Sometimes all it takes is one person to start a neighborhood to start talking and engaging with one another. Someone moves in and throws an open house. Or even a garage sale. So how can art, or an artist, inject “love and play” into a community, particularly when the younger generations trust each other less than ever before?
San Francisco-based artist Hunter Franks is on a three-week mission across several different cities to explore just that, and hopefully get some “creative intervention” going in these urban areas.
One Franks’s planned activities is something called “Vacant Love,” which aims to transform abandoned or neglected buildings with messages of affection. Another, called the “Free Portrait Project” asks residents to sit for a Polaroid photo taken by Franks, and during the 120 seconds it takes for the picture to develop, entertain a brief interview about their lives. Other interventions include two-way advice booths, for citizens to both give and take advice from one another, as well as an activity that asks people to write sticky notes about their loves and fears on a public wall. Franks will also be expanding his SF Postcard Project, in which he gathered postcards written from low-income San Francisco neighborhoods and mailed them to homes in ritzier ZIP codes.
What activities have you seen, or even been engaged in, that got a neighborhood members involved and communicating? For some, even a Little Free Library can get the ball rolling. Tell us your experiences in the comments below.
Yippee! I loved the old Exploratorium, and it sounds like I’ll love the new one!
The new home, with all of those characteristics (and a 200-seat cabaret), is opening on Wednesday, and while it doesn’t deserve unalloyed acclaim, the achievement is remarkable. Under its executive director, Dennis Bartels, the Exploratorium has preserved and expanded what it was when the physicist Frank Oppenheimer created it. It remains the most important science museum to have opened since the mid-20th century because of the nature of its exhibits, its wide-ranging influence and its sophisticated teacher training program.
Yet the new Exploratorium remains eccentrically original. Technology is scarce. There are few video screens. There are fewer computers. There are circuits but no evident circuit boards. Woodworking and metalworking take place on the museum floor. There are more than 600 exhibits, but the emphasis remains on the laws of physics and motion, elementary principles of perception, and elegantly designed machines that conceal nothing.
You can still play with pendulums that were designed for the museum’s original opening. You can spin disks atop a whirling wheel; you can try to get a bicycle’s pedals to move using a sequence of buttons; you can gaze at the physicality of inverted reflections created by a finely polished parabolic mirror; you can position toy robots to create spinning animations.
When does public art and playfulness interfere with the health and well being of other living things? That can be up for debate… more often than we think.
The war between whimsy and responsibility is an ancient one, and it is raging in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Someone, and you’d be hard pressed to find who, has put a tiny door on a tree in the park. Officials took it away, saying it was hurting the tree. But people freaked out, so they are putting it back.