included the New York art critic and curator Saul Ostrow and members of his critical practice group who host quarterly discussions and publish a bi‐annual broadsheet examining the intersection of design, urban planning, and the production of culture. Chicago‐based artist Frances Whitehead provided a brief prompt to begin the conversation.
Frances Whitehead, Mitch Cope + Titus Kaphar Artist Talk + Panel Discussion
Where? New Haven Museum Ballroom, 114 Whitney Avenue, 6:30‐8pm
Frances Whitehead, Professor of sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, presented her ambitious, interdisciplinary work in Chicago. Whitehead "embedded" herself within the Department of City Planning in order to provide the skills, perspective and training of an artist to land‐use decisions. At the time of the lecture, she was working with the landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates on the redevelopment of the "606," a central corridor and rail line in Chicago, a project that is now complete.
Mitch Cope is co‐founder with partner and wife Gina Reichert of Design 99 and Power House Productions based out of Detroit, Michigan. Faced with an onslaught of evacuated homes and rising crime, the duo started Design 99 as a flexible, affordable architecture and art studio. Power House Productions is a nonprofit organization focused on neighborhood stabilization through art and culture. Projects implement both low and high‐tech strategies for re‐envisioning and re‐knitting communities rife with foreclosures, arson and abandonment—with the now demonstrated result of attracting new residents and investment.
Following presentations from Cope and Whitehead, New Haven‐based artist Titus Kaphar joined the stage for a moderated conversation examining the practice of art in the civic arena. This programming was supported in part by Connecticut Humanities.