The long-awaited redesign of the plaza and Mall B areas of Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio by local developer LAND Studio has recently been completed. As part of the new user-friendly layout that benefits visitors and citizens alike, a concrete walkway and ground-level water fountains currently surrounds a collection of colorful snails, frogs, and birds on the Square, along with similarly designed meerkats and wolves at the Eastman Reading Garden and other sites on property owned by Cleveland Public Library.
The inaugural and current installation, called “Regeneration Cleveland,” is the brainchild of Milan-based Crackling Art, and features a collection of recyclable, brightly-dyed polyethylene animals that have previously inhabited public spaces in Italy, Thailand, France, Australia, and the United States. The enigmatic group, founded in 1983, has credited themselves with over 300 temporary installations to date around the world.
Cracking Art’s initiatives emphasize recyclable materials as an inevitable component of modern living environments, and staging large-scale animals in unexpected public use areas is a purposeful effort by the group to educate people on natural and artificial forms, forging new perspectives on urban life and how it impacts civic design.
The group’s themes of sustainability and respect for the environment are well-represented in a city like Cleveland, which is experiencing a cultural explosion of popularity in art, sport, and political interests. The Public Square renovation project was a major contributing factor to the success of the city’s recent Republican National Convention and drew widespread acclaim from media sources and visitors to the area.
LAND Studio’s collaboration with the city, initially fueled by a $1.5 million grant from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, will continue over the next three years. The non-profit development agency recently submitted a call to regional artists to submit entries for an additional three to six temporary installations through 2018.
Artists can submit a one-page statement and list of qualifications in advance of the selection process, where those chosen will enjoy a $40,000 budget for submitted works. Entries are due by this November 28, 2016.